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Coffee Choco Chip Muffins

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I maintain that I am not fully awake and ready to function each morning unless I have my cup of coffee. I am also a tiny bit particular that the milk should be freshly boiled and the decoction freshly brewed. I didn’t realise how important this was to me until a few years ago, on a trip to Bangalore, I stayed with my cousin. She offered to make my coffee. What followed is a tale I cannot forget. I watched her take milk from the fridge, heat it, add decoction that was sitting on the counter top, it wasn’t strong enough, so in went some instant coffee, mixed in some sugar and handed it to me. I tried my best to drink it. Telling myself it was just coffee. I failed and the coffee met the kitchen sink after a few laboured sips. She now laughs and asks me to make my own coffee when I visit!

It is my daily ritual, my start of the day and is kind of sacred. I set the filter with two scoops of coffee powder, add the hot water, soak Sage’s food and go for a walk with him. By the time we come back 20-30 minutes later, he is ready for his first meal of the day and I look forward to my coffee and morning peace.

Some days the coffee doesn’t turn out right. For no fathomable reason. I am decidedly irritated for the first hour on such days. I call them the ‘curse of coffee’ or ‘Kaapi shraabam’ days. You don’t want to meet me early in the morning on such days!

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I recently introduced a 6 day baking course at my studio. I get several requests for longer than my current one day basic class and decided to try it out. We tackle a different kind of bake in more detail than my one day class. One day is cookies, one day cupcakes and so on. Since a lot of my students come back for classes, I try not to repeat the items being taught. They appreciate the variety and I don’t get bored.

In last month’s class we made these beautiful Coffee Choco Chip Muffins. I am not big on chocolate, I have said it numerous times. Yet anything well made with chocolate is always welcome. This blog itself has a tonne of chocolate recipes. This one is a sure keeper. Best for when you have guests over for chai/ coffee or to add to a picnic / travel bag. These are easy to make and are very moist. I like to keep them for a day before eating them so that the flavours are nicely infused.
Try them and do let me know how you liked these muffins.


 Coffee Chocolate chip muffins (Makes 8)    

1.5 cups  Maida / All purpose flour  

1/2 cup  Choco chips  

1 teaspoon  baking powder  

1/2 teaspoon  baking soda  1/2 teaspoon  salt  

1/4 cup  vegetable oil  

1 medium  egg or ¼ cup yogurt  

1/2 cup  milk  

2/3 cup  sugar  

1 teaspoon  vanilla essence

1 tablespoon Instant coffee powder (reduce if you prefer it milder)

  • Sift the flour with the baking powder, soda and salt. Add the choco chips and set  aside.
  • Preheat the oven to 180 degrees  Celsius
  • Whisk together the milk, egg or yogurt, vanilla, oil and sugar till the sugar has completely  dissolves.  
  • Add the flour in two parts, mix gently till the batter is formed. It will be a thick  batter.
  • Spoon into the muffin liners, fill ⅔ of the liner only.  
  • Bake for 25­-27 minutes, until a skewer inserted comes out clean.
  • Cool for 10 minutes before serving. Can store upto 7 days if refrigerated, cool  completely before storing.   
  • Instead of choco chips, use any chopped chocolate, or nuts

 

Salted Caramel and Ganache Brownie Trifles

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Last week, I introduced a new class at the Studio. Try as I might, to juggle all the classes I run because they are popular and the ones I . want to do because I love teaching them, I fail to accommodate new ones as often as I would like to.

This week, I decided I would sacrifice one of the more popular ones for one that I have been wanting to do ever since everything stuffed into glass jars of all sizes and shapes became the rage. So anyway, I chose a few things that I had not taught before, because a large part of my students do come for multiple classes and I feel guilty if they’re learning something similar to what they’ve already done.

The Brownie trifle is fairly easy. One can make all the components well ahead of time and assemble them as and when needed. That’s the beauty of pre portioned desserts. Serving it up too is absolutely mess free.

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There are four components to this dessert – the brownie (pick your favourite one or use the recipe below), salted caramel sauce, simple chocolate ganache and whipped cream. Add or remove any element you don’t have or don’t like and voila! God level dessert at your fingertips!

Chocolate Brownie (Makes a flat 9 inch brownie)

100 grams Dark chocolate (melted)

½ cup Butter

¾ cup Brown sugar

2 eggs

1 teaspoon Instant Coffee powder

2 teaspoons vanilla essence

1 cup Flour (maida)

½ teaspoon Baking powder

½ teaspoon Salt

2 tablespoons Cocoa powder

Sift the maida with baking powder, salt and cocoa powder and set aside.

Add the melted chocolate and butter to a bowl and microwave it for 1 minute or till melted.

Add the sugar and stir. When cooled off a bit, add the eggs and vanilla and beat really well.

Stir in the flour mixture, mix gently without over mixing to form a thick batter. Pour into a greased and lined 9 inch pan.

Bake in a preheated oven at 180C for 25-26 minutes.

Cool before cutting into pieces for the dessert.

Salted Caramel Sauce (Makes 1 ½ cups)

1/3 cup salted butter

½ cup cream

1 cup fine castor sugar

2 tablespoons water

In a heavy bottom saucepan, heat the water and sugar till it comes to a bubble. Do this on low heat, do not stir. Shake the pan if needed. Keep cooking on the lowest heat till the sugar starts to caramelise a light golden colour. Take care not to burn the sugar.

Turn off the heat once it becomes golden and add the butter to it. Mix gently with a whisk to melt the butter. Then add the cream and mix. Return to the lowest heat and mix till it everything has mixed well. Take it off the heat and cool completely before using. It will become thicker as it cools.

Chocolate Ganache (Makes 1 cup)

1 cup Cream + ⅛ cup milk

1 cup Chopped Dark chocolate

Heat the cream till it bubbles, do not boil. Add the chopped chocolate to the cream, mix gently and set aside. The heat of the cream will melt the chocolate. Once it has come to room temperature, gently mix to make sure there are no lumps. Use as needed.

2 Cups Sweetened Whipped Cream

1 cup Heavy whipping cream

4-6 teaspoons confectioner’s sugar

1 teaspoon Vanilla essence

A pinch of salt

Chill the cream overnight. Chill a stainless steel bowl and the beaters of the hand whisk as well. Shake the cream in the unopened carton well and pour into the chilled bowl. Beat on medium speed till it begins to form soft peaks. Add the salt, sugar and vanilla and beat till it forms stiff peaks. Transfer to a piping bag with a star nozzle fitted (optional) and refrigerate until needed.

To assemble the dessert

Chop the brownie into bite sized pieces. Have all the ingredients ready. Add the whipped cream into a piping bag with a star nozzle.

Add one layer of brownie pieces to the glass jar, drizzle some chocolate ganache, Add 2 tablespoons of caramel sauce and top with whipped cream.

Repeat with another layer. Drizzle some more caramel sauce on the top for garnish.

Chill at least 30 minutes before serving.

Valentine Day Recipes

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Chocolate lovers rejoice!

Mini Chocolate and Strawberry Trifles

Boozey Chocolate Tarts (yes booze makes everything better)

Oreo Brownies

Cake Pops

Chocolate Cheese Cake

Chocolate Valentino Cake 

Deep Dark Chocolate Cake with Chocolate Frosting 

Chocolate Truffles

 

Non Chocolatey stuff but still terrific!

Sweetheart Cookies 

Orange and Vanilla Cupcakes

Vanilla Custard with Pears poached in Orange Sauce

White Chocolate Pannacotta with Raspberry Sauce

Eggless Star Anise Icecream with Strawberry Compote

Valentine’s Breakfast Ideas

Pumpkin Cinnamon Rolls

Multigrain herb and cheese rolls

Oreo Brownies

I’ve been meaning to break the silence here. Its been far too long and I have typed out posts atleast half a dozen times. Each time to hit the discard button because the posts were either too boring or angsty or some other form of irrelevance. Anyway I will come back and write when I really feel like doing it and in the meanwhile here is a recipe that gathered quite some interest when I posted the picture to my instagram feed.

oreo brownie bites

oreo brownie bites

Use cookies, chocolate chips or even sliced and slivered nuts to your convenience. I am not one of those baker / cooks that goes psycho if an ingredient is missing. I check if the recipe can be adapted and go ahead. However if there are 3 ingredients of a recipe missing, then I simply postpone making that recipe or select another one that works with the ingredients I have. It is quite painful to attempt a recipe when 3 or more ingredients are missing because the end will be nothing like what was promised and one discounts all the changes one made, and yet feels frustrated. Have you ever had that happen?

This is a recipe that I eyeballed based on a basic recipe I have in my head. I have made versions of it and it always turns out good. Personally I am a fudgy brownie fiend. But I find that it is too rich most of the time and that a cakey brownie sometimes makes the cut much more easily. So here it is my recipe for cakey oreo brownies. In the picture below, I’ve used the same recipe and swapped out the Oreos for slivered almonds.

Almond Brownies

Almond Brownies

Cakey Oreo Brownies

(Makes one 9×9 pan or 12 cupcake sized brownie bites)

1 cup Dark chocolate (chopped from a slab of cooking chocolate, I use a brand called Morde)

1/2 cup Butter (unsalted)

3/4 cup Sugar (powdered for easier mixing)

3/4 cup Maida

2 eggs at room temperature

1 teaspoon instant coffee powder (I used bru)

1 tablespoon vanilla extract (home made vanilla extract) or 1 teaspoon vanilla essence

10 Oreo cookies, sliced into halves (or 1/4 cup slivered almonds, walnuts or hazelnuts)

Sift the maida and set aside.

Melt the chocolate and butter in the microwave by zapping it for 60 seconds over moderate heat, in two rounds. Stir in between melting this so that the chocolate doesn’t burn. Heat it for another 30-45 seconds to melt everything evenly. If there are lumps, stir it with a spatula or a whisk till smooth.

Preheat the oven to 180 degrees Celsius and prepare the baking pan with parchment paper or line a muffin pan with paper liners

When the chocolate and butter mix has slightly cooled (about 4-5 minutes), stir in the sugar and whisk well till melted.

Crack the eggs one at a time into the melted chocolate mixture and beat them well with a whisk, adding half the vanilla after each egg.

Stir in the coffee powder and add the maida in two batches, stirring gently till it is all mixed. Once the flour is added, do not over mix the batter or mix too vigorously. This activates the gluten in the flour and makes the brownie (or cake/ cookie) very tough.

Pour the batter into the prepared baking tin or into the muffin pan. Arrange the halved Oreo cookies on the top of the batter. If using nuts, sprinkle them evenly on top of the batter. Bake for 24-26 minutes at 180 degrees Celsius or till a toothpick comes out clean. Each oven is different, so do the toothpick test.

If baking in muffin cups, the  baking time will be 15-16 minutes.

Cool on a wire rack for 15-20 minutes or completely before slicing into squares. Dust with powdered sugar if desired or just dig in.

These brownies are a great make ahead potluck, party or tiffin box treat and will stay fresh at room temperature for a few days or for a week when refrigerated.

Nutella and Fresh Fruit Dessert Pizza

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Nutella and Fruit Pizza

Nutella and Fruit Pizza

For some reason, I am terribly preoccupied these days. I lose track of what I was doing and the only way to stay sane is my multiple to-do lists. I am spending a lot less time at the laptop, but my phone bills are testimony to the amount of time I am connected online, monitoring the FB page and emails and other stuff.

Such is my preoccupation, that on the last trip to the bank, I wasted not one, but three cheque leaves because I either entered wrong numbers or signed where I wasn’t supposed to! I spend over 45 minutes gazing at the stuff on the shelves in the supermarket and will forget to bring home something basic like sugar. Not that I am overworked, I am just forgetting stuff.

I’ve been posting recipes here with a lot more frequency than this blog is used to, and yet forgot to tell you something important that I am part of. Sometime in March, when I went to Goa on vacation and met up with two of my favourite bloggers Aparna and Revati, we decided to finally make a blogger’s meet happen. We had been talking about it for a couple of years, but this time we decided to stop talking and start doing. If you are connected with me via FB you will know, that the first ever Indian Food Blogger Meet is happening in Bangalore. It will be held in August on 1-2 and promises to be a two day celebration of blogging and bloggers. We have a lot of interesting and useful session lined up and I cannot even tell you how excited I am that an idea that I had in my head is actually taking shape in front of my eyes. If you want to know more about this, connect with us on FB or follow us on twitter. We even have a blog which will have all the updates.

For each one of us involved, with a different sensibility, skill set, located in a different city, with multiple things happening in our offline lives, yet we have managed to do all the main things and invite people who will add value by sharing their blogging journey. There is a lot more to do in terms of typing up loose ends, but the agenda has been put together after much thought and aimed to be of value to the participants. I am delighted that speakers, some of them very respected bloggers are travelling from across the country to be at this meet. If you are a blogger and would like to be a part of this, here is the information on how you can participate.

Thank you for the overwhelming response to the post about Amma’s operation. I am happy to update that she is recovering well and is active. Each comment both here and on FB was read to her and she has expressed her thanks. I had friends and family calling me all through the day of the operation. My classmate from college when to a temple and dedicated 1008 chants to her, Amma’s best friend was at the Kanakadurga temple at Vijayawada when I texted to tell her that everything went well and offered special prayers in thanksgiving. Some friends and family woke up at 4 AM and prayed through the time of her procedure. Aunty E was praying and waiting by the telephone for an update. My MIL stayed by my side, carrying water and sandwiches that FIL had made so that I would have moral support.  I am overwhelmed with the goodwill that Amma enjoys. Whatever be your faith, the circle of love, prayers, healing energies and spirit enveloped us as a family and Amma especially is something I am extremely grateful for it.

After all that heavy duty information sharing, here is a fun recipe that will be a hit for a child’s birthday party or as an adult dessert option/ after school snack or a treat for good behaviour 😀

Nutella and Fruit Pizza

Nutella and Fruit Pizza

Fruit and Nutella Whole-wheat Pizza (Makes 2 personal pizzas)

Whole-wheat flour     11/2 cups

Instant yeast     1 teaspoon

Sugar     1 teaspoon

Milk     ½ cup

Water     ½ cup

Butter     1 tablespoon

Nutella     4 tablespoons

Fresh fruit     11/2 cup (use mango, banana, strawberries, apples or any other firm seasonal fruit)

Dried nuts     a sprinkling

Warm the water and the milk to the same temperature used to set yogurt. Add the sugar and yeast, stir and set aside till the mixture is frothy and doubles up. This should take about 10-15 minutes

The yeast must activate for this recipe. If the yeast does not froth, the pizza won’t be puffy and soft.

Mix the flour with the salt. Add the milk and yeast mixture to the flour and knead into a dough. It should be softer than chapati dough, but not soggy.

Put the dough onto a surface with some dry flour and knead it gently for 3-4 minutes till it becomes soft and spongy. Add the butter and knead it completely.

Put it in a clean bowl, cover with foil or a damp clean towel and let it rise to double, for about 30 minutes.

Preheat the oven to 200 C. Prepare a baking sheet by brushing it with vegetable oil.

Divide the doubled up dough into two or three parts. Make it into a round ball and flatten gently. Sprinkle with some dry flour and roll into a round, like a roti. The thickness of this should be about ⅓ inch. Prick it with a fork and place it on the baking sheet.

Repeat with the remaining dough and place on the baking sheet so that the pizzas don’t touch each other.

Bake for 10-12 minutes or until the edges are golden brown. Remove from the oven and cool for 6-7 minutes.

Spread nutella on the top of the cooked pizza, arrange fresh cut fruit on top, sprinkle the nuts. Cut into triangles and serve immediately.

 

A Simple Choco Chip Chocolate Cake Recipe

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The first month of 2014 is in its third week. And right on cue, I am posting now despite having all the intentions of posting my first post before the first week! One thing that comes back to bite me over and over again is the glaring fact that occasions hardly mean anything to me. I cannot commemorate a date (unless it happens to be Amma’s birthday) or something like India hosting the Olympics or something. I mean it has to be really big!

I’ve not been good with having and sticking to a schedule! hello, I couldn’t even post when I announced an event on my own blog!

The old year finally rolled out. I swear am not going to revisit the tumultuous time. If you are interested in a really verbose story, you can read all about it in my other blog.

For this year, I have no grand plans or schemes. I just want honest and simple blogging. To share a piece of my story, or a mundane routine, or a recipe I tried and liked. I do not know how often I will post, or the quality of my pictures, or when I will finally work through the archive of photographs I have. But whenever I have something I want to say to you, my dearest readers, I will come here and type out… sometimes furiously, sometimes labouring over days to say it.

I do not have a card reader slot in my new laptop, it is a royal pain to transfer photographs from my (proper) camera to the blog. I’ve decided to post pictures that I take with my phone till I get that sorted. A low quality picture shouldn’t come in the way of a blog post right? Right!

Choco Chip Chocolate Cake

Choco Chip Chocolate Cake

I was chatting (I do that all the time) with my namesake and she sent me a picture of the cake she baked with her son. I had to make it immediately. It was that tempting. In record time, I baked and texted her back a picture with my changes. This is a super easy and wholesome cake. It is not cloyingly sweet and is a good candidate for a douse of chocolate ganache or even icecream. Perfect for those who want a bite of a nice warm piece of homemade cake.

In many ways, this cake is so like my life and therefore my blogging. It can be everything you want it to be, dressed up, glammed out and yet, at the core, it remains a solid fall back recipe which anyone can make. It has ingredients you do not have to run out of the house to buy and yet, when the cake is almost baked, the heady aroma whets your appetite and makes you look forward to a generous slice.

Choco Chip Chocolate Cake

Choco Chip Chocolate Cake

Choco Chip Chocolate Cake (Makes an 8 inch round cake)

Adapted from the Singing Chef’s Milk Chocolate Cake Recipe

Ingredients

1 cup Flour

1/4 cup + 2 tablespoons Butter

1/2 cup Sugar

1/2 cup Milk

1 Egg

1 tsp Vanilla Essence

1 1/2 tsp Baking Powder

A pinch of Salt

2 tablespoons Cocoa Powder

1/2 cup Choco chips

Preheat the oven to 180C/350F. Line the bottom and sides of a 8″ round cake tin with butter paper and brush with melted butter or neutral vegetable oil.

Sift the flour with the cocoa powder, baking powder and salt and set aside.

Beat the butter and sugar in a bowl. Add the egg and beat again. Add the milk and vanilla and beat for 30 seconds. Add the sifted flour mixture and mix gently with a spoon or a spatula, until well incorporated.  Add the choco chips and mix, reserving a few to sprinkle on top.

Pour this batter into the prepared cake tin. Sprinkle the reserved chocolate chips on the top, give the cake pan 1-2 sharp raps on the counter top to settle the batter. Bake for 24-26 minutes or until a skewer inserted into the cake comes out clean.

Transfer the cake to a cooling rack and cut into 9-12 wedges. The cake that is leftover can be stored in an airtight box at room temperature for 2-3 days. If storing longer, refrigerate.

Serve as is, with a dollop of vanilla ice-cream or a douse of chocolate sauce.

Valentine’s Day Trifle ~ Chocolate Cake and Strawberries

Chocolate Strawberry Trifle

Chocolate Strawberry Trifle

Yes I know that Chocolate and Strawberries are a Valentine’s day cliche…. but they are a cliche for a reason. They taste so bloody good together! So if you want a really quick to put together dessert to celebrate this day of love… or a quick and easy dessert to make ahead when you have guests… or better yet, make it and hoard it in the fridge to indulge at midnight when hunger pangs hit…. whatever the reason, make these bite sized desserts, do make it to spread the love.

Chocolate Strawberry Trifle

Chocolate Strawberry Trifle

Chocolate Strawberry Trifle – (Makes 4 servings)

Chocolate Cake                       100 grams (use store bought)

Vanilla Custard Powder      2 tablespoons

Fresh Strawberries               1 cup (hulled and sliced)

Sugar                                          2 tablespoons

Milk                                            1 cup

To make the custard

  1. Heat the milk with the sugar.
  2. Dissolve the custard powder in ½ cup of chilled water and mix till there are no lumps. Add this gently to the hot milk and sugar and stir continuously and cook till the custard begins to thicken.
  3. If you remove the spoon from the pan, the mixture should coat the back of the spoon thickly.
  4. Set aside and cool completely.
  5. Cut the chocolate cake into ½ inch slices to fit into the serving bowl.

To assemble the trifle

  1. Layer the bottom of the serving bowl with a slice of cake. Add a couple of tablespoons of custard over it. Layer it with the slices of fresh strawberry.
  2. Repeat the entire sequence once more. Chill in the refrigerator for 1-2 hours before serving.
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