Eggless Coffee & Chocolate Handbag Cake and Coin Purse Cake

Hello Cousins!!

What happened to our cooking and writing streak?? I miss our food talks and experiments people….I know I too have been a bit out of touch..actually I was a little busy doing some other things. But I would write about those in later posts.  Today I am just too excited to share with you both a creation that I made for a friend’s birthday who loves bags and shoes!! I really wanted the cake to mean something special for her and am glad that it turned out exactly how I wanted it to be.  There was one more challenge in this attempt – I had to make the whole thing Vegetarian. Now this is not a big deal for you Didi, but for me it was 🙂 The inspiration of the cake came from some other blogs and videos which have demonstrated awesome designer bag cakes and Fondant shoes like http://rosesen.wordpress.com/2010/10/06/gumpaste-shoe-tips-and-template/ or http://www.cakesbyroxanne.com/2011/01/how-to-make-gum-paste-stiletto-2011.html.  I mean look at the stuff, who would say its EDIBLE??!!! But I am not familiar with fondant…to tell you the truth, I didn’t make an effort to try it till now as it requires stuff like Glucose syrup/corn syrup/gelatin, which are not so easily available in India (ok we do get gelatin, but I wanted the whole cake to be vegetarian). Even if they are, they cost a lot, as you very well know Didi!

Finally I saw this video and decided to follow the easy yet attractive method it showed.  Of course I gave it the Dakhina touch from every angle, but yes the idea was from here. What I produced finally was this:

Eggless Coffee & Chocolate Handbag Cake and Coin Purse Cake

Continue reading

Advertisements

Braised Bacon and Silverbeet with Gratin Dauphinoise

Hello loves!

Where are you guys? You both have been too silent lately…tremendously busy, eh? But I have again started my cooking spree 🙂 and the latest was Braised Bacon and Silverbeet with Gratin Dauphinoise.  I learned about Silverbeet first from my German family, the Oppolds – Erik, Alexa, Leo and Marta (an awesome bunch of foodies who not only adopted me in their love-filled household but also introduced me to the German Cuisine and many new vegetables/herbs).  With a taste somewhat similar to spinach,  it belongs to the beetroot family and has highly nutritious leaves.  Do you know about this leafy veggie? Do you think any of the saags that we get in India, resembles this?  The Gratin Dauphinoise is a French dish that uses the technique of baking or broiling ingredients topped with cheese, butter or breadcrumbs till a golden crust develops.  It was created in the French region of Dauphiné where thinly sliced potatoes were layered with milk, cream, cheese and herbs in a garlic rubbed dish. Now you would ask how is it different from a Potato Au Gratin.  The difference lies in the fact that the latter has breadcrumbs in it and is a bit softer/mushier than the former which is more crusty on the top due to the cheese.  Besides gratins are made in deep pie dishes or casseroles where as a Dauphinoise only has 2-3 layers and can be cut into pieces to be served as savory.

Without much ado, I will proceed with the recipes ample for 4 people.

Braised Bacon and Silverbeet with Gratin Dauphinoise

Braised Bacon and Silverbeet

250gms Bacon Rashers/cubes

500 gms Silverbeet or any green leafy vegetable that can be cooked like savoy cabbage

100 gms Sour Cream or 2 tbsp sour curd mixed with 2 tbsp cream

2-3 pinch of Nutmeg powder

1 large Onion

2 cloves of Garlic

Salt and black pepper to taste

First, wash and chop the silverbeet. In a pan, throw in the bacon and saute till crispy and golden brown.  You don’t need to put oil in the pan as the bacon itself releases a lot of fat.  Add in chopped onions and garlic. When the onions have softened, add the chopped silverbeet, 1 tsp of salt and cover to cook on  medium heat.  Please be careful while using the salt in this as the bacon is already salty.  Once the leaves are cooked till a point that some crunch is left, add the sour cream, black pepper and the nutmeg powder. Stir well for 2-3 minutes, check the seasoning and take off the flame.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Gratin Dauphinoise

4 big Potatoes, peeled and cut into thin slices

1 shallot or 1/2 red onion finely chopped

1 big clove of Garlic (bruised)

Few Thyme sprigs

1 cup milk

1 tbsp cream

3/4 cup Grated Cheddar cheese

Salt and pepper to taste

In a saucepan, pour in the milk, the cream, thyme and onion/shallots.  Bring to a boil and simmer for 3-4 minutes. Take a shallow baking tin/dish, brush it with the bruised garlic thoroughly and put a layer of the potato slices (retain the large and well cut slices for the top layer).  With a ladle, pour half of the milk mixture over the potatoes, enough to cover them.  Sprinkle some salt and pepper and half of the cheese. Top this with another layer of potato slices, and the milk mix.  Then bake at 160 degrees in a pre-heated oven for 45 minutes or till a fork goes smoothly through the potato layers.  The milk would start curdling and you may think that you would be left with a mushy bake. But don’t worry, take the dish out, sprinkle it with rest of the cheese and bake for another 15 minutes or till the whole thing is set and the top looks crusty and golden brown!!

Arrange the Braised Bacon and Silverbeet on a plate, cut a piece of the dauphinoise (didi you can present it in a better way I think) and serve with bread or fresh salad.  It is not necessary to combine these two elements…so one can try new combinations..like Silverbeet/Gratin Dauphinoise with a lovely fish fillet or a chicken steak.  One can also cook a vegetarian version of Silverbeet by adding mushrooms or ricotta/cottage cheese, just like our Palak Paneer 🙂

Write back both of you, missing the chatter 😦

Love,

Dakhina

Choco-Vanilla Tall Boy (Checkered Cake Loaf) with Caramel Floss and Toffee

Dear Cousins!

How are the two of you? I have been a bit busy lately, and you know what was I doing? Cooking!! hehhehee…it was Niloy’s b’day on 25th and it was the first time I was with him on his b’day.  Therefore I wanted it to be very very special which including breaking my limits!! I must confess, that even though I love cooking and am patient with everything related to food (normally I have attention-deficit-disorder with every other thing), when it comes to Icing a cake I never had the courage.  I always thought it to be an arduous task and thought it would require like maybe 10 hours!! But Didi, with your encouragement and support I finally managed to do a cake (of which I am very very proud now) with icing. I called it a Tall Boy because its looks like one! Do you know what is a tall boy? I didn’t…but when I came to Melbourne and was looking for furniture for our flat, I came across this term.  It is basically a tall chest of drawers…but I liked the name..so I named my cake after it.

      

       

 

 

 

 

 

  

For a 25x8x10 cm Cake:

1 Chocolate Cake with walnuts (26x18cm)

1 Vanilla Cake with walnuts (26x18cm)

100 gms chopped Walnuts

100 gms Strawberry Jam+2 tbsp Icing Sugar+2 tbsp Butter

For Chocolate Ganache

200 gms Dark Cooking Chocolate slab broken to small pieces

250 ml Thickened Cream (or Pure Cream)

3-4 tbsp Icing Sugar

For Caramel Floss and Toffee

100 gms Sugar

1 Tbsp water

Method

Take the two cakes and level them by cutting with a sharp knife so that they fit with each other.  Take the jam, sugar and butter in a bowl and beat with a fork till blended well into a smooth paste. Apply on the top of one cake a sandwich with the other.  Then cut lengthwise into two halves.  On the top of one section apply the jam mix and stack the other half on this one in a way that it is in the order of vanilla chocolate vanilla chocolate.  Then cut into two halves again along the length and place side by side …you have now two parts of four slices with alternate chocolate and vanilla slices (please refer to the picture slideshow below). Again apply jam mix on one part and stack it over the other half.  Remember that it should be chocolate slice on a vanilla slice and vice versa. Cut the rounded edges to have straight sides all around. When you make the whole thing stand on a cake board, it should look like a checkered brick. (I wrapped a chopping board with aluminium foil and placed the cake on it.  In an absence of a cake board, one has to make such arrangements!!)

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

For icing, place the pieces of chocolate in a microwave proof bowl, add the cream and heat for 2 mins.  Alternatively, you can heat the cream in a double-boiler and pour over the chocolate. Then slowly and gently (to avoid air bubble) start mixing the two till the chocolate has melted.    Add the icing sugar and let is cool down. I used a large knife to do the icing and layered the whole 3 times to get a smooth surface.  Finally with a stiff tea-coaster I evened the whole thing (another example of the phrase, ‘necessity is the mother of invention’)!! I took the chopped walnut and did a skirting of the cake with it….as in stuck the walnuts on the bottom sides of the cake. I sprinkled the rest on the top of the cake.

Then I made the caramel floss and toffee using the recipe in the Fig and Caramel Icecream.  Then pour the caramel on foil in various shapes for toffee. For the floss, keep pulling the spoon up and down on the foil occasionally using the finger to pull. Be careful as it would be pretty hot! (refer to the slideshow above).

With spoon and fingers keep pulling threads to make the floss

Place the Toffee and Floss on the top of the cake and keep in refrigerator for 4-5 hours. It was awesome you know in looks and taste…it took me 4 hours to finish the whole thing, but the moment I sliced it, there was this look of awe and love in Niloy’s eyes….every bit of my effort was worth it then! Try this..I had read about this recipe some 4-5 years back but never had the heart to make it…but now that I have done it, I feel, “Oh! I can do anything!” 😀

Love and hugs, Rinki

‘Black Pearl Ship’ Cake and Eggless ‘Thomas Engine’ Cake

 6th August ’12

Hi Didi!

I was going through some old pictures in the last days and saw the pic of that wonderful eggless Thomas Engine cake you made once.  I never got to taste it and neither that Pirates of the Caribbean inspired “The Black Pearl Ship” cake….but I dream of making such cakes someday! Could you tell me your tricks for those delicious looking icings and the cakes? I could look up some book for these, but you know how you and I are bad with measurements and calculations (Maths was a dreadful subject always!). Only you can hence tell me your tried and tested ‘not so perfect’ measurements and methods for baking those wondrous looking cakes 🙂 Will you please? 😀

Waiting for your reply!

Rinki

Eggless Thomas Engine Cake

The Black Pearl and Eggless Chest of Gold Coins

12th August ’12

Dear Rinki,

Sorry for such a late reply in the day, but you do know how I was kept busy with guests as it was your nephew’s ninth birthday, which I will tell you in all back-breaking details later! I hope your dinner party went well the other night. Did you make the salad with that yummy dressing, you know the one you made when you came here? You have to give me the recipe.

When we were kids, my mum used to bake egg-less cakes for her vegetarian friends and it had things ranging from yoghurt to vinegar in it. Actually I tried that recipe and the cake turned out a disastrous sticky sour mess …Yuck! Probably because I didn’t have a recipe. I distinctly remember Ma’s cakes were quite good. Anyway, luckily I heard of this recipe from a friend, who didn’t have any idea about the measurements. So I tried to do it my way and guess what…It turned out perfectly well-behaved like all cakes should! And it wasn’t sticky so it could be cut and carved into shapes, which I stuck together with Butter cream icing. I even iced the cakes with this as it is quite a versatile icing which doesn’t melt easily under “hot” conditions like a mills and boon heroine ; )

So here goes….

For the Egg-less cake

Ingredients (for a two cup cake)

Flour                 2 level cups (If making chocolate cake then 1 cup flour and 1 cup cocoa powder)

Butter              1 cup softened at room temp. (If using vegetable oil, reduce it to 3/4 cup)

Baking powder             2 level teaspoons

Condensed Milk           1 cup (less if you want the cake less sweet)

Aerated soft drink (anything from coke to club soda)

Essence of choice

Method

First thing even before you start mixing the ingredients, pre-heat the oven at 250 degree C. Prepare your cake tin by oiling it well and dusting with flour really well, taking care of the corners. A well oiled and dusted tin will ensure your cake comes out perfectly. Sieve the flour with the baking powder (this is important to aerate the flour),dump in the butter, the essence, the condensed milk and mix it together, it will come together like a dough. Taste it, if it is not sweet enough for you, add more. Next slowly pour in the soft drink while mixing. Your aim is to make a batter like consistency, not a watery mess. Pour immediately into your cake tin and bake for ten minutes at 250 degree C, then lower the heat to 200 degree C and bake for a further fifteen minutes. Insert a skewer in the centre to see if its done. Take out , cool and GOBBLE !

Note: It is better if your egg-less cake is not very large or thick. after all it doesn’t have eggs which are the binding agents and a thick cake can turn crumbly.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

For the Chocolate Butter Cream Icing

Ingredients

1. Margarine/ Butter   2 cups

2. Icing sugar                  3-4 cups ( sifted)

3. Milk                                1/2 cup ( more or less)

4. Cocoa Powder            1 cup     (sifted)

5. Powder milk                 1/2 cup ( sifted)

6. vanilla essence

Sift all dry ingredients so there are no lumps or impurities. Let the butter soften completely at room temperature, slowly add the cocoa powder, and the milk powder and mix. Add the essence and slowly add the icing sugar and whisk, if it becomes too thick add some milk and mix again.  Do not add all the sugar at once.  Slowly your mix should turn into a glistening thick creamy chocolatey mix with a satiny texture. You can use this to sandwich your cake or ice it. You can also thin it a little and pipe it through a nozzle for all the details like writing names. If it is a little runny add more Icing sugar. If it is too thick add a little milk. If it is crumbly add more butter. You know me, there is no fixed measurement in my cook book! Whatever works.

You can preserve this in the refrigerator for almost a month!. Just take it out to room temperature and start slathering it on your cake. Do not heat it. If using butter you may stand your mixing bowl over a bowl of ice. Margarine doesn’t require this. Whatever you do don’t despair. This time for Riz’s birthday cake when I was making this ( I used margarine) the whole thing just curdled up and separated into an oily mess. For a few minutes I was in a daze of hopelessness. Then I brought out every cooks secret weapon…A Hand Blender!  I whisked the mess and magically it came together in front of my eyes!

For a variation  Strawberry Butter Cream Icing

Ingredients

Margarine/Butter                    2 cups ( softened at room temperature)

Icing sugar                                  3-4 cups

Strawberry Syrup                     2-4 tbsp (or pulp made of 5-6 Fresh Strawberries)

Strawberry flavour

Method: Follow the same procedure as the Buttercream Icing.

So go ahead and enjoy, make your own changes and do post pictures…soon.

Love you

Didi

Single Malt, Fig, Nut and Caramel Homemade Ice Cream

Dear Ramit,

Last night as we were polishing off  our bowls of homemade ice cream, I realized that this particular recipe is not for the calorie conscious or the faint of heart. Sinful and rich, melting in the mouth in a caramel-y lushness. I could well imagine you polishing off the whole tub….especially as it h ad copious amounts of booze in it!

This  recipe is for you, the bravest of souls…of course I mean G-ASTRONOMICAL bravery….what else could I mean. You are to food what Genghis Khan was to hapless tribesmen!

Single Malt, Fig,Nut,and Caramel Homemade Ice Cream

Ingredients for the ice cream

(Serves single healthy sized scoops for 4 person !)

Full Cream – 500 ml

Sugar, powdered – 150gm

Vanilla essence –    1tsp

Cashew nuts –           50gm

Pistachios  –               50gm

Raisins –                       50gm

Dry Figs ( soak in warm water, drain and blot excess water)-                   4-5 nos

Dry Apricots (soak in warm water, drain and blot excess water)-   50 gm

A large peg of Single Malt whiskey ( I used Glenfiddich)

For The Caramel

Sugar –                           100gms

Water –                           1 tbsp

Aluminum foil             A square piece

Food grade plastic bag

Method

First crush the nuts coarsely and reserve half for the caramel. Chop the figs and apricots into tiny pieces.

Powder the sugar for the ice cream.

Beat the cream with a egg beater till soft peaks form. Do not over-beat as it could separate into butter. It is best if the cream is taken right from the fridge before beating. alternatively you could stand it on a bowl of ice, but if doing that do take care that water doesn’t splash into the cream.

Add the vanilla, powdered sugar, raisins, figs, apricots and the whiskey to the mix and slowly mix. Keep the mix in  fridge while you prepare the caramel.

For the caramel, take 100 gm sugar in a heavy bottom sauce pan, add the water and slowly bring to boil, stirring continuously. Do not be distracted or un-attentive or you will burn your caramel. You will see the sugar changing color and turning golden brown. When the whole syrup has turned light brown, take off heat and add half the chopped nuts which you had reserved for the caramel. The mix will froth. Do not worry about this, quickly pour your caramel on to the foil sheet and stick it in the freezer. Please mind your fingers as it will be terribly hot! Within minutes, inside the freezer it will harden to a chunk of sugar brittle. Once cooled and hardened, take it out, peel it from the foil, put it in the bag and using a rolling pin crush into coarse pieces.

Add  half of the caramel to the ice cream mix and freeze. Reserve the rest for later.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

At this juncture if you own an ice cream maker you may use that.

But I do not possess one and frankly it makes no difference to me.  Pour the ice cream mix in a plastic lidded box and keep in the freezer. Take it out after two hours. The sides would have started to harden and the centre will be still soft. With a manual egg beater or fork beat the mix. The ice cream would have taken on a nutty brown color from the caramel.  Repeat this again after two hours. Add the rest of the caramel.

If you like your ice cream hard and with icy bits then you can simply stick the container in the freezer and after three to four hours it will be ready to eat. But if you like it soft and without the ice feel then wrap the ice cream container in two tea towels and then freeze. It will take longer to freeze but it will be silky smooth.

I hope you will try the recipe. Although it sounds complicated, trust me that the effort is worth the taste.

Lots of love

Didi