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!!)

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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

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.

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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

Warm Puntarelle Salad with Toasted Nuts

Dear Didi,
In another of my efforts to try out a new vegetable available in the fresh-food market here, of which I had previously read about, the warm puntarelle salad happened! Yesterday night I tested the Puntarelle, an Italian variety of Endives on Niloy and we both loved it.    The leaves taste a little bitter if eaten raw like the other endives.  This is why one should take of the leaves (discard them), and soak the shoots in cold water till they curl.  But I didn’t want to waste such beautiful looking leaves.  So we tasted the leaves first and both decided that we were not ready for a plate of bitter salad. I turned the whole leaves into a warm salad instead of taking out and throwing the leaves.

Warm Puntarelle Salad (a variety of Endives)

Treating each leaf as a prized possession I carefully washed a bunch of Puntarelles to get off all the grime in it (the amount of soil these veggies contain here might clog-up my kitchen drain one day! But its fine, anything for the love of food! Right?).

While the leaves were being soaked, I quickly dry-roasted a handful of pistachios, sunflower seeds and pumpkin seeds in a pan for that almost perfect brown tint and then crushed them coarsely.  The two cloves of garlic that were waiting for my attention were then gruesomely chopped and thrown in 1tbsp of heated olive oil.  When the pan made the garlic pieces and the oil sizzle, the Puntarelle leaves quietly followed to be blanched to perfection.  Once the leaves were tender, I threw them in cold water so that they retain their lovely fresh green color and transformed the ripe avocado and the juicy apple into small dices.  Did you know it is always best to cut apples right before you serve or else the iron in them oxidizes and one is left with brown apple pieces? If not, now you know 🙂

All the ingredients looked perfect for arrangement by then.  In a medium-sized salad bowl I laid the Puntarelle leaves, put some nuts, the apple, the avocado and seasoned it with salt, fresly ground pepper, dried mint powder and a dash of lime juice.

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It is difficult to get these endives in India, but do try this recipe with lettuce.  You don’t have to have it warm though..it would be lovely with crunchy leaves too 🙂 If you are making it raw, I suggest you add some finely grated garlic in the lime juice, whisk it well with a fork and then pour it over the leaves.  Do try it out!

So till the next time,

Take care and happy cooking!

Dakhina