chocolate cherry cake

Dark chocolate cherry cake | A thank you note

Cake making is always a serious affair for me. I approach it with fear, anxiety and nervousness. I have slightly more confidence than I had a few years back but I am still a nervous wreck when I have a cake to be made. I recently made this Dark chocolate cherry cake with whipped cream and chocolate toppings for Hasini’s birthday party. I must say, I outdid myself. The recipe itself is unbelievably simple and fuss-free, it’s very hard to go wrong. That this simple and unassuming a recipe yields such a wondrously moist, deep chocolatey cake makes me wonder why I’ve separated eggs, beaten them separately & folded them gently in the past. I doubled the chocolate cake recipe from Bakingamoment site. It is a keeper. Lesson: A more complicated recipe is not necessarily a finer one. Sometimes a simple one is just as good or even better. Keep it simple.   Don’t be put off by the number of components to this cake. They’re each quite simple on their own. Together they make a beautiful Dark chocolate cherry cake that’s perfect for a birthday, a celebration or a special occasion. Here are some images from the birthday celebrations. We had a cooking theme birthday party. Hasini and her friends made their own pizzas and decorated sugar cookies with royal icing. My Mamiyaar stitched custom aprons for all the kids. These aprons were the birthday favours. The kids wore these aprons while working on their pizza and cookies. Yuvan, the lone boy wore the blue apron.   The party menu was short and simple – pizza that the kids made, Dark cherry chocolate cake, French fries and ice cream. I used my mandolin slicer to make short work of about 3 kilos of potatoes, fried them and froze them a day before the party and then fried them just before serving time. The kids relished the pizza more than usual because they had made them with their own hands. I hadn’t thought of that but was glad it worked out that way. You know how our women always head to the kitchen in the host’s house to help, to offer a lending hand, to ease the pressure. I always loved that solidarity. As a mommy who has successfully conducted another kid’s birthday party I have a thank you note to read. I need to thank all the women who...
almond kheer

Kitchen Bloopers

When Vijay TV has no movie or show for the weekend what do they do? They would play re-runs of their award shows or bloopers from some long-over show. Or they may play “Nanban” or one of Mysskin’s movies. I am going to use the same strategy now since I’ve hardly cooked anything new the last month and a half. I am going to post the not-so-great, work in progress dishes that never saw the light of day on the blog. Not every dish turns out perfect. Not everyone likes every dish. And it is OK. It is ok to fail. It is ok to try things out. There may be some of you who think “Food bloggers can’t go wrong. They’re experts. I can’t try this recipe. It is too difficult/complicated/time-consuming/kids, husband, maamiyaar will not like it.” – Not true. You can never please everyone at the same time. And some of them, you can never please any time. You’ll never know if you don’t try. So just go ahead and give it a shot. On the other hand there may be some of you who think – “Food bloggers are vain, over-achieving braggart bitches.” – Hmm, Well, that’s not totally true. Either way, I just want to let you guys know that food bloggers make mistakes too. I am sharing here some of my not-so-great attempts here. I hope it encourages you to go into the kitchen and try out that cake you always wanted to bake for your kid, the Adhirasam that your paati made when you were a child and you’ve not found courage to try or that garlic pickle you don’t find on store shelves anymore. Classy rum cake turned drunkard Cake The idea was to make a light boozy rum cake for Jagan for his birthday. Jagan being a booze connoisseur would be pleasantly surprised by the wonderfully subtle rum undertones. That was the plan. But I wanted to make sure the rum flavour was not too feeble to be discerned. So I upped the rum measure. I must have used a cup and half of rum for the cake. Jagan later tells me that is “3 large”. The cake turned out moist, fine crumbed even and smacked of alcohol. I served the cake to my Maamiyaar without looking her in the eye, mumbling that it is a “plain mmm cake. No it is...
Banana foster cake

Banana Foster Cake

Every year my sister and I buy shirts for our father’s birthday. Every year he asks us “Why do you waste money on this?” It is his way of saying “Aawww”.   Every year we make a big deal of surprising him. We steal out of the house and when he asks us where we’re going, we explain in elaborate detail where we’re going to buy what for whom while usually we’d say “out” or “shopping”. He knows we’re going to buy him shirts. He has even noticed that we have taken one of his shirts for size reference. He doesn’t show. He plays along. Once we’re back he asks much like Hasini “I know you have bought me shirts. I know.” We act like he is crazy. It is a surprise. Next day we give him the shirts. He says he had known all along. He wears it and finds it is too tight or too large. We go back to the store with him and exchange. This is the birthday ritual.   Another recent addition to the ritual is the cake I bake for him. I bake him a birthday cake, usually a simple, hearty old-school cake without frosting, glaze etc. He refuses to be photographed cutting the cake, scolds us for singing “Happy birthday” and generally fusses around. This year I made banana foster cake. The recipe is from foodnetwork. It is simple, easy and a treat for banana lovers. I love that you brush the cake with rum when it is still warm. It adds a lovely depth of flavour. The caramel and sliced bananas that you line the bottom of the pan with becomes the top once baked and inverted – a lovely molten, crimson top. The cake itself is soft with a beautiful crumb. This is a beautiful cake to bake as a dessert for a party. I wouldn’t make this much ahead of time though as the caramel-banana top tends to discolour a bit when chilled. It still tastes yummy. It just doesn’t look as glamorous.   Enjoy!  
Chocolate truffle cake

Chocolate truffle cake

The inspiration behind this beautiful cake is Jagan. The reason for this beautiful cake is my sister. The creator of this beautiful recipe is not me. Must be a genius at bbcgoodfood who came up with this recipe. Where (Why) do I come in? The maker of this beautiful cake is me. The one who made this cake from start to finish, the one who peeled the parchment paper off an un-chilled super-moist cake before transferring to cake board and paid hell, the one who made indigenous crème fraiche substituting a substitute for a substitute, the one who forgot to add in the said indigenous crème fraiche and then swirled it in the cake pans.  Still, this cake was stunning, in-spite of all the madness. I write this to tell you what not to do in making this gorgeous cake, and to tell you that even the hand-mixer wielding, Amul fresh cream using, birthday baker like you and me can make this cake. And you will be known ever after as the one who makes the best chocolate truffle cake. Recently at a coffee shop, Jagan asked me why I’ve never made Chocolate truffle cake like the one they have there. Why? I didn’t know. So I set out to make one. My sister’s birthday was the right occasion for a Chocolate truffle cake because it was the one coming up next. Then I found this recipe. I figured you couldn’t go wrong with 800 grams of chocolate plus cocoa and more than a pound of butter. I immediately decided this was the recipe I was going to go with. This is my best chocolate cake so far and it is going to be my new most favourite chocolate cake to make for a long time to come. It turned out absolutely fantastic – rich, fudgy-moist and so so chocolatey interlaced with velvety chocolate frosting and finished off with a luscious smooth chocolate ganache. Oh My! Perfection!  Make this for Valentine’s day, for a birthday or for a celebration. It is a special occassion cake.  

Best chocolate frosting ever

Ok, I don’t like American buttercream. Who does anyway? There are those who say they love American buttercream. I can’t understand them. I don’t suppose they’ll understand my cheese cube with lemon & honey routine or why I like to dip vadai into payasam. Does that gross you out? You don’t understand what you’re missing. American buttercream is way too sweet and never smooth enough for me. I have been on the lookout for smooth, silky, not too sweet frosting recipes forever. Just like I’ve always been on the lookout for a good tailor, just like my mother is perpetually on the lookout for a good house-help. This chocolate frosting is bang on. It is smooth, velvety, just sweet enough and gorgeous on just about anything. I will take the extra effort, cook the milk, sugar and cocoa down to a pudding, strain it even, melt the chocolate, chill everything up and wait till everything chills before beating them together, all for this beauty. The most difficult part for me is waiting while these components chill. It is slow and excruciating. But once chilled, it thickens up nicely and pipes like a dream. It is best to take small portions of this frosting in the piping bag at any time while putting the rest into the refrigerator while you work to keep the frosting nice and chill. Prep time: 45 minsCooking time: 10 minsMakes: enough to frost 15 cupcakes Ingredients Good quality dark Chocolate – 80 gm (I used Bourneville)Milk – 1 cup (230 gm)Maida/All purpose flour – 1/3 cup (43 gm)Cocoa powder – 3 tbspGranulated white sugar – 2/3 cup (134 gm)Salt – pinchUnsalted Butter – ½ cup (113 gm) Method 1.       Melt chocolate in a double boiler. Remove from heat, stir till the chocolate is nice and smooth. Chill in the refrigerator for 15 minutes. 2.       In a saucepan, combine cocoa, maida and salt and whisk well. To this add milk slowly whisking till all the dry ingredients are incorporated. Add sugar to the saucepan and place on stove. Cook on low heat whisking constantly. The mixture will thicken slowly to a thick pudding consistency. Remove from heat and strain through a sieve. Press with the back of a spoon to force the mixture through. Chill this mixture for 15 minutes. 3.       Take room temperature butter in a large bowl and beat for a minute until soft and...

Peanut butter cake with peanut butter frosting, chocolate ganache and peanut chikki sprinkles

The day I decide to chuck the packed lunch from home, in the mood for a nice fat sub, go straight up and order my favourite sub for once without looking at “The sub of the day” without dillydallying, the group behind me is arguing in great detail about the best deal – “sub of the day as salad + this – that is better than sub of the day + that. You save 10 bucks da machaan”. I didn’t need that. Is that a message? I didn’t need that. I order mine with extra cheese and then add a toastie as well. There, take that! I made this cake for Jagan’s birthday last month. I was just a few weeks into my so called “no-dessert, keep your hands off the extra biryani” diet, I’d eat leftover vegetables or a carrot or some fruit before going hungry to bed and almost getting used to it. Then I made this cake. After everybody had had their slice after cutting the cake, after sharing with friends and family, I still had more than one quarter of the cake plus the trimmed pieces of the cake dome plus some of that over-the-top swiss meringue peanut butter frosting. I didn’t need that. What is one to do? For my nightly supper I substituted the carrot with a super-thin slice of the moist, peanut butter cake. When I was finished with the cake in said manner, I cut up pieces of the trimmed cake and dipped it in the super smooth, luscious peanut butter frosting and ate that up too. I licked the last of the peanut butter frosting. Circumstances… Aah. Circumstances can make even the most determined woman lick peanut butter frosting. What chance do I have? I am not even as determined. This is a special occasion cake I’ll be making several times. It is peanut butter bliss, from the moist, tender, peanut buttery cake to the luscious, smooth swiss meringue peanut butter frosting, a lovely bittersweet chocolate ganache to cut all the peanuttiness and a golden crown of crunchy peanut chikki shards to finish it off. By the way, I am terribly proud of my crushed peanut chikki sprinkles. So easy, so cheap, DIY and looks and tastes wow.Make this cake for a special occasion. Enjoy! Prep time: 15 mins (cake) + 30 mins (frosting) + 10 mins (ganache)Baking time: 30 minsServes:...

Eggless streusel bottomed (really, bottomed; not topped) Apple Cake with brown butter glaze

We are subtracting using figures. Eight kites minus 3 kites. Hasini strikes out 4 instead of 3 kites, realizes the mistake, then looks around for the eraser for the 28th time. I have not been able to explain this phenomenon of the missing eraser. I vaguely remember having the same problem too while writing my record. At the school gate last week, Hasini agitatedly asks for her lunch bag which she is jiggling around while asking for it. I’ve been known to search for my glasses while wearing them. Hasini once went to school without her books. I went for my college practical exam without my lab coat. Hasini likes to narrate stories about her dad, her mom and the chickens at home to her class teacher, art teacher, paatu teacher, and the aunty friends she makes at the beauty parlour while I am getting a pedicure. I tell you stories about Hasini, Yuvi, their homework, the tamil cinema I saw last week (I haven’t? I will soon) and my big bottom instead of the eggless streusel bottomed apple cake with brown butter glaze. It runs in the family. Not surprising that the apple cake turned out streusel bottomed instead of streusel topped. Bundt cakes are inverted; which I realized the minute after I filled the pan with the batter and lovingly topped with the streusel mixture. So streusel bottomed apple cake it was. But I am not complaining. This is the best cake I’ve baked in recent times. This apple cake is one of those classic cakes that are stellar on their own – no filling, frosting necessary to up their taste. I am crazy about the crumb these days. This cake has a beautiful crumb, not too fine but fine enough, moist and perfect. It slices like a dream and tastes fantastic. The brown butter glaze is super easy to make. Just whisk everything together in a pan and heat.  If you’re making the streusel which you should, remember to first layer the streusel and then fill in the cake batter. This cake batter is really thick, almost like cookie dough, so the streusel wouldn’t seep into the batter. Or you could bake the streusel separately on a sheet pan and then sprinkle over the glazed cake. The warm, nutty sweet of the glaze, the mellow, sweet of the apple cake and the crunchy, buttery sweet of the...

A couple of cakes and some party inspiration

I am renaming the “Craft” column in my blog to “Party inspiration” Because I’ve been most un-crafty Because the craftiest I’ve done recently is.. hmm.. is.. (give me some time, will you) So that I can pass off my picture-perfect (not) whacky creations as inspiration as opposed to craft and not offend genuine crafters So that I have a place to show-off my cakes and So I can inspire you guys to try Here is a list of tips that will be useful when you’re planning a DIY (with help) party. First things first, THE CAKE 1.       Cake decorating is best done between 11 pm and 3 am, in the wee hours of the night when everyone is asleep, when you won’t be interrupted for someone’s potty, when the courier guy, gas guy and cable guy won’t come calling, when there are no more filter coffees to make, when the kitchen is finally cool and quiet, when Mysskin is probably filming somewhere. 2.       “Always sketch your cake” as Subashini Ramsingh wisely says and borrow your kid’s crayons to colour-test them. 3.       For the sake of your own sanity, do make more frosting than you think you need. Always! If you are planning to try a new cake recipe or frosting recipe, don’t. 4.       Split up the work. I am no cake decorating professional. I am easily psyched out by a simple ruffle skirted Barbie cake. I like to split up my work. Bake the cake ahead. Make the fillings and toppers even ahead of that. Of course make a whole lot of frosting, also ahead of time. Then the night before your event, sit down and put it all together. And before all that, clear the largest dumpyard a.k.a your fridge and make space. Here is the barbie cake I made for Hasini’s 5th birthday, not all that justifiable given my nightly research for more than a month, but it’s a barbie cake. Here is a butterscotch cake I made for my best friend Menaka’s birthday.     Party Planning Did you know that the first thing to do when you decide to have a party is to plan the party décor and clear out your fridge? And also remember to make an appointment for a foot massage the day after the party. You’ll know why at the end of the party. 1.       Well, I always feel that I should start...

In cake Decorating Mood

I am in cake decorating mood. My fingers are itching for the piping bag. I am making ‘rosette’ motions with my hands while talking, practising ‘ruffle’ actions while waiting at traffic signals (like Bhanupriya in Azhagan who is always dancing; dancing while talking, dancing while arguing with her lover). Not that I am an expert. Far from it. But I want to decorate everything that comes out of the oven – muffins, sheet cakes even. Cake decorating is addictive.  Don’t believe me? Go to Home bakers Guild on Facebook. There’s a new cult of Home Bakers out there that make stunning, irresistible cakes that are far superior to anything in the stores. I took Subhashini Ramsingh’s buttercream decorating class recently and thoroughly enjoyed it. Subhashini is the most patient of teachers, calm and unruffled piping away buttercream roses and carnations over and over for us even when our roses looked like unfurled cabbages and our carnations like crumpled paper. She’d just start over again – “Ek Gaav me ek kisaan raguthatha”. The first day we practised our basics – stars, rosettes, beads, ruffles, ropes, leaves and shells. We filled our piping bags, piped, scraped it back into the bag, again piped, scraped, piped the whole day. At the end of the first day, my fingers were numb and I couldn’t squeeze my toothpaste tube that night. I’d never worked my fingers as much in my entire life. But I loved it. The second day we decorated our own cakes from scratch. I used a palette knife to make the shabby-chic (that’s the word I gather from Pinterest for anything that you’ve made uneven, imperfect by design but want to warn people from calling it shabby – it’s an ingenious word. I am going to be using it often) top, piped a crochet style lattice around the sides of the cake and finished with a dual tone buttercream carnation. What do you think? I call it my “Chingu Cha” cake – pink colour chingu cha, orange colour chingu cha, green colour chingu cha but I think it has its merits. I love the carnation at the top. With the decorating class behind me, I was looking for an excuse to decorate a cake. It was nobody’s birthday or anniversary, it wasn’t Mother’s day, Father’s day or Husband’s day, I don’t know my neighbours enough to give cake, my friends at office...

A couple of birthdays, a colossal cake pop failure and a fantastic Black forest cake

Aadi madness is past (thank god!) and a couple of birthdays too. It was my birthday a week ago (thank Facebook! for the birthday reminders) and Yuvi’s the next day and like a good new-age momma I planned his cake, birthday favors for his class-mates and a small party at home. As if Yuvi would have minded giving his class-mates an alpenliebe instead. He couldn’t care less. In fact he was pissed off he had to go to school on his birthday. He wasn’t thrilled that he’d be sharing sweets with his friends and that they’d sing “Happy Birthday” for him. Turns out he was right after all – they did not sing “Happy Birthday” for him. I could not believe this! And his teacher had dropped a favour bag inside Yuvi’s bag too! Staying at home would have been a much nicer treat and he would have appreciated the break. I need to listen more to my 3 year old. My birthday is no longer my birthday. It is the day before my son’s birthday and every year I spend my birthday elbow deep in flour and butter trying to make a decent birthday cake for Yuvi. This time around I planned a black forest cake for him and thankfully it turned out absolutely fabulous.I picked the recipefrom sailusfood.  Black forest cake is easier than you might think but it has multiple components and it takes time but it works well. Baking the cake is the easiest part. Bake and chill the cakes while you go about readying the rest. Use good quality tinned cherries. This is absolutely crucial. Prepare the cherry syrup and ready the cherries. Whip the cream and grate up some chocolate and you’re ready to assemble the master piece. Tropolite whipping cream worked perfect. Add in sugar and vanilla to the whipping cream and freeze the entire whipping cream set-up along with bowl and beaters for the fastest results. The bigger story of the day was the colossal cake pop failure and second time in a row for me. I had planned to make cake pops for Yuvi’s classmates. I planned well in advance, made two loaves of banana bread and froze them. I then processed them in my food processor, mixed in the frosting and shaped them into balls. I even measured out each cake ball to make sure they were all uniformly sized....
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