Mocha Brownie

En ponnu pass aayitaa! En ponnu pass aayitaa! Hasini’s exam results came out yesterday and she has been promoted to UKG. Cookie boxes have worked. No, of course not. Bad joke. Hasini scored an “O” (outstanding) in Art thanks to her GlobalArt classes and “A” (Very good) in Numbers and English and average in “Story telling”. Not surprising. Hasini has a hard time finishing a story. She starts a story and then weaves in all the episodes of Chotta Bheem into them, gets confused, starts over again, rehashes the storyline and continues and doesn’t know how to end it. A bit like her mother. No, I didn’t make this brownie to celebrate her results. I’ve promised her a Chotta Bheem cake sometime soon. I made these mocha brownies last week because our fridge was devoid of anything sweet, not even my son’s lollipops and I felt downright depressed. Without a sweet to finish a meal, it didn’t feel like a meal at all. We happened to have ice cream at Ibaco the previous week and the teeny weeny brownies served as toppings at Ibaco had me craving a nice fudgy brownie. I realized I hadn’t made brownies in ages and brownies are the simplest treats to bake. They are just the thing to end a meal. These brownies are fabulous. They’re fudgy and coffee-chocolaty divine. I cut them into smallish squares and snucked 3 of them into my lunch box for my lunch-time dessert. They were yummy. I made these during the busy AM, managed to mix it up and shove it inside in the oven just before my kids woke up. By the time they were bathed and ready, the brownie was done too. It’s really that simple and quick. I like coffee flavoured anything and I am reckless, so I just emptied the last of my coffee jar into the batter without measuring it. I reckon it must have been 1-1/2 to 2 tbsp. You can omit the coffee entirely if you want to make a chocolate brownie and that would taste just as fabulous. Prep time: 10 minsBaking time: 30 minsMakes: 20 squares Ingredients All purpose flour/Maida – 1/2 cupUnsweetened cocoa powder – 1/3 cupBaking powder – ¼ tspButter – ½ cup meltedGranulated sugar – 1 cupEggs – 2Vanilla – 1 tspSalt – ¼ tspInstant coffee granules – 1-1/2 to 2 tbsp Method 1.      Preheat oven to 180...

Cookie box – Choco-chip cookies & Eggless Shortbread cookies | Thank you gift for teachers

Yesterday was Hasini’s last day at school. No, she is not off to college. She has finished L.K.G and would be starting U.K.G in June this year. As a token of thanks we gifted her teachers these cookie boxes – choco-chip cookies, shortbread and tea bags in neat little Tupperware boxes topped with bows and a thank you note. I bunked office (stepped out I mean) for a couple of hours, jumped 3 red signals (not technically but almost), ran into a bike, again almost (don’t you wish I actually did instead of almost) and still arrived late at her school. But Hasini was too happy to mind – “Paravale ma, paravale ma” she said when I said I was sorry I was late. She was mighty pleased to hand over the cookie boxes herself. I made those bows myself (I am not very crafty but I like to think so. I am quite proud of these.) and downloaded the thank you note printable from the internet. I wanted to throw in a nice old-fashioned fountain pen along with the cookie-tea goodie box but then changed my mind later on. I didn’t have time to go get one and also I wasn’t sure everybody’d appreciate a fountain pen. I love them and I think they’re the best things to write with. I made the cookies in the morning. It wasn’t my plan and I am no super-mom. I am anything but that. I wanted to make the cookies the previous evening and have everything ready the night before but I was suddenly called for joint-family duty and I could not (am not allowed to) refuse. I made those bows while we travelled 2 hours (the bows take only a few minutes, mind you) to a wedding reception on the outskirts touching all the major traffic hotspots on the way. We were so late – we were just in time to stop the hosts from leaving. Anyways, we arrived home quite late that night and I overslept and woke up late. And that happens every-day, even the days I am not on joint-family duty. So it is just me. Anyways, these cookie boxes would make great party favours for small birthday parties, Navarathiri/Golu functions or as thank you gifts for teachers. I am mildly obsessed with party favours and I start planning for any party with the party favors. The recipe...

Coffee flavoured cake with coffee frosting

This cake is all about coffee. The coffee flavour in this cake will sweep you off your feet and kickass at the same time. It is so laden, bursting with coffee. I used the absolutely brilliant recipe on pioneerwoman’s blog and it worked perfectly. The coffee frosting is another beauty. It ratchets up the coffee factor even more until you’re swimming in a coffee river in coffee land. I love coffee flavoured anything. Oddly I don’t drink coffee daily but I absolutely love coffee flavour. Coffee is one of the few things everybody agrees on at home and I didn’t want to make another chocolate cake for the occasion, so coffee flavoured cake was just perfect. Oh, I haven’t told you what the occasion was. It was my mother-in-law’s birthday and everybody knows how important it is, even more important than the husband’s. She liked the cake and said it tasted good and that’s the highest praise that is bestowed at our place. So I am pretty happy with that. The cake was pretty straight forward. The coffee is heated up with the melted butter for just a few seconds and that renders it a heavenly nutty, coffee aroma that’s just intoxicating. The cake batter is quite runny, don’t panic. I baked the cakes in 2 8-inch pans. You could use 9 inch pans as well. Whatever you do, make sure to line your pans with parchment paper/butter paper. These cakes are extremely sticky.  If you’re racking your brains for a cake other than chocolate, look no further. Make this coffee flavoured cake today. Prep time: 20 mins Baking time:  35-40 mins Makes: 10-12 slices Ingredients – Cake All purpose flour/Maida – 2 cups Sugar – 2 cups Salt – ¼ tsp Butter – 225 gm Instant Coffee crystals – 3 tablespoons Boiling water – 1 cup Buttermilk – ½ cup (make your own by adding 1 tsp vinegar to ½ cup milk. Let stand for 10 minutes before using) Eggs – 2 Baking soda – 1 tsp Vanilla – 2 tsp Ingredients – Frosting Butter – 175 gm Icing sugar – 250 gm Instant coffee crystals – 2 tbsp Hot Boiling milk – 1 tbsp Salt – ¼ tsp Method 1.      Preheat oven to 180 degrees Celsius. Grease and line 2 8-inch or 2 9-inch round pans with parchment paper. Set aside. 2.      In a bowl, sift flour. Add...

Dutch Apple Pie | Eggless Apple Pie

This long pending Dutch Apple pie is January month’s baking partner challenge which I actually did make in January but could not post until now. I braved my conjunctivitis and made this during my sick leave so that I could post it at least before the month end but I just couldn’t get everything together. I am always in such a hurry working in shifts – either the morning rush-hour before work or after-work before bedtime hustle that I got greedy when I finally had sick leave. I wanted to make as much as I could of the time I had and so I made Dutch Apple Pie. The pie turned out great and Jagan really liked it a lot. What I really liked about this pie was the crust – it was buttery, flaky and just sweet enough and all this without any eggs. The apple filling I thought was a tad too sweet, so add sugar in small increments and taste as you go along. I love apple pie with vanilla ice cream – Sparky’s in Egmore used to serve this combination for a dessert and I loved it. Sparky’s is not there anymore. I served apple pie sans the ice cream because there’s a much-resented ice-cream ban at home (my kids’ colds just don’t seem to go away and until then there’d be no ice-cream). But do try this along with vanilla ice cream and you’ll know what I am talking about.Yuvi has a nice red checked shirt that’s just perfect for strawberry, apple kind of food photos – you must have seen the red and white patterned cloth atop jam jars on pinterest. As luck would have it, Yuvi was wearing it that day and I asked him for his shirt for just a few minutes so that I could photograph the apple pie against the classic red pattern. I tried to be stern with him, pleaded with him, pretended to cry and even offered him a lollypop. The little guy wouldn’t budge. He started his ear-blasting whistling-crying instead. So I ran off and made do with Jagan’s somewhat similar patterned shirt instead. That’s what you see here. Prep time: 30 mins Baking time: 75 mins – 90 mins Makes: 7-10 slices Ingredients – Pie Crust Cold Butter – 175 gm cut into cubes Flour – 2 cups Granulated sugar – 3/4 cup Salt – a...

Yule Log Cake |Bûche de Noël | Chocolate log cake

This yule log was December month’s baking partner challenge but I never got around to doing it then. So true to my style, here’s the Christmas special Yule log Cake in the new year. The yule log was originally a huge hard log that was burned in the hearth as part of Christmas celebrations. Later when burning such a huge log became difficult and inconvenient, people started making a cake in the form of the traditional yule log and that’s how the yule log cake came into being. The yule log cake is a stunning log shaped cake with lovely alternating swirls of cake and chocolate frosting. I had to make do with my small rectangular pan so I ended up with a much shorter shorter-sided rectangular cake that was a lot taller than necessary (did you get any if what I said just now?). Because of my really short, shorter-sided rectangle, I could just about roll it once. So the swirls aren’t really as dramatic in my yule log but it tastes delicious. My first attempt at the yule log ended in the dustbin. It was a disaster. I woke up early to make this cake and my kids woke up early too right after me. First sign that things are not going well. I was doing it the morning we were supposed to travel somewhere and as things always happen, I couldn’t open the silly vanilla essence bottle. Second sign.It was stuck and it just kept turning around (you know how it happens with little cough syrup bottles) and I didn’t have time to pry it open with a knife. The original recipe called for 1 teaspoon or so of vanilla essence. “It’s just one teaspoon of vanilla” I thought. I decided to go ahead and bake the cake without the vanilla.  What would you know, the cake was nice, soft and springy but it smelt like a frittata. Third sign, more of a slap in the face than a sign. The frosting also turned against me. It was smooth when I pulled it out of the refrigerator, but when I beat it, it suddenly turned grainy and runny. Fourth sign. Must have been the cream I think. Jagan was screaming for me to move my butt and get ready. Enough, it wasn’t going to happen and I knew it was time to give up. So I threw...

Beach Cake

Hasini’s 4th birthday last month was a beach themed party and I chose to make a beach cake. I’ll tell you exactly how it came about. I first chose the cake and then the theme. The beach cake seemed doable enough – bake the cake, slap the frosting all over, cover three quarters of the top with crushed cookies (I used digestive biscuits) to make the sand and the remaining quarter with blue frosting to make the sea. Boy, was I wrong. I didn’t give much thought to the “blue” frosting part. Guess what, there’s no blue food colour in stores. Atleast not in Nilgiris, Amma Naana, Nuts and Spices or N2H. I was too far into it to change the cake. We’d made the decorations and decided the menu even. I scoured the net for ideas. I even bought purple cabbage to make my own natural blue food colour. You have to boil purple cabbage, reduce the boiled liquid which is purple in colour and finally add baking soda to make it blue. You’ve got to be very careful adding the baking soda as a little too much and the liquid will turn green. Thankfully I didn’t have to go down that path as my friend Priya came to the rescue. She suggested Blue Curacao syrup a lovely deep blue syrup which is used in mocktails. I bought two of these bottles but I ended up using just about 2 tablespoons of it as the frosting was getting too runny. It was maddeningly sultry that day and I didn’t have time to chill the cake after creating the “sea” and the sea sort of surged over. I used Hershey’s perfectlychocolate chocolate cake recipe, doubled it to make two rectangular cakes which I stacked one atop the other. I filled and frosted the cake with this yummy chocolate frosting (I tripled the recipe). I made a small batch of vanilla frosting for the sea. The cake was delightfully moist, chocolatey and absolutely scrummy. The cake was so moist and tender, it was a task slicing and serving given that we didn’t have the cake lifter. Don’t attempt to serve this cake without a cake slicer/lifter. Bake the cakes and make the frosting the day before and then assemble the next day. Breaking the whole thing into components I find helps keep my sanity. Notes: 1.      Line cake pans with butter...

Mini chocolate cupcakes with chocolate frosting – Eggless

For Hasini’s 4thbirthday last week, I made these cute mini chocolate cupcakes with THE most amazing chocolate frosting, to take to school. Her class has 50 odd kids. So I doubled the recipe here (to make 80 min cupcakes) and spent a large part of the previous night spooning cake batter into those teeny weeny cups. But the part that I dreaded most, the frosting, turned out quite well. I’ve had plenty of frosting disasters in the past and making those seemingly simple swirls is the hardest thing for me. I realized I don’t have the large sized star tip that is required for that pretty ruffled look. I had to make do with the smaller star tip that I had. And I never ever get the frosting consistency right. Moreover to be honest, I never really liked buttercream (the way it is universally made in the blogosphere). I find it too sweet and it always seemed a bit gritty. But this chocolate frosting is like no other frosting. It’s creamy, luscious and absolutely delicious. I found this chocolate frosting recipe at Ourbestbites a really beautiful site chockfull of great recipes and how-tos. The chocolate cake is another beauty. It is so simple – the original recipe calls it a mix-in-the-pan cake recipe. You just mix everything together right in the cake pan and bake. However, I mixed it in a bowl and then turned it into the pan. The mini cupcakes turned out super soft and moist and topped with the chocolate frosting they tasted divine. What you see here are my most successful frosting swirls to date (Indhe swirls panrathikule naan patte paadu irruke – ayayayo!). Frostings are so fussy and Chennai is so hot. I had to refrigerate them several times in between to get them to the right consistency to be able to pipe those shapes. I was pressed for time and I froze them for 10 minutes – piping bag, nozzle and all and when I took it all out, the frosting within the nozzle had frozen and wouldn’t budge even when the rest of the frosting was softer. So I cut open the bag removed the nozzle cleaned it out and fitted it into a new bag and started afresh. About 10 cakes down the line, the frosting again starts getting too soft. So refrigerate again. I had a good mind to just dunk...

Eggless Carrot Cake | Vegan Carrot Cake

I am as tightly wound up as the spiral wire on those old black telephones (remember those phones where we had to stick our finger into the number ring and then swing it all the way to the right, then again for the next number. I miss those old telephones). My mind is racing through menus, ingredients and lists. Hasini’s birthday is today and I’ve got a lot of things planned. As always I’ve also taken up a few baking projects (baking a cupcake and doing a simple buttercream swirl is a project for me) and it scares me no end. Baking is fine but decorating is downright frightening. Wish me luck. I’ll tell you all later how things go. The recipe I am posting today makes THE most yummy, unbelievably soft and moist carrot cake and all that without eggs. There is no milk, no butter and no eggs – it’s 100% Vegan. It’s virtually impossible to go wrong with this recipe – it’s as simple as it can be. I made this eggless carrot cake for my mother’s birthday a couple of days back and it was a huge hit. You will not believe how heavenly our house smelt. The carrots and cinnamon together create music, as in musical fragrance or does fragrant music sound better? This is what happens when I try to get all poetic. Carrots and cinnamon are basically a gorgeous combination. So don’t skip the cinnamon. Did you know applesauce makes a great substitute for eggs along with a little baking powder (1/2 tsp baking powder for every ¼ cup of applesauce and ¼ cup of applesauce for every egg)? What’s more you can make your own applesauce at home. It’s very very easy. This cake is so delicious on it’s own you won’t need a frosting but if you do want to go for one, try cream cheese frosting. It takes the carrot cake to another level altogether. I am sending this beautiful carrot cake to Srivalli’s Cake Mela and Pari’s “Only Baked Treats” event guest hosted by Kalyani. Prep time: 25 minsBaking time: 20-25 minsMakes:  15 cupcakes or 9 cupcakes and 1 small fluted ball shaped cake Ingredients All purpose flour/Maida – 1 cupCinnamon powder – 1 tspBaking powder – 1 tspBaking soda – 1 tspSalt – a pinchGranulated sugar – 1 cupGrated Carrots – 1-1/2 cupsApplesauce – 1/2 cup (I made my...

Vanilla cupcake

My kids love plain vanilla cupcakes. I didn’t know this until our recent trip to Ooty. The breakfast buffet at Savoy, Ooty had wonderful, fine-crumbed freshly baked vanilla cupcakes every day and I’d grab a bunch of these for snacking later on in the car. It kept them full while we drove around and I was really surprised they didn’t get bored of these cupcakes. I decided then that I had to make these vanilla cupcakes once we returned home. I found an easy basic vanilla cake recipe in Maida Heatter’s book and I adapted that recipe to make cupcakes. The recipe uses no butter, instead it calls for fresh cream. You won’t notice the difference though, the cupcakes turn out tender and fine-crumbed. I baked the first batch for about 17 minutes or so and the cupcakes were done but the tops didn’t turn golden. I baked the next batch for about 20-22 minutes and they came out nice and golden but I thought a tad bit drier than the first batch. So I’d suggest watching the cupcakes closely after the first 12 minutes or so and then pulling them out as soon as you think they’re done. These cupcakes taste great fresh out of oven. Serve them warm for breakfast or along with your evening tea. I am sending these to Srivalli’s Cake Mela. Prep time: 15 minutesBaking time: 15-25 minutesMakes: 16 cupcakes Ingredients Flour – 2 cupsSugar – 2 cupsSalt – pinchEggs – 2Vanilla Essence – 2 tspWhipping Cream – 1 cup (I used Amul Fresh Cream 200 ml pack)Baking powder – 2 tsp Method 1.      Preheat oven to 180 C and line a cupcake pan with cupcake liners. 2.      Sift together flour, salt and baking powder twice. Set aside. 3.      In a bowl, break open eggs and beat well till pale. Add the sugar and beat on high speed for 2-3 minutes. Add the vanilla essence and cream and beat for a further 1 minute till well incorporated. 4.      Add the flour and fold in till properly mixed. Use a spoon to fill the cupcake liners about 2/3rd full with the cake batter. Bake at 180 C for 17-22 minutes or till a toothpick inserted into the centre comes out clean.

Pumpkin Bread with Honey brown butter glaze

It’s Halloween month and aptly the baking partners challenge this month is Pumpkin ginger bread. This was the first time in my short baking partners’ history that I felt confident about the challenge. This pumpkin bread is a dense, spiced pumpkin loaf that is loaded with pumpkin. I boiled and pureed yellow pumpkin to use them in this loaf. The honey brown butter glaze was just plain awesome. The original recipe called for maple syrup but I substituted honey for the maple syrup. I had a good mind to make another batch of the glaze to dip my loaf in before every bite. I loved it. I am going to be making this glaze many more times. It’s Halloween month and aptly the baking challenge this month is Pumpkin ginger bread. This was the first time in my short baking partners’ history that I felt confident about the challenge. This pumpkin bread is a dense, spiced pumpkin loaf that is loaded with pumpkin. I boiled and pureed yellow pumpkin to use them in this loaf. The honey brown butter glaze was just plain awesome. The original recipe called for maple syrup but I substituted honey for the maple syrup. I had a good mind to make another batch of the glaze to dip my loaf in before every bite. I loved it. I am going to be making this glaze many more times. I baked my loaf in a dark non-stick loaf pan and I found that the top browned faster than I expected, much before the insides were baked. And as it happens during such times, I couldn’t find a piece of foil to cover the pan to lessen the browning. So use a light coloured pan if you don’t want yours to brown too fast. The ginger adds beautiful flavour and spice to this bread. It tasted great warm out of the oven. A scoop of ice-cream alongside a slice of this spiced pumpkin ginger bread would make a hearty dessert. Prep time: 20 minsBaking time: 1hr 10 minsMakes – 15 slices Ingredients Butter – 12 tbsp meltedFlour – 2-1/2 cupsBaking powder – 2 tspGround ginger – 2 tspSalt – 1 tspGranulated sugar – 1 cupBrown sugar – 1 cupPumpkin puree – 1-3/4 cupsEggs – 3 large For the Glaze Honey – ¼ cupVanilla – ½ tspButter – 2 tspIcing sugar – 1/3 cupCream – 1 tbspSalt –...
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