Dark Desires Chocolate Cake

Yumjay gave me cookbook as a gift on New Year’s eve. I was thrilled that he thoughtfully bought something that i’d enjoy and best surprise of all was the book itself, it was “The Unofficial Downton Abbey Cookbook”. I like watching Downton and have gotten several of my friends hooked to this show. What’s not to love about the Brits and their poise and sophistication right? Anyway the book has got nothing to do with the show, the author has come up with recipes both suitable for upstairs and downstairs dining that takes you back to another era. Some of the recipes look complicated and most of them have some form of meat. So that left with me with the desserts and tea sections to try out something.

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I always bake a cake for Yumjay’s birthday and this time i decided to bake dark desires chocolate cake from the book he gave me. I don’t eat chocolates, so can’t say much about the texture or taste of the cake.  Yumjay said its as rich and moist as a cake from a high-end bakery. Guess that sums it all up. Scooby said its delicious after her first bite and she’s my best critic, never thinks twice before saying yummy or yucky:) So all in all a good chocolate cake recipe for special occasions like birthdays, Valentines or even to celebrate Sochi 2014.

cake

Ingredients for cake

1 cup all-purpose flour

3/4 cup sugar

1/4 cup brown sugar

1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder

1 teaspoon baking soda

1/2 teaspoon baking powder

1/4 teaspoon salt

1 egg, at room temperature

1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

1/2 cup cold coffee ( i used chilled hot chocolate)

1/2 cup buttermilk

1/4 cup vegetable oil

Ingredients for frosting

1/2 cup butter, softened

2 cups powdered sugar

3/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder

1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract

1/4 cup whole milk ( i used half-half)

1 oz dark chocolate, grated (optional)

Method

1. Preheat oven to 350 F. Grease and flour a 8 X 8 inch or a 9 inch round pan and set aside.

2. In a large bowl, sift together the flour, sugars, cocoa powder, baking soda, baking powder and salt.

3. Make a well in the center and pour in the egg, vanilla, chilled hot chocolate and oil. Mix with a wooden spoon until smooth.

4. Pour into prepared baking pan, bake for 35-40 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the center of the cake comes out clean.

5. Cool in pan for at least an hour before transferring on to a wire rack to cool for another 15-30 minutes.

6. While the cake is cooling, you can prepare the frosting. Beat butter using a hand mixer on medium speed until smooth and creamy.

7. Reduce speed to low and add powdered sugar, cocoa and vanilla, scraping down the sides of the bowl with a spatula.

8. Add milk as needed until frosting reaches preferred spreading consistency.

9. Once the cake has completely cooled, spread frosting over the top and sides. Sprinkle grated dark chocolate on top.

10. This cake can be stored at room temperature for a day and refrigerated for 3-4 days.

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No-Bake Nutella “Nadella” Fudge

Happy Humpday folks! This has been an exciting week for Seattle. The Seahawks won their first ever superbowl championship on Sunday. The victory parade celebrations is taking place at the century links field today in Seattle. After a sleepless night on Sunday, I know of several people in my neighborhood who taken off from work today to join the parade. Seattleites definitely take the 12th man spirit to a whole new level:)nutella fudge

To add on to the excitement, Microsoft announced its new CEO yesterday, Sathya Nadella, fondly nicknamed “nutella” by peers and the press because of his sweet and charming personality and chocolate brown skin color. Nadella hails from Hyderabad, India and has definitely made every person in the Indian sub-continent proud by his achievements. To celebrate all the exciting news in Seattle this week, i decided to make this no-bake nutella fudge which is smooth, creamy, chocolaty and definitely satisfies sweet cravings. Pumpkin puree can be replaced with avocado and it is easy to veganize this recipe by using a dairy free chocolate nut butter. This also makes a simple and elegant Valentine’s day treat.

nutella fudge

Ingredients

1/4 cup Nutella spread or any choco-nut spread

1/4 cup pumpkin puree or mashed avocado

1/4 cup cocoa powder

1/4 cup coconut oil

2 tablespoons pure maple syrup

Method

1. Place all the ingredients in a food processor and process until smooth and buttery, scraping the sides several times.

2. Line a small loaf pan with parchment paper and transfer fudge batter into the pan.

3. Cover with plastic wrap and freeze for at least 4 hours.

4. Remove from freezer and cut into bite-sized pieces (about 10) and serve.

Chinese Almond Cookies

With Chinese New year coming up on this Friday and super bowl on Sunday, i have a few interesting recipes lined up for you guys. This year super bowl is special because Seattle Seahawks are playing in the finals.. yeah! Go Hawks!! That’s not until Sunday, so lets talk about these cookies, shall we? There are cookies and almond cookies and then they are these Chinese almond cookies. Chinese bakeries in my opinion make the best cookies and cakes, so light and airy. I know they probably have copious amounts of eggs and butter, but New Year comes only once a year, so treat yourself to this outrageously tasty cookies. Almond cookies symbolize coins and wealth, therefore an essential part of Chinese New Year celebrations. I really hope more cookies mean more wealth, because i have already eaten a couple of these and i am staring at the cookie jar as i type this post 😉

almond cookies

Ingredients

1.5 cups all-purpose flour

1/4 cup almond flour

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

1/4 teaspoon salt

3/4 cup butter, softened

1/2 cup sugar

1 egg, divided

1 tablespoon water

1/2 teaspoon almond extract

30 blanched almonds

Method

1. Preheat oven to 350 F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and set aside.

2. Whisk together flours, baking soda and salt. Set aside.

3. In a separate bowl, cream together butter and sugar until creamy and fluffy.

4. Beat in 1/2 egg, water and almond extract. Mix until well incorporated.

5. Add flour mixture and mix until just combined.

6. Roll 2 teaspoons of cookie dough into a ball and place on the prepared baking sheet. Repeat until all the dough is used up. You will get about 30 cookies if you use 2 teaspoon measurement.

7. Top each cookie with a blanched almond and brush tops with egg wash. To blanch almonds, place almonds in a bowl and pour boiling water over them. Let it sit for a minute, gently loosen the skin from almonds and dry with a paper towel.

8. Bake in preheated oven for 15-20 minutes. Cool them on a wire rack for 10 minutes before serving.

Split Bengal Gram Laddu

Laddu is a ball-shaped sweet popular in India. It is commonly made with chickpea flour, coconut or semolina. The most popular version of this sweet is called boondi laddu where tiny balls of chickpea flour are deep-fried in ghee or oil and then made into a larger ball. This split bengal gram laddu is fairly simple to make and its a protein rich dessert which can be made in under 30 minutes. The recipe below yields about 25 laddus. They store well in the refrigerator for up to a week, as long as you can resist eating them.

channa dal laddu

Ingredients

1 cup split Bengal gram/channa dal

1 cup sugar

1/4 cup clarified butter/ ghee

1/4 cup water

few strands of saffron soaked in a tablespoon of warm milk

1/2 teaspoon powdered cardamom

15 cashews, roughly chopped

a pinch of edible camphor (optional)

Method

1. Soak split Bengal gram/channa dal in water for at least 2 hours.

2. Drain the water and grind into a coarse paste by adding very little water, if needed.

3. Heat clarified butter/ghee in a heavy bottomed pan. Add cashews and roast them till they turn golden brown. Use a slotted spoon and remove cashews from the pan.

4. Add ground Bengal gram to the pan with clarified ghee and add water. Keep stirring constantly and cook till the raw smell goes away and all the water is absorbed, about 15 minutes.

5. Add sugar, powdered cardamom, saffron and edible camphor. Mix well and cook till the mixture starts to thicken.

6. Turn off the heat and when its warm enough to touch, take a tablespoon of the mixture and roll into a ball.

7.  Repeat until all the mixture is used up.

Rock Sugar Porridge/ Kalkandu Pongal

Rock sugar also known as rock candy or kalkandu in Tamil is a confectionery composed of large sugar crystals. In the United States, you can find them in different colors and flavors. In India, they are usually diamond shaped crystals or large crystals which can be broken down easily. In the States, you can find these in Indian grocery stores. German rock sugar available in Teavana can also be used in this recipe. This simple lentil and rice based dessert is quite popular in South India especially Tamilnadu and is made on Harvest festival day to signify abundance and prosperity. The traditional sweet pongal recipe uses brown sugar or jaggery but this variation with rock sugar is equally delicious. For a vegan version, substitute coconut milk or water for regular milk in the recipe and leave out the clarified butter.

kalkandu pongal

Ingredients

1 cup rice

1/2 cup moong dal

1 cup milk

1 cup rock sugar

10 cashews

1 tablespoon raisins

1/2 teaspoon powdered cardamom

few strands of saffron soaked in warm milk

2 tablespoons clarified butter/ ghee

Method

1. Dry roast moong dal in a pan for 5 minutes, set aside.

2. Heat clarified butter in the same pan, add cashews and raisins and fry till raisins become plump and cashews turn golden brown.

3. Clean and wash rice along with roasted moong dal.

4. Cook rice and dal along with 3 cups of water and 1/2 cup of milk in a pressure cooker for 5 whistles.

5. When the pressure is completely released, open the cooker and add 1/2 cup of milk and rock sugar. Mix well, rock sugar will start to melt in the heat. If you are using large crystals of rock sugar, powder it and then add it to the rice-lentil mixture.

6. Add powdered cardamom and saffron, mix well.

7.  Add roasted cashews and raisins along with clarified butter(add more if needed), mix well. Serve warm.

Chocolate Tiffin

 Tiffin for many Indians is a light meal between lunch and dinner. Chocolate tiffin is an English dessert made with crushed biscuits or cookies, nuts and melted chocolate. I’d call this the ultimate lazy dessert. There is no baking involved, just mixing  a few easy to source ingredients and few hours of refrigeration. This light confection pairs well  with tea or coffee. This is very similar to the no-bake Marie biscuit cake or fridge cake that most Indians may be familiar with. I have added toasted pecans and candied fruit in this recipe, but really sky is the limit when it comes to the add-ins in this recipe. This stores well for several days in the refrigerator, if you can manage to keep your hands off them. Merry Christmas folks!

chocolate tiffin

Ingredients

200 grams digestive biscuits

1/4 cup toasted pecans, roughly chopped

1/3 cup candied fruit or tutti-frutti

450 grams/1 lb chocolate ( i used dark chocolate from Trader Joe’s)

Method

1. Line a 8X8 square baking pan with plastic wrap or cling film and set aside.

2. In a large bowl, roughly crush the digestive biscuits with hand, ending up with a combination of crumbs and chunky pieces.

3. Add nuts and cherries to the crushed biscuits and mix well.

4. Spread half of the biscuit mixture into the baking pan, pressing down firmly.

5. Break half the quantity of chocolate into pieces and place them in a metal bowl. Heat water in a saucepan and place the metal bowl with chocolate on top of the saucepan. Allow chocolate to melt in low, indirect heat stirring continuously till the chocolate completely melts.

6. Pour the melted chocolate on top of the biscuit layer in the baking pan, making sure the biscuit mixture is completely covered.

7. Add the remaining biscuit mixture and spread evenly.

8. Repeat step 5 to melt remaining chocolate and pour on top of the biscuit layer. Use the back of a spoon to spread it out into an even layer.

9. Refrigerate for at least 2 hours.

10. Remove from fridge 10 minutes before serving and cut into squares.

Vegan Mocha Ice Cream (Starbucks Copycat)- A Guest Post From Brandi At The Vegan8

Brandi blogs at The Vegan 8, a website dedicated to vegan recipes with only 8 ingredients. I love her beautiful vegan desserts and pictures She has a very inspiring story and trust me, her website will make anyone embrace vegan diet. Follow Brandi via email or facebook for simple, healthy vegan recipes, you definitely don’t want to miss her killer vegan desserts this holiday season. Thank you Brandi for this fabulous recipe, i cant wait to try this myself when i return. As always, your pictures are finger-licking delicious.

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Hello everybody! I was completely honored when Pavithra asked me to guest post on her amazing blog. She makes some of the most beautiful, delicious dishes. They are always so full of flavor and I love the photos that go along with the recipes.
My blog is about all vegan food, which I’m very passionate about, as it helped to heal my husband’s gout. We both became healthier and he has never felt better. I am very passionate about cooking/baking vegan food and recreating all of my old favorites into just as delicious meals and desserts that I’ve ever had. I have discovered ways to make my food taste just as good as the foods I used to indulge in, but a lot healthier. I have my friends (all non-vegan) continually taste test and approve them and they all love the recipes. So, I’m just continually inspired to keep busting out delicious food and especially desserts. Desserts are my absolute favorite and my specialty! My focus is also to make things very easy for my readers, so my concept is based on recipes using 8 ingredients or less (not necessarily including salt & water).mochaicecream3sig
So, onto today’s dessert. I figured, what better way to introduce a vegan dessert that most probably think can’t be delicious without dairy, than ice cream? Yes, I know a lot of places are experiencing snow and are freezing, as well as it is very cold here too. However, I personally could eat ice cream any time of the year, so it doesn’t bother me. If you don’t want to make this now, save it and make it later when it’s warm.
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“Better than Starbucks!!” That’s what my hubby said when he took a bite out of this ice cream. My very favorite ice cream, before going vegan, was Starbucks Mocha ice cream. I don’t drink much coffee, but I love coffee flavored ice cream. It is the BEST!!
I absolutely love the combo of chocolate and coffee. It is a rich, deep, gourmet flavor. I had given up on that ice cream…….until now. I recreated it and it is even better. I made mine all chocolate, instead of swirled like the Starbucks version. An ice cream that tastes better than the original and healthier? Oh yes, it is. It took me a couple of trials, but it is pure decadence. Seriously, we were both flipping over it. It is so creamy and thick, you would NEVER KNOW it wasn’t dairy. I swear…go make it. It is even scoopable right out of the freezer. It is 10 times better than any other ice cream I’ve made before.
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Ingredients
·         1 heaping cup whole raw cashews (5 oz, 142g)
·         1 1/2 cups unsweetened almond milk
·         1/4 cup + 2 tablespoons cocoa powder
·         1/2 cup + 2 tablespoons organic coconut palm sugar (gives a richer flavor than regular sugar)
·         2 tablespoons raw agave (helps with the texture by preventing ice crystals)
·         1 teaspoon vanilla extract
·         2 teaspoons fine ground instant espresso (adjust to your preference depending on how strong you want it, or omit for a chocolate flavor)
·         1/8 teaspoon fine sea salt
Method
1.         Add all of the ingredients to a power blender, such as a Vitamix, and blend for a couple of minutes on the highest setting until completely creamy and smooth. If you do not have a power blender, soak the cashews for 5-6 hours first in a bowl covered with room temperature water. Drain and rinse them and pat them dry. Add to your blender with the remaining ingredients.
2.        After you have gotten it completely smooth, taste and add any more espresso if desired.
3.        Pour the mixture into your ice cream maker and churn until firm and a soft serve consistency forms. Place in the freezer in an airtight container  for a couple of hours to harden before eating.