Sharmi on the Trot

Travelling, Exploring, Eating…

Archive for the tag “dessert”

Weekend Cupcakes – Orange with Chocolate and Coffee

Baking and I have never been THAT fond of each other . The reason – specific measurements. Unlike cooking, one can’t really wing it. (Who likes a cake that falls flat or lacks taste, right)
My grandmother loved to bake. She would bring out her many aluminum cake tins and make basic vanilla sponges or variations adding cocoa powder and/or essences. The kitchen would smell all buttery and vanilla-y, heaven really.
My younger sister has got that gene. She loves to bake. Though not often, when she gets into that zone, there’s no stopping her. It’s scary I tell you, especially when you’re dreaming of dancing with Patrick Swayze (when he picks you up as ‘Time of my Life’ plays all around) and instead get woken up rudely with the words “Cupcake time! You need to sift the flour.”
R tried two variations. Orange with chocolate and coffee with cocoa. Both with a gooey chocolate centre (dark and white) and dark chocolate icing. I can’t describe you how delicious they were as we gobbled them up with coffee. What are cheat days for after all!

Ingredients
For Cupcakes (Makes 12)
150g self-raising flour (half for each batch)
150g caster sugar (half for each batch)
150g butter (half for each batch)
2 eggs (1 for each batch)
2 tbs milk (1 for each batch)
3 tbs cocoa powder
Handful of milk and dark chocolate shards
1 tsp natural orange essence
2 tsp strong coffee

Icing
100g icing sugar
2 tsp cocoa powder
2 tbs hot water

-Preheat oven to 190 C
-For each batch whisk together the butter, egg, milk and sugar. Sift in the flour.
-Add 1 tbs cocoa and orange essence in one. Add the 2 tbs cocoa and coffee in another. Whisk till you get a nice tasting mixture.
-Line the muffin tins with 12 cupcake wrappers. Carefully spoon in the mixture.
-Add shards of chocolate and then add another spoonful of mixture on top.
-Bake in the oven for 12 minutes. Take out and cool.
-Make the icing in a bowl. Whisk all ingredients together and decorate the cupcakes.
-Enjoy with coffee, hot chocolate or just as it is!

Freshly baked and cooling

Freshly baked and cooling

All iced and ready to devour. My Jackson Pollock moment!

All iced and ready to devour. My Jackson Pollock moment!

Coffee and cupcakes!

Coffee and cupcakes!

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Iftar at Jama Masjid

Delhi summers are humid. Getting out of the cool air-conditioned metro and up the escalator, the humid weather decides you are its long lost friend. It engulfs you, leaves you drenched and yet, no matter how hot it is, just the thought of iftar (the evening meal at sunset when Muslims break their fast during Ramzan) keeps your legs moving forward one step at a time.

The last rays of the sun

The last rays of the sun

Old Delhi is crowded like it usually is. I hop, skip and jump where I can see a relatively empty stretch of the pavement. But then again I’m forced to step on to the road in front of the million rickshaws jostling for space. The narrow street leads to Jama Masjid. I cross shops selling invitation cards and bathroom taps at wholesale rates, sellers shouting out their wares, old men trying to pack up after a day’s hard work. A little boy almost crashed into me trying to run as fast his legs would carry him towards Jama Masjid, to make it in time for the prayer call.

Crowded street in front of Jama Masjid

Crowded street in front of Jama Masjid

It’s not easy to navigate the streets of Old Delhi but once you make it to the front of the Masjid, the incredible smells from every nearby shop leaves you gloriously hungry. A chef frying pieces of potatoes coated with semolina, a fruit seller chopping up melons, bananas and apples to keep plates ready in time, the dipping of the raw samosas into piping hot oil in a gigantic wok…

Heaps and heaps of sewai

Heaps and heaps of sewai

Iftar was scheduled at 7.25pm. As I waited in front of the Masjid, I saw families and friends buying dried fruits and bottled sherbets and the fried goods in bulk. Some had water bottles in their hands just in case they couldn’t manage to eat anything on time to break their fast.

Dried fruit sellers breaking their fast

Dried fruit sellers breaking their fast

The sun’s rays slowly gave way to dusk. The sky changed colours… from a pale blue, the minarets stood out against a fiery red, then burnt orange and finally, fairy lights lit up in the black darkness. It was time to eat.

As the prayer calls rang out, I saw many scramble up the stairs into the mosque. Most mosques serve free iftaar in the form of fruits and savouries. My friend and I made our way to the opposite alley from where the delicious smells tantilised me as I waited for her arrival. There was so much to choose from. We sat at Al-Jawahar, a really great eating joint for Mughlai food, and dug into the little fried goods and fruit platters. A nice refreshing rose flavoured sherbet with lime followed.

Few steps from the eatery we came across a shop selling Shahi Tukra, a mouthwatering sweet dish of bread dipped in syrup and dried fruits. We washed that down with cold almond milk as perspiration dripped down our backs.

Delicious hot fried goodness and fruits to break the fast

Delicious hot fried goodness and fruits to break the fast

“You have to eat the mutton samosa,” said Zubina excitedly. “They are just so good.” Unfortunately after a good half hour after iftaar began and wolfing down sweets like there was no tomorrow, the mutton samosas remained elusive. We have to leave something for the next time we go back after all!

Shahi tukda. Deliciously sweet

Shahi tukra. Deliciously sweet

Fairy lights light up Jama Masjid

Fairy lights light up Jama Masjid

The Christmas hangover

I know its a bit late but I think I’m still suffering from a Christmas hangover. Every year I make it a point to go home (Calcutta) because Delhi really doesn’t feel Christmasy during the 25th. That’s a little weird considering the temperature in the Capital dropped to 2 degrees in the last week of 2013!

So this year as usual, I packed my little bag and went home to celebrate the joys of Christmas at home. We don’t really celebrate the festival (do go for the candlelight midnight mass at St Paul’s Cathedral on Christmas eve if you find yourself in Calcutta) but it’s the food which puts a big smile on my face.

Fish mousse!

Fish mousse!

Let me elaborate. Every Christmas since the past eight years, I’ve been invited for lunch at my friend Brett’s house. Every year when I go back, the house feels so warm and inviting, decorated beautifully with ornaments, candles and Christmas knick knacks. His mum, Paula, is a fantastic cook and singlehandly feeds over 20 people on 25th cooking more than ten dishes, desserts AND starters. There’s something for everyone. Start with chicken liver pate, cold cuts, Christmas cake and of course drinks of your choice. My mouth starts salivating just looking at the lunch table covered with Christmas specialities that have a Goan influence. You have a pork and chicken roast alongside sorpotel and prawn malai curry. Not to mention pork vindaloo and mutton curry (that’s a Bengali favourite) with rice. So, as you can imagine, my jeans have just gotten a bit tighter!

Bring on the pork roast!

Bring on the pork roast!

The Christmas lunch!

The Christmas lunch!

Paula has magic in her hands when making desserts. She started The Sweetiere ( http://www.facebook.com/TheSweetiere ) and has been flooded with requests for classes on hand made chocolates. They are so divine I wish I could have carried some back to Delhi!

Paula Fernandes

Paula Fernandes

Cake and cookies anyone?

Cake and cookies anyone?

I had a fantastic Christmas surrounded by family, friends and gorgeous food. Hope you’ll had a fabulous Christmas too and wishes for a wonderful year ahead 🙂

A delightful frozen chocolate cake

When I was growing up, bars of chocolate could never act a bribe to get me to do something. Chocolate for cleaning your room or putting your toys away would never work because I despised milk chocolate. It was only the dark bitter ones I had a craving for, which in those days, were not easy to get your hands on.

But as I grew older, I started to understand why does chocolate drive everyone crazy. Thankfully the Incas, Aztecs and Mayans understood how important cocoa beans were! From making the ‘drink for the Gods’ to using cocoa beans as currency, the world today would have never had chocolate had it not been for the Mexican and Central American civilizations!

While I love to cook, the younger sister loves to bake. Her only request is to buy her an oven in Delhi. Back home, she had access to three but here, only a microwave. And she refuses to bake in the microwave. “Please Sharmi, a microwave? You’ve got to be kidding me,” she says every time I ask her to make brownies. Very fond of frozen cheesecakes, she decided to make a frozen chocolate cake. Believe you me, it only takes less than 15 minutes to make and after freezing for an hour, it’s time to devour! It’s a great option for vegetarians because it’ an eggless cake.

Ingredients

150 gm of dark cooking chocolate
1 cup cream
100 gm frozen butter (50gm for the base and 50gm for chocolate)
8 digestive biscuits (bashed with a rolling pin)
Extra chocolate for shavings to decorate
Cocoa powder to sprinkle on top

The process to chocolate goodness

First mix the frozen butter with the grounded biscuits till it forms a nice crumbly mixture. Do it with your fingers and not a food processor. Put it in a cake tin making sure it’s levelled before freezing it for five minutes. Not more because then it will become so hard, your teeth will fall out trying to bite into it.

While the base is freezing, melt the chocolate along with the remaining butter. In another bowl start whipping the cream. Once the chocolate has melted into a dark rich brown sauce, add it to the cream. Fold the mixture carefully, not whipping it, with a wooden spoon or spatula.

(At this point, you can add fruits, nuts, more chocolate in the form of chips, well it’s your call. Orange and dark chocolate is a heavenly combination, just saying)

Pour the melted goodness over the frozen base. Cover with cling film and put it in the fridge for about an hour. Not the deep freeze. Don’t be impatient just because you’ve already licked the wooden spoon and bowl clean! The wait will be worth it!
(Tip: I prefer to eat it the next day because I feel the taste is ever better if that’s even possible!)

Once the cake is ready, put some chocolate shavings and cocoa powder to decorate before inhaling the cake instead of eating it! But warning you guys, its a very very rich cake. So take your time to finish it.

I wanted it to look old fashioned thus the waves of chocolates instead of a levelled layer

I wanted it to look old fashioned thus the waves of chocolates instead of a levelled layer

A slice of rich and dark chocolate cake!

A slice of rich and dark chocolate cake!

Indulgence, a Tuesday treat

It’s Tuesday afternoon. A weekday neither here nor there. Too far away from Saturday while Sunday memories are still fresh. An extension of the Monday morning blues. Thanks to my job, I sometimes go to work at 9 in the morning and return the next day or leisurely stroll into office at 4 in the evening. Unpredictability seems to be the norm.

Well, this Tuesday as my grogginess wore off I realised I wasn’t in a rush. Once the daily chores finished, the dessert craving kicked in, overwhelming me. I needed something sweet, desperately! Italy came to mind. From tasting Tiramisus in Rome to a delectable Cannoli in Venice, I drew my Tuesday inspiration from a small pastry shop in Firenze. It was a simple dessert — vanilla custard and some frills in a dessert cup.  I felt I had died right there as the flavours exploded in my mouth.

So, for all you out there, here’s a little something you can whip up on the weekdays which bother you just that much. It’s a little time consuming but when you dip the spoon into the cup and taste the fruits of your labour, you won’t have a single regret!

Vanilla custard with a side of chocolate
Ingredients
1 cup milk
1 cup cream
1/3 cup castor sugar (or just break down regular sugar in the mixer)
1 vanilla bean
3 egg yolks
1 teaspoon cornflour
100gm dark cooking chocolate
1 knob of butter
6 digestive biscuits
OR
Instant custard powder for the desert cravers with an eye on the clock

The process to sinful goodness
Custard
Heat the milk and cream in a saucepan but don’t let it boil. Cut open the vanilla bean, scrape the seeds and add to the mixture (Add the pod for more flavour). In a separate bowl, mix the sugar, egg yolks and cornflour.
Take the saucepan off the heat and pour into the bowl with the eggs, sugar and cornflour, remembering to remove the pod. Mix well and transfer back to the saucepan stirring constantly for 15-20 minutes over low heat. You’ll know the custard is done when it coats the spatula. Refrigerate for 30 minutes till cold.
For instant custard powder users, please follow the packet instructions.

Biscuit base
Bash the digestive biscuits in a plastic bag with a rolling pin till it forms a crumbly texture.

Side of chocolate
Melt the chocolate and butter over low heat till its forms a glorious gooey dark sauce. Keep a bit of the uncooked chocolate aside to make shavings.

Plating up
Take a glass of your choice and add the biscuit crumbs as layer one. Spoon over the cold custard for layer two. Finally, add the dark chocolate sauce to create layer three. For decorative purposes (how much of chocolate is enough anyway?) use a peeler to shave the dark chocolate on top. Add extra crumbs if you want too.

ImageTuesday blues? Try this. Once you scrape off the last remaining bits, you’ll know all’s right with the world!

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