Thursday, 27 September 2012

Totoro Cream puffs


Cream puffs are made of Choux pastry (pronounced shoo pastry) or pate choux which is a very famous French pastry. It is said that they are named as they look like a small cabbage or 'choux' in french. Besides cream puffs, choux pastry is used to make Eclairs and Profiteroles.
It is an unusual pastry which is first cooked on stove and then baked in the oven first at a high temperature and then on low temperature and this makes them puffy and crispy.


The idea of these cute shaped cream puffs came from an incredible blog Anna the red. These puffs have been described with extensive illustrations and great tips. 
This also introduced a novice like me into the world of cartoons. Totoro is a character from a Japanese animation who is the guardian of the forest possessing special abilities and can be only seen by children.
Though very sheepishly I admit that mine looked more like a cat !! I missed out on attaining those pointy ears and my little one has no ear!!
The Totoro characters
My Totoro

Ingredients: Makes about 6 puffs
  • 3 tbsp water
  • 2 tbsp unsalted butter 
  • 1 egg, lightly beaten
  • 3 tbsp refined flour, sifted
  • a pinch of salt
  • 1 tbsp powdered sugar

Procedure
Preheat oven to 200 degree Celsius.
Prepare a baking tray by lining it with a sheet of aluminium foil and lightly grease it.
Sift flour, salt and powdered sugar.
Put water and butter in a pan and bring it to a boil.
When it starts boiling take it off the flame and add all the flour mixture at once. Stir very well.
When the pan is cool enough that you can touch the bottom with a finger, add the beaten egg 1 tbsp at a time. Stir well. In the beginning the egg and flour may look separate but if you keep stirring it will smoothen. 
Remember to add a tbsp of beaten egg at a time and stirring with all your arm strength. This is because you may not need the entire egg as their size varies.
What you need to achieve is the consistency of the dough where when lifted with a spatula, the dough falls in 3-5 secs. 
Now put the dough in a zip lock bag or any plastic bag and snip off one end. 
On the prepared baking tray, make a rough pear shape with the dough for the body. For the ears pipe some dough on the head end. If there are any pointy parts, use a wet finger to press them down.
(I made 5 such and little one with this recipe)
Put in the oven and bake for 10 mins. DO NOT OPEN THE OVEN. This is because in the first 10 mins the pastry puffs up in the high temperature oven.
Check if your pastry has puffed up and has risen well. If not give some more time. 
Now reduce the temperature of the oven to 176 degree Celsius and bake for 15 mins. In this time and reduced temperature the pastry gets well cooked from inside.
Take them out while still warm and make a slit in the bottom. Let them cool.



For the filling, I took the cheat's way out and made a strawberry custard from store bought powder. All you need to do is boil a cup of milk and add 3-4 tbsp of the powder dissolved in cold milk/water. Add sugar to taste and your custard is ready. 
Very carefully fill the prepared puffs with this custard lest you break the super crispy puff, like I did!



Now to give life to these super cute puffs all I did was grabbed my white chocolate from the fridge. I let it sit out for 10 mins till I went mad running around Vannya who had merrily opened my cupboard and was throwing everything on the floor!!
Once I got the situation in temporary control, I made round shapes for eyes of the now slightly gooey white chocolate. With the help of a toothpick and chocolate sauce I drew whiskers, eyes and a little nose.


Vishal was back from office and was very sweetly and patiently waiting for me take pictures before we all could jump on these cuties for tea.
The little cream puff obviously went to my angel who just gobbled it in one go. A satisfied affirmation that she enjoyed :):) 
I had taken a bite from one puff to take a picture showing the filling and had kept aside. When I returned to take it, I saw it wasn't there. My suspicion obviously went on Vishal but we soon realized who the real culprit was. It was my daughter Vaanya who was happily gorging on the puff. Must admit it was one of the sweetest feeling, my sweetheart loving and enjoying my handmade puffs. I must make them again for her very soon.


Vaanya had such a crazy time squishing the custard out of the now soggy puffs. Here is a picture of the demolition.


I had a super great time making these very easy and cute characters. A fun and quirky way to eat your cream puffs esp for a kid party (not taking away any excuse for adults to gorge on them)


Almost forgot to mention..hope you noticed my hand made tatting doily underneath the plate of cream puffs. Wonder when did I have the time to do such extensive work. 

Linking this recipe to a fun event Bake along hosted by Joyce from Kitchen Flavours, Lena from Frozen wings and Zoe from Bake for happy kids 

to Its a party


Happy Cream Puff Eating
Amrita

Monday, 24 September 2012

The 8 Texture Chocolate Cake



Sweet 16 months –that’s how old my darling angel has turned today. It has been 16 of the most beautiful and sweetest months of our lives. Vaanya is becoming adorable day by day and is such a blessing to us as parents.
It is also time of the month to whip up something sweet in my kitchen to celebrate our ‘Sweet day’.




If you are a masterchef fan and have been watching it regularly, you’ll remember the pressure test where the 8 texture Chocolate cake was made. You must have experienced  the magical heartbeat-skipping moment when the hot chocolate sauce makes an indent in the centre of that beautifully rich chocolate cake. Its almost like the entire mountain of chocolate melting away. It was such an amazing moment just watching the contestants pouring the hot chocolate sauce and praying for the cake to sink in.

You may call me a Big Maniac, but from that moment on I have been wanting to recreate the same magic in our little kitchen. And my partner-in-crime has been my partner-in-life, my husband Vishal without whose encouragement and support I would have never thought of lest attempt this beautiful cake. No wonder he was the one who had the maximum portion of the cake!!


Well, the stage was set having decided on the occasion. Vishal got me a three page printout of the recipe from the Masterchef website. And the final push came from these three incredible bloggers Zoe@Bake for Happy KidsAnuja@Simple Baking and BabySumo@Eat Your Heart Out who are hosting my most favorite event-Cook like a Star-Masterchef series

It was time to finally take out the recipe and read over and over (and over) again. There are so many elements that you go crazy and tired just looking at them. First, I quartered the entire recipe and decided to divide the elements in day1 and 2. (Whew!! What a task it was). Each element on its own is not very difficult if you are a regular baker but you need lots of free time because you need to devote all your attention into each element (which I obviously did not have as I have recently shifted to a new place, into an unfamiliar kitchen where half of my stuff still needs unpacking. And to top it all my daughter requires regular attention as she is in her exploratory stage where each and every thing starts from her hands and ends up in her mouth !!)


I must consider myself no less than a Braveheart for 
just attempting this recipe (just to feel good) as ,to confess, almost everything went wrong. My cake was dense, mousse not set, dacquoise not crisp, top chocolate disk unevenly set and to top it all my hot chocolate sauce got burnt while I was busy trying to take some decent pictures of the cake!! But may I also confess that nothing reduced that amazing moment when my cake sank in. Me and Vishal were jumping like kids screaming ‘It works. It really does!!’ And the best part is that nothing takes away its dizzying chocolatey taste. Me, a self confessed Chocolate freak could not take more than 2-3 bites (maybe because I had already polished off quite a lot while making!!)


It is a ‘Beyond Death-by-Chocolate cake’, extremely rich but also extremely satisfying (if you are crazy like me to even think of making it)
Do not try this at home before reading the recipe a hundred times over and gathering all the equipments required. 



You can find the recipe here
I am not posting the recipe as it is very extensive. I have quartered the entire recipe and increased the size of the cake from 8 cm to 10 cm (as that is the size of the ring I had!!)



After tasting Vishal was quick to ask when will I try it again. I showed him the most horrid face as if are you asking for real! 
But on second thoughts I would love to recreate the magic once more with my own modifications. I think I can make a better cake base, a better mousse and reduce the number of layers. 
All I can say is, it was definitely worth all that effort to see happy smiley chocolate-smothered faces at home.
Happy Birthday my darling angel.




Here is a video of that Nail-biting and fingers crossed moment. How we waited with bated breath. 
Hope you enjoy our magical moment too.

video

Happy crazy-experimenting
Amrita

Friday, 21 September 2012

Besan ke Gatte (Chickpea flour dumplings in gravy)


A look at my September posts and I realized that all I have been doing is baking !! I have baked so extensively that I had to literally force myself to switch off my oven and turn to 'No-bake' dishes. 
I decided to try this very famous dish from Rajasthan, a beautiful state located in the northwest of India which is known for its amazing, colourful and spicy cuisine. 
This dish has two components- the 'Gatte' which are Chickpea flour steamed dumplings and the 'Gravy' which is curd based.



Ingredients:

     For Gatte-
  • 2 cups besan /chickpea flour                  
  • ½ tsp jeera/cumin seeds
  • ½ tsp saunf/fennel seeds
  • ½ tsp namak/salt
  • ½ tsp lal mirch/red chilli powder
  • 4 laung/cloves
  • 4 kali mirch/black peppercorn
  • 3 tbsp oil

     For Gravy-
  • 1 cup curd
  • 2 onions
  • 4-5 garlic cloves
  • 1’’ ginger
  • 2 green chillies
  • ½ tsp jeera/cumin seeds
  • ½ tsp lal mirch/red chili powder
  • ½ tsp haldi/turmeric powder
  • 1 tsp dhaniya/coriander powder
  • 1 tsp namak/salt
  • ¼ tsp garam masala powder
  • 2 tbsp oil





Procedure:

For Gatte:

Boil 4 cups of water in a deep pan.

Take a bowl and mix besan, jeera, saunf, salt, red chilli powder and oil. Add crushed cloves and black peppercorns. Now add little water to make a stiff dough. Make cylinder shapes 3-4’’ long with this dough and put in boiling water for 15 mins. Take them out and cut in small circular pieces. Retain the water.


For Gravy:

Make a fine paste of onions, ginger, garlic and green chillies. Beat curd with a whisk and keep aside.

Take oil in a pan and add cumin seeds. As it browns add the paste made. Let it brown and then add red chilli, turmeric and coriander powder. Add salt and garam masala. Now add curd and stir continuously till it gets a boil. Add the gatte pieces and the water retained from boiling them. Cook for 5 mins.

Garnish with fresh chopped coriander and serve with hot chapatis.


This was my first attempt at trying this very traditional dish and I must say that I thoroughly enjoyed. 
The 'icing on the cake' was Vishal (my husband) calling up from his office and asking me what I gave him for lunch. He had never heard of the dish and really enjoyed his lunch which was different from all the mundane dishes I make for him!!
Needless to mention the baker (oops) cook inside me was really satisfied !!



Happy Cooking
Amrita

Sunday, 16 September 2012

The Ultimate Chocolate Cream Cheese Cookies



Time of the month to whip up a recipe for the Baking Partners. It is a group of amazing home-bakers who help each other to learn and perfect their baking skills. Every month we bake a recipe chosen by one member and thus understand and learn more about the fineries of baking.

 I had to be a part of this extra amazing baking group as I am a complete baking maniac ! This is my first participation, having recently joined this group. This month we had to bake cookies and got not one but three wonderful recipes by three members. It was upto us to bake all three or choose one. Due to my time constraints, I had a real difficult time choosing one. I am in the middle of managing time between handling my adorable 15 month old daughter, shifting my entire household to a new place and handling the disrupted internet connection due to the non-stop rains in my beautiful city, Kolkata !!



Now I must confess that I am a complete desert freak. And when you mix my desert passion with the ethereal chocolate, the result is me straight jumping to it.
When I read the three equally amazing cookie recipes, I could not help but choose the ‘pick-me-screaming’ Chocolate Cream cheese Cookies ! This recipe was proposed by an incredible blogger Tina of Pinays Cooking Corner 

The first thing that came into my mind after having these cookies was ‘Is it a cake’ or ‘Is it a cookie’? just like the famous line from Superman !
The cookie has a surprisingly beautiful cake texture that just melts in your mouth and keeps you doing ‘Ummmmm’ for a long time. The chocolate chips add to the chocolateness and makes them equivalent to a ‘Death by chocolate cookies’. Needless to mention that I tucked in quite a few just experimenting with them !!

My first batch expanded and spread and became a bed of cookies (not that it hampered the taste in any way). I loved the extra crunch it got because of being too thin.


I carefully put the second batch which came out quite decent. But have to confess that the rest of my batches were perfect(I made 4 batches of 6 cookies each by halving the recipe)


So without further ado here is the recipe adapted from Matt Lewis and  Renato Poliafito


Ingredients:I have halved the recipe
  •    1 cup(128g) all purpose flour
  •    2 ½ tbsp (16g) cocoa powder
  •    1 tsp (4g) baking soda
  •    A pinch of salt
  •    1 stick(113g) unsalted butter, softened slightly
  •    2 oz. (56g) cream cheese at room temperature
  •    ½ cup (100g) granulated sugar
  •    ¼ cup (55g) dark brown sugar
  •    1 large egg
  •    1 tbsp heavy cream
  •    ½ tsp vanilla extract
  •    1 ½ oz. (42g) bittersweet chocolate, melted     and cooled
  •    4 oz. (112g) of semi sweet chocolate chips


Procedure:
In a medium bowl, sift the flour with cocoa powder, baking soda and salt.
In another bowl combine the butter, cream cheese, granulated sugar and brown sugar and beat until fluffy, about 3 minutes. Scrape down the sides of the bowl.
Beat in eggs, heavy cream and vanilla until blended.
At low speed, beat in the dry ingredients.
Add the melted chocolate and chocolate chips and beat until incorporated.
Cover the bowl and refrigerate the dough for at least 15 minutes or upto 2 hours.
Preheat oven to 180 degree Celsius. Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper or lightly grease the baking tray.
Scoop heaping tablespoons of cookie dough onto the prepared baking sheets, spacing them two inches apart. Bake for 12-15 mins until the cookies are just set. Let the cookies cool on the baking sheets for 5 minutes, then transfer them to a rack to cool completely.



I enjoyed my batch of cookies with a big glass of cold coffee..super perfect combination.


With the coming festive season, these cookies can be an amazing gift which will be surely loved and appreciated. 
A sure shot favorite for my family and aptly named 'Ultimate Chocolate Cream cheese Cookies'!! 


Happy Cookie-eating
Amrita

Wednesday, 12 September 2012

Healthy Veggie Toast


Being a Physiotherapist and hence in the health industry, breakfast according to me (and I am sure to most of you) is a very important meal of the day. 
Breakfast literally means "breaking the fast". It is the first meal taken after getting up from an entire night's fast. 
Food is basically fuel for our bodies and we need to be fuelled well several times in the day in order to function effectively. In the morning, after many hours without food, it is essential to refuel in order to provide the necessary nutrients and energy to get us through the first part of the day. And this is far more important for people suffering from Diabetes as their blood sugar levels are low early morning. People who skip breakfast are likely to have problems with concentration, metabolism and weight and may feel tired and irritable.



Breakfast options varies from place to place, but usually includes some or all of the following: a carbohydrate like grains or cereals,  fruits and/or vegetables, a protein like eggs, cheese, meat or fish and a beverage like tea, coffee or fruit juice.


The recipe that I am sharing today is one of our family favourites. We use brown bread for a healthier option and top it with a mixture of chopped onions, tomatoes and green bell peppers mixed with thick curd and a little sooji/semolina. We than sprinkle it with some breadcrumbs before putting in the oven. What we all love is the crispiness of the bread along with the goodness of vegetables and curd with a wonderful crunch from the browned breadcrumbs.



Ingredients:
  • 2 slices of brown bread
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 1 tomato, chopped
  • 1 green chilly(optional)
  • 1/2 green bell pepper, chopped
  • 2 tbsp thick curd/hung curd
  • 1 tbsp sooji/semolina
  • salt to taste
  • breadcrumbs to sprinkle


Procedure:
Preheat oven to 180 degree Celsius.
Take chopped onions, tomatoes, green chillies and green bell peppers in a bowl and mix curd, semolina and salt into it. Let it stand for 5 mins.



Spread this mixture on bread slices evenly and sprinkle some home-made or store bought breadcrumbs, coating each slice well



Place the slices on a baking tray and bake for 10 mins or till the bread becomes crispy and toasted.


Remember that your body needs Breakfast, everyday.

Happy Breakfast-eating
Amrita



Sending this recipe to Favorite Recipes Event-Breakfast Recipes hosted by an incredible blogger Swathi Iyer.

and to Bake Fest#11

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