Friday, May 27, 2011

Chilli n Cherry in Chocolate Marquise on Lemon Meringue ~ Celebrating Sisters for Daring Baker Challenge

The Daring Baker's challenge is a group which I so love... It has a new technique, new plating and fabulous flavours every month... It always starts with cold feet, then psyching myself into collecting ingredients n thinking of flavours.... Then an entire weekend is spent in making the parts, putting it together, plating and finally the pictures..... In all of this there is support from the group from those who are done with it or have common questions.... and not to forget... driving mom up the wall while I work in the kitchen :)

This month's challenge was ideal as it's my sister's birthday and she's not big on sugary desserts yet enjoys her Cherries and Chocolate so my flavours were Chilli n Cherry in Chocolate Marquise with Lemon Meringue and Tequila Caramel Sauce. I must say, this Marquise is just fabulous... creamy and melt-in-your-mouth decadence.... The deep flavours of the Tequila Caramel Sauce went very well with the tang and zing of Chilli n Cherry in Chocolate Marquise.

Blog-checking lines: The May 2011 Daring Bakers’ challenge was hosted by Emma ofCookCraftGrow and Jenny of Purple House Dirt. They chose to challenge everyone to make a Chocolate Marquise. The inspiration for this recipe comes from a dessert they prepared at a restaurant in Seattle.

My other sister Amrita, just got back from her holiday in Tahiti and got back Vanilla beans and Vanilla essence for me..... I just had to use it in my Daring Baker Challenge.

The Meringue recipe called for a Blowtorch and I didn't have one..... I called up a cousin of mine who deals in hardware equipment and he very sweetly had one sent over..... Armed with my new recipe... new ingredients... new tools... I forged ahead, only to be cowed down by the heat...... Delhi is just soooooo hot that anything in the desserts section would melt really quick.....

Chocolate Marquise
Servings: 6 2"x2" (5cmx5cm) cubes
3 large egg yolks at room temperature
1 large egg
2 tablespoons + 2 teaspoons (40 ml) (40 grams/ 1½ oz) sugar
1 tablespoon + 1 teaspoon (2/3 fluid oz/ 20 ml.) water
Chocolate Base, barely warm (recipe follows)
½ cup (4 fluid oz./ 120 ml.) heavy cream
½ cup Dutch process cocoa powder (for rolling) (Note: We used extra brut, like Hershey's Special Dark. Make sure it's a Dutch processed cocoa, not a natural cocoa powder.)
Torched meringue (recipe follows)
Spiced almonds (recipe follows)
Cacao nibs (optional)

In the bowl of a stand mixer, combine the egg yolks and whole eggs. Whip on high speed until very thick and pale, about 10 - 15 minutes.

When the eggs are getting close to finishing, make a sugar syrup by combining the sugar and water in a small saucepan. Bring the syrup to a boil and then cook to softball stage (235F/115C). If you have a cake tester with a metal loop for a handle, the right stage for the syrup is reached when you can blow a bubble through the loop (as seen in the following pictures).
Blowing a sugar bubble Sugar bubble

With the mixer running on low speed, drizzle the sugar syrup into the fluffy eggs, trying to hit that magic spot between the mixing bowl and the whisk.

When all of the syrup has been added (do it fairly quickly), turn the mixer back on high and whip until the bowl is cool to the touch. This will take at least 10 minutes.

In a separate mixing bowl, whip the heavy cream to soft peaks. Set aside.
When the egg mixture has cooled, add the chocolate base to the egg mixture and whisk to combine. Try to get it as consistent as possible without losing all of the air you've whipped into the eggs. We used the stand mixer for this, and it took about 1 minute.

Fold 1/3 of the reserved whipped cream into the chocolate mixture to loosen it, and then fold in the remaining whipped cream.

Pour into the prepared pans and cover with plastic wrap (directly touching the mixture so it doesn't allow in any air).

Freeze until very firm, at least 2 - 4 hours (preferably 6 – 8 hours).
When you're ready to plate, remove the marquise from the freezer at least 15 minutes before serving. While it's still hard, remove it from the pan by pulling on the parchment 'handles' or by flipping it over onto another piece of parchment.

Cut it into cubes and roll the cubes in cocoa powder. These will start to melt almost immediately, so don't do this step until all of your other plating components (meringue, caramel, spiced nuts, cocoa nibs) are ready. The cubes need to sit in the fridge to slowly thaw so plating components can be done during that time. They don’t need to be ready before the cubes are rolled in the cocoa powder.

Plate with the torched meringue and drizzled caramel sauce, and toss spiced almonds and cocoa nibs around for garnish. You want to handle the cubes as little as possible because they get messy quickly and are difficult to move. However, you want to wait to serve them until they've softened completely. The soft pillows of chocolate are what make this dessert so unusual and when combined with the other elements, you'll get creamy and crunchy textures with cool, spicy, salty, bitter, and sweet sensations on your palate.

Chocolate Base
Servings: n/a - this is an ingredient for the chocolate marquise, not meant to be used separately
3 oz (85 grams/ 6 tablespoons) bittersweet chocolate (about 70% cocoa)
1/3 cup + 2 teaspoons (90 ml/3 fluid oz.) heavy cream
1/8 teaspoon salt
1/16 teaspoon cayenne
1 tablespoon (15 ml/ 1/2 fluid oz.) tequila
1 tablespoon (15 ml/ 1/2 fluid oz.) light corn syrup
1/4 teaspoon vanilla
1 tablespoon/(less than 1/4 ounce) cocoa powder (we used extra brut, like Hershey's Special Dark, but any Dutch-processed cocoa would be fine. Do not substitute natural cocoa powder.)
dash freshly ground black pepper
1/4 oz unsalted butter (1/2 tablespoon/8 grams), softened

1. Place the chocolate in a small mixing bowl.
2. In a double-boiler, warm the cream until it is hot to the touch (but is not boiling). Remove from the heat and pour over the chocolate.
3. Allow it to sit for a minute or two before stirring. Stir until the chocolate is melted completely and is smooth throughout.
4. Add the remaining ingredients and stir to combine.
5. Set aside until cooled to room temperature. Do not refrigerate, as the base needs to be soft when added to the marquise mixture. If you make it the day before, you may need to warm it slightly. Whisk it until it is smooth again before using it in the marquise recipe.

Torched Meringue
Servings: Makes about 1 cup of meringue.
3 large egg whites
1/2 cup less 1 tablespoon (105 ml) (3½ oz or 100 gms) sugar
Splash of apple cider vinegar
1/8 teaspoon vanilla

Combine the egg whites, sugar and vinegar in the bowl of a stand mixer. Using your (clean, washed) hand, reach in the bowl and stir the three together, making sure the sugar is moistened evenly by the egg whites and they make a homogeneous liquid.

Over a saucepan of simmering water, warm the egg white mixture. Use one hand to stir the mixture continuously, feeling for grains of sugar in the egg whites. As the liquid heats up, the sugar will slowly dissolve and the egg whites will thicken. This step is complete when you don't feel any more sugar crystals in the liquid and it is uniformly warm, nearly hot.

Remove the mixing bowl from the saucepan and return it to the stand mixer with the whisk attachment. Whisk until you reach soft peaks. In the last 10 seconds of mixing, add the vanilla to the meringue and mix thoroughly.

When you're ready to plate the dessert, spoon the meringue onto a plate (or use a piping bag) and use a blowtorch to broil.

Tequila Caramel
Servings: Makes about 1/4 cup of caramel
1/4 cup (60 ml/2 fluid oz) (2 oz/55 gm) sugar
2 tablespoons (1 fluid oz./ 30 ml.) water
1/4 cup (2 fluid oz./ 60 ml.) heavy cream
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 tablespoon tequila

In a heavy-bottomed saucepan, combine the sugar and water on medium-high heat. Boil until the water completely evaporates and the sugar caramelizes to a dark mahogany color.

Working quickly, add the cream to the darkened caramel. It will bubble and pop vigorously, so add only as much cream as you can without overflowing the pot. Stir fast!

Return the pot to the stove on low heat and whisk gently to break up any hardened sugar. Add any remaining cream and continue stirring. Gradually, the hard sugar will dissolve and the caramel sauce will continue to darken. When the caramel has darkened to the point you want it, remove it from the heat. Add the salt and tequila and stir to combine. Set aside until ready to serve.

Happy Birthday Nivritti!!!!!

Monday, May 23, 2011

Comforting Banana Chocolate Cake for Amit Beer Ghosh

At the onset.....
Admit it....
I'm taller than you n that too by a good margin..... ;)

Now that, that's out of the way... let's get on with this post.....
Amit's been a member of the product team for long enough to be On-My-List and so much more. It's always a a bitter sweet moment when a colleague moves to another company. A friend is happy that a friend is moving closer to their goals.... what lingers is memories....

He's a great human being, with a great sense of humor and willing to extend support in the team and outside. Have really enjoyed working with him. His creative n writing skills are amazing amongst so many other skills :)

This is the collage we made to give him for his farewell.... It's got some very precious moments we've shared like Birthday's , Outings, Photo shooting trips, Rock Star trips, many days when tiffins n sweaters were left in office, Diwali/Independence day/ Christmas parties. He's even won a prize for my 'Aaj Mein Khush Hun' contest, was one of my first serious clients on Valentine's day. One was the memorable parties was at his place.... can't forget the hilarious fun we had playing pictionary and yummiliscious spread of bengali food laid out by aunty.

As you would have seen by now that music is an essential part of his being.... so his cake had to have some musical element to it......

and now for BADLA......... ;) How could we let him scott free..... The ceremonial decoration of the nose did happen as I could bear to see my hard work smeared on his face... ;)
When I asked Amit what flavours he wanted... pat came the reply Chocolate.... and as an after though he added 'and any other experiments you would like to do'.... lol..... It's evident that he loves Chocolate and I know that Rum is a soft spot considering Beer can't be put in a Banana Chocolate cake unless i get hold of a Guinness bottle..... So I made her a Banana Chocolate Cake which has a layering of rum soaked raisins n chocolate...

Amit Writes.....
I've known Nachi for about 3 years now (we share the same workspace in office), and for as far back as I can remember, she has always been treating us to royal desserts. Her reputation as a baker has increased manifolds in this period, to the point that new joinees get to hear of her more as the girl-who-bakes-fingerlickin-stuff than as a laptop-ing, document-writing, MIS-crunching product manager.

Her knack to theme-up her products and not-to-repeat has made her the favvvvorite of many in office. Monday mornings are not so blue-sy over at Infoedge, cause more often than not she will walk in with a scrumptious spread that she would have worked hard at over the weekend. As a result, absenteeism in our team on mondays has seen a huge decline in recent times. The office cafeteria has also seen unprecedented sales dips on those days, to the extent that it has now stopped stocking pastries, cakes, muffins etc etc - they just ain't selling no more!

I am not a connoisseur by any stretch of imagination. I am not particularly aware of the various dessert-y options out there. Heck I even find it hard to pronounce the names that I see on display at a baker's. But I do know my chocolate, and she has a particular penchant for products of that kind. So my good luck, that on that fateful day of placements at B-school, of the 3 career options I had, I chose this one. Birthdays or beer-days, office-festivities or post-office parties, no celebration is complete without Nachi surprising us to a lovely new treat. It's quite a sight actually, when she's about to unveil her latest creation - A quick look around the table would show people drooling all over, armed with their spoons and forks ready to dig in :)
For the two birthdays I have celebrated in this office - I have been treated to a Chocolate Blackout cake and a Lemon Lava cake - And boy, both of them were sinfully delicious! Birthdays at Infoedge, are usually team outings to trendy restaraunts, ending with a traditional cake cutting / smearing ceremony. I've had mine at 'It's greek to me' and 'Lotus Pond'. The Lemon lava cake, this last birthday, was a little out of the ordinary for me as I'm usually one with very strong chocolate preferences, but I enjoyed this one so much that for the next 2 days I was having the leftovers for breakfast, lunch and dinner!
Nachi, it's been great knowing you, working with you, hanging out with you .. and of course greedily devouring your cakes :D ... Keep the goodies flowing in....
All The Best... :)
Ps: Will treasure the pencil....

Saturday, May 21, 2011

Banana Cake ~ A comforting farewell Gift for Gunjan

This is a Happy and Sad post... Sad cause my friend from work Gunjan will not be working with our company any more and Happy cause she's moving on and I'm very Happy for her n Happier for the awesome time we've had together.

Gunjan, G- great, U-understanding, N-naughty, J-jovial, A-awesome, N-nice and so many more fabulous qualities.....

With loads of confidence, I can say that she's God's own child and has a heart of gold with a joie de vivre so infectious that it's impossible to be glum while she's around..... Have admired her readiness to party-at-the-drop-of-a-hat.... Her presence lights up the room with a zillion watts.... Her sense of style is just fabulous :)

Her hardworking and dedicated self at work is going to be missed at lot... We've spent long hours at work and even longer nights at work for special projects, which won us a trip to Bhimtal....

Am sure by now all of you know that I bake only for people who are On-My-List and Gunjan is so On-My-List :) Gunjan is synonymous with Colour and hence her birthday cake last year had so much colour.....

Her farewell had to be something special... She loves Chocolate and Rum..... So I made her a Banana Chocolate Cake which has a layering of rum soaked raisins n chocolate... am so glad she enjoyed herself.

Gunjan Writes.....
Nachi as we call her is one of the kinds.She is adorable,she is beautiful, she is cute, she is crazy,she is demanding and what not!! Its been now three and half years that I have been frens with her. More I know her, more i like her. Always full of life and passionate about everything she does.Whenever I look back @ the moments spent with her, I feel proud to have her as my fren...special being - Nikhil's and her mom b'day celebration, her b'day party, drinking party after diwali party and I don't think list can ever end.

Stayed back at her home after late parties and not just parties, she made all those night-outs in office memorable ones.Your mom has been the part here. Whenever she knew I gonna be there, she would pre-arrange all the stuff from tooth-brush to next day clothes! She is the best

Nachi is such an amazing personality that she left her nachi factor even on my hubby in the first meeting itself... u can take a look @ some pictures clicked @ her b'day party...

BTW, she bakes amazing cakes with all those icing( earlier I used to think icing has something to do with ICE!! M really bad with this stuff). Can't thank her enuf for the valentine cake and the B'day cake she baked.I could see all her love and care in the presentation of the cake.So much effort in the name of love !
Now let's talk about my fav part - she has got a very gud sense of clothes and accessories. I get some gud advices and appreciation as well.Not to forget I like her jewellery collection(something I am very fond of but I don't think looks gud on me). She matches and carries them amazingly well !
Best I liked her in was orange saree - U looked show-stopper in that dress Nachi.

There is always an aura of confidence around her.You feel happy with her.She will advice you wenver she feels its important.I know Nachi, how u won't care about the receptiveness and keep giving them over and over again without feeling bad about it !

I can't forget all those moments from salsa classes to bhimtal trip to late work hours to midnight parties.I love you for whatever you are ! U r d best ....


I Just love you way too much and yeah your mom as well...

All The Best... :)
Ps: Will treasure your note....

Saturday, May 14, 2011

Cherry Chocolate Cake for my Dessert Soul Partner, Vibha

Celebrating a special birthday, my soul partner for desserts, Vibha. People dirty talk porn... we dirty talk D-e-s-s-e-r-t-s.... ;)
Her brief for this cake was Low Sugar, Chocolate, CHERRY for a party of 25 people. What I love about her is that she'll share her inputs and let me work with them and in most[that's me being modest... actually all] cases we hit a H-i-g-h N-o-t-e :)

Celebrations at her place always mean super-yummy-food, drastic drinks and fabulously fun filled times..... She had made a delicious Thai spread and her hubby fixed us our drinks[Oh yes, he ensured we were happy n high] Since I'm not driving these days due to my hurt foot, i could really pull out the plugs and have a blast :)

Cherry Chocolate Cake
Eggs - 4
Sugar - 1 cup
Oil - 1/2 cup
Flour - 1 1/2 cups
Vanilla Essence - 1/2 Teaspoon
Baking powder - 1/2 Teaspoon
Dark cocoa powder - 2 Tablespoon
Coffee Powder - 1 Tablespoon
Cinnamon - 1 Teaspoon freshly ground [2 teaspoons if used a packaged variety]

1. Preheat the oven to 180C.
2. Sift the dry ingredients and just mix together with a spoon to get an even mix.
3. In a large mixing bowl, combine eggs and sugar beat until creamy and light in colour.
4. Add vanilla extract and oil to the mixture.Mix to incorporate without loosing the fluff from the mixture.
5. Add the Flour, Baking powder, cocoa powder, coffee and cinnamon and incorporate with a light circular movement without losing the fluff. The color of the cocoa batter should be quite dark.
6. Pour in greased and floured the sides of the cake tin.
7. Bake in the oven for about 40 minutes till the tester comes out clean
1. Slice the cake in half.
2. Brush both insides generously with brandy.
3. Spread the cherry preserve evenly.
4. Place the soaked cherries evenly arround the cake so that every slice would get some fruits in it.
5. Place the half back on the cake and refrigerate before decorating with ganache for atleast an hour.

Decoration with Chocolate Ganache:
1. While the cake is baking, put 200ml cream with the dark chocolate on simmer & continue to stir till the chocolate has melted. Take off from heat & allow to cool completely,[NEVER the freezer]. Give it a few stirs, this will thicken as it cools.
2. Spread the ganache over the top and sides of the cooled cake evenly. Refrigerate.
3. Use the white chocolate shavings to neaten the edges of the cake.
Tip: To moisten the cake you could pour come of the warm icing so that cake absorbs it and is moist without having resting time in the refrigerator.

We shared her Birthday with Ajita didi's mom..... The cake was Hogged :)))))))) She loved it...

That's Vibha's longtime friend from college , Hubby and kids
Vibha: Thank you my dear! The cake was simply the perfect one for me. really relished it! You made too much of an effort.

Your smile make it all the effort worthwhile, Dessert Soul Partner :)))))

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Summer Coolers - Ice Tea with a Twist

The mercury in Delhi is rising at an extremely fast pace... It's getting hotter than the insides of a furnace... Hence my facebook status... 'I'm going to MELT'... and the newspaper just adds to my woes...

After the brief respite from the heat last week, Delhi experienced its hottest day of the season so far on Monday with the maximum temperature shooting up to 41.2 degrees Celsius.

“The maximum has been the highest so far this season,” said a Meteorological Department official. He said the next few days would continue to be hot with the temperature hovering around 41 degrees Celsius. The previous high of 41.1 degrees Celsius this season was recorded on April 30.

The maximum temperature was two degrees above the expected maximum for this time of the year, while the minimum, at 26.4 degrees Celsius, was one degree above the expected temperature. The Met Department has forecast “partly cloudy sky” for Tuesday with no significant change in temperature. [Source: The Hindu]

Need something to cool me off..... What better than Icecubes, Lemon n Mint Leaves...... What's the twist here..... Ice cubes dilute my drink n I don't like that..... So I go make ice cubes of my drink.... :)

Take an ice cube tray lay washed mint leaves at the bottom and fill the tray with ice tea and freeze.... add these cubes to you ice tea and serve with a dash of lemon.

Another hint to escape the heat.... Coax your talented sister to take the final pictures in the garden while you cool your heels with Ice tea. Diya blogs at She done some wonderful pictures for me earlier for valentines day of Red Love and Strawberry Peppermint Brownies. Isn't she talented.... :)

Sending this cooler to saffronstreaks. Her theme for the event is seasonal indulgence.

What are you all doing to cool your heels?

Sunday, May 8, 2011

Mango Cheesecake and Chocolate Cherry Cupcakes for Mother's Day

Your arms were always open when I needed a hug. Your heart understood when I needed a friend. Your gentle eyes were stern when I needed a lesson. Your strength and love has guided me and gave me wings to fly. ~Anon

Mother's day needed to be something very special..... What can be better than a special dessert made with her favourite fruit Mango n beautiful glasses.... I visited a special shop Tatsat, A Socially Conscious Store . It has all merchandise made by NGO's and a whole range of recycled products, bought mom a wallet, made of a Nestle milk tetra pack.

How can Mother's day celebrations be complete without all the mommies Nani, Mom, Perveez aunty, Mala Chachi and Geeta Chachi.

My yummy nani :)

Making Mango Cheese cake didn't complete the picture..... Daksayani came over to make Chocolate Cherry cupcakes for her mom....

She made this really sweet card and was prancing all around the kitchen and wanted to do everything herself and kept saying... I'm a big girl now... I can do it myself... This is for My Mummy... I will make it... :) How sweet is that.... :)))

While we were taking pictures... The excitement brimming and little imp dancing all aver and something just had to happen... The card was knocked over and headed straight for the chocolate icing ;)

Daksayani with her mommy n me... :)

Cherry Chocolate Cupcakes
Adapted from Nani-Nami

6 large Egg Whites
250 g caster sugar
160 g plain/all-purpose Flour
1 heaped Tbsp Cornflour
1 tsp Baking powder
100 g melted Butter (just under a stick), slightly cooled
2 tbsp Cocoa
2 tbsp Coffee powder
12-15 Cherries Chopped (optionally, soaked in brandy)
2 tbsp Cherry preserve

1. Whisk the egg whites with 2 Tbsp of sugar until thick and pale and very foamy.
2. Mix the rest of the sugar with Flour, Coffee, Cocoa, Cornflour and Baking powder, then sift into the egg mixture and fold in gently.
3. Finally fold in cool melted butter and Cherry preserve.
4. Pour the batter into cupcakes, sprinkle chopped Cherries and bake in a pre-heated 180 C oven for 30-40 minutes. Test for doneness with a wooden toothpick.
5. Cool slightly before turning out of the cake tin.
Mango Cheesecake
variation from my earlier Mango Cherry Cheesecake

250 ml Cream[whipped]
50gm Hung Curd
100gm Mascarpone creamcheese
100gm Fruit Pulp [I used mango, you can use orange, strawberries or any other fruit you fancy, taste the pulp for tartness and adjust taste with powdered sugar]
40 gms Gelatin [in winter 1 reduce it by 2-3 pinches as it sets just fine]
Few Chocolate chips for sprinkling at the base
Few drops of Mango essence
Few mint leaves for garnishing

1. Whip the Cream to soft peaks.
2. Mix in the hung Curd, Mascarpone and whip to a silky consistency and add a few drops of Mango essence.
3. Bloom half the Gelatin in cold water first and then heat on a double boiler.
4. After it's completely dissolved, pour into the above mixture and mix well, whisking continuously.
5. Sprinkle Chocolate chips at the glass's base and pour the above mixture into the glass evenly.
6. Refrigerate for about an hour.[more in summers till it sets]
7. Bloom rest of the gelatin in cold water first and then heat on a double boiler.
8. Add the gelatin to fruit pulp and mix well.
9. Make a layer of this fruit pulp over the set cheesecake layer in the glasses working quickly else the gelatin begins setting.
10. Garnish with Fresh Fruit / Chocochips/ Mint leaves.

We've had some really crazy times with mom... festivals together, see the crazy side in us, partying and having loads of fun together.... Missed having Chetan and Nivritti around... Would have been even more fun...

Making this Mango cheesecake was such a delight for mom... She loved it and even the card and gift :)

Happy Mother's Day to all you lovely mom's...