Chocoholics Anonymous, anyone?

 

I’m not a stickler for recipes. In fact, I’m almost allergic to them. And I’ve lost count of the number of times my experiments in the kitchen have ended with disastrous results. And yet, I don’t learn.

I keep twisting a recipe. I keep playing and there are times when I go into creating a dish without any knowledge or planning whatsoever. Are there alarms going off in your head? Don’t worry, all the recipes I’ve put up on the blog are tried and tested. And have been very successful.

Now you know, how I excel at cold desserts and how I steer clear of baking. But recently I’ve been inspired to bake. Blame it on Hana. Damn, that girl can bake!

While I still haven’t had the pleasure of pulling French-Macarons-With-Feet out of the oven, I did successfully produce a sour-cream moistened, dense double-chocolate gastrocity yesterday. Its complete with a layer of ganache and sprinkles of fleur de sel. I’m still in disbelief.

The lower layer, as you can probably guess is plain dark-chocolate brownie. It was meant to be a fluffy crumbful cake initially, but I changed courses…and clothes, considering how I tipped batter all over myself during the first attempt. Creaming unsalted butter (a stick and a half of it, softened) together with two egg yolks and a cup of sugar, was easy enough. Though quite a work-out for my arms – I abstained from using the electric whisk. Aren’t I a saint?

The second step including sifting the flour (a cup and a half), a pinch of cream of tartare, half a teaspoon of baking powder and a half a cup of sinful Dutch process cocoa together, before combining it with the butter mixture. And then in went my cup of lush sour cream. Soury, gorgeous, silky. My pièce de résistance, totally the star of the recipe and blatantly inspired by Nigella Lawson’s chocolate cake.

The batter was left to sit in its bowl, a little clumpy and impatient, while I proceeded to beat the two egg whites into fluffy clouds (soft peaks, please). I plopped the clouds on top of the batter and followed up with fast and determined turns with the balloon whisk, till it was smooth and fell into ribbons. I also added one-third of a cup of boiling water, which keeps the batter workable and the brownie moist. Onto a greased square pan which was about 20 x 20 (I’m using centimeters) and baked for about 20 minutes at 180 °C and another 20 minutes at 150 °C (or till a skewer run through the centre comes out clean…but greasy). Let the cake cool, before icing it with sour-cream chocolate. For the icing, I broke up an entire dark chocolate bar and let it melt in a bain-marie along with a tablespoon of unsalted butter and two tablespoons of muscovado sugar. As soon as everything combines, let the mixture cool before adding (slowly, please) 2 tablespoons of sour-cream that’s all at room-temperature. Spreading evenly on the cake wasn’t as easy as I thought it would be, especially as I was using a butter knife! But I’m sure you’ll have better luck if you own an icing spatula…lucky you.

The cake was finally cut into rectangular pieces after the ganache was cool and rested, decorated with rough curls and fleur de sel, photographed properly and promptly gobbled up by five hungry adults.

Its apparent how chocolate has finally taken over my life. Is there a Chocoholics Anonymous somewhere I can join and does this qualify as substance abuse, I’m not sure?

But yes, I’m officially baking now.

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Updates.

Hello everyone! What’s up?

Its been quite a busy week for me actually. And its not really over, since I work on Saturdays too.

The chocolate phirni seems to be the highlight of the week gone by.

Also, last saturday evening, a visit to a very popular eatery, Candies (in Bandra) was quite a pleasant experience…some place I intend to visit again within the next couple of weeks, hopefully. And yes, a review would follow obviously.

Work is thankfully a little slow than before, getting reasonable time to breathe between projects……can’t say that about my personal life. Its been loaded with conversations over the phone with Mum and Dad about my plans for further studies…ouch…

Also, I’ve only recently and for the first time realized that I completely suck at long-distance relationships. Not that I’ve had any before this one. I just wish the Lieutenant and i were living in the same city. We both belong to the “huggy-feely-kissy-cuddly” group of people and this is torture. Seriously. 😦

Meanwhile, I’ve developed this wierd itch to click at whatever, wherever with the oldest digital camera in the world.

My dad bought it for me about 9 years back….so trust me when I say its old. Its a Sony and no wonder its still working.

Last Tuesday, on my way to office, I clicked a little tired old lady resting by the side of the road. Very candid, if I may say so myself. And one of a BEST bus with a Tasveer 8 X 10 poster stuck on its back.

I’m not particularly a very good movie critique, but I know what I like, and Tasveer 8 X 10 sucks. Its complete bull****.

Desi boys and girls, you’d be making a grave mistake if you actually buy theatre tickets to watch this one. Trash it.

Akshaye Kumar….dunno what’s gone wrong with him. And Nagesh Kukunoor? He was one of my favorite Bollywood Directors. He still is. But, dude…what the hell went wrong with this one? Supernatural tones? Mutant hero who can get into photographs? An evil twin who returns with revenge in his heart?

Doh!

Anyway…

The last week has also been a food fest for me personally. I’ve had people cook for me more than I have or them.

And the results have been pretty good… 🙂

Special mention goes to Neha’s banana-date-almond cake. Awesome. No other word for it. Perfectly soft and the correct amount of sweet.

She admits she’s always been a perfectionist. No experimenting and a strict follower of recipes. How unlike me.

But hey, I’m not complainig…especially after feasting on the cake the entire day and forgetting lunch altogether.

And I wonder why I find it difficult to lose weight….

Well, I’m so tired right now, I’m barely aware of what I’m typing….should get to bed and catch you all next week!

Midnight Cravings

What do you do when you’re up at 1 o’clock in the morning craving something chocolate, something warm and something that doesn’t take much work?
You thank Chef Wan for the Chocolate Valentino flourless cake.

I didn’t follow the recipe word for word and played around with the amount of butter a little, but it turned out nom-worthy anyway…

What You Need:
– 250 gms bittersweet chocolate, chopped to bits
– 2 eggs, yolks and whites separated (since I’m only baking for two, and in a hurry)
– 4 tablespoons of unsalted butter (salted worked for me last night)

How-To:
– Melt the chocolate and butter in a baine marie
– Whip the egg whites till fluffy (but not super-stiff)
– Take the molten chocolate off the heat and let si for a minute.
– Stir in the egg yolks into the slightly cool chocolate mixture (you don’t want the chocolate to be too hot at this moment, otherwise the yolks would just cook in it….ew!)
– Fold in the whites into this chocolate-yolk mixture in 3 parts. Fold. This is important, becaue you don’t want the whites to deflate. The cake will turn out flat if they do.

–  Bake for 20-25 minutes at 350-375 degrees. The cake ideally should look like a brownie, on the surface.

– Cool on the rack.
– Slice. Eat.

And then thank Chef Wan again.


A few things I learned while making this cake :
1)Its very difficult to whip egg whites to peaks with one hand while you’re holding your cellphone on the other, talking to a certain someone. Earphones, at this point, come in handy.
2) The cake tastes better the next day.
3) Too many eggs and the cake turns brownie-like on cooling. Refrigerating overnight, makes it slightly crunchy. I had to leave it out for sometime to bring it back to cake-like consistency.

4) Tastes a whole lot better along with vanilla or banana-strawberry ice-cream.

The next morning, I just had enought time to make some chocolate ganache to ice the cake with. Very simple. Chop chocolate. Boil cream. Add it to the chocolate, Stir from the centre outwards to melt the chocolate. Adding artificial flavors or alcohol is optional. Spread evenly on the surface of the cake.

Divine.

Cashew & Cheese Cakelets

“But this is plain !” complained my brother with his eyebrows knit closely together. He put the piece of sponge cake back on the plate and pushed it away. Yes, I know…he pushed away cake!

This is what happens when you whip up desserts too often in our household. Everybody gets used to it and expects everything to be stuffed with nuts, or smothered in chocolate or topped with fruity cream. Whatever happened to enjoying the good ol’ plum cake with tea or a plain vanilla sponge cake, for that matter?

On my mother’s request, (why does she have to be so partial towards her son…that kid has it easy, I tell you…not fair at all!) I set to make one of my favorites of all times – Cashew & Cream Cheese Cakelets.

Usually, we’ve always liked it with ice-cream or some kind of jam/jelly glazing on top; this time I’ve dunked them in a crème fraîche bath.

For each cakelet:

1 egg

– 60gms all-purpose flour

– 2 tablespoons ground cashew nuts

– 50gms unsalted butter

– 3 tablespoons cream cheese

– 3 tablespoons Greek yogurt (thick, hung, sour curd would do too)

– 4 tablespoons granulated sugar

– 1/2 teaspoon salt

– 1 teaspoon vanilla essence

– 1/2 teaspoon baking powder

Pre-heat the oven to 350° C. Blitz all the ingredients in a processor till nice and smooth. Fill greased ramekins with the batter and bake for 15-20 minutes. You could also bake the batter in parts to make layered cakelets, like I did. Cool the cakelets in their ramekins, on the rack.

The icing (and filling) is a plain ganache, made by heating double cream with sugar and cocoa powder in equal parts. Add whipped cream or ice-cream with a sprinkling of chopped cashews before serving.

And I swear, I’m never baking again! Ever!

People just have to get use to plain old fruit cake now.