Football and Brownies

It’s 3 p.m. in the afternoon. The outdoors is at a sunny 22° C. I’m snuggled against a 1984 Argos couch in the living room watching England play against Slovenia, hoping that this time it wouldn’t be as painful as it was the last time.

Earlier today , I had tried….tried desperately to cook myself a decent meal of grilled chicken breasts stuffed with mozarella. It wasn’t as successful as I had wanted it to be. Due to lack of string or toothpicks to hold the damn breasts together.

Somehow, this day is not agreeing with me. My room is currently not very different from a blast furnace, which makes it absolutely impossible to work in it. Last night’s party has contributed to very little sleep and hence it is with difficulty that I’m trying to focus on the goal Dafoe just scored for England. But all is not lost. I am looking forward to the grocery store trip I’m planning to conduct in an hour. And also I’m looking forward to downing a few pieces of ‘luxurious’ brownies (shamelessly nicking the name from Tamami), I whipped up early in the morning. Inspired heavily by Fanny’s recipe.

If I start describing how the brownies turned out, it would probably bleed over to two or more posts. All I can say, is that, they’re luxurious indeed. The dark chocolate leaves a heavenly after-taste in your mouth and the amount of sugar is just right, especially for someone like me (who’s compulsively picky about anything sweet). I did modify the recipe according to my taste, of course. My allergy to following recipes word-to-word kicked in, I suppose.

I replaced plain flour with self-rising flour which makes the brownie slightly less dense, but gorgeously chewy nevertheless. The cocoa powder was Green & Black’s 70% and a tablespoon of instant coffee makes all the difference. It transforms the simple brownie into an indulgent and strangely addictive dessert (the word ‘snack’ here would be a complete understatement). Its sticky to the right texture, dark, handsome, chewy, fluffy and unforgiving. I won’t lie to you….this brownie will make you feel seriously guilty.

I’ll stop writing now and make another trip to my refrigerator.

P.S.: – England – 1, Slovenia – 0, Half-time.

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What the fudge…?!?!

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The first droplets of rain in Mumbai, left streaks across the tiled terrace floor, almost washing away the dirt my gardener leaves behind every alternate afternoon. You could hardly call it “rainfall” since the drizzle was nothing compared to what Mumbai usually faces.

We’re all gearing up for the washout due 23rd or 24th of the next month. How lovely.

Meanwhile, I’m getting deliciously absent-minded, day by day.

I released the wrong set of drawings to the wrong consultant yesterday and then made his assistant drive back to the office and collect the right set. Not to mention the madness with which I cursed at myself while he was paying full attention to my instructions. His spectacles almost fell off the edge of his nose, I swear.

I typed a fantastically raunchy text message meant for the Lieutenant and then sent it to his best friend. Don’t ask me how that happened. I’m only thankful that M. is a very understanding guy and wasn’t really scandalized by the message.

I got inspired by the new book on chocolate that I bought and decided to try out the orangette recipe….I know, I know its technically not orange-season in India, but the tangy green ones are out. I just couldn’t help it.

It was destined to get all fucked fudged up really. Sorry Mom.

And hurriedly read through the directions, and instead of letting the peel strips cool in the sugar solution for 6 hours, I strained them out and left them in the open. By the time I came back from office, red ants were yelling out “Thank You Amrita!”

I know, I’m smart.

And if you’re wondering, then no, green peels don’t work as well as orange ones…they’re just not as sweet or easy.

Continue reading “What the fudge…?!?!”

Good Ol’ Chocolate Mousse

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Fact 1: I’ve never met anyone who does not like chocolate mousse. No one.

(If you don’t like it, leave a comment telling us about it….

if you like it…well then,leave me a comment about that too!!)

Fact 2: Its easily one of the easiest desserts to make which provided maximum satisfaction.

Fact 3: Flavor options are…well, unlimited…since whatever flavor you choose is bound to work.

I, however, prefer the classic chocolate mousse, with nutty or fruity tones.

Intially the idea was to make a white chocolate mousse…but then I remembered, I already had one in the kitty, so decided to do the other “good ‘ol” chocolate Mousse. This one, is loaded with hazelnutty goodness.

What You Need:

250gms of dark chocolate (I used 60% cocoa), chopped in bits

– 100gms Hazelnuts

– 3/4 cup of heavy cream

– 2 egg whites

– 2 tablespoons of sugar (if you need it to be sweeter…I didn’t use it any)

– Whipped cream, white/dark chocolate shavings to garnish

How-To:

Preparing the Hazelnuts

De-shell and roast the hazelnuts in a single layer on a piece of parchment paper at 275 F 15-20 minutes.

– Remove from oven before the nuts brown completely….golden brown is what we want.

– Roll a damp kitchen towel against the nuts and rub the skins off them.

– After the skins come off, roll then dry with paper towels and grind them to fine powder, in a processor.

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The Mousse

– Halve the amount of cream in two separate bowls.

– Heat one half over a low flame, till bubbles start to appear. Don’t let it boil over.

– Add this cream to the bowl of chopped chocolate and let stand for a minute.

– Whip the egg whites and sugar (if you’re using any), till stiff. An electric beater works perfectly fine unless you’re willing to exercise your arms using a hand-beater.

– Add the egg white foam to the warm chocolate and cream mixture and gently stir centre-out till no white streaks remain.

– Stir in the hazelnut flour into the chocolate. Mix well.

– Whip the remaining cream into soft peaks that hold their shape. Pour the cream into the chocolate mixture and fold in gently.

– Pour in serving glasses/cups and allow it to set in the refrigerator for a couple of hours.

– Garnish with whipped cream (a little of the heavy cream whipped to peaks with confectioners’ sugar) and chocolate shavings (both dark and white, in my case), before serving.

White Chocolate and a Tired Chicken

What do I like about chocolate mousse?

Well, the question should really be, “What I don’t like about it?”.

Its chocolate, its as sweet or bitter as you want it to be, it can have any added flavor that you’d want, fruits, nuts, foam, requires far less time to set than ice-cream or semi-freddos (a highly attractive feature to seek for in recipes, when it comes to impatient bums like me), it melts in your mouth, and what not.

So, I tried to choose between a sumptious honey-chicken-prawn-pilaf dinner and a white chocolate mousse, for the sole reason that I didn’t feel like making both….but ultimately ended up doing so, anyway.

This time its a white chocolate mousse…

Ingredients:

100gms white chocolate

– 1 heaped tablespoon of unsalted butter

– 2 egg yolks

– 1 egg white

– 50gms heavy cream

– 4 teaspoons of castor sugar

– vanilla essence (I used 2-3 drops of a really strong one)

How-to:

Melt the chocolate and butter in a bain marie. Take it off the heat after the chocolate’s melted. Let it stand for minute and beat in the egg yolks.

– Lightly whip the cream (lightly…only soft peaks).

– Combine the chocolate and cream well.

– Beat the egg white till it holds its shape, gradually adding the sugar in.

Try the inverted bowl test. The white should be whipped to such a consistency that, if you hold the bowl inverted, it shouldn’t plop out!

I usually hold it over my head…but that’s me.

– Fold on the chocolate-cream mixture into the egg white gently.

– Pour in glasses and chill in the freezer, till set. 2-3 hours should do it.

Coffee-Caramel Crème Mini-Puffs

The lazy afternoon stretched forever. I didn’t feel like putting down my book and pulling the curtains apart to let in the sun. But the room had become cold…it had been raining all morning. I had been craving creme puffs since an early breakfast, but had somehow resisted rushing off to the kitchen. Instead, I went through all the cookbooks looking up all the cream puff recipes. And I made these mini-puffs with a coffee creme filling and icing, for tea.

For the puffs I like using David Lebovitz’s recipe for pâte à choux, or Pierre Hermé’s choux recipe for his Chocolate Éclairs.

I added an extra tablespoon of confectioner’s sugar to make the mini-puffs sweeter.

Coffee Caramel Crème:

– Half cup heavy cream

– 3 tablespoons of brown sugar

– Half a teaspoon of freshly ground coffee (or espresso powder)

– 1 tablespoon unsalted butter, softened

– 1 teaspoon vanilla essence

– Half a teaspoon ground cinnamon

Bring the cream to a boil. Add the coffee, butter, vanilla essence and cinnamon and stir well. Remove from heat and let the mixture cool for five minutes. Meanwhile, melt the sugar in a bain-marie until it becomes toffee-like (I’m a certified expert in burning caramel at this point, but I’m sure you’ll be more careful!).

Add the caramel to the cream mixture and stir well. I like to keep the icing (or if you use it as a filling) a little swirly, but that depends on you really. Smother the mini-puffs in the creme and chill in the refrigerator for at least half an hour.