Friday, July 31, 2015

Mocha cookies and Geography Projects !

I have learnt my lesson. Never promise cookies to a bunch of neighborhood girls working hard on their project ! Okay, let me rephrase that ...never promise ..just bake and give them..By promising you just increase their anticipitation and then are bound to be bombarded by "Are they ready"  questions . It doesn't help when the recipe is also not working even if you have diligently followed it need piece of mind to change proportions in an exact science like baking and the constant quering just adds to the confusion. But we love our girls and  maybe it is the magic of  their eager and innocent cravings that makes the recipe work out beautifully in the end.
The recipe for these mocha cookies comes from a famous bakery in Melrose Avenue , Los Angeles and bears the crown of being selected as the best cookie recipe for the year 1990 by Gourmet magazine. If you have been following by blog, you know that I have been trying other award winning recipes from the Gourmet magazine. Case in point being these wonderfully delightful Cottage cheese cookies . But here is the thing , while the recipe for the cottage cheese cookies worked great , for these mocha cookies , I had to add more flour. It was a particularly stressful task as I had a couple of very girls eargerly anticipating their cookies while the batter was just too runny.
Adding extra flour did give wonderful results in the end but I was a tad bit disappointed, Looking at the brighter side, atleast you guys have been forewarned and would hopefully have no such concerns, I have edited the recipe but if you find the batter still too runny , do add more flour. The batter also needs to be kept for 15 minutes before baking .Also, remember to line your bakinbg sheet with parchment paper. They stick  and if not for the parchment paper, might break upon picking. Do not overbake them ..leave them for just 10-12 minutes in the oven , The mocha cookies are meant to be soft and rich . For the coffee brand, don't fuss..any would do ...I used a South Indian express one . Just dissolved it in few dropf of luke warm water few minutes before baking.

Ingredients -
4 ounces unsweetened chopped chocolate
2 cups semi sweet chocolate chips
1/2 cup unsalted butter at room temperature
1 cup all purpose flour (Add more if the batter is too runny)
1/2 tsp baking powder
3 large eggs at room temperature
1 1/2 cup sugar
1 1/2 tbsp instant coffee powder ( dissolve it in few drops of warm water)
2 tsp vanilla extract 

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F or 180 degrees C . Also , make sure to line your baking sheet with parchment paper so that the cookies don't stick.
Using the double boiler method (metal bowl set over a sauce pan of simmering water ) melt the unsweetened chocolate . 1 1/2 cups of the chocolate chips and the butter .
Constantly stir it with the help of spatula  until the mixture is smooth and remove the bowl from the heat .
In a small bowl , sift the dry ingredients - flour , baking powder and salt and set aside.
In a separate bowl , with the help of a hand mixer , beat the eggs and sugar till the mixture is pale and thick, Remember to add the eggs one at a time.
Now beat in the coffee  liquid and vanilla.
Gently fold in the chocolate mixture into the egg mixture  with the help of spatula.
Now, fold in the sieved flour mixture and stir in the remaining 1/2 cup chocolate chips. 
Let the batter stand for 15 minutes and then with the help of a spoon , drop the batter onto parchment  paper lined baking sheets.
Bake for 8-10 minutes ( 12 minutes for me )  till they are puffed, shiny and cracked on top.
Let them cool on the baking sheet and then tranfer onto wire rack.
Cool them completely and enjoy with a beverage of your choice!

Thursday, July 23, 2015

Coconut Macaroons and Fanciful Names

Admit it , we all get impressed by fancy sounding desserts especially when they are as glamorous sounding as macaroons. Also, admit truthfully that we tend to think that actually making one of this fancy sounding dessert will be a tedious task involving multiple steps and lots of patience and precision. That is where we all are wrong . Yes, I did include myself in the process. Mention the name "Macaroon" or "Macaron" to me as a baking choice and  I will keep finding ways to put it at the very far end of "things to try in baking list". It's not that I havent tried them before but it has been a long time and hence they did not occupy their righful place in my blog.
All that changed when I got a request for making them from one of my page followers. I promised him that I would change their order in my "to do list" and sure enough they bragged the spot and here they are on my blog. Not only do they sound glamorous but they are also quite decadent in taste judging by how quickly they disaapeared from the cookie jar . Yes, i do have one and yes, my kids are aware of it too . Kids loved the crispty exterior and the soft sweet interior and are begging for another batch . Considering the fact that they are so easy to make , I am seriously considerig telling them to bake a batch themselves with my supervision of course and not to mention my help in cleaning the resultant mess.
Ingredients -
1 can condensed milk ( 14 oz)
Sweetened Shredded Coconut 14 oz
2 egg whites
1/2 tsp cream of tartar
1/2 tsp salt\
1 tsp vanilla extract
Pre heat the  oven to 325 degrees F and line a cookie sheet with oarchemnet paper otherwise your macaroons will stick to the sheet.
Take a bowl and mix the coconut and condensed milk along with the vanilla extract with the help of a spatula.
Take the egg whites and whisk them vigorously with the salt and cream of tartar till they form soft peaks.

Now fold the egg whites into the coconut mixture .
With the help of a cookie or ice cream scoop , place them on a parchment paper lined baking sheet and bake them for 25-30 mins till they get a beautiful golden brown color.
Cool on a wire rack and enjoy !

Tuesday, July 14, 2015

Cinnamon Raisin Bread and Summer Tea Parties !

My interest in baking may suggest otherwise but believe me when I say that I grew up as a pakka tomboy. My knees used to be perennially scraped from all the climbing (tress and wall included ) and my somewhat limited collection of toys only had a single doll . As such , my childhood memories seem to more of playing cricket rather than arranging elaborate "gudda-gudiya ki shaadi". While I like to believe that helped me to shape my personality in a positive manner but some where my girly girl  side feels betrayed for not being adequately nurtured.That is why for my daughter , I aim to encourage both the sides..her tombiy side which wants to copy everything which her bother is doing and  her sweet girly girl one which loves all things glittery and fancy . Tea party fits right in , don't you think ?
Why the sudden interest in tea party ? Well it is summer and we have already taken care of lemonade stand from  our summer bucket list . It was a success and along similar lines, the tea party piqued our interest . We will be hosting it shortly and will fill you all on the details but for now I have a yummilicious recipe from the tea party menu to share . This cinnamon raisin bread comes from a fool proof recipe and is bound to shut even your harshest critic ( if you have any that is ) . It is my personal belief that recipes that comes form kids books are the most successful . Go figure ! This one begs to be saved because the end result is too delicious. 
Note - The recipe calls for buttermilk so don't fret if you don't have any . Simply take the same amount of milk as required for the buttermilk and squeeze some lemon juice in it, Let stand for 10 minutes and your buttermilk is ready . You guys can thank me if you are so inclined.

1/4 cup butter
1/2 cup packed brown sugar
2 eggs
1/4 cup apple sauce
1/2 cup honey
1/2 cup butter milk  ( see Note above)
2 cups flour
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp salt
1 cup raisins
Oil to spray 
Heat the oven to 325 degrees F or 163 degrees C . Grease and flour a loaf pan too.
Cream butter and sugar until smooth . Add eggs one at a time and beat the mixture until fluffy .
Blend honey, applesauce and buttermilk into the mixture .
In a separate bowl, mix the dry ingredients together(flour,baking soda, baking powder,cinnamon and salt ). 
Then blend in the dry ingredients into the creamed mixture. Stir in raisins.
Pour the mixture into an oiled loaf pan . Bake it for about an hour or till a tooth pick inserted in the center comes out clean.
Remove from the oven and cool for 10 minutes , the turn the bread out onto a rack to cool completely .

Monday, July 6, 2015

Eggless Strawberry Zucchini Whole Wheat Muffins As Promised !

If you have been following me on Facebook , you must be aware that it is about to rain in my neck of woods and that has put me in a generous, cheerful mood. Summer days live up to their reputation here and any relief from this scorching heat is always welcome and bound to life one's spirits. Now, that you got a general gist of  the reason behind my cheerfully benevolent mood , let's move on to the promise part . Many of my loyal followers are always on the lookout for eggless and whole wheat recipes and today with the rain gods being merciful and all that , decided to try the aforementioned bake.

Zucchinis are my current obsession . It would be grammatically correct to say that trying them in varied bakes is my current obsession. Also, the first statement also happens to be factually incorrect as it appears I always get obsessed with zucchinis bakes this time of the year. It all started with a zucchini "apple" crisp , followed by "chocolate zucchini bread" which in turn led to my previous bake "Zucchini Brownie Surprise Cake" which by the way turned out be decadent super moist and as such was a superhit Bake.

For this particular bake, I tried to experiment with both zucchinis and strawberries and the result was a nuanced delight . Just a few things to keep in mind while trying this bake . Spray the muffin liners with non stick spray to avoid the muffins sticking to them . Also, you might have to increase the amount of milk if you find your mixture too dry. I had to add a good two tablespoons of extra milk to get the desired consistency. Also, to up the healthy factor, you may add two tablespoon of chia seeds while folding in the batter. Without further adieu , let's move on to the recipe -

Ingredients -
1 1/2 cups whole wheat flour
1 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt
2 tbsp olive oil
1/2 cup apple sauce 
1 cup grated zucchini
3/4 cup diced strawberries 
1/3 cup honey or maple syrup
1/4 cup milk 

Pre heat the oven to 350 degrees F or 180 Degrees C.
Line a muffin pan with muffin liners and spray it with a non stick spray as well.
Take a large bowl and sift all the dry ingredients - flour, salt and baking soda.
Take another separate bowl and to it add the excess water removed zucchini and all other wet ingredients -apple sauce, honey  and milk and olive oil.
Add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients and gently fold in the  strawberries.
Distribute the batter equally among the 12 muffins cups making sure they are 1/2 to 3/4 th filled.
Bake for 25 minutes or until a tooth pick inserted in the center comes out clean.
Remove and let cool on a wire rack.
Take the muffin out of the pan and further cool before enjoying .

Friday, July 3, 2015

Brownie Surprise Cake with the Surprise being Zucchini

Now , this is a recipe very close to my heart . It comes from  a very beloved kids book called teh "Just Desserts Club" by Johanna Hurwitz. two years ago I had found the aforementioned book displayed at our local library and had picked it for my daughter who was getting interested in all things baking. She loved reading the book and afterwards we both had fun trying out the recipes featured in it. What made it all the more special and fun was the fact that many of them contained zucchini as a surprise ingredient .I was definitely hooked and when the bakes turned out exceptionally moist , I knew I had found my calling ...baking frim scratch and too with myriad fruits and veggies !
Every year during zucchini season , we check out the book from the local library and try put one new recipe. One year it was zucchini pie and the next was zucchini sweet bread. This year we tried our hand at Brownie surprise cake with the surprise being the 2 cups of grated zucchini added to it which made the bake extra moist, fudgy and decadent . In the  book, the main character plays a guessing game with her friends as regards the secret ingredient. I was highly tempted to go along a similar path but soon realised that my decorative topping would give the game away .
 Ingredients :
1 stick butter at room temperature
1/2 cup olive oil
1 3/4 cups sugar ( I used just 1 cup and it was perfect !!)
1 tsp vanilla extract
2 eggs
1/2 cup plain yogurt
1/2 cup cocoa powder
1/2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt ( omit is using salted butter)
2 cups all purpose flour
2 cups unpeeled grated zucchini
1/2 cup chocolate chips
1/2 cup chopped walnuts ( optional)

Method - 
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F or 180 degrees F and grease as well as flour the baking dish.
In a large bowl, mix butter together with oil, Add the sugar and blend them well with the help of a hand mixer.
Continue beating while adding the eggs one at a time followed by vanilla. Blend till smoooth.
Add the yogurt.
In a seperate bowl, combine flour, cocoa , baking powder , baking soda and salt and stir in the wet batter.
Add zucchini,chocolate chips, and nuts(optional). Stir till everything is blended togther . 
Pour the batter into the baking pan/dish.
Bake for an hour ( mine took 45 minutes) . Test for doneness by inserting a toothpick in the center, If it comes out clean , the cake is done.
Cool before removing from pan.