Monday Pancakes

10 Sep

I recently read on someone’s blog that it is unfair to associate an ingredient with a particular combination or time of the day. I completely agree with that, because it is just wrong to stereotype food. You can have chocolate in the middle of the night. It is your birth right! You can also have something very weekend-specific on a weekday.

And that is why, here I am, making pancakes on a Monday evening. This is a very quick recipe and it is as easy as saying “Monday”!

Yes, these pancakes really energized me.

RECIPE (From Martha Stewart)

Ingredients

1 cup all-purpose flour, spooned and levelled

2 tbsp powdered sugar

2 tsp baking powder

1/2 tsp salt

1 cup milk

2 tbsp butter, melted (or vegetable oil)

1 large egg

1 tbsp vegetable oil

Assorted toppings, such as butter, maple syrup, confectioners’ sugar, honey, jams, preserves, sweetened whipped cream, or chocolate syrup

Method

In a small mixing bowl, whisk together flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt. In another bowl, mix the milk, butter (or oil), and egg. Now, add the dry ingredients to the milk mixture, and stir until just moistened. Restrain yourself from over-mixing; it’s really not required here.

Heat a large nonstick pan over medium. I prefer low, because I’ve burnt there and done that. See! Psst…I burnt my hand as well. Ha ha :)

Put oil in the pan and then spoon 2 to 3 tablespoons of batter for each pancake, using the back of the spoon to spread batter into a round. After 1 or 2 minutes, you will see bubbles bursting and the pancake batter getting all settled on the pan – this is the moment when you get to play with the spatula and hone your “flipping” skills.

Flip carefully, say hi to a golden brown pancake, and cook  for 1 to 2 minutes more. Transfer to a plate and continue “pan-caking” with more oil and remaining batter. You’ll have 12 to 15 pancakes. Serve warm, with desired toppings.

Look, I made a pancake omelette! Do you know how to make one?

I was mighty pleased with these pictures, till the moment I looked at Martha’s pancakes. I actually feel embarrassed.

Then, I searched on Google for thin pancakes. Turns out, these do qualify.

I have a simple store-bought fruit jam at home, which I used as the
delectable topping.

I came across two very useful links for making basic pancakes: Martha Stewart’s Basic Pancakes Video and Pancake Lovers. Enjoy!

Utterly Butterly Double Layer Cake

2 Sep

Baking is a science. It is so crucial to know why you would combine one ingredient with another, and together what they contribute to the final dish.
So, this week I learned the “creaming method” – one of the most commonly practiced methods of mixing and forming the batter. It sounds pretty simple,
but one shouldn’t underestimate it.

Basically, it refers to beating together fat and sugar, then adding eggs, followed by the dry and wet ingredients. This marriage of ingredients gets complicated if you mess up the actual “creaming”, i.e., your speed and the time for which you beat. Pastry Chef Online says that when you are making cookies, you must cream slowly, but if you’re making a cake, you need to cream on a higher speed for a longer period of time to get a lighter result. Oh, and also, if the recipe states an ingredient is to be used at room temperature, obey it.

This picture is an example of a flat, overmixed butter cake. Though, it tasted amazing! But, I tried this recipe again by doing some homework on the creaming method and made a double layer butter cake with chocolate buttercream frosting.

RECIPE (Adapted from Easycooking) [Print this]

Ingredients

FOR THE CAKE:

1/2 cup butter, softened

1 1/4 cups powdered sugar, sifted

2 eggs, at room temperature

1 1/2 cup plain flour, sifted

1/2 tsp baking powder, sifted

1/4 tsp baking soda, sifted

1/2 cup milk, at room temperature

1 tsp vanilla essence

FOR THE CHOCOLATE BUTTERCREAM FROSTING: (Adapted from BBC Food)

60 g butter, softened

120 g icing sugar

28 g  cocoa powder, sifted

1-2 tbsp milk, at room temperature

Method

Preheat the oven in convection mode to 150°C (300°F). Grease and line a 8″ round cake tin with butter/parchment paper. Place the butter in a mixing bowl and cream until light and fluffy at medium speed. The keywords here are: light and fluffy. Here is a very useful description.

Add the powdered sugar and start mixing slowly. As the mixture becomes softer and well combined, you can mix faster. The mixture is supposed to increase in volume and take on a paler colour.

Add the eggs one at a time and mix well. In another bowl, sift the flour, baking powder, and baking soda. Combine these REALLY well. Now, mix half of the
dry ingredients to the buttery mixture, followed by half of the liquids (milk and vanilla essence). Remember to keep scraping the bowl to incorporate the ingredients properly. Finally, add some of the dry ingredients, mix; the remaining liquids, mix; the remaining dry; mix.

Pour into the prepared tin and bake for 35-40 minutes. Cool completely. If making layers, invert the cakes and remove the butter paper.

For making the chocolate buttercream frosting, beat butter, then add half of the sugar. Mix well, and add the remaining sugar. Stir in the cocoa powder and milk. Add more milk, if necessary. To thicken the frosting, add more sugar.

Spread it evenly on top of the inverted butter cake. Stack the second layer and cover the sides and top with the frosting, until the time you’re satisfied. These cakes are supremely moist and fragile, so just be careful when you’re stacking the layers, because confession: my second cake did break a bit, thereby giving me a tiny heart attack. But, that is why God invented frosting. :)

Heavenly Chocolate Chip Cookies

20 Aug

It is the best feeling in the world for a baker (at least for a lazy one, like me) to dream about attempting a recipe and having all the ingredients on hand. Since a couple of weeks, I had been wanting to bake cookies, but I just couldn’t find the time or the perfect recipe. Finally, I landed up on Hershey’s website, and discovered HERSHEY’S Doubly Chocolate Cookies.

I am so pleased with this recipe, because 1) it is insanely easy to make these, and 2) it made me understand why everybody craves for cookie dough. I must have eaten the dough for about 4 cookies straight off the bowl.

RECIPE [Print this]

Ingredients

2 cups all-purpose flour

2/3 cup cocoa powder

3/4 tsp baking soda

1 cup butter, softened [I used salted, so I skipped the 1/4 tsp salt]

1 1/2 cups powdered sugar

2 eggs

2 tsp vanilla extract

2 cups chocolate chips

Method

Preheat the oven in convection mode to 150°C (300°F). I did not have a cookie sheet and I’d come across this brilliant idea on the Internet to turn a cake tin upside down and use the surface as a substitute. It worked wonderfully well.

In a mixing bowl, sift together flour, cocoa powder, and baking soda. In another mixing bowl, beat butter and sugar. Add the eggs one at a time, and then mix in vanilla until fluffy. It was quite a physical exercise, but I absolutely loved it! Gradually add the flour mixture, beating well. Stir in the chocolate chips.

 Drop by evenly spaced, rounded teaspoons onto an ungreased aluminium surface (anything flat and aluminium will do). For more information on substituting a cookie sheet, here is a useful link.
Bake for 8–10 minutes or just until set. Let it cool completely.

I had to bake in 6 batches as I could only place 6/7 cookies at a time. When the first batch was out of the oven, I kept pondering if I should add more chocolate chips. I added a handful and put in the second batch to bake.

While staring at the oven and with the bag of chocolate chips in my hand, I still kept thinking if I should add more. 3–4 minutes later, I forgot about it, and started gobbling up the chips like popcorn. Thankfully, I didn’t finish them.
And yes, I did add some more in the bowl. You can never have enough of chocolate, can you?

100 Likes, 100 Truffles, 100 Reasons To Be Happy

16 Aug

Life just became excellent. My Facebook page recently received 100 likes, which is a HUGE achievement for me! Thank you, old and new likers. So, this week I knew I had to do something grand. I set upon myself a mammoth task of making 100 truffles.

It has been the most fun, messy, and relaxing baking adventure till date. I decided to make 4 flavours based on a special theme – my birds. I live with 3 budgerigars at home – Fiona, Nimbu, and Piplo. They are noisy, smart, insane, and the most adorable creatures on Earth. I can spend hours with them. FYI, I also did spend hours making these truffles, because just like my birds, you have to be very delicate with the ingredients that are used in the recipes below.

The recipes are highly flexible, so you can easily adapt them according to your preferences and also depending on how many truffles you wish to make. Oh, and if you’re wondering what the 4th flavour signifies, it’s me. :)

My Creamy Chocolate Chip Truffles

Need I explain the usage of chocolate in something that represents me?

RECIPE

Ingredients

12-15 dark chocolate cream biscuits of your choice

1 tin (400 g) sweetened condensed milk [I used 1 tin for making all the
4 flavours]

100 g chocolate chips

Dark chocolate, melted, for coating the truffles

Method

Crush the biscuits using a food processor or by simply smashing them in a ziploc bag/foil bag with a rolling pin. In a small bowl, transfer the crumbs and slowly add the milk, just enough to make a sticky mixture. Add the chocolate chips and stir. Take small mounds and roll it in your hands to form small balls. Place these on a lined plate. Refrigerate for 2-3 hours.

Melt the chocolate in the microwave in 10-second intervals at 80%. Keep checking and stirring the chocolate. Dip the balls into the melted chocolate and coat them thoroughly. Refrigerate for an hour.

Place the chocolate balls on pretty paper liners and indulge. Confession: I realized that melted chocolate is so much more delicious than the solid form.

 

Fio’s Oreos Truffles

Fiona means fair, white, and beautiful.

RECIPE

Ingredients

12-15 Oreos biscuits

White chocolate, melted, for coating the truffles

 

The same method, honestly.

The white chocolate was extremely difficult to work with because in its melted form, it tends to seize within seconds. Fio is a difficult bird too. She’s extremely agile. And I’m always, sort of, after her to become comfortable with me and not run away from me. Melted white chocolate, Fio, and I will be friends one day, I’m sure.   

 

Nimbu’s Orange-Lemon Truffles

Nimbu is a Hindi word meaning lemon.

RECIPE

Ingredients

12-15 orange flavoured biscuits

For the lemon icing (Recipe adapted from here)

1/2 cup butter, softened

1 cup icing sugar, sifted

1/2 tsp vanilla essence

a few drops of juice of 1 small lemon

a drop of yellow food colouring

Method

For the biscuits, follow the steps written above. To make the lemon icing, mix all the ingredients in a small bowl, and stir thoroughly until it is sufficiently creamy and lemony.

Don’t you just feel like eating up Nimbu? I worked with food colouring for the first time and I loved it. Many more coloured goodies to come on Baking Utopia, for sure.

 

Piplo’s Nutty Chocolate-Mint Truffles

Because he’s such a nutcase, this is for him.

RECIPE

Ingredients

12-15 almond and hazelnut cream biscuits (I used Puremagic’s praline
crème biscuits)

For the mint icing

1/2 cup butter, softened

1 cup icing sugar, sifted

1/2 tsp vanilla essence

a drop of green food colouring

Piplo and Nimbu are in love and thus, the above picture. Also, these truffles look gorgeous when placed together.

Some things to keep in mind:

1) When melting chocolate in a microwave, be careful about the time. After every 10 or 20 seconds, do take out the bowl and stir the chocolate, as it will also melt at room temperature.

2) For both the icings, add the colour a drop at a time. You can always add more colour, but not reduce it. Also, depending on the amount of truffles you’re making, you can modify the icing recipe. Just remember to keep the ratio of the butter to the icing sugar as 1:2.

3) You WILL be tempted to eat the biscuits just like that. You WILL be
tempted to lick all the melted chocolate off the bowl. Don’t. The truffles will
be worth the wait.

You can see the nutcase hiding behind the women. Doesn’t Fio look
hypnotized here?

Finally, thank you everyone for the support! :)

Chocolate Brownies: Served With Love

29 Jul

Last week I did not bake. I was actually celebrating the 50+ likes on my Facebook page. It is an amazing feeling and a huge inspiration. In my future posts, I will strive to give every one of you chocolate nirvana! At the moment, I owe a big thank you to all my new likers, so here it is in the form of a perfect recipe for a perfect dessert.

Over a period of your lifetime, you find several baking recipes, but, there is that one recipe that you can rely on and work with blindly. Today, I found my foolproof brownie recipe, owing to the impeccable Smitten Kitchen. You can’t really go wrong with it. It is quick, easy, and heavenly.

RECIPE

Ingredients

10 tbsp (141 g) unsalted butter, softened [I had salted, so I skipped the
1/4 tsp salt]
1 1/4 cups (280 g) powdered sugar, sifted
3/4 cup plus 2 tbsp (82 g) unsweetened cocoa powder, sifted
1/2 tsp vanilla essence
2 large eggs, cold
1/2 cup (66 g) all-purpose flour, sifted
Cadbury’s Bournville chocolate, melted, to decorate (optional)

Method

Preheat the oven to 140°C (284°F). Grease and line a 8×8″ square cake tin with butter/parchment paper. Combine the butter, sugar, and cocoa in a medium microwaveable bowl. Put this mixture in the microwave for 20 seconds at 100%. The butter should be melted and the mixture will be warm and smooth.

Stir in the vanilla essence. Now, add the eggs one at a time, stirring consistently. Mix in the flour and give a good stir until you feel the batter should not be baked and eaten as is. But, you realize that this is a persistent problem that crops up when you bake, so you move on, and transfer the batter to the tin to let the oven decide its fate. I baked for 23 minutes and I am so pleased that for the first time, I passed the knife test. It was clean and crumb-free. This time I did not under bake or over bake or had any reason to panic. Phew!

Finally, let the brownies cool completely on a rack. Then, lift up the ends of the parchment paper, and transfer it to a cutting board.

Cut them neatly into squares and serve them with love. :)

You could also go crazy, melt some dark chocolate in the microwave for 20-30 seconds, and drizzle it over your intensely chocolate brownies.

Chocolate Cake with Fudge Icing

15 Jul

All you need is love. But a little chocolate now and then doesn’t hurt.
- Charles M. Schulz

If I land in heaven, I would definitely want them to stock all kinds of chocolate that I could gorge on for the rest of my “life”.

For the past one month, I have been having very chocolaty weekends, owing to this blog. I have to confess - I love it when my hands smell of chocolate. My end product does not always turn out as I dream of, but I’m content that this just leads to more adventures and more chocolate to experiment with!

This time I’ve tried my hand on piping a simple chocolate cake. You can also make layers and indulge in a chocolate fudge cake. I intend to try that soon!

RECIPE

Ingredients

200g flour

25g  cocoa powder

4 large eggs

225g powdered sugar

225g butter, at room temperature

1 tsp vanilla extract

1 tsp baking powder

For the chocolate fudge icing:

45g cocoa powder

150g powdered sugar

45g butter, melted

3 tbsp milk, plus a little extra to loosen the mixture

 

Method

Preheat the oven in convection mode to 150°C (300°F). Line the bottom of a
8″ round cake tin with butter/parchment paper. Then, grease the tin and sprinkle some flour.

Making the batter is a tough step for me, because I always tend to lick (ahem, taste) some off the spoon. Firstly, sift the flour and cocoa powder into a large bowl, and add all the other cake ingredients. Then, mix together for a few minutes until well combined. Bake for 20–25 minutes, or until risen and firm to the touch, then leave to cool for about an hour.

For the icing, sift the cocoa powder and icing sugar into a bowl, add the butter and milk, and mix until smooth and well combined. Add a little extra milk if the mixture is too thick – you need to be able to spread it easily.

Make sure you don’t get any crumbs on the spatula while icing.

I’d recently purchased a piping bag and nozzles and I was eagerly wanting to use them. Today, I am a happy person.

I’ve tried a very basic decorative design on this cake because I really wanted it to look good in the photographs.

And, not to forget, the chocolate wafer sticks to raise the chocolate quotient.

Chocolate Biscuit Pudding Martini

9 Jul

This recipe reminds me of school. I’d taken up Home Science as a subject in class 11 and 12, and I’d enjoyed it greatly. You get one hour to cook, learn stitching, or just chat around with friends… how can this not be fun? This can also be marked as a historic phase of my life when I got introduced to the wonders of cocoa powder. Although, I’m not too fond of the teacher that we had for this subject, I have to thank her for sharing this recipe! It ALWAYS comes out right. I wouldn’t want to exaggerate, but with my baking disasters and with the knowledge of this recipe, I’m set for life; in terms of getting appreciation!

The selling point of this recipe is that it is extremely simple to make and it uses only 5 ingredients. This martini is actually a fancier version of the pudding that I usually make in a glass bowl. The bowl version just serves 1, as I cannot share chocolate. Sorry! No, actually, I’m sure it serves more people when I’m not around. This time I made both the versions and I still have some of the chocolate sauce left. Just the thought of it makes me very happy.

 RECIPE

Ingredients

2 Tetra Pak Amul fresh cream (200ml each)

11/2 cups granulated sugar

1 cup cocoa powder

1/2 tsp vanilla essence

2 packets Parle Hide & Seek biscuits (if you’re planning to make both the versions, you will need 3 packets)

Chocolate chips, chocolate wafer sticks, to decorate (optional)

Method

Another reason that I love this recipe – no sifting business involved. Just whip the cream and sugar in a mixing bowl. Then, add cocoa and vanilla essence. And, you’re done! After mixing these ingredients, you should have a rich, smooth, and thick consistency.

After preparing the sauce, take some Hide & Seek biscuits (I used 6) and
put them in a small ziploc bag or even a foil bag will do, and crush them with a rolling pin. Do this with music, it’s more fun that way! For the bowl version, skip this step.

Then take pretty, photogenic wine glasses (or any glasses that you prefer) and assemble alternate layers of the biscuit crumbs and the sauce. Let it chill in the refrigerator until firm, about 3 hours. The bowl pudding should be refrigerated overnight.

Decorate with chocolate chips, or wafer sticks, or anything that you feel
creative with.

I simply utilized the leftover biscuit crumbs for garnishing and decorated with chocolate wafer sticks. And this is how you make an absolutely irresistible chocolate pudding martini.

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