Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Black Forest Gateaux!

Last few months have been very busy for us. We moved to our new place :D, Mohan's parents had visited us, Mohan's cousins visited us, many of our friends visited and we have been busy settling into our new place.
Apart from that last few months many cakes were baked. One such cake was this Black Forest Gateaux!(My favorite when I was in India). Baked by Mohan (Gasp!) for me on my birthday (Double gasp!). It was the most awesome birthday gift- I had the cake and ate it too! Plus I got to boss around Mohan while "teaching" him how to make this cake and he had to listen just this once!

This again made an appearance when I made this for a friend of ours. He is a big fan of pac-man and I had long promised him a birthday cake and a pac-man cake . He happened to be in town for his birthday this year so I made him a pac-man birthday cake! :D

Genoise Au Chocolat/Chocolate sponge cake
1/3rd cup Unsweetened cocoa, dutch- processed
1/4 cup  Water, Boiling hot
1 tsp  Vanilla Extract
5  Eggs, Large
1/2 cup Sugar
3/4th cup Sifted Cake Flour

  • Preheat oven to 350 F
  • line 2, 8 inch pans with parchment paper. Grease the side of pan with butter or a baking spray.

  • Warm the beurre noisette until almost hot a(110 F- 120 F) and keep warm.
  • In a medium sized mixing bowl, mix the cocoa powder, vanilla extract and the boiling hot water so that the cocoa has completely dissolved and there are no lumps.

  • In the bowl of a standing mixer add the eggs and sugar. Set over a pan of simmering water and whisk till it reaches 110 F.

  • Using the whisk attachment in you stand mixer, whisk the mixture on high speed till it triples in volume. Take around 5 minutes, longer if you use a hand beater.

  • Remove 2 cups of the egg mixture and whisk into the cocoa mixture till smooth.
  • Sift the flour over remaining egg mixture and fold it in gently but quickly with a rubber spatula or a slotted skimmer until the flour has disappeared
  • Alternate: 
    • Take out 2 cups of egg mixture and whisk into the cocoa mixture till smooth, and sift half the flour into the cocoa mixture and using a rubber spatula fold in. Sift the rest of the flour into the egg mixture directly. I have had trouble with folding  when I was a novice. I improvised a bit with the current method  and that helped retain the volume. This recipe has no leavening agent so the loss of volume could result in a disk that can be used like a frisbee! only heavier
  • Fold in the cocoa mixture until almost incorporated. Don't worry if you see some white streaks.
  • Fold in the beurre noisette in 2 batches using a large whisk or a rubber spatula just until incorporated.
  • Pour immediately  into the prepared pans and bake for 12-18 minutes or until the cake shrinks from the sides of the cake. Try not to open the oven door too much as it could make the cake fall .

  • Once done, Loosen the sides of the cake with a metal spatula( I use plastic knife  I don't want to scratch my nonstick pans)

  • Unmold at once onto a lightly greased cooling rack. Re invert to cool. trim the bottom and top crusts when ready to complete the cake.
1/4th cup + 1.5 tsp Sugar
1/2 cup Water
1 -2 tbsp Spiced rum

  • In a small saucepan with a tight-fitting lid bring the sugar and water to a rolling boil, stirring constantly.
  • Cover immediately, Remove from the heat. Allow to cool completely
  • Stir in the liqueur. Set aside till needed.

Filling :
Cherries - 1/2 cup chopped up ( I used candied maraschino cherries)

Whipped Cream Frosting:
1.5 cups Heavy whipping cream, cold
1/3rd cup Granulated sugar

  • Chill the mixing bowl and the whisk attachment  in the freezer for atleast 30 minutes.
  • Add the whipping cream to the mixer bowl and whisk on low speed till frothy.
  • Gradually add the sugar and whisk on high speed till it forms stiff peaks. 

Cherries - whole, chopped up and as much or as less you need. Let your imagination run wild
Chocolate shavings - pretty much like the cherries you can have them in what ever shape or size and as much or as little as you please.


  • Place one cake on a cake board. Sprinkle half the syrup over the cake.

  • Spread almost 3/4th cup of the whipped cream evenly over the bottom layer. Spread the chopped cherries over the whipped cream

  • Top with second layer. Soak with the remaining syrup. Spread the remaining frosting on top and sides of the cake.

  • Cover the sides of the cake with chocolate shavings ( I got lazy and just blitzed the chocolate in my food processor)
  • Decorate with cherries on top.

  • Now comes the toughest part. Let the cake soak in for 3-4 hours minimum. The longer it soaks  the better your cake will taste!

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

How to make Ghee/ Clarified butter/ Beurre noisette/ Brown Butter - Basics

With navrathri getting over, following closely is Diwali! Diwali can mean only one thing SWEETS! To make sweets we need a very key ingredient.... Ghee. Ghee is a staple in every Indian household's pantry. We use it on a daily basis to do tadkas for dishes, use it to make sweets, use a nice dollop on hot  rotis / rice or eat by the spoonful! And off late brown butter seems to be the latest trend in the baking world. So let us go on to make some ghee and  recipes that use ghee will follow ...

  Ingredients & Tools needed:

Butter - 1 Lb,Unsalted,  use the best butter  you can get your hands on
A tall heavy bottomed sauce pan - nonstick works for me
A stainless steel tea filter - I tried using plastic once and it resulted in disaster
A clean glass jar


  • Chop the butter in 1 inch pieces. Place the pieces of butter in the pan you will be using to make the ghee in. Set over the counter top till the butter comes to room temperature. 
  • Keep the glass jar with the stainless steel tea filter over its mouth
That chotu container was added to my collection thanks to M's grandma!!

  • Once the butter has come to room temperature set over the stove and keep on low-medium heat, uncovered.
  • The butter will melt and once all the butter has melted you will notice a white bubbling foam with a crackling sound. Don't worry this only means that the butter is boiling/ Cooking. Basically what is happening is that the water in the butter is getting expelled. Do not stir it with a spatula

  • You will notice that gradually the intensity of the crackling comes down.

I've moved some of the foam to show you the color of the ghee  at this stage.

  •  The white foam  slowly will develop brown specs

  • Once the crackling stops be very careful. Turn the heat lower and just allow the ghee to be over heat for just less than a minute. There are different schools of thought on this. Some people like to take it off the heat as soon as the crackling stops. In my house my mom makes a slightly browned ghee, that is very aromatic and  flavorful. And that is pretty much the brown butter that is called for in recipes.
At this stage this is the color of the Ghee.
  • Remove of the heat and pour the boiling hot ghee over the stainless steel filter. Once a friend  and I made ghee at her house and she used the plastic variety for straining tea and like geniuses we pour the hot ghee over it and it just melted! what a waste of ghee and a perfectly good filter!!

  • The brown stuff is tasty but extremely unhealthy!  
  • Let the ghee cool down and then you can close it with a tight lid.Ghee has a long shelf life if you avoid contamination. I have a small container that I use to fill ghee as and when I need from the big bottle just to avoid any water going into it or some food particle accidentally falling into it while serving or cooking.

There is a very fine line between perfectly browned butter and burnt butter so from the start to the finish be around your ghee do not wander away trying to multitask! (I've learnt my lesson very well!!!!)

Monday, October 15, 2012

Mango - Pista Kulfi

This is a special post as my blog completed 1 year a few months  several months ago, and what was I doing for so long? I went to India for a relaxing 2 month vacation! I had a great holiday. Attended 2 weddings

My adorable nephew turned one, and I HAD to bake a cake and decorated with homemade fondant,

Had a bakers night out with my dear friend Mads

Mads & I made 50 cupcake toppers and the main cake in the time we had left from a lot of chitchat and fun!
Went to my native village and had an awesome time!,

Went to Coonoor stayed with M's cousin and his family and also re-lived some wonderful memories from my childhood,

Left: The house where my aunt lived for some 20 years before she moved , Right bottom:  M's cousin's family and our family.
And of course stuffed myself with so much food (made by in-laws & mom  mostly!) I felt like a beached walrus most of the times!
Sorry no pictures here!  All the food was eaten very promptly...

 It is better late than never. A special occasion deserves a special treat and I can't possibly think of anything more apt than mango! It is summer here in the US spring in Australia and some other parts of the world  * feeling extremely sheepish!*. In India Mangoes start making their appearance from early March. Though those are very sour and not the best variety, its just the calm before the storm. The only thing (not really the only thing!) I miss about India is the sea of golden-yellow, during summers. The only reason I used to look forward the the horrible, sweaty and stuffy summers in Chennai was the mangoes.  Heaven!!!! Truly the king of fruits. Though we get tinned mango puree all through year here, I still prefer the countless varieties of mangoes we get in India. Coincidentally the area where my native place is, is called the Mango City. The major supply of mangoes for Tamil Nadu comes from this region. As you can imagine, the wonderful two month summer vacations consisted of abundant supply of magoes from our farms. Apart from mangoes, unlimited supply of coconut water and the world's most awesome organic milk straight from the cow.(My granddad has a mini cow shed right across our house). Sigh! Such were my childhood vacations. Well, as you might have guessed already, my brother hated mangoes and their smell. If it were upto me I would use mangoes instead of perfume, body wash, pillow, mattress etc. He didn't like mangoes, that's his loss and my gain. I did not have to share any.

  Recently for a get together with a some friends I decided to make mango kulfi, I had a tin of mango and a lot of pistachios sitting in my pantry. Also, because I got a set of kulfi moulds along with a funky stand. Ever since I got back from India I have been wanting to make it and with the weather being so terrible right now... seems like the perfect time to cool off with mango kulfi + I have been drooling at my very dear friend DK's Mango kulfi since the day she posted it. I made some changes with an addition of a surprise ingredient. This was a super simple recipe and the recipe contains ingredients that are there in you kitchen mostly.

P.S - Will sell husband for mangoes!

Recipe Adapted from ChefInYou
( I doubled the recipe, since it had to serve 10-12 people)

5 cups Whole milk
1/2 cup Milk powder
1 cup Condensed milk + more to eat of the tin!
1/2 cup Sugar ( you can reduce the quantity if you like it less sweeter)
2 slices Bread, cut into small pieces &  crumbs removed
2 cups Mango puree
Pistachios, skinned and chopped

  • In a heavy bottomed pan heat the milk. Boil it on low heat so it reduces a bit.
  • In a wide bowl place the cut bread pieces. Add enough milk to soak the bread pieces. 
  • Process the soaked bread in a blender.
  • Once the milk has thickened a bit, add the milk powder, condensed milk,the processed bread and sugar. Give it a mild boil so it all comes together. Take off heat and set aside
  • Allow it to cool to room temperature.
  • Add the mango puree and mix it together.
  • Add the Pistachios and mix well so it spreads evenly.
  • Pour into moulds. and freeze overnight. Set it on the counter for 5 minutes before serving.
Since I had only 6 moulds. I filled 6 moulds and the rest I poured into a 8x8 Inch square pan. That made it easy for every one to make a serving size of their choice. Everyone loved the kulfi so much that every one had a second serving. I have made DK's original recipe before and the addition of the bread definitely helped the texture of the kulfi. It was much softer to bite into. And I loved the addtion of pistachios, it was a lovely contrast and pistachios reminded me of the traditional kesar-pista kulfi.