Tag Archives: desserts

Apple tarts for ordinary days and a poll

12 Mar

All of us remember special days – birthdays, anniversaries, festivals and personal triumph days such as promotions etc ( its been long since I have celebrated that one!). I try and celebrate the ordinariness of each day. It gives me a special high. I try to have a special sort of breakfast or dinner or snack since its super fun to share on instagram, Facebook and twitter. People respond to my attempts to celebrate ordinariness which makes all the effort well worth it. That is why I am so glad that social media platforms like Facebook, twitter, pinterest, instagram are around which make our daily routine stories sound fancy thereby giving us the strength to get past each day.

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There is a lot of criticism concerning these social media platforms where several people (including my husband) think that this culture of over-sharing is overbearing.  I agree to a certain extent but all in all I feel it has brought us closer as a community – of like minded people, friends, supporters etc.

Digital Media has got me so interested that the pros vs cons war doesn’t bother me. Like they say, you can love it, you can hate it, but you cannot ignore it. Social media is here to stay and its evolving and adapting to real life as I write this post. Soon there will be a time when there wouldn’t be any distinction between the real and the virtual life. Scary? Exciting?

What are your thoughts on it. Social media – love it? hate it?

Take this small poll for fun and it will tell me how many of us think social media is amazing and the single biggest invention after the world wide web and how many think that it is a high risk infection that needs to be stopped via a new antidote or vaccine!

Well apart from all the digital media debate on this post, I have a warm and a sunny apple tart recipe to share.

AT2This recipe is the easiest and absolutely no-fuss. The last traces of the good weather are leaving Bahrain and summer is setting in. I am not exactly ready for summer and continue to hold to my fall/winter/spring mode. The baked apple tarts is my way of expressing weather -related withdrawal symptoms.

AT3What is it about the cinnamon and apple combination that is so heavenly! Pair it in tarts or cakes or muffins with strusel, it just creates that quiet corner of heaven when you are eating them. I served warm these tarts with simple and the understated vanilla ice cream – symbolic of the receding winters and the entering summers.

The recipe has been inspired from here and the recipe card for the detailed recipe is below.

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Now bringing the discussion back to social media and the impact it has on our lives these days.I feel moderation is the key. I feel we have control over what part of ourselves we want to put out there for the unknown world to see. Ofcourse that balance comes through trial and error. As a blogger, I have realized that like – minded people connect when they read what I post is relevant to their lives. For that I post stuff about my life which I don’t mind sharing. It is also heartening when people come and validate that they feel the same, given a situation. For me personally, being a part of such an online community has been inspiring and each day I learn a lot which I then apply to my real life. Hence, I do not mind declaring that I am social media- happy and would continue my trysts in this medium.

Do you feel the same?

Judging a Masterchef competition + Flourless Chocolate Orange cake

30 Nov

An exciting opportunity came my way when I was asked to be a guest judge for an Italian Masterchef competition. This competition was being hosted by Cucina Italiana in Bahrain. I have always enjoyed Cucina’s food and drinks and this was an opportunity I really looked forward to.

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It was alright being invited to be a judge and all but I was completely ill prepared. Come to think of it, I didn’t really know how I could prepare myself. I ran myself some youtube videos of Masterchef Australia and observed a few judging scenes for the kind of questions to ask. I reached the venue dot on time to meet the participants and to understand the format of the competition.

The participants were to choose from the fresh ingredients provided by Cucina within 10 minutes and prepare a main course in 45 minutes in the restaurant’s kitchen. Most of the contestants, including me have never been inside a commercial kitchen let alone cook in one of them. It did feel daunting to me and I was wondering how the contestants were going to cope with the task.  But the restaurants Head Chef (who was also one of the judges for the evening) gave all the contestants a good brief about how to use the various appliances and some safety guidelines.

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The contestants looked very confident and well prepared. They seemed determined to get past this ‘heat’ to go to the semi finals. I wouldn’t wonder at their eagerness because the grand prizes were that alluring. The prizes included a splendid trophy, a Masterchef apron, 6 months of free cooking classes at Cucina, the winning dish was to be added on the 2014 menu of Cucina Italian and much more.

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It turned to be a lot of fun with the host of evening Peter Lyons (also a judge) at his sarcastic and funny best. He asked all the contestants difficult questions and put them in the spot a lot of times.The kitchen, where the contestants were busy working was being video shot so that the diners, guests and the supporters of the contestants could see them all in action on a big screen display in the dining area. I was thrilled to see the participants preparing different kinds of Italian style dishes which meant sampling and judging was going to be so interesting. The dishes that were being prepared included:

1) Stuffed chicken breast with sun dried tomatoes and mozzarella with a side of blanched spinach in  lemon and orange zest, garlic bread etc

2) Baked hammour (fish) and spaghetti Alfredo

3) Pumpkin rissotto

4) Tagliatelle pasta in tomato sauce and minced bacon

photo (3)The judging was to be done on the parameters of presentation, authenticity, balance of flavours, taste and portion size.

The stuffed chicken with sun dried tomatoes and mozzarella won the contest for the day. It was heartening to see the crowd cheer for the winners as the competition drew to a close. As a judge, perhaps I learnt a lot more than the contestants themselves. I appreciate their guts and their wits to be able to draw out a dish of such high calibre in 45 minutes. It is no easy task and I have observed it first hand. It would be interesting to note who goes through to the finals to win the grand prize. I sure hope it is one of the contestants from the qualifying rounds that I judged.

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All this excitement wouldn’t mean anything without something as spectacular- sounding as a flour-less chocolate orange cake. This beautiful and truly beautiful cake has been unjustly languishing in my drafts for a long time. I thought there was no better time to bring it out to celebrate the glory of the culinary arts. Being flour-less renders this cake light and slightly guilt free. But then I shall back track and say that some things in life ought to be outright indulgent. This cake is indulgent from all the wonderful Valrhona French cocoa and baking chocolate it uses. It makes me so so sad that I used the last of them few months back and I can’t seem to find them anywhere in Bahrain. Flour is replaced by almond powder which gives the cake a generous nutty flavour which is oh-so addictive.

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And, I almost forgot to mention that this beautiful, beautiful cake is a creation of my favourite cookbook author – Nigella Lawson. Only she can come up with techniques which sound dodgy— like boiling whole oranges and then pulping it all up to incorporate in the cake. Yet the outcome of such drastic actions is beyond amazing and then you realize that after all it is Nigella’s recipe and it can’t go wrong.

COC5I made this cake for my husband’s birthday in July this year ( and hence the candles in the pictures) and it is a pity that it has seen the light of day only through this post. Well it was destined to be posted with a special event as far as my culinary adventures go. Judging a Masterchef competition is certainly a feather on my culinary cap. I wish to participate in this competition as a participant in the near future to see what it takes to be a Masterchef.

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News and My Culinary Bucket list + Millionaire’s Shortbread

9 Feb

Well how do I begin..

Lots of news to share.

First things first. You may recollect I had requested all my blogger friends and readers for Facebook votes for a photo contest that Mimi (my daughter) was participating. The news is she won the title of the cutest kid in Bahrain. Mimi won a professional portfolio as the prize for winning the contest. The details of how Summer ( the professional photographer) managed to get some shots that were portfolio -worthy would be a blog post in itself. In a nutshell, I can summarize the photo shoot as:

Mimi– hates wearing girly stuff- made to wear a dress- cranky best- hell broke loose- wouldn’t pose- cried till her nose was red– a super stressed hubby and me– a super patient photographer( Summer Weeks)– asked us parents to step out– sorted the shoot and the change of clothes herself– got some photos that were portfolio worthy– phew!

Well the moral of the 58 word story is – the photos are here and I am so glad to share a few of them in this post as a thank you to all my blogger friends who took time out to vote for Mimi. We are so happy with the photos and at what a beautiful job Summer has done.

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Now for the second round of update – My recipes were featured in one of the leading Magazines in Bahrain – The Bahrain Confidential. For this I have only one person to thank – Pooja Rajpal – my beautiful friend. I have blogged about these recipes and you could take a look at them here and here.

BahCon-Anita-LRFor the third round of update. I have, inspired by Sally, decided to build a culinary bucket list for this year. This is no rocket science stuff. It includes all the culinary pursuit that I have been procrastinating endlessly. Either I am too lazy or plain scared to take it up. So to put all that unimportant fears and insecurities on the side and take up all the challenges  one by one would be my culinary goal for the year. In the bargain, I feel, this bucket list will give my blog a new and adventurous feel. Basically, anything to keep going. Otherwise, knowing me, I would keep making those old-fashioned chocolate cakes, brownies and cookies over and over again. This bucket list not only features new bakes and recipes I intend to try but also would help me push my gastronomical boundaries. Ofcourse the list is subject to change.

Why?

Because its my list. I can do what I want to with it. ( that’s just me justifying my ever-changing goals in life!!)

So here goes my Culinary Bucket list in no particular order:

Barbecue– It may sound funny but I have never got the opportunity to attend a barbecue. But I did in early January, this year and I can’t wait to share my experience of doing so with the locals here in Bahrain. So this I can safely tick off my list.

Macarons – Dread to even try. Have been procrastinating for too long. Have to tackle the bulls by its horns now.

Pavlova – Plain laziness. The only worry I have is, what would I do with all the yolks that remain once I used all the whites of the egg.

Oyster – Ernest Hemmingway called it tasting the sea. I would like to experience this myself. Hopefully, this should happen sometime in April ( why April? I won’t tell you, just yet)

Quail eggs – I have seen these delicate, patterned eggs on the supermarket shelves but using them in my recipes always made me uneasy. Hoping to put a good quail egg recipe on this blog.

Baklawa – Being in this part of the world, its shameful that I haven’t tried my hand at any dessert of the middle eastern origin. Considering how much I love Baklawa and enjoy licking off the honey laced pastry bits off my fingers, its time I try and recreate this beautiful dessert at home.

Learn how to pipe – Chocolate ganache has been my go-to cake decorating option all the time. My piping skills are absolutely dud and I need to try to do some skillful piping this year to put my piping related anxiety at rest.

Swiss roll – I failed miserably at making the yule log for Christmas. It was a defeat in every sense. The log, the rolling, the cream filling; everything. The Swiss Roll will be conquered.

KhandviThis Gujarati (Indian) delicious snack made from gram flour has given me a tough time. But again, like the Swiss Roll, I shall endeavour to tame this rogue snack.

Jalebi I have been aspiring to make Jalebis for as long as I remember. I know for sure that my hubby would be very thrilled to see this in my culinary bucketlist.

Now with that out-of-the-way, I shall  turn my attention to this delicious, wickedly sinful and indulgent shortbread called the Millionaire’s shortbread that uses more butter than you can imagine and tastes a bit like heaven.

A slice of heaven would be a perfect description.

While the other description would be – ‘ deliciously buttery, crumbly shortbread with a layer of insanely addictive fudge and topped with a shiny coat of melted chocolate. This tri-layered slice of heaven is a calorie bomb but what is life without a little indulgence here and there. During times like this when I am savouring a delicate slice of Nigella’s Shortbread, I tend to completely forget about my New Year resolutions about losing weight and such insignificant issues.

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Surprisingly, it is very easy and quick to assemble as most of Nigella’s baking treats are. Literally three short steps and its done. That trickiest part is to be patient let the darn thing set well. But I am not blessed with that virtue and cut them into slices before it had the time to meld into each other like a single unit. The result was  as you can see in the pictures, uneven slices that don’t look good in photos and the chocolate layer sliding over the fudge layer that reminded me of drifting continents.

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I console myself with the fact that food needs to taste great; never-mind it doesn’t look too good.

I packed these shortbread pieces for my daughters last day of the term party and took some to office.

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Now for the final update, that I remember at the fag end, because there is so much happening that I am losing count. My hubby and my sweet friend Gayathri participated in a Quiz contest – India Quiz 2013 on the eve of the Indian Republic Day in Bahrain and won the 2nd prize. It was a fantastic moment for us. My hubby had been an avid quizzer during his college days but I never had the chance to see him in action. This was the first time I saw him participate and do so well and finally win it. It was a moment of ultimate pride for me. Also that Gayathri was his quiz partner made it ultra special. Kudos to both of you and I am so so so so proud of you!!!

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Now for the Recipe Card;

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Hope you all have an (nice) eventful week ahead!

Parenthood & A Plum Tart

9 Jul

Just the other day, when my hubby and I were in a middle of a baseless argument about some chores and who should do them, we heard a squeaky little voice ordering us to, ” STOP!!, guys!! Stop it. Don’t shout!!  Shush. Quiet please”

We looked around to see her standing with her tiny hands on her hips and a solemn expression. We smiled at her and proceeded to continue our bickering.

” Guys!! Stop it. Don’t shout!!!” , she nearly shouted at us and didn’t let us continue with our verbal duel. Her assertive ‘stop it’ made us end that argument for good. Next, all I remember is pampering her and tickling her till she was shouting, please stop, please stop, again. Both my hubby and I completely forgot what we were haggling about.

This little, massively cute, being has completely changed our lives. I think our happiness quotient has inched a new notches higher only because of her. But to all that is amazing in our life, I find it more and more difficult, most times, to reach out to my husband. Since both of us work, we have less and less time for ourselves, to find some time to do our thing. Our life clearly revolves around Mimi and Mimi-stuff. All our plans are about the activities that Mimi would like to do or Mimi would enjoy.  The choice of TV shows, movies and weekend outings are all about what Mimi would like to do. Funnily enough even all the conversation is about Mimi and how she went about her day, her school, her friends, her paintings, her bike, her singing, etc. When my parents call or my hubby’s parents call, all they want to know is how Mimi’s doing. So Mimi -mania is far and wide. I put one photograph of Mimi on facebook and there are about 70 odd likes and comments against it in a matter of 3o minutes. It is fun alright and it is so much fun that the rest of the world can blur in the background. With the world, it seems like my partner of 7 years also blurs and I am sure the same happens to him too.

I cannot recall a time where we have a had a carefree, romantic time for ourselves. We did go to London on our own and that was a good opportunity to find ourselves again. But the purpose was different ( read, job search) so we also packed tension and stress in our suitcases to London, along with our clothes. I complain to him about this disconnect that we suffer from sometimes, and he brushes my cares away stating I am only imagining them. I retort back stating he is being lazy and doesn’t want to put in that extra effort.  He is known to simplifying things in life while I am the one who loves complications. So in the lieu of such personality traits, I have no choice but to agree to what he says. After all simplicity is a more preferred trait.

I gave it a lot of thought and tried to even imagine this as the next step in the evolutionary process of Parenting.  Maybe this is how it is supposed to be. I recall my parents always doing stuff for my brother and me. I hardly remember them doing anything that they liked doing. I really need to read up on some parenting literature online that rubbishes this theory of evolution wherein partners only connect with each other through their offspring. But if this theory is true and if these are how things would be from now on, then I should really start making efforts to adapt to this new ‘way of life’. I am sure I am going to find it really hard to settle into this new order of things because I always resist change and it irks me no end to see my hubby happily cozy-ing into this system without batting an eyelid.

I am certain that adapting to this next step in this Parenting evolutionary process is going to be very, very hard but I found out that adapting a recipe for a Frangipane Tart from Masterchef Australia wasn’t that tough. Despite my earlier reservations about:

1. The recipe was as Masterchef Australia recipe which meant it would have multiple steps to do first and then it would all culminate into this classy baked treat

2. It would be time-consuming and would need lots of ingredients

3. I can’t do it because the end result would be far from being spectacular and I think I not that skilled as a baker

I kept procrastinating and finally decided to give it a go. I also made a carrot cake ( post coming up soon) just so that if the tart bombed then atleast I would have a carrot cake as a safe bet to count on and feed people as dessert.

I would really like the pictures to do all the talking and simply end this post by saying, this Almond and Plum Frangipane Tart was beyond delicious. Originally a Fig and Pistachio Crumble Tart, I had to change the ingredients because fresh figs weren’t available in the market. The supermarket shelves were teeming with ripe, plump, and juicy plums and those seemed like the most obvious choice for this tart and safest bet with plums could only be almonds. All photos in this post were clicked by @namit93 (Namit Bhatia) including the styling etc. I think he did a fantastic job.

This tart is as rustic as it is elegant. Wondering if it would be alright to describe this as a one that exudes rustic elegance?  This is my second attempt at trying out a Masterchef recipe. The first being this Black Forest cake I made for my anniversary, which was equally enticing. This tart shall go down in my repertoire as the one which shall be prepared on days when I have to impress guests.

Now just as this tart that initially seemed so intimidating turned out quite easy to tackle, I wish to be able to handle new pressures of  parenthood that seem so daunting right now. While doing that, I also wish and hope to rekindle a new kind of equation with my husband.

Are you listening, hubby dear?

I am sending this plum tart to Priya Kumar’s – Best Tart Event posted here (http://priyaskitchendiary.blogspot.in/2012/08/best-tart-event-announcement-and.html

 

Baguette Bread Pudding for Mother’s Day

12 May

I realized how lucky I am when I was browsing through all my old photographs. My parents have inevitably been a part of every milestone of my life.  Be it my first singing performance in front of a large audience, Annual sports day, or  my graduation day ceremony, my wedding (ofcourse), at the birth of my daughter, her first birthday, the launch of my first book ( a post coming up soon with the details) and so on. I feel blessed and so loved by a set of parents who have helped, guided and supported me in all my life’s decisions. 13th May being Mother’s Day, I take this opportunity to tell them how infinitely lucky I feel to have them in my life and how much they mean to me.

These days, they are visiting us in Bahrain and it has been the most relaxed, stress free period in a long, long time. Mimi had a small accident where she fell of the sofa and broke her right elbow. The impact of the fall was quite severe and her right arm had to be plastered for 3 weeks. I was at my wits end when I couldn’t figure out how I was going to manage her, my work, home and everything else. I do have the most dependable nanny in the world but I was still apprehensive considering how Mimi was going to spend her whole day at home when I was at work.  So I asked my parents to come down and they obliged without a thought. They had a lot of pressing commitments back home but when it comes to their grand-daughter, they pushed everything in the back burner and hopped on the first flight to Bahrain. They have been here for the last 3 weeks and we have another week with them. I feel sad already thinking that they would be leaving soon and soon there will be  heart-shaped void for a long, long time before things get back to normal. Mimi’s cast is off and my parents have been a great influence when it comes to teaching her new things, our language and every little detail. Mimi has started speaking a lot more and expresses herself more clearly. When my parents leave Mimi will miss them more than ever.

While they are here, I made sure I  made every day count, especially the weekends. My dad is extremely fond of baked goodies so I made him an apple cake, raspberry brownies, the chocolate cherry cupcakes, Palmiers ( post on the way), hopefully a cheesecake and some fruit cake before he leaves. My mother is passionate about cooking and loves to watch me in action so that she can go back home and try some of it on her own. She gives me ideas on how I can improve something or change ingredients. She has a creative streak in her which she unleashes effortlessly in the kitchen. My father has a way with words and he gives me ideas about how I can write new posts on my blog on varied topics. Both of them read my blog with great interest and give me their honest opinion about it.

So you see, it is a win-win.

I know I am going to miss them terribly when they leave and I cannot wait to plan my next trip to see them in Kerala. Though it is Mother’s Day tomorrow, I would want to wish my dad also because they are a team; my mom and dad. They have do things together, take decisions together and there not a single instance that I recall where they haven’t stuck together during the thick and the thin. These are the values they have passed on to me and my brother – Family always comes first.

 I made them some baguette bread pudding and they loved it more than all the other baked goodies. Bread and butter pudding has been my eternal favourite as long as I remember. My mother used to make a non-baked version of the bread and the butter pudding which I used to love. Unfortunately she doesn’t remember how to make it after all this time. That is the reason why she encourages me to detail it all down on my blog for posterity.

The baguette was a few days old and that really enhanced the flavour of the pudding. Also, it is important not to be stingy when it comes to butter because bread and butter pudding requires loads of butter-love. I added cranberries because I wanted their tartness to shine through the dull sweetness of the custard. I remembered to soak the cranberries in rum overnight and in the morning they had soaked in all the alcoholic goodness.  I blow torched the bread pudding to give it a brownish-black crust because my hubby loves a little burnt taste in his bread pudding. Burnt sugar on the top provides the much needed textrue to the otherwise ooey-gooey bread pudding.

Though Mimi doesn’t know it is Mother’s Day tomorrow and what it means to our relationship, I know for a fact that she would run to me when I come back from work. The delight on her face is beyond compare and lights up the dreariest day. I look forward to that reaction every single day after I come back from work. A few years down the lane, I am also looking forward to the hand made beautiful cards she is going to make for me 🙂

Wishing all mothers a very Happy Mother’s Day because this day like every day is  a testimony of the fact that we are the moving force in our child’s life. We have the power to mould them into the individuals that they are today or would be in the future. To carry out this  immense responsibility I wish from the higher power to give each one of us enough strength and determination.

Chocolate Cherry Cupcakes with White Chocolate Frosting ( Birthday Post-1)

5 May

It was my birthday a few days ago and it was wonderful. I can go ahead and claim that it was the best birthday that I would have had in a decade. Unexpected and infinitely fun, this birthday goes down in my birthday history books of records at the very top until ofcourse another more fantabulous one comes along.

Birthdays and me, don’t really have a thing going as long as I remember. I was never the one to look forward to one, more so after I crossed the “30” milestone. Its been a week now that my birthday’s gone, but the good taste and feeling still remains, lingering in the air somewhere. I catch a whiff of it sometime and you can see me smiling for no reason at all. It was that wonderful. You may also know that I enjoy doing a lot of analysis. I have to know why something was good, or bad, or why it happened or what was the best way of going about it etc.

There are few straightforward reasons as to why this birthday was so much more amazing than the other ones:

1. The biggest reason is my parents are in town. How can a birthday be anything less than wonderful when your parents are with you. They lavished all their attention and love on me (for a change) otherwise everybody has eyes and ears only for Mimi.

2. My husband promised to bake a cake for me ( rest of the story follows later in the post)

3.  My daughter, Mimi can say Happy Birthday to you now and can sing it even better

4. I got plenty of gifts which include a much sought after cake stand, a gold ring, shopping vouchers, flowers, delicious home baked  chocolate cakes, a lovely bag and dinner at one of the best restaurants in town. It cannot get any better than this. I profusely thank my husband, Amit, my parents, my friends Namit, Anamika, Ashish, Gayathri and Pooja for making it so memorable.

5. I think the most deciding of all factors was that I was expecting nothing. Zilch.

A few days before my birthday I noticed that people at work brought cakes to office on their birthdays, so I thought that I should join in on that trend and push some of my bakes on my co workers. I turned to one of my least used baking books – Nigella Lawson’s ” How to be a Domestic Goddess” and flipped open to the Chocolate Cherry cupcake recipe. What caught my eye was the morello cherry jam that was used so generously in the recipe. I love the taste of Morello  cherry Jam and instantly knew that it was going to be a great recipe to try. But I didn’t fancy the chocolate ganache frosting and starting thinking of other ideas for frosting the chocolate cherry cupcakes.

Do you see the lovely photo of the cupcakes and the one with has the recipe written in it? Its the work of my friend Namit. He comes up with the most glorious ideas that help make my blog look a whole lot better. All these photographs were shot by him since I had no time to take pictures and was sure that there was no post coming out of this one. But he made sure that not a single bake was missed. Hearty thanks to you Namit.

Now to my story where my hubby promised me that he would bake a cake for my birthday. Well, he must have had a few sleepless nights after he made this promise to me during a rush of emotions. I was quietly enjoying  him getting anxious and uneasy as my birthday approached. For everybody’s information, he can’t cook AT ALL. He can make his tea and instant noodles and his culinary expertise ends there. Finally on the day before my birthday he came home with an envelope and handed it over to me. On opening the envelope I saw shopping vouchers. He apologized about not being able to make a cake for me and instead pleaded me to make do with these shopping vouchers. I stared hard at him for sometime while my brain did some quick analysis and soon came to the conclusion that these shopping vouchers would definitely make a better gift considering the latest collection that I had an eye on at Zara and Mango. I quickly accepted his gift with a lot of gusto! When I think back I realized he bribed me and I accepted it without a thought. That is what 7 years of marriage does to you, I suppose.

Shopping vouchers Vs Hubby baked cake —> Shopping vouchers win hands down!!

Look at the cake stand. Lovely isn’t it?

The cupcakes came out moreish and were appreciated all round. My co workers came back for second or third helpings and I was sold out by the end of the day. I think that is a good indicator to how wonderful these were. You could distinctly taste the fabulous flavour of Morello cherry jam which made it so enchanting. The white chocolate frosting idea was completely mine. I used Lindt white chocolate with sour cream and icing sugar to create a confectionery sort of sweet icing. I wished I had a piping bag, it would have made the frosting even more appealing. The crumb of the cupcake was soft and cake like. I would highly recommend making these on special occasions and guarantee that they would be a huge hit. In case you have some kirsch then it is even better since the flavour of kirsch provides a well rounded smooth cherry flavour.

I have another post lined up which will entail the Party details. Cheers until then!

Dorie Greenspan’s Almond Biscotti

28 Jan

This is one of those rare treats that my hubby truly enjoys and actually insists that I bake this more often.  Biscotti require double baking and that is where it puts me off.  But that’s double standards when I am so patient with my breads and their multiples rises but none for my hubby’s favourite biscotti! So I decided to make this biscotti for my hubby to see him devouring it. He did not forget to thank me too.

Last year I made biscotti (twice) around the same time when were all under home arrest; self-induced. The first time it was an almond biscotti which vanished off in a jiffy and the other was a chocolate biscotti which was an equally good contender. The Almond biscotti I did not mention in my older post because I have none left  but I was quick enough to take some pictures of the chocolate biscotti. But that was last year.

This year, I searched and searched in my archives for the same almond biscotti recipe and I couldn’t trace it. I was feeling so disgruntled because I clearly remembered my hubby telling me he preferred the almond one over the chocolate. Hmmmpppfff..

Call it divine intervention and I do believe in this miraculous mumbo-jumbo; I was flipping through Dorie Greenspan’s book ” Baking from my home to yours” and there I found an Almond Biscotti recipe that I hadn’t ever laid my eyes on before. I have gone through this book more than a dozen times but never saw this recipe!!

But it solved my problem in a jiffy. I set on the task immediately and finished the job in mere 1.5 hours ( including the double baking and the cooling bit). I realized I have come a long way since last year where it took me so much time to put the ingredients together to start baking etc. Now I am much more at ease and so much more confident in the process.

These may not be the prettiest looking biscotti but the flavour was spot on. All the credit to the almond flakes and almond essence. This got rave reviews from my hubby, his colleagues at work, my friend, Gayathri and my daughter. So even if they weren’t that perfect looking, I was pretty happy.

Recipe for Almond Biscotti

Ingredients

All purpose flour – 1 1/2 cups

Baking powder – 1 1/2 tsp

salt – 1/4 tsp

Yellow cornmeal – 1/2 cup

unsalted butter at room temp – 8 tbsp

sugar –  1 cup ( I used 3/4)

eggs – 2 large

Pure almond extract – 1 1/2 tsp

almonds , sliced – 3/4th cup

Preparation

1. Center a rack in the oven and preheat the oven to 350 F/ gas mark 4/180 C. Line a baking sheet with parchment

2. Whisk the flour, baking powder and salt together. Add the cornmeal and whisk again to blend.

3. Working with a stand mixer, fitted with a paddle attachment,  beat the butter and sugar until very smooth for 3 minutes. (Mine did not become too smooth because it is cold here that even at room temperature the butter was quite solid. I thought at this point, that this project of mine was heading for a doom. But I soldiered on anyways.)

4.  Add the eggs and continue to beat, scraping down the sides to incorporate everything. The mixture will turn light and creamy –( BUT mine did not. That didn’t deter me. I went ahead like Dorie had got it wrong.)

5. Beat in the almond extract.

6. Now incorporate the dry ingredients in 3 lots and slowly. Let it mix until everything is just combined. Add the almond slices and combine well. ( At this time, I got the sticky dough out and used a spoon to combine the almonds well)

7. Using your hands or a spatula, work the dough into 2 logs about 12 inches long and 1 1/2 inches wide, each.  ( I got smaller ones and I think it was because my butter +sugar+ egg mixture wasn’t the dream like creamy and fluffy)

8. The logs that you shape will be more rectangular than domed. It will bumpy, uneven and rough.

9. Place both of them with a lot of care into the parchment paper of the baking sheet

10. Bake for 15 minutes or until the logs are lightly golden but still soft and springy to touch.

11. Transfer the baking sheeting to the rack and cool the logs on the baking sheet for 30 mins.

12. If you turned off the oven, bring it back up to 350 F/ gas mark 4/ 180 C AGAIN.

13. Using a spatula transfer the logs to a cutting board after they have cooled for 30 minutes and then using a serrated knife, cut the logs into 3/4 inch thick slices. Return the slices to the baking sheet – this time standing them up and slide the baking sheet back to the oven.

14. Bake the biscotti for 15 minutes, or until they are golden and firm. Transfer them to the racks and cool to room temperature.

I think the cornmeal gave it that special crunch and the almonds lend the wonder depth of flavour. The sweetness was just right and I feel biscotti obsession coming through. I feel I need to try savoury ones and ones with pistachio and other nuts. Watch this space!

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