Heavenly Godiva Chocolate Cupcakes – 4th Year Blog Anniversary

 

godiva-chocolate-cupcake

Eggless Godiva Chocolate Cupcake

 

Hello there!

I checked my blog after a long time today and was greeted with this cheery notification.

4 fabulous years of sharing recipes!

blog-anniversary

TasteCharades turns 4!

Here’s to another year of not so perfect posting regime, making plans, forgetting to schedule, feeling guilty. There have been more days (than I anticipated) this year where I have procrastinated posting drafts on the blog over curling up on the couch with hot chocolate in hand and flipping cookbooks, thrown more dinner parties, cooked new cuisines and worked with new ingredients. The best was I got to travel a lot more than I have since 2013. It made a good change of pace in schedule.

Visiting new places brought me new ingredients, new insights and allowed me to sample new food and explore new cultures. Will share more of my travel diaries in the weeks to come.

To celebrate my blog’s 4th anniversary, I am posting my dear friend Syesha’s divine chocolate cupcake recipe. Her constant encouragement makes her my biggest cheerleader and her warm camaraderie keeps me sane.

I asked her to guest blog this recipe the day she posted this delicious looking cupcake on Instagram. She sweetly sent me the recipe and pictures the very same day despite her busy schedule. She is a great restaurateur and a hospitality consultant to reckon with in Mumbai.

So all these weeks later, it seems like a perfect day to celebrate my blog anniversary with her amazing recipe. An ode of our friendship!

Read on and bake this delectable treat for your loved ones over the weekend.

Recipe and picture credits@SyeshaK (Lots of love)

 

Prep Time: 15 mins

Baking Time: 18 mins
Makes 8 cupcakes

Ingredients:
1 cup unsalted butter softened at room temperature
1/2 cup sugar
1 1/2 cup all-purpose flour or almond flour or oat flour
3 tablespoon plain yogurt in half a cup of water/ Plain Buttermilk
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp baking powder 1 tsp
1 1/2 tsp vanilla essence
30 gm Godiva chocolate (85% cocoa)
1 Tbsp unsweetened cocoa powder
A pinch of salt

Method:

Pre-heat oven to 180 degrees Celcius for 15 minutes.

In a large mixing bowl, add butter and sugar. You can use brown sugar or sugar-free instead, however, measurements will change in that case.

If using brown sugar, you will need 3/4th cup and if you using sugar-free, it will be 1/3 cup.

Cream the sugar and the butter and slowly add the buttermilk. Beat the mixture until well combined.

In a separate bowl, sieve the flour, cocoa powder, salt, baking soda and baking powder together. Keep aside.

Melt Godiva chocolate using a double boiler.

Combine the flour mixture to the wet mixture,  add in the vanilla essence and melted Godiva chocolate.

Lightly grease the cupcake moulds with butter and add the batter.

Bake for 18 minutes at 180 degrees Celcius.

Allow cupcakes to cool for 15 mins and remove them carefully from bake ware.

Unmould and serve warm with a steaming up of coffee!

godiva-chocolate-cupcake-1

Until next time happy baking!

Zucchini Bake

Hello lovely people!

Long time no see, I hope everyone is gearing up for the cooler months. I envision myself planning tea parties, making homemade soups, sipping on hot chocolate, stocking up on slow cooker, bakes and casserole recipes.

One such Zucchini bake recipe which was an instant hit at a recent potluck at a colleague’s place is what I would like to share with you all.

Zucchini Bake

Zucchini is relatively low in calories making it an ideal item to include when you are watching the scale. It is also high in folate, potassium and Vitamin A.

My earliest memories of eating zucchini are at a Mumbai eatery where I ordered Pasta Arrabiata with mixed vegetables. It had broccoli and some carrots along with some pretty unusual looking green strips. I enquired with the server about what were these green strips which made the overall dish rather pretty and delicious.

And that’s how I was introduced to this beautiful vegetable. I love eating zucchini stir fried with other vegetables on most occasions. However in stir fries I feel like the wonderful flavor of this veggie does not shine through.

Hence I decided to bake this on it’s own with the only exception being some cherry tomatoes and a couple of shallots.

Serves : 4

Ingredients
2 zucchini thinly cut in rounds
12 cherry tomatoes halved
3 cloves of garlic minced
a handful of shallots
Fresh thyme sprigs
Splash of balsamic vinegar
1/2 cup parmesan cheese grated
3 tsp olive oil
Sea salt to taste
White pepper to taste
1 1/2 tsp dried thyme

Line a flat baking sheet with foil and grease it well.

In a mixing bowl, add all ingredients except cheese and coat them well with oil and seasoning.

Zucchini Bake 1

Layer the zucchini neatly on the baking tray and sprinkle parmesan cheese.

Bake for 15 minutes at 170 degrees Celsius. I did not want to over do the cheese and baked it for a short duration so that the flavours of were given it’s due credit.

Serve with any pasta dish or good to be eaten on it’s own.

Until next time, happy cooking!

Mediterranean Frittata

I hosted a brunch earlier last month for Sahil’s colleagues. Now the usual dilemma I face is that amongst my friend circle is that I am the sole vegetarian. While they enjoy the vegetarian fare I lay out, I don’t want my guests to miss their non vegetarian dishes.

So in instances like these I choose eggs, they come in handy. I am comfortable baking with eggs and hence decided to make a savoury dish for my lovely guests.

Frittata happens to be Sahil’s favorite after Spanish omelette or Shashouka hence I made these. I have these phases wherein I get obsessed with certain ingredients and simply can’t get enough out of them. Currently sundried tomatoes top this list hence I decided to give the Frittata a Mediterranean twist and added them to the mix.

It was World Baking Day yesterday and it is only right to post about something which I baked recently.

Fritatta

Yields : 12 portions

Ingredients
6 organic eggs
1/2 cup finely chopped Kalamata Olives
1/2 cup finely chopped sundried tomatoes
1/2 cup finely chopped fresh parsley
1/2 tsp white pepper powder
1/2 cup mozzarella cheese + 2tsp for garnish
Handful of feta cheese crumbled
Sea salt to taste

Preheat the oven to 175 degrees. In a mixing bowl, whisk the eggs lightly and add all the remaining ingredients.Season well.

Now to a greased muffin tray, add a spoonful of the mixture and top it with some mozzarella cheese as a garnish.

Bake for 10-15 minutes and remove them from the muffin tin. Serve immediately.

However these re-heat well also so are a good option for breakfast the day after.

Until next time, happy cooking!

Eggless Chocolate Walnut Brownies

Weekends usually mean having family over for lunch or in evening for snacks and some drinks. I have a dear brother-in-law staying here in Dubai for the last 6 years. He helped us settle in when me and husband were newbies around here and is our only close family out here.

He got married a few days back and I’m currently in New Delhi, visiting home for his wedding. He came over to discuss his last minute anxieties and we were happy to share his joy. To celebrate this occasion, I decided to bake some brownies, who doesn’t like a chocolate chip brownie served with a dollop of vanilla ice cream. A late post but as they say it’s better late than never!

I’m posting this today on my Mum-in-law’s birthday.

Brownies3

Ingredients
Serves : 4
Prep Time : 10 minutes
Baking Time : 28-30 minutes

1 cup all-purpose flour
1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
3/4 cup caster sugar
1/3 walnuts chopped coarsely + 2tsp to garnish
1/3 cup of canola oil
1 cup of milk
1 tsp of vinegar
1/2 tsp coffee powder
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1 tsp baking soda
Handful of chocolate chips to garnish
A pinch of salt

Pre heat the oven at 180 degrees Celcius.

Sieve the flour, baking soda, cocoa powder and salt.

Mix the milk at room temperature with coffee powder and vinegar and set aside

Mix the caster sugar to the dry ingredients.

Mix the oil and vanilla extract to the milk mixture.

Add the flour mixture and the milk mixture together and blend well.

Add chopped walnuts to this and fold the mixture gently.

Pour the batter to a well greased pound cake pan and top it with chopped walnuts and chocolate chips.

Batter

Bake for 25-30 minutes until a skewer inserted in the middle comes out clean.

Brownies 1

Cool the brownies completely before cutting them in neat squares.

Brownies
Serve with a dollop of vanilla ice cream and cut strawberries.

Brownies 2

The brownies will stay well up to 3 days.

2014 – A new year! An old post! Super Moist Chocolate Cake :)

Chocolate Cake1

Happy New Year! I hope everyone has a blessed year with good health, happiness and contentment in life. Late wishes I know, but like they say – Better Late Than Never!

Before I hop on and start creating memories for 2014, I want to share that it was a lovely December last year! Apart from the ever increasing To-Do list, year end review and strategy meetings at work, I have had a blast.

I have been dining out almost thrice every week for a month now, given late evenings at work leave me too exhausted to face the stove top. However I have been batch cooking a lot for friends and family this month. I even sent a care package of granola bars and cookies to mom-in-law ensuring she does not miss her granola at breakfast. She lovingly distributed some to her kitty party friends.

Last 10 days of 2013 have been very endearing filling me with gratitude for God having given me a great year and making me hopeful of an even better 2014.

I participated in @uaesecretsanta this year, it’s a stand alone gift exchange for tweeps within UAE. I got gifted an amazing book on baking and a Gingerbread house making kit from Tavola by my super sweet Santa.

Ain’t it cute! My secret santa was very thoughtful towards my wish list I’d say. See them below, so this post is dedicated to her 🙂

Secret Santa Gifts

I did my bit by sending gifts to my Santee too and it reached her just in time.

This year New Year’s evening was a quiet one for me and Sahil, we are home listening to some music, sipping our favorite beverages, me masala chai and him his Old Monk. He was working on his final draft for his upcoming coffee table book and I was catching up with friends and family back home. We later stepped out and saw the amazing fireworks. We parked ourselves with several others on the Knowledge Village flyover, we had distant view of fireworks at Global Village, JBR and Burj Khalifa. The magic begun when Burj Al Arab started it’s colorful array of fireworks.

And then like Dubai style, the best was saved for the last. What I saw gave me goosebumps! The much awaited fireworks started over the Palm, a 180 degrees view of colors and lights saw me giggling like a school girl. I such a sucker for fireworks! This was the highlight for my New Years Eve and I will cherish this for the longest time ever.

For the first post of 2014, I’m sharing a recipe for a chocolate cake I baked for my office pot luck lunch for Christmas. Yes! I had a full working day but it turned out to be fun towards the end of it.

I have completely followed the recipe from Joy of Baking’s website. This is very simple cake, comes together in just less than an hour including the prep time. Perfect when you are hard pressed for time like I was!

http://www.joyofbaking.com/cakes/SimpleChocolateCake.html

Chocolate Cake Making

It’s quite a thin batter which can get you scared in the beginning whether the cake will hold it’s shape but it’s alright. The end result is a gooey, moist chocolate cake oozing with flavor. This is one recipe I swear by, it’s not let me down ever.

Chocolate Cake

I simply topped it with some home made chocolate fudge frosting and strawberries! My colleagues are a berry loving lot 🙂

Chocolate Fudge Icing 

1/3 cup unsalted butter at room temperature
1 cup icing sugar
1/3 cup milk
1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1/2 tsp vanilla extract

Combine cocoa powder, sugar and milk in a saucepan and blend all together for few minutes on medium heat. Take off heat when it starts to simmer, add butter and mix well. Add vanilla extract and blend all the ingredients together. You can add little milk if the mixture is too dry. Let the mixture cool down. Spread over cake sparingly, the fudge icing stays well if kept refrigerated unto 3 days.

I hope I’m able to bring out more posts at regular intervals this year around! Here’s too more cooking and creating great foodie memories ahead 🙂

Homemade Granola Bars

Thou shall be more regular with the blog! I usually keep repeating this to myself but never get around to clearing the drafts in my folder. Nonetheless here I am, if you are someone who enjoys a good breakfast then read on.

It’s one of the most blissful feelings waking up early on weekday and fixing yourself a good hearty meal just when life takes over. An empty stomach growling on a busy work day in the middle of a business meeting is never a good call.

I’m not much of a morning person but having a steaming hot cup of masala chai followed by breakfast definitely helps me begin the day beautifully.

It’s actually an indulgence for some but for me it’s a necessity. I never ever skip a breakfast.

I usually like savory in my breakfast so most mornings consist a sandwich, toasted brown bread layered with peanut butter or labneh and topped up with tomatoes, carrots, cucumber and some crumbled feta or cheese.

Other days I like a hearty poha or upma but it’s a task to make them and means dedicating 20 minutes in the morning for this. Then there was a phase where all I would want to eat was granola bars so I loaded the pantry with some oats and honey crunchy granola bars.

After spending a fortune on store bought artificially sweetened and calorie heavy variety, I decided to bake some at home. I baked some chewy granola bars fews weeks back and some more over the last fortnight for Mum-in-law to take them home.

I personally love them to be crunchy however since mum-in-law was in town, I decided to make them chewy so that she can eat them easily.

Granola Square

Prep Time : 10 minutes
Ready in 20 minutes

Ingredients

3 cups organic oats
1/2 cup chopped mixed nuts (I used walnuts and cashews, the ratio was 70:30)
1/4 cup raisins
1/4 cup cranberries
1/2 cup almond meal
1/4 cup honey
1/4 cup date syrup
2 tsp brown sugar (skip if you want them to be less sweet)
1/4 cup canola oil
1/2 cup creamy peanut butter
1 tsp vanilla essence
A pinch of sea salt

Pre-heat oven at 175 degrees Celcius.

Toast the Oats slightly, it gives them a good crunch. You could toast them in the oven for 3-5 minutes or just dry roast in a wok.

Granola

Mix oats, chopped nuts, raisins, almond meal and cranberries really well in a big mixing bowl.

Granola Mix 2

On low heat, add oil, sugar, peanut butter, honey and date syrup in a saucepan and keep stirring it so that it does not stick to the bottom of the same.

Sugar Syrup

Take off heat once all the ingredients have blended well, add vanilla essence and mix well.

Pour the hot mixture over the oats mixture and with the help of a spatula mix them well.

Scrap the mixture from sides of the bowl and let it rest for a few minutes.

Grease a baking tray and layer the oats mixture on the same. Bake for 20 minutes and voila you are saying good bye to hungry mornings!

My first attempt at this was not that great and I wasn’t happy with the shape for the granola bars since I tried them in a 9 inch cake mould. I just couldn’t find my baking tray.

So there you see chunky bits of granola however this time around I spend some time on doing my prep right. I used a baking tray and dumped the mixture on the same.

With help of greased spatula I spread the mixture and had a thin layer on to the tray. You can even grease your fingertips and flatten the mixture on the surface.

Let the mixture cool down for a while before you cut them in neat squares. Store in an airtight container, they will stay well for a 7-10 days.

Granola Bars
The sides which were uneven at my end were crumbled and used as granola later on. I simply topped them with yoghurt and fresh diced kiwis and strawberries! Win 😀

In the next few posts, I would be bringing you my experiences from my recent and the very first trip to Paris and Amsterdam. Till then, happy cooking 🙂

Eggless Vanilla & Almond Crumble Cake

Almond Crumble Cake
After a long hiatus I’m back with something sweet. I visited my family back in Mumbai last month and spent 15 days of bliss in my room.  Surrounded by the similar sense of warmth and comfort which can be experienced, only when you sit cross legged on the couch, endless rounds of tea and snacks been passed around with family gossip sessions which go on for hours on end.
I planned this trip since I wanted to be there for my Dad’s birthday. I’m a typical daddy’s girl and he pampers me silly always. He is the one who still calls me and says ‘I Miss You, come back home soon’. He said this just before his birthday was approaching and it was enough to make me teary eyed and book my tickets. My dad has a terrible sweet tooth, one of the many things which I have taken on him.
He has border line high blood sugar but he still hasn’t restricted himself much in terms of popping the usual ladoos and halwas. His Punjabi genes are to blamed for the same, as a family we like our desserts way too much. I used to bake cakes for him before I got married off. See the one I baked him way back in 2010.
Dad Birthday Cake 2010
Last two years in a row I couldn’t bake him one and used to feel worse. So this time around, we were quite excited to bring in his birthday together.
I went armed with an oven (my mum never bothered to replace the old one once it went bad after I left) and a healthy cake recipe. I made him an Eggless Vanilla & Almond Crumble Cake. This recipe is adapted from Nita Mehta’s book – Eggless Desserts.
This recipe calls for no butter and very less sugar. You can up the sugar up to 1 cup if you like the cake on a slightly sweeter side. The texture for the cake will be moist and not too crumbly.
Today happens to my mum’s birthday, she turns the big 50 today. My mother is a compassionate person and a very confident lady, she is the life of every family get together and an agony aunt to the entire family. We can’t imagine our lives without her soothing smile. Here’s their picture taken on my wedding day.
Mum Dad
This post is a tribute to my parents, I am what I am because of the values they instilled in me and the life lessons they gave me. Sorry I get carried away when talking about family, moving on to the recipe 🙂
Almond Crumble Cake1
Ingredients
1  1/2 cups of all-purpose flour
1/3 cup almond crumble
2 tsp flaked almonds to garnish
1 cup of plain yoghurt
3/4 cup of sugar (powdered)
1/2 tsp of baking soda
1 and 1/4 tsp of baking powder
1/2 cup canola oil
1 tsp of vanilla essence
Preheat oven to 180 Degrees Celsius. Grease an 8″ cake pan with some butter, layer with baking paper on the base and set aside. Dust some flour on the sides of the cake pan so that the cake comes out clean once it is done.
Whisk the yogurt (at room temperature) well and add the sugar to it. Mix well until the sugar is incorporated well.
Sieve flour, baking powder and baking soda and mix well. Add this mixture to the wet ingredients.
Add vanilla essence and and oil. Fold it well and keep aside for 5 minutes for the baking powder and soda to start working it’s magic.
Pour half the batter in the greased cake pan and layer with the almond crumble mixture. Put the remaining the batter and sprinkle the remaining almond crumble mixture.
To make almond crumble, soak almonds in warm water for 30 mins. Dry them well on a kitchen towel and crush them coarsely in mortar and pestle. Keep the texture slightly coarse and crumbly. If you want a crunch to the cake, then slip the blanching step and instead just coarsely chop almonds or give them a quick blend in the spice grinder and do not soak almonds in warm water.
If you do not want to give the cake a layered look, then you can add the almond crumble to the batter and mix well.
Bake in the pre-heated oven for 30-32 minutes until the top turns a golden brown and a tooth pick inserted into the centre of the cake comes out with clean.
Let it cool down completely. I took the Orange Preserve from La Pain Quotidien for my parents and garnished it with the same along with chopped almonds once the cake was cooled. You can also serve it with any other preserve you like.
Almond Crumble Cake

I recently served this cake with raspberry coulis and garnished the cake with almond flakes, topped it with some fresh berries and it looked very pretty!

Almond Crumble Cake1
Serve with a smile!
p.s. A dear Twitter acquaintance tried this recipe the day I tweeted about this recipe. She has till date made this recipe thrice, makes me believe I did something right out here. Here are images which she shared, her little girls helped her make this. Ain’t it prettier than my pictures 😀
Cake