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!

Kaju Peda – Cashew Truffles

CP
It’s the eighth day of Chaitra Navratri today. Navratri is a festival of nine nights, “Nav” means nine and “Ratri” means night.
The beginning of spring and the beginning of autumn are considered to be important junctions of climatic and solar influences hence it is observed as an auspicious period of worship for Hindus.
During this period, people fast and do not eat non-vegeterian food and avoid onions and garlic. We ended our fast today with prayers in the morning and made the ‘bhog’ i.e. offerings of poori, Semolina Halwa and Kale Chane.
 
I have featured here a recipe for Kaju peda, it’s a traditional Indian cashew nut fudge recipe. It’s very simple to assemble and easy to make as well. I made this for Diwali last and again on Gudi Padwa.
Gudi Padwa is celebrated on the first day of Navratris and marks the start of a Marati new year.  Gudi Padwa is mainly celebrated in the Indian state of Maharashtra where I was brought up.
Cashew Pedas
 
Makes Approximately: 20 pedas
 
Ingredients
200 grams cashew nuts
2 tsp clarified butter / ghee
1/2 to 3/4 cup powdered sugar
1 tsp cardamom powder
Few tsp of full fat milk
Slivered Pistachios to garnish (optional)
Soak the cashews in warm water for 2-3 hours. Once the cashews are soft, drain them and blend with very little water in a blender.
Pulse the cashews until they are creamy.
Cashew Mixture
In a thick bottom wok on low heat, heat ghee and add the cashew mixture. I usually oil the wok so that the cashew mixture does not stick to the wok.
Add powdered sugar, cardamom powder and full fat milk to this mixture and keep blending it well until the sugar dissolves.
Cooking
After a few minutes, the mixture will start leaving the sides of the wok. Turn off the heat at this point.
Cooling the Mixture
Let the mixture cool until it is ok to handle the mixture. Make bite sized balls from the cashew mixture. Let me show you my attempt previously around Diwali which I was not quite happy with.
Diwali
Result this time, the difference just adding 2-3 tsp of milk to the mixture so that it does not dry out. Also I did grease my palms well and hence you see the sheen on the peda this time around. Win!
Cashew Peda2
Press down a pistachio sliver in the cashew ball and roll it well.
You can also use silver vark easily available in Al Adil stores to add a nice festive touch to the pedas.
I will bring you some Navratri recipes over this week before it’s too late. 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 🙂

Besan Halwa

Besan Halwa1

It’s the first day of Diwali today and every Indian household is preparing to kickstart the festivities in a gala way. This year it’s our first Diwali outside India, every year we fly down to home to celebrate it with friends and family. However this year around Mum-in-law decided to come and visit us.

It’s really special having her around. She is working with me on spring cleaning the house, having the lights decorated in the small balcony, making sweets and savories, shopping for new clothes and jewellery. It’s like we have a Santa in the house way before Christmas.

Today is a very auspicious day for Hindus, it’s called Dhan Teras. We offer our prayers to Goddess of wealth – Laxmi for success, prosperity and peace. It’s a traditional custom to buy jewellery or utensils for good luck.

Rangoli

Rangoli is made at the entrance of the house welcoming the Goddess. Rangoli is hand made designs using colored powders and flowers. Deeyas (oil lamps) are used to enhance the decoration and also lighted as a traditional way to welcome the festival. Deepawali or Diwali is also known as a festival of lights.

Besan Halwa

I’d be featuring some of the family favaorites in the coming days, starting with Besan Halwa. You can also read about Sooji (Semolina) Halwa and Rava Nariyal Laddoos (Semolina & Coconut Balls) I posted last year.

Prep Time : 5 minutes
Cooking Time : 25 mins
Serves : 6 persons

Ingredients

1 cup besan (chickpea flour)
1 cup sugar
3 cups water
1 tsp eliachi powder
3/4 cup ghee (clarified butter)
1/2 cup mix chopped nuts

In a saucepan, heat water on medium heat and add sugar and crushed cardamoms. Adding the elaichi to the sugar syrup makes it fragrant and allows the sugar to blend in the cardamom flavors.
In a thick bottom kadai (wok), heat ghee and add besan. Please ensure that you keep stirring the besan so that the mixture does not have any lumps.
The color you are looking for is a pale golden and do not let the besan brown or stick to the bottom. While roasting the besan in the ghee, it gives out a very nice aroma. It is usually is good after 5-7 minutes.

Add the coarsely chopped nuts,  I used cashews, almonds and pistachios.

In a different pan, heat some ghee and add the raisins and let them bloom a bit. Add the raisins to the mixture.

Now add the sugar syrup to the mixture. Be careful with this step and ensure that the burner is on low heat since the syrup will start to bubble and will sprinkle all over.

Blend in all of the mixture with the sugar syrup evenly and keep folding the mixture so that it does not stick to the bottom of the saucepan.

After a few minutes, you will see the mixture thicken and almost start leaving the sides. Take it off the heat and transfer it in a bowl and garnish with some more chopped nuts.

Besan Halwa4

On this sweet note, here’s wishing you and your family a Happy Diwali! I hope the festival of lights illuminate your lives with happiness and contentment 🙂

First Blog Anniversary :D

Chocolate Cake

Today my blog completes it’s first year *happy dance*

Yes! It’s been a fantastic year of creating foodie memories for myself and my family. It feels like it was just yesterday when I shared my first blog post. Like how every first brings an amazing sense of nostalgia of the time gone by, this one did too. I woke up all chirpy and have a smile plastered on my face 🙂

It’s such a great feeling when my mum, friends or cousins call me to say that they like what they read. My best supporter has been my grandmother who relies on the translations my mum gives her for my writing. It’s funny when she asks me to Whatsapp her pictures of something new I cooked or baked. She is tech-savvy that way. Ain’t she the coolest grandma ?

She loved every picture I clicked at my Italian cooking class, she found the Pasta machine quite exciting. This makes me very proud since she is my mentor, she is the one because of whom I first held a chopping knife or learnt how to make a dough. I owe my love of cooking to her.

I have hosted many dinner / lunch / brunch parties to bring in someone’s birthday / anniversary / promotion / farewell or just catching up with everyone. Friends and family been very supportive and let me take pictures before digging in to the feast. They do email me recipes, they want me to try out and feed them. I like how I got to make some really good friends bonding just over food. I also did get to introduce some non-Indian friends to Indian cuisine and now it’s wonderful to see how they enjoy it and ask for that white pancake recipe while referring to Dhokla.

Dining out on weekdays when I’m too tired to cook after a long day at work came in it’s own pleasures. It gave me and Sahil with some alone time to catch up with each other. We also did a round up for nearly most of the coffee shops. This habit came into being since the very beginning of starting our expat journey here, we do weekend coffee dates just before hitting the supermarket for our grocery shopping.

The first year meant experimenting, getting conscious of the responsibilities which come in with having a food blog. Spending Thursday nights curled up on the couch reading up food blogs or wandering over food websites, buying cookbooks or baking supplies over a pair of shoes, having a window open for The Kitchn while at work, bookmarking favorite recipes, testing the recipes and trying to get across the same emotions into writing as I felt while cooking the recipes. I learned and listened to many people share their food stories and philosophy, letting me in to their personal space and asking me about mine.

I think during the course of the year I came across some really fantastic people be it the restaurant owners when we go out to dine, asking them about their foodie journey or fellow food bloggers who share same passion as me.

I also got to be a part of the wonderful Fooderati Arabia group. Attending fabulously put together food events and reading their food blogs. All of them have been such an inspiration.

It’s been a fun ride so far. The year has passed by in a jiffy, I promise to get more regular with my updates for the next year. I have a better vision and clarity for this blog now. I hope the second year brings in more excitement and learning.

Cake

Like I always say – A prayer in my heart, a song on my lips and spatula in my hand, I love my life 🙂

p.s. I have posted pictures for two of the cakes I baked this year for two very special people in my life. First is for a dear friend and second picture is for Sahil’s birthday cake!

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