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 🙂