Wednesday, 28 September 2011

Coffee Chocolate-chunk shortbread cookies

I wanted to bake with coffee for a really long time. I do not drink coffee, but I love the bitter taste nevertheless. Combine it with some dark chocolate, and nothing can beat that taste and aroma :).

So when I came across this recipe for Coffee-chocolate-chunk-shortbread cookies on Divya's blog, I was hooked. I baked these a while back, and it was on my drafts for really long.

I scaled the recipe by 1/2. I over baked them a bit too; but no one noticed, the coffee-chocolate flavour was so addictive :).

Recipe adapted from Divya's post:

Instant coffee powder - 1/2 tbsp
Hot water - 1/2 tbsp
Butter - 100 gms (1/2 cup or 1 stick)
Powdered sugar - 1/3 cup
Vanilla extract - 1/4 tsp
Salt - a pinch
All purpose flour - 1 cups
Chocolate - 1/4 cup chopped (into small chunks) (I used dark chocolate)
Dissolve the instant coffee powder in the water and keep aside to cool.
Using an electric mixer on medium speed, beat together the butter and powdered sugar till smooth, not light and fluffy (about 3 minutes). 
Beat in the vanilla and dissolved coffee.

Turn down the mixer to low speed and add the flour and salt, mix only till the flour is incorporated into the dough. Overworking the dough is not a good idea as it affects the texture of the shortbread.
Now fold in the chocolate chunks with a spatula or wooden spoon.
Using the spatula, transfer the dough (it will be a bit sticky) into a medium sized Ziploc bag. Leave the bag open, place on your work surface and slowly press out the dough with a rolling pin so it becomes a 6" by 8" rectangle about 1/4" thick.
Turn the bag to the other side as well, while rolling, and occasionally lift the bag from the dough to smooth out the creases. Take care to see no air pockets remain and gently press out any. Seal the Ziploc bag and refrigerate for at least two hours or upto 2 days.
I chilled the dough only for a couple of hours. That could be one reason for the texture difference.
The longer the dough is chilled the easier the dough is to handle, and the better the cookies hold their shape when baked. So please make sure the dough chills for about 24 hours.
When the dough has chilled enough, take it out. Place on a cutting surface and slit the Ziploc bag open. Take the chilled rectangle of dough out, and cut into 1 1/2" squares with a sharp knife after marking them out using a ruler.
Place the squares on a baking sheet lined with parchment (I just placed them on ungreased cookie sheets) and prick them well with a fork.

Bake at 180C for 12 to 14 minutes till they look golden. The baking time needs to be judged well, as the dough is already a pale brown, or one might end up with slightly burnt shortbread squares that no one wants to eat! So keep a watch on them once they've baked for 8 minutes.

Dust the shortbread squares with powdered sugar while they're hot, if you prefer.
Cool on a rack. 

Verdict: This was a great hit. Everyone loved the combination of flavours and the chewy   texture. I plan to repeat this recipe with the recommended chilling time baking time.      
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Tuesday, 20 September 2011

September Punch - Chocolate-almond Biscotti

It is well past that time of the month. I am very late in posting this month's sweetpunch. Well, no excuses. I made this once a week after the recipe was announced. The first time, it was over baked and I had trouble cutting it in thin strips. I rectified that mistake and baked it a couple of weeks back and they turned out ok. But it was a crazy evening at home and I had no time to click good pictures :(. Here is the one that I managed to take. It took me so long to post this. It has been a crazy month on the whole :)...

Recipe adapted from

Chocolate Almond Biscotti Recipe:

3/4 cup (110 grams) blanched whole almonds, toasted and chopped coarsely
2/3 cup (135 grams) granulated white sugar
2 large eggs
1 teaspoon baking powde
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 3/4 cups (225 grams) all-purpose flour

4 ounces (110 grams) semi-sweet or bittersweet chocolate, chopped in 1/2 inch (1.25 cm) pieces (can use chocolate chips)

Chocolate Almond Biscotti: Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (180 degrees C).  Toast almonds for 8-10 minutes or until lightly browned and fragrant.  Let cool and then chop coarsely.  Set aside. I microwaved for 3-4 minutes, rearranging after a couple of minutes.

Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.  Set aside.
In bowl of your electric mixer (or with a hand mixer), beat the sugar and eggs on high speed until thick, pale, and fluffy (about 5 minutes).  (When you slowly raise the beaters the batter will fall back into the bowl in slow ribbons.)  At this point beat in the vanilla extract.   In a separate bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder and salt.  Add to the egg mixture and beat until combined.  Fold in the chopped almonds and chocolate.
Transfer the dough to your parchment lined baking sheet and form into a log, about 12 inches (30 cm) long and 3 1/2 inches (9 cm) wide.  I divided the dough into two parts. I made two logs, approximately 9 inches long and 2.5 inches wide. I baked them on two different baking sheets.

You may have to dampen your hands to form the log as the dough is quite sticky.  Bake for 25 minutes, or until firm to the touch. I baked only for 15 minutes. I preheated the oven to 170 degrees C.

 Remove from oven and let cool on a wire rack for about 10 minutes. 

Reduce oven temperature to 325 degrees F (165 degrees C).  Transfer the log to a cutting board and cut into 3/4 inch (2 cm) slices, on the diagonal.  Place the biscotti, cut side down, on the baking sheet.  Bake for about 10 minutes, turn slices over, and bake for another 10 minutes or until golden brown.  Remove from oven and let cool.  Store in an airtight container.
Makes about 16 biscotti.

Verdict: I need to fine tune this recipe further. Thought it tasted very good, the log crumbled a bit while I was trying to cut it. With Biscottis the looks matter a lot too. So I am planning to bake this again to get it right.

priya's signature image at photobucket

Thursday, 15 September 2011

Spinach Rice

The first year of marriage was a bittersweet one ;). I was very nervous trying out newer dishes and used to look for hints and signs from hubby dear to figure out his feedback. He hardly says anything, whether he likes the dish or not; he would not even mention that salt is too less/more until I tasted and figured it out myself. So I used to be careful and apprehensive about my cooking all the more. Often, I used to be stuck for mixed rice choices then. I was so strongly against making rotis for lunch, so it has to be rice, and rice-dal-rasam-vegetable is too boring. So when I traveled to Chennai once that year and was killing time before my flight back to Bangalore, I dropped into Landmark and was browsing through the culinary section. I came home with 3 lovely books from Mallika Badrinath - a 100 recipes each for tiffin, vegetable gravy and rice dishes. The best thing I love about her recipes is the precision. She never writes "Fry for a few minutes", the way I write ;). She would word it like, "fry for a few minutes until the raw smell goes and there is a nice aroma" or "fry for a few minutes until the gravy starts sticking to the bottom of the pan". And she gives a glossary of food names, in various languages.

I love spinach dishes... Keerai-paruppu is one of my favourites with hot steaming rice... So this recipe from a Mallika Badrinath cookbook, immediately captured my fascination. This is a regular dish at home.

The original recipe in her book states the following:


Palak (spinach) - 1 bunch
Rice - 1 cup
Green peas - 1 cup
Small Onions - 1 cup
Tomato - 1 medium sized
Green chillies - 2 large
Garam masala - 1/4 tsp
Cashews - 6-7
Salt -  to taste
Oil - 1 tbsp
Oil for rice - 1 tsp


Wash the rice and green peas. Cook the rice and peas, in an open vessel with a tsp of oil. The oil will help keep the rice grains separate. Let it cool down and keep aside.
Wash and chop the spinach coarsely. Heat the oil in a heavy bottomed vessel and add the small onions and fry for a few minutes;
Remove 6-8 onions and keep it separate for garninshing. Add tomatoes, garam masala, green chillies and cashews to the remaining onions and fry.
Add the chopped spinach and fry for a few minutes, until the raw smell goes. Allow this to cool down. Grind this mix with required salt and very little water.

Mix the cooked rice with this paste, keep on low flame for 5 minutes; Garnish with small onions, and fried cashews. Add a spoon of ghee. Serve hot with Raita.

After the first few attempts, I made some modifications to this recipe.
If small onions are not available, I use the regular onions. I make the spinach paste and keep it aside. It stays good in the refrigerator for even a week. I cook green peas (microwave for 5 minutes). I add hot rice and mix it at the table. So this is like a keerai thokku.
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Continuing from my previous post. Here are the promised blondies. I used the same recipe from joyofbaking and this time used sugar instead of Demerara sugar. These turned out so good. Gooey chocolaty and crunchy crust. This recipe was a hit at home... Definitely in my bake-often list :)
priya's signature image at photobucket

Tuesday, 13 September 2011

Shortbread cookies

 As I mentioned in one of my earlier posts, I love recipes that don't have the leavening agent. Not that the butter, sugar and flour is very healthy ;), but leaving out the baking powder/soda is a little comforting to me. So I wanted to bake these shortbread cookies when I came across the recipe on
 Shortbread Cookies: (From

2 cups - Maida
1/4 tsp - salt
1/2 cup - powdered sugar
1 tsp - vanilla extract

For Chocolate Dipped Shortbreads:
6 ounces (180 grams) semi sweet or bittersweet chocolate, finely chopped
Shortbreads: In a separate bowl whisk the flour with the salt.  Set aside.
In the bowl of your electric mixer (or with a hand mixer), beat the butter until smooth and creamy (about 1 minute). Add the sugar and beat until smooth (about 2 minutes).  Beat in the vanilla extract. Gently stir in the flour mixture just until incorporated.  Flatten the dough into a disk shape, wrap in plastic wrap, and chill the dough for at least an hour or until firm.  
Preheat oven to 170 degrees C with the rack in the middle of the oven.  Line three baking sheets with parchment paper. I use the three baking sheets model from my sugar cookies experience.
On a lightly floured surface roll out the dough into a 1/4 inch (.6 cm) thick circle.  Cut into rounds or other shapes using a lightly floured cookie cutter.  Place on the prepared baking sheets and place in the refrigerator for about 15 minutes. (This will firm up the dough so the cookies will maintain their shape when baked.) Bake for 8 minutes, or until cookies are very lightly browned. Cool on a wire rack.

For Chocolate Dipped Shortbreads: Place 3 ounces (90 grams) of the finely chopped chocolate in microwaveable utensil and microwave on high power for 2 minutes. Add the remaining chocolate and stir with a wooden spoon until it has completely melted and is smooth and glossy. Taking one cookie at a time, dip one end of each cookie in the melted chocolate and place it on a parchment lined baking sheet. Once all the cookies have been dipped in the chocolate, place the baking sheets in the refrigerator for about 10 minutes, or until the chocolate has hardened.
Shortbread cookies with keep in an airtight container for about a week or they can be frozen.
Makes about 28 shortbread cookies.

Verdict: The cookies turned out great :). My daughter licked off the chocolate from each cookie and then ate the cookies.
priya's signature image at photobucket