Wednesday, 29 August 2012

Best Tart - Event Announcement and a Giveaway

Hello Friends,

As mentioned in my previous post, here is the exciting event announcement. When I first started baking, I was only familiar with cup-cakes, cookies, breads and cakes. But with blog hopping and some reading I came across brownies, muffins and tarts. I understand that there was a whole new world out there and I had barely scratched the surface. I was skeptical about buying tart tins, as I was not sure if there is so much variety that I can bake with tarts. But I was wrong. Tarts are interesting. They require a pastry base and then a filling. The filling can be anything ranging from fresh berries in some syrup to something that is baked with the tart shell. With the mini tart tins without removable bottoms, the trick is to remove the tart shell without breaking. I see that tarts are not too common in blogs I visit. So I figured, I might as well host an event and encourage fellow bloggers out there to bake more of these sinfully delightful pastries.

So herez to the best tart/tartlet that one can bake.

1. Bake any tart/tartlet (only sweet) of your choice. We will skip the savory quiches for this event.
2. Post the recipe (include the logo) between 1st-30th September.
3. If updating an older post, please include the logo in the post and update it.
4. You can use Eggs in the tart base or filling but no meat.
5. Send me an email at with the following details:
a) Your blog name
b) URL to the post
c) Your email-id

If you do not blog, feel free to send the write up of the recipe with atleast one picture to my email id.

For the giveaway:

I have a beautiful ceramic pie plate chosen from zansaar as the giveaway. I bought it a couple of months back, but I got delayed with my 100th post and the event announcement. But I am excited to even look at it. It is a beautiful bold yellow color. See for yourself at this link.
If you have an entry for the event, you automatically qualify for the giveaway.
If not, please do any of the following:
1. Subscribe to follow my blog publicly
2. Leave a comment on this post

I will post a round-up of the event and announce the winner on 10th October, 2012. So keep those entries coming, dear bakers!

priya's signature image at photobucket

Thursday, 2 August 2012

Celebrating 100th Post with Rocky Road Brownies

I am celebrating!!! There is so much celebrate... I am celebrating motherhood and will continue to, forever... I am celebrating my lovely little girl... She has an unparalleled maturity and understanding to co-operate with me and yet is so innocent and naughty at the same time... I am celebrating women empowerment... I am celebrating the fact that I have some very satisfying hobbies... Speaking of which, I celebrate baking... I celebrate blogging... And I am celebrating the 100th post on this blog. Yes my dear friends, I have achieved a century on this blog.

Honestly, when I started this blog, I did not have too much of a hope that I will be able to continue blogging at a constant pace. I was not even sure, I would be baking/cooking something special often enough to blog about it.  But this hobby has kind of grown on me. I can steal a few minutes here and there to write up a post and quickly grab my camera for a few clicks, before plating up something I have cooked. 

However, it truly has been a rocky road. I am one of the few bloggers who does not put up posts for festival specials. I miss occasions - cakes on birthdays/anniversaries are not common on my blog... The upside is that on a lazy weekend afternoon I can get into a frenzied excitement and cook up something complicated or elaborate.

So what has kept me going?

  • My lovely little girl - I owe this entirely to her. She in not a great eater... but she is a very good critic and if she loves something, the way she relishes it is very heart-warming. That expression keeps me going :) 
  • The incredible ladies out there and their wonderful blogs... They are truly awe-inspiring... Those restaurant style dishes and the artistic decoration on their baked goodies... Those perfect pictures  with the apt props... Hats off to all of you!
  • My enthusiastic and encouraging readers... You, my friends, are the true reason I strive to do better. I cannot wait to try something new and come back with another post, just to hear your feedback and comments...  
  • My family – what would I do without their support… They are so sweetly supportive of my crankiness during one of those frenzied feverish times in the kitchen
The celebration is not over yet! Friends, please stay tuned for an exciting event announcement and a fabulous giveaway.

I baked these rocky-road brownies a while back. This was a part of the pantry clearance effort. I had half a bag of "no name" mini-marshmallows. After the initial fascination, my little one had lost interest in these chewy bits and they were lying in the pantry waiting to be consumed. I looked up and found the recipe for this rich chocolaty brownie topped with marshmallow, chocolate and nuts. There is no such thing as too much chocolate. Not for me anyways.

There is a reason, I decided to mark this my 100th post - out of the 15 odd posts in the drafts folder. It was truly a delightful experience to bake this, and it is aptly named for the tempo and temperament of the last one year that I have been blogging...

I baked these, while my little girl was playing with an older girl from my neighborhood. I served them both, these brownies warm from the oven and they were overjoyed. The older girl was so excited to know that I had baked these myself and apparently that was the first thing she went and told her mother, "Amma, Aunty had made such nice chocolate brownies. It was to good". That was a wonderful complement. Thank you, Nandita! 

Rocky Road Brownies (recipe source

4 ounces (120 grams) unsweetened chocolate, coarsely chopped - 1/4 cup + 2 tbsp
1/2 cup (113 grams) unsalted butter, cut into pieces
1 cup (200 grams) granulated white sugar
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
2 large eggs
3/4 cup (95 grams) all-purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon salt

1/2 cup (85 grams) semi sweet or milk chocolate chips
1 cup (250 ml) miniature marshmallows (store bought or home made)
1/2 cup (50 grams) chopped nuts (walnuts, pecans, almonds, hazelnuts, peanuts, and/or pistachios) -- I omitted this

Method: Preheat oven to 160 degrees C. Butter, or spray with a non stick vegetable spray, an 8 inch (20 cm) square baking pan. Optionally you can line with parchment paper.

Melt the chocolate and butter in a large stainless steel bowl placed over a saucepan of simmering water.  Remove from heat and stir in the sugar. Next, whisk in the vanilla extract and eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Finally, stir in the flour and salt.

Pour into the prepared pan and bake for about 25 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out with a few moist crumbs. 

Remove from oven and immediately sprinkle the brownies with the chocolate chips, miniature marshmallows and chopped nuts.  Return the brownies to the oven and bake for about 5 minutes, or just until the marshmallows start to melt.  Remove from oven and let cool on a wire rack. Once completely cooled, slice and serve. Makes 16 brownies.
Verdict: These are sinfully delightful. First of all, if you can wait for the brownies to cool down before you cut into it, give yourself a pat. Secondly, if you can manage to stop with one piece, give yourself one more pat on the back. If not, don't worry; occasional binging is fine :)

priya's signature image at photobucket

Wednesday, 1 August 2012

Lamington Cupcakes - July Eggless Baking Challenge

A lamington is a sponge cake of Australian origin in the shape of a cuboid, coated in a layer of traditionally chocolate icing then desiccated coconut. Although they are of Australian origin they are frequently seen in South African Cafes too.

The chocolate coating is a thin mixture, into which cubes of sponge cake (one cookbook states 4 cm per side) are dipped, and the chocolate is absorbed into the outermost layers of the sponge where it sets. (Similarly, the strawberry jam or chocolate icing is absorbed into the sponge.) The cubes are then covered with coconut and left to set. Optionally one could use Lemon icing instead of chocolate icing.

I had once made a Vanilla tea cake, which I later sliced up to make lamingtons. You can refer to those two posts. These are the original recipes using Eggs. I was delighted to see that this is the Eggless baking challenge for the month of July. 

However I had one major hurdle - my oven. My microwave oven is not fixed as the turntable motor is not available. I am unable to use it for heavy duty baking or cooking. But I was itching to try this out, lest I miss out on the fun this month as well :(. So I decided to bake lamington cupcakes. 

I had one perfectly over-ripe large banana to substitute for the 2 eggs that the joyofbaking recipe calls for. I happily woke up on Sunday morning having dreamt of baking this goodie and the results being mind-blowing. When I started gathering the ingredients, I could not find the banana. It turns out that my mom found the banana in an over-ripe state and consumed it, thinking it is of no use if kept for another day. So now the second hurdle. What else can I substitute the eggs with? I cannot use butter-milk/yoghurt, as the recipe uses milk. Fortunately I had two choices, one pack of Brittania cream-cheese or one tin of condensed milk. I decided to go with cream-cheese.

Lamingtons Recipe (Adapted from
2 cups (260 grams) all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup (113 grams) unsalted butter, at room temperature
3/4 cup (150 grams) granulated white sugar
2 large eggs <--- substitute with 1/2 cup cream cheese
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1/2 cup (120 ml) milk --- Refer to Note 1

Preheat oven to 170 degrees C. Butter, or spray with a nonstick cooking spray, 12-16 cupcake moulds. 
In a large bowl sift or whisk together the flour, baking powder, and salt.
In bowl of electric mixer, or with a hand mixer, beat the butter until soft. Add the sugar and beat until light and fluffy (about 2-3 minutes). Add cream-cheese, beating well.  Scrape down the sides of the bowl. Add the vanilla extract and beat until combined. With the mixer on low speed, alternately add the flour mixture and milk, in three additions, beginning and ending with flour.  
Spoon the batter into the cupcake moulds. Bake in preheated oven for about 20-25 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center of the cake comes out clean.
Cool the cupcakes for 10 minutes. Remove the cupcakes from the moulds and let them cool on a wire-rack. Once the cake has completely cooled, put the cupcakes in a box, and wrap the box, in plastic wrap and refrigerate (to make them easier to frost) for several hours or even overnight.
Note 1: The batter was on the thicker side and I found that the cupcakes had become a little crusty. I could have easily increased the quantity of milk from the original 1/2 cup to 3/4 cup. 
I cooled the cupcakes and did not refrigerate them. Instead, I frosted the cupcakes as soon as they had cooled down. 
I used the recipe from David for the Chocolate icing part:
For the chocolate icing: 6 ounces (170 g) bittersweet or semisweet chocolate, chopped - 1/2 cup 1 1/2 ounces (40 g) unsalted butter - 3 tablespoons 3/4 cup (180 ml) milk, whole or lowfat  2 cups (220 g) powdered sugar  2 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder, natural or Dutch-process (sifted if lumpy) 2 tablespoons boiling water
Make the chocolate icing by melting together the chocolate, butter, and milk in a heatproof bowl set over a pan of simmering water.  Remove the bowl from the pan of simmering water when smooth, then whisk in the powdered sugar and cocoa powder.
Assembling the cupcakes:
1 1/2 cup (200 g) unsweetened shredded coconut, spread on a large plate <--- Refer to Note2
Note2: It would work very well with dry dessicated cocunut. But I had only fresh coconut on hand and I shredded it.
Pick up every cupcake and dip it into the chocolate sauce, rolling the cupcake over to coat all sides with syrup. Immediately roll the frosted cupcakes over the dessicated coconut and leave on the wire rack to set.

Verdict: Delicious and sinfully delightful, yet I feel it could have been better if there was a little more liquid in the batter.
priya's signature image at photobucket