Thursday, September 11, 2014

Chocolate Fudge Cake with Salted Caramel Buttercream And Dark Chocolate Fudge Frosting

Chocolate Cake with Salted Caramel Buttercream

Here I am, up at 1 am, surrounded by not one, not two, but FOUR different types of cookies around me! Yes!!! I have finally taken this seriously & I'm testing recipes every spare minute I can find, which with work, gym & a social life is almost impossible! So it's the sleep that's getting sacrificed, and honestly, I'm loving every minute of it. Being so busy that you end up collapsing in bed is my form of bliss!

After spending the last two hours researching the ratios & hows & whys of chewy caramel (to use in caramel stuffed cookies), I finally remembered this post that has been pending for 4+ months! I made this cake in one of my random bursts of inspiration & craving. The recipe was actually bookmarked long ago, and my team at work was constantly asking for something after discovering the blog, which is actually kept quite a secret because the follow up question is always - WHY DON'T YOU BAKE ANYMORE??

Chocolate Cake with Salted Caramel Buttercream

But one day - maybe I was feeling generous - I decided to do as they wanted & make an indulgent, rich & sinful cake. This cake just went on to prove how much I actually love just stepping into a kitchen & coming out with a delicious plate of trouble in a few hours. I don't know which was more fun, the cake making process, or the happiness when I saw the smiles on the people who ate it, or the taste of the cake itself! The cake is light yet full of chocolatey goodness, and the salted caramel buttercream is something you'd want to take a long bath in, it's that rich while still tasting smooth and dream like. Top it off with a simple chocolate fudge frosting, and you've got heaven on a plate, just like that!

Chocolate Cake with Salted Caramel Buttercream

Chocolate Fudge Cake with Salted Caramel Buttercream
Recipe from Martha Stewart via Sweetapolita
Yield: Three 6-inch round layers
Serves: 8+

1 1/2 cups (180 g) all-purpose flour
1 1/2 cups (300 g) sugar
3/4 cup (90 g) dark unsweetened cocoa powder
1 1/2 tsp baking soda
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp salt
1/4 cup (60 ml) vegetable oil
3/4 cup (190 ml) buttermilk
3/4 cup (190 ml) hot brewed coffee
2 eggs, room temperature, lightly beaten
2 tsp vanilla

  1. Preheat oven to 350° F (180°C). Grease & line three 6-inch round cake pans with parchment paper.
  2. In the large bowl of your electric mixer, sift together all the dry ingredients. Add all the remaining ingredients and beat until just mixed. The batter will be quite liquidy.
  3. Pour into prepared pans and bake for 30 minutes, until a skewer inserted comes out clean and the top feels springy to the touch
  4. Cool to room temperature on wire racks. Refrigerate until ready to assemble.
For the Salted Caramel Swiss Buttercream filling
Yield: 4 cups - You may be leftover with approximately 1/2 cup

1 cup (200 g) sugar
1/4 cup (60 ml) water
1/4 cup (60 ml) heavy cream
generous pinch of sea salt
1 1/2 cups (3 sticks / 340 g / 12 oz) unsalted butter, at room temperature
4 large egg white
1 tsp pure vanilla extract

  1. First, we have to make the salted caramel to cool and keep aside, ready to add into the buttercream
  2. In a medium saucepan, mix together 1/2 cup + 2 tbsp (130 g) of the sugar with the water. Boil over medium heat. Brush down the sides of the saucepan with a dampened pastry brush to prevent crystallization. Don't stir the mixture at all from now on, you can however, gently swirl, occasionally.
  3. Remove from heat and carefully add the cream, whisking until smooth. Be careful of the sputtering. Whisk in the sea salt & vanilla, set aside to cool.
  4. Now it's time to make the buttercream. In the large bowl of your mixer, beat cubes of the butter until pale & fluffy, about 3-5 minutes.
  5. In a clean bowl, combine the egg whites & sugar. Place bowl over simmering water, whisking occasionally until the sugar dissolves, reaches 160° on a candy thermometer and the mixture doesn't feel gritty when rubbed between two fingers.
  6. Remove the bowl from the heat and whisk on medium speed for about 5 minutes. Increase the speed and whisk until stiff peaks form, about 5-6 minutes. The bowl should now be at room temperature. Reduce the speed to medium-low, and add in the beaten butter, one cup at a time, whisking between each addition.
  7. Using the flat beater, add the cooled caramel, beating until smooth, about 3-5 minutes.
  8. Your buttercream is ready :) Store in the fridge until ready to use.

For the Dark Chocolate Fudge Frosting
Yield: ~5 cups - You will be leftover with approximately 1.5 cups

1/4 cup + 2 tbsp (45 g) unsweetened Dutch-process cocoa powder
1/4 cup + 2 tbsp (90 ml) boiling water
1 1/2 cups (3 sticks / 339 g /12 oz) unsalted butter, room temperature
1/2 cup (63 g) confectioners’ sugar
pinch of salt
1 pound (454 g/16 oz) good-quality semi-sweet chocolate, melted and cooled

  1. In a small bowl, combine together the cocoa powder & the boiling water, stirring until the cocoa has dissolved
  2. In a large bowl, beat together the butter, sugar & salt using a flat beater, until pale & fluffy - about 5 minutes
  3. Reduce speed to medium-low and add the melted chocolate, beating until combined. Add in the cocoa mixture and beat until well incorporated.

To assemble:
  1. Split the layers into halves. Lay the bottom half of a layer onto a cake plate/board. Lay strips of parchment along the sides of the cake to ensure an easy clean up.
  2. Scoop out about 1/5th of the filling onto the cake layer. Flatten out using an offset spatula. Add another cake layer on top and repeat the process until you have laid out all six layers. Ensure the top layer is the inverted bottom of one of the three cakes, to get a perfectly flat top.
  3. Crumb coat with a light layer of the dark chocolate fudge frosting. Refrigerate.
  4. Now ice the sides & top of the cake with the frosting - an offset spatula, a straight spatula & a bench scraper are your best friends during this, as is a good turntable - I use something similar to this.
  5. Lay on your preferred candy of decoration (I used a Ferrero Raffaello)
  6. Serve at room temperature

Sunday, July 6, 2014

Strawberry Lattice Pie

Strawberry Lattice Pie 5

Pie is just one of those feel good things, isn't it? The happiest & the most, um, romantic - not in the I'm in love kind of romantic, but more like the this is something that's been happening in homes all over the world for more years than I've been alive - thing to me is probably taking steaming hot pie with bubbling berry filling out a hot oven with a nice thick oven glove. Or maybe that's just me, I can romanticize just about anything.

But once a few weeks ago (yes, I've become lazy), I felt the urge to make something that would make my heart swell with pride on making something nice that would make the house smell wonderful, while still being nonchalant about it since it really wouldn't be a big deal. And with strawberries on the market just about everywhere & nice big box of them lying on my dining room table, it all just fell together perfectly. Making a simple double crust wouldn't be enough, this HAD to be a lattice pie because that's the imagery I'd grown up with. Not knowing how to make one didn't matter. It had to be done. And after following Simply Recipes' instructions, it was done. No problem. Nothing to be scared of really, it was - forgive me for this - easy as pie ;)

Strawberry Lattice Pie 1
I made the crust in my KA this time rather than laboring with the pastry cutter. So much easier

Strawberry Lattice Pie 2
Look at those beautiful specks of butter. Flaky crust alert :)

Strawberry Lattice Pie 3
Such gorgeous strawberries that it felt like a sin to cut them up.

Strawberry Lattice Pie 4
Admittedly, this isn't the best, but pretty good for a first try, right? Any tips for the next time?

Strawberry Pie
For the pie crust
I used my favorite pie crust recipe

For the filling
Adapted from Happier Than A Pig In Mud

4 cups strawberries, sliced thick
1/2 cup [60 g] flour
1/2 cup [100 g] sugar
A couple pats of butter-optional
1 egg yolk - To paint over pie - optional
Sprinkling of coarse sugar - optional

  1. Preheat oven to 350 F [180 C].
  2. Roll out & place one half of the prepared dough on the bottom of a greased pie pan. Add pie weights, separated from the dough by a layer of foil or parchment paper [I use some grains that I've kept solely for this purpose]. Bake for about 15 minutes until lightly browned. Remove & cool to room temperature.
  3. De-hull & chop the strawberries into 3-4 pieces [you don't want to cut them too small]. Add sugar & allow to sit for 10 minutes. Now toss with the flour till well coated, and add into the baked bottom layer. The mixture should come well up to the top of the pan
  4. Add the pat of butter, if using.  Prepare the lattice [follow the instructions linked above]. Use a brush & paint the beaten egg yolk over the pie. Sprinkle the sugar on top.
  5. Bake for 40-45 minutes until mixture is bubbling & pie is golden brown
  6. Enjoy hot, with some ice-cream to the side :)

Sunday, January 26, 2014

DIY : Homemade Granola Bars

Happy 2014!! While I’ve made just about zero resolutions because they never seem to last beyond a week, I do have very high hopes for this year! I’ve just joined the #100HappyDays bandwagon, hopefully I see this through. If you want to cheer me on, I’m doing it on Instagram, come say hi! A few encouraging should go a long way in pushing me to do it for THREE and a HALF months, probably the longest commitment I’ve ever made! If you’re doing it too, tell me & we’ll cheer each other on.


Anyway, the first thing that’d make me happy is losing the 10 kilos I’ve gained in the past year and half that just don’t seem to go away. Began gymming last month, and had been living on granola bars for the hi-energy post workout snack. But the problem was, I’m way too picky and only ended up eating one flavour, over and over, out of the measly 3-4 that are available in this country.

Baking healthy food has always intimidated me, especially in Bombay, because of the weird ingredients you find in the recipes, like flax seed, brown rice syrup etc. So even if I DID want to try, the ingredients stopped me [flax seed is actually available very very easily in Bombay, it’s just called something else]. But since I was sick of eating the oats & chocolate flavour, I spent half of a Sunday browsing recipes and doing some research to find a manageable recipe. And I know everyone says this, but you’d be surprised at how easy it was, it took literally 10 minutes of prep, and that includes looking for the ingredients in all the cupboards of the kitchen.

I’ve made this recipe thrice in 2 weeks, and have learnt that a higher molasses:honey ratio is needed to make the bars sticky enough to not crumble. The ones pictured here are 1:1, but a 3:1 ratio I made before this was perfectly compact, stayed together, and was crunchy to perfection. A 2:1 ratio will also work and is the third combination I tried, which were my favourite. You get the flavour of the honey and the stickiness of the molasses for perfect gym/work/school snacks.

Homemade Granola Bars
Adapted from The Kitchn, a LOT of Google, trials & some error

1 3/4 cups old-fashioned oats
1 cup crispy rice cereal, puffed millet, high-fiber cereal mix, crushed pretzel sticks, or any other crispy grain or cereal
1/2 cup chopped nuts (I love walnuts, peanuts & almonds)
3/4 cup dried fruits (I love dates, figs & raisins)
1/2 cup syrup (I love 2:1 molasses:honey ratio)
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 - 1 tsp spices, like cinnamon or pumpkin pie spice (optional)
3 tsp peanut butter or 1 tbsp cocoa powder (optional for firmer bars)

  1.  Preheat your oven to 350 F [180 C]. Grease and line a baking pan with parchment, leaving some overhang on the sides so it's easy to pick up.
  2. Toast the nuts, oats and rice cereal on low until they become almost crispy, about 10 minutes. Optional is soaking the dried fruits in hot water for 10 minutes to make them softer, I chopped them small & don't feel the need. If you do choose to do this, make sure you dry them with a paper towel before using.
  3. In a small bowl, warm your syrups of choice for about 15 seconds till it becomes looser in consistency. Add the vanilla, salt and other spices, if using, and mix well.
  4. In a large bowl, pour out the nuts, oats, rice cereal and dried fruits. Pour the warmed syrup mixture, and the peanut butter / cocoa powder, if using. Mix well.
  5. Pour out this mixture onto the prepared sheet. Pack extremely tightly or else you will end up with crumbly bars. The greased bottom of a measuring cup works well for this. Pack them up to your desired height, it doesn't need to match the size of your pan, as you can see in the picture below, the mixture holds shape pretty well.
  6. Bake for 20-25 minutes for chewy bars, add another 5 minutes for crunchy bars (I love them just around the 25 minute mark)
  7. Let them cool completely, this is very important. Once completely cooled, cut into bars of desired size & store in an airtight container. Pack 2-3 of these into your boxes everyday and see your weight drop.

Sunday, December 8, 2013

Gooey Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough Bars

Gooey Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough Bars

These bars...

They're just pure sin!

And I polished off more than half a pan myself late one night *embarrassed smile*

So I'm never making them again... especially given that I've just realised I've gained 10 kilos over the last year & need to lose it by the end of January!

Gooey Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough Bars

But you totally should... Just make sure you have lots of people around that you can gift them to, they're not all that fattening if you eat 1-2 bars like any normal human being would, but unfortunately these are the sort that make you want to curl up in your favorite pyjamas, play your favorite movie and munch on till you forget you were ever trying to diet! They've got oats, so they're sorta healthy too!

Gooey Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough Bars
Adapted from Recipe Girl
Makes one 9x13 pan, or 24 bars

For the Gooey Chocolate filling:
2 cups semi-sweet chocolate chips
One 14-ounce can sweetened condensed milk
2 tsp vanilla extract

For the cookies:
1 cup [2 sticks / 226 g] unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 cup light brown sugar
1/2 cup [100 g] granulated white sugar
1 large egg
1 large egg yolk
1 tbsp vanilla extract
2 cups [240 g] all-purpose flour
1 cup quick-cooking or old-fashioned rolled oats
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp salt - omit if using salted butter
2 cups semi-sweet chocolate chips

  1. Preheat oven to 350 F [180 C]. Grease and line a 9x13 pan with parchment paper or strong foil, leaving enough overhang to lift the bars out of the pan.
  2. For the gooey chocolate filling: In a small saucepan over extreme low heat, melt together the chocolate chips & condensed milk, stirring constantly, until the chocolate has melted. Take the pan off the heat, stir in the vanilla and set aside to cool.
  3. For the cookie: In the bowl of your mixer, beat the butter and sugars together until light and creamy. Beat in the egg, egg yolk & vanilla.
  4. In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, oats, baking powder, baking soda and salt (if using). Add this to the butter mixture, beating just until incorporated. Stir in the chocolate chips.
  5. Divide the dough into two halves. Use one half and press down lightly in the bottom of the pan until it's more or less an even layer. Now pour the cooled chocolate mixture on top, spreading to create an even layer.
  6. Add dollops of the remaining dough on top of the chocolate layer, it's ok if it doesn't cover it completely, I chose to have quite a bit of the chocolate layer peeking through.
  7. Bake 20-25 minutes until golden brown. Cool completely, then cut into bars (refrigerating these bars for half an hour just before cutting will give you neater bars, allow to come back to room temperature before serving)

Sunday, October 13, 2013

Chocolate Truffle Tart

Chocolate Truffle Tart

What do you when craving strikes? A craving so bad that a piece of your favorite chocolate bar, brownies that you love munching on day or night, or even the mud cake from your favorite restaurant in the city won't do? And even better, what do you do when this craving strikes at 2 am on a working night, with a persistence that you know won't subside?

If you're me, you make this tart that you'd bookmarked a while away but never gotten around to making. It's perfect because it's quick, and no weird ingredients, just the pantry basics. With a nice dollop of ice cream, in less than an hour you're golden, with the intense craving fulfilled and a euphoric feeling about you.

Chocolate Truffle Tart

The original recipe from Gourmet uses chocolate Nabisco wafers for the crust, which aren't available here. I've seen some variations of it with a normal pâte sucrée, but since I was trying to satisfy a mean craving, I went with a gorgeous chocolate tart dough by Johnny Iuzzini. And what a great decision that was...the biscuity tart base went perfectly with the rich, dense chocolate filling, highlighting the richness of the filling even more and yet standing out by itself as a great dessert. And the best bit? No pastry cutter, keeping the butter cold, oh so delicate touch needed, I made this in my KA!

Chocolate Truffle Tart

Chocolate Truffle Tart

For the Chocolate Tart Dough
Recipe from Dessert FourPlay by Johnny Iuzzini [India | USA | UK]

10 tbsp [114 g] cold unsalted butter, cut into pieces
3/4 cup sugar
1 tsp salt [omit if using salted butter]
1 large egg
1 large egg white
2 1/2 cups [300 g] all-purpose flour
1/2 cup [40 g] unsweetened cocoa powder
1 tsp baking powder

For the chocolate filling:
Adapted from
1/2 lb [8 oz] fine-quality bittersweet chocolate (no more than 60% cacao if marked), coarsely chopped
3/4 stick [6 tbsp / 90 g] unsalted butter, cut into 1/2-inch cubes
2 large eggs, lightly beaten
1/3 cup heavy cream
1/4 cup [50 g] granulated sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 tsp vanilla extract

Equipment needed:
9 inch springform pan or an 8 inch tart pan & two 4 inch tart pans

  1.  For the chocolate tart dough: In a large bowl, cream together the butter and sugar until soft. Add the salt [if using], the egg and the egg white, beating between each addition.
  2. In a separate bowl, sift together the flour, cocoa powder and baking powder. Add this to the butter mixture, and beat till it comes together.
  3. Shape into a round disc, wrap in cling film and refrigerate for half hour.
  4. Preheat oven to 375 F [190 C], and roll dough out after refrigeration [I always roll out between sheets of parchment / cling film]. Line the tart pans of your choice, then put a layer of parchment, and fill with pie weights or coins. Bake for 20 minutes.
  5. For the chocolate truffle filling: Melt the chocolate and butter together over low heat. Cool to room temperature
  6. Add the eggs, the heavy cream, sugar, salt and vanilla extract. Pour into baked chocolate tart shells and bake for 20 minutes, until filling is just slightly jiggly in the center.
  7. Serve warm with a dollop of ice cream
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