Archive for the ‘Sweets’ Category

Zebra Cake!

Tuesday, March 16th, 2010

Before you jump to conclusions, it is not zebra in a cake, but a cake like zebra(!!!!). I saw this recipe last year at Divya’s and also read about a lot of disaster’s while trying to make this cake from other blogs. But I wanted to try it anyways, thought if it does not turn out well, I can use the crumbs to make a cake on its own;

But the cake turned out to be a fantastic success. It was moist and colorful and quite different in looks from the ordinary cake. One thing you have to remember to make this cake is that you need patience- loads of it. Do not hurry to make this cake, thinking that you can put together everything in a jiffy. You have to wait before building each layer, so try it when you have nothing else to do.

Ingredients:

Eggs – 2
Self rising flour – 1 cup and another 3/4 cups
Sugar – 1 cup
Oil – 3/4 cup
Milk- Just under 1/4 cup
Vanilla essence – 1 tsp
Baking Powder- 1 tsp
Dark cocoa powder – 2 tablespoons

Method:

Cakes taste better when all ingredients are at room temperature. Keep the eggs at room temperature for atleast a hour before baking the cake. If you are using butter instead of oil, soften the butter at room temperature.

Whisk the eggs well with a fork or a beater. Add oil, vanilla essence and milk and beat well.

Sift together flour and baking powder. Slowly add a handful of the flour to the bowl with eggs. Alternate with adding sugar and flour to the bowl. Do not mix vigorously as over mixing will result in a tough cake.

Once all the flour has been incorporated, check if the consistency is between that of a pancake batter- cake batter. If the batter is too thick, add either oil or milk to loosen it.

Now divide the batter into two equal portions. To one part, add the cocoa powder and mix well(let’s name this as cocoa batter). Keep the other half as it is(let’s call this white batter).

Putting together the layers:

Preheat the oven to 375 F. (Do this before making layers as layering takes time)

This cake looks good on a round pan so grease/dust a pan accordingly. Now, slowly add about a tablespoon of white batter as the base layer. Wait for it to spread thinly on the base on its own (takes about a minute). Do not hurry or shake the pan.

Once the white layer has stopped spreading, in the middle add a tablespoon of the cocoa batter. Wait for it to spread on its own on top of the white layer.

Repeat pouring a tbsp of white batter and wait for it to spread to the edge. Repeat with cocoa batter.

Keep alternating these two layers till you finish off both batters (or till the pan is 3/4th full with batter). As you keep filling each layer, you can see thick circles concentrating towards the middle as a peak.

Bake at 375 for 30 minutes, or till the top of the cake turns golden brown in color. You can sense that the cake is done by the aroma or check by inserting a knife at the centre of the cake. If the knife comes out clean, the cake is done!

Remove pan from the oven. Let it cool for 5 minutes. Using a knife go around the cake pan to loosen the cake. Invert it on a plate. Let it cool completely and slice. Serve with tea! You can do chocolate frosting also.

This is not the usual thick, creamy, oozing with chocolate kinda cake, but this cake has enough chocolate to enjoy without feeling guilty! I am sending this Zebra cake to Divya’s Chocolate Cake Event.

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Athirasam/Ariselu for Indian Cooking Challenge

Monday, March 15th, 2010

When Srivalli announced Adirasam as the challenge for this month, I had mixed emotions. I was happy ‘coz it is my favorite sweet, scared because it can trick even a well experienced cook/chef. My mom always says that making savory snacks is easy compared to sweets and especially adirasam, which she calls as “mirror like look” (shiny) when it is well done and fried.

Though amma makes adirasams for festivals like diwali and karthigai (and when I go home), she also makes it to remember the day my Grandmother passed away as adirasam was granny’s favorite sweet. Mom will be muttering to herself from the time she starts making adirasams for the D-day and will keep reminding her what to do to get the correct consistency. That is the only time I get to see her panicking in the kitchen. Mom says it is also a mark of respect and she wants to get it correct on that day.

I have not tried adirasam till now as I was worried about the consistency of the syrup. Either the dough can turn up as thick rocks or disintegrate in the oil. Luckily,Srivalli posted two recipes, one with paagu and another simple method and naturally I chose the second option.

Ingredients: (Makes 8-9 adirasams)

Rice Flour – 1 cup
Jaggery(Unrefined Palm sugar)-1/2 cup
Coconut grated – 2 tsp
Cardamom powder – 1/4 tsp
Water – 1/2 cup
Sesame seeds – 1 tbsp ( I skipped this)

Canola oil- To deep fry
Ghee – 1 tsp ( I added this to oil to make the adirasams taste as if they were deep fried in ghee).

Method:

I had achu vellam and I used 3 cubes of the jaggery to give a mildly sweet/ not overpowering taste.

Let the jaggery dissolve in exact measurement of water. Filter once and simmer it on the stove. Adding more water to the jaggery will only take longer cooking time.

Once the jaggery- water starts boiling, add cardamom powder and coconut. Mix well. Slowly add the rice flour and mix well to avoid any lumps. At one stage the flour will stop sticking to the pan and you can collect it together like a ball.

Remove from fire and keep aside, covered. You can also store this basic dough to make adirasams later. Divide the dough into equal parts.

Heat oil on a pan to deep fry the adirasams.

Wrap a cling film on a chappati maker and take one portion of the dough. Slightly press it like a pattie and transfer it to the oil. Let it fry on both sides. Drain on a paper towel and store in a airtight container.

Serve as a snack. We just finished it off by munching one every now and then 😉

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101th post: Jack in the Box (Jackfruit Jam/Chakka Varati)

Wednesday, March 10th, 2010

Well the story behind 101 is that I forgot to mention yesterday that it was my 100th post :)
A new chapter today with 101th post. The recipe I am rewriting today is my first post, Jack Fruit Jam. I made it to take it for a relative’s house in November for a Kid’s Birthday and took a picture of it. The next day I got a domain and started blogging!

When I made it last year, I used frozen jack fruit wedges. Last week when we were shopping in the Chinese food store, I saw this piece of fruit all wrapped and ready to go. I showed it to N and he almost shouted “Chakka”. Obviously we bought it home to eat the fruit and to make sweets with it. I was apprehensive at first as the banana flowers I got were bitter but the fruit turned out to be sweeter than usual.

In India, during the Summer Season, the streets will be filled with fruit vendors selling delicious varieties of Jackfruit, Mangoes, Cucumber and Coconut water.

I like the flesh of the jackfruit (separating the fruit from its shell is a time consuming task). When I got married, the name of the recipe used to make me laugh. In my language varatti is cow dung and chakka is the remains of vegetable. But in Kerala it means jack fruit jam and not what I thought it was. Lost in Translation :)

Ingredients:

Jackfruit wedges- 1 cup
Powdered Jaggery(Unrefined Palm Sugar)- 1.5 cups
Water- 1 cup
Cardamom powder-1/2 tsp
Ghee(Clarified butter)- 1/4 cup

Method:

Pressure cook the jackfruit wedges till soft and discard the blackish water.

Mash the wedges into a pulp.

Measure the jaggery in such a way the ratio should be approximately 1 cup pulp: 1.5 cups jaggery.

Dissolve the jaggery in minimum amount of water and filter. Filtering is a must as the jaggery will have some fine dust.

Pour the jaggery in a thick bottomed pan and let it come to a boil. Add the jackfruit pulp and mix well. Reduce the heat to a minimum.

Keep stirring the mixture every 1-2 minutes and keep adding one tsp of ghee as you go along stirring.

After about 20-25 minutes, you can start seeing the thick consistency of jam. Ghee will start coming out of the thick mixture of the jam and it can be easily moulded into a ball as we stir it.

Switch off and let it cool. Store in a airtight container. This can be stored for up to 3 month in the fridge. This jam can also be made into Sweet puddings or stuffed into patties.

I am sending this Jam to Nithu’s Think Beyond the Usual Fruits Event.

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Moong Dal Halwa for ICC

Sunday, January 17th, 2010

I was really excited to see the ICC recipe for January, the Moong dal Halwa. The first time I had it was at my aunt J’s house. With glistening ghee on top and a smooth texture, I almost thought it was badam halwa. But I was surprised to learn that it is a simple moong halwa.

So when Srivalli posted this entry, I thought it was about time I try it.

Srivalli suggested two methods to make the halwa and I choose the recipe that does not need khoya.

Ingredients:

Yellow Moong Dal-1 cup
Ghee- 1/2 cup
Milk and water together -3/4 cup
Sugar- 1 cup

Other Ingredients that I added:
Cardamom powder -1/2 tsp
Badam-Cashew powder -1 tsp
Almond Essence- few drops

Method:

Soak the moong dal in water overnight (or 6-8 hours)

Grind the dal to a smooth paste.

Heat a heavy bottom pan/Non stick pan and add half the original amount of ghee. Add the ground paste of dal and cook it the raw smell disappears(till aromatic)and till the ghee separates out. You have to stand near the pot and keep stirring it at this stage as the dal can be burnt easily. I had to add some more ghee in this stage of cooking the dal.

While stirring this dal, in another pot mix the sugar with milk and water. Heat it on a low flame till milk boils.

Add this milk-sugar mixture to the cooked dal slowly and mix well. Make sure that there are no lumps and the halwa is well done. The ghee will separate out when the halwa is cooked.

Switch off. Add the almond essence, cardamom powder and badam-cashew powder. Serve warm or chilled. You can even shape the halwa into squares. Since I added the cashew powdered to the halwa, I did’nt use it again for garnishing, just in case to prevent a sweet attack 😀

This warm halwa tastes so good with a cup of icecream. A spoonful of halwa with a bit of melting ice cream…Mmmmmm…

The stirring part is the tough one, it took me nearly 30-40 minutes to finish the halwa but the taste is worth the wait and makes you forget the shoulder pain :)

This is actually a late entry to the ICC, as I had some issues with posting and linking.

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