Wednesday, 27 November 2013

Flourless Chocolate Cupcakes

Flourless chocolate cake? cupcakes???....ya you heard it right "flourless". I didn't know a dessert like this does exist until recently. Gluten free, decadent and oh soooo chocolatey.


I was not planning to bake anything for the next few weeks or may be months (trying to cut out sugar from our diet you see) but sometimes i desperately crave for chocolates. This was one of those days and i wanted to bake something that was hassle free, needs less ingredients and which bakes in less that 30 minutes. 

Hubby dearest was not happy (he is a chocoholic and is trying his best to stay away from them...hehehe...) coz like i said we were supposed to cut down sugar and here i was doing exactly the opposite :P. Nevertheless he liked it very much. 

Flourless chocolate cake or cupcake is a delicious dense chocolate cake which i bet all chocolate lovers will absolutely devour. This decadent dessert is also good for people who can't tolerate wheat or gluten. 

All the recipes out there (found on the internet where else?? :P) consists more or less the same ingredients. The one i made is also the standard recipe but the measurements were all mine :D. As expected it turned out to be yummy and was the right texture. 
I didn't want to bake a big cake so this is a sweet and small recipe. And i baked them on a cupcake tray just for fun :D. 

Here's what i did: 

Ingredients:

4 oz of semi sweet (56%cocoa) chocolate bars (you can also use bitter sweet chocolate)
4 tbsp of unsalted butter
2 large eggs
1/4 cup of regular unsweetened cocoa powder 
1 tbsp of granulated sugar (less sugar as i was using semi sweet chocolate bars and i like the bitterness of cocoa, you can use more if you desire)

Five ingredient fix....it cant get any better than this :)
(oh thats the vanilla extract next to the eggs i didn't use it but u can :P)

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees F.

Melt the chocolate and butter in a double boiler or microwave. 

In a separate bowl, add sifted cocoa powder and sugar, combine. Add the eggs into this mixture and whisk until nicely combined. Now slowly pour a little of the hot melted chocolate and butter mixture into the egg and cocoa powder mixture ensuring to mix constantly so that the eggs doesn't scramble.

Chocolate + Butter

Melted chocolate and butter mixture

Cocoa powder + egg + sugar

Chocolate mixture +cocoa powder and egg mixture combined
Pour in the rest of the melted chocolate and mix until nicely combined. And you are done. Pour this mixture on to a cake pan which is buttered and lined with parchment paper  or you can do what i did ....bake them in a cupcake tray with cupcake liners. 


Bake time


Bake for 15-20mins or until toothpick inserted comes out a little wet (not gooey). Dust the cupcakes with cocoa powder or powdered sugar and serve with whipped cream or ice cream if desired ( i ate it as is yummmmmyyy)




So until next next time Happy Baking and Happy Holidays :)

Thursday, 21 November 2013

Caramel Custard...Childhood memories revisited


I have very fond memories of my childhood, one of which is visiting my native place Kerala "Gods Own Country". Starting from the 3 day train ride (that was a long long time ago) to the lush green landscapes, coconut trees, serene beaches, backwaters and the lovely houses with beautiful gardens.

Back waters of Kerala......clicked on our honeymoon trip

One such house is my aunt's (my dad's sister). I still remember playing in the garden, plucking flowers for my grandma's morning pooja and running helter skelter around the house. But of all those memories, one of the things that was stuck in my head forever was my aunt's caramel custard. She makes the world's most delicious caramel custard. It was at my aunt's place that i first devoured this delicious dessert. So today whenever i have an opportunity to eat this, i always miss my aunt and her delicious custard. 

Back to the present day. 

Caramel custard or pudding, creme caramel or flan whatever you may call it, is one of the most (at least in my opinion) delicious, melt-in your mouth desert which is very easy to prepare and you don't have to buy any fancy expensive stuff from the grocery, yet you end up with a five start restaurant quality desert.

Caramel custard consists of a creamy custard made of eggs, sugar and milk/cream with a soft layer of caramel on top. Do not confuse it with creme brulee it contains hard layer of caramel on top.

My aunt's recipe was the same eggs, milk and sugar (may be vanilla extract as well). She used her trusty pressure cooker to cook it. And yes i wanted to replicate it. But i tweaked the recipe a bit not coz i wanted to but coz i had this leftover heavy cream sitting in my refrigerator :P. This can also be prepared on gas stove with little water on large pan, the bowl with the custard can be placed in the pan and you can cover the pan with a lid until the custard is cooked.

My tweaked caramel custard recipe is also simple. So here it goes...

You will need

Serves -2

For the Custard:

1 cup of heavy cream (you can totally substitute this with only milk) 
1/2 cup of whole milk
2-3 tablespoons of granulated sugar (i used less sugar coz i don't like it when the custard is too sweet, it takes the fun away from enjoying the caramel on top)
1 whole egg 
1 egg yolk
1 tsp of pure vanilla extract

For the Caramel
1-2 tbsp of water
4 - 5 tablespoons for the caramel (again you can use more if u desire :P).

Preheat your oven to 325 degrees F. 

In a pan add the sugar, water and stir. Put in on the stove with low-medium heat. Cook on low heat until the sugar melts (turns dark golden brown in color). Pour the syrup on to two ramekins or any heat proof bowl. Allow the sugar syrup to harden. Set this aside.  

In a sauce pan pour the heavy cream, milk and vanilla extract. Cook this mixture on a medium heat until you notice small bubbles at the edge of the pan.

When the cream and milk mixture is still cooking, in a separate bowl mix one whole egg, one egg yolk and sugar. Whisk (for about 2-3 minutes or so) until the mixture turns pale yellow in color. 

Carefully add a little amount of the hot cream and milk mixture into the egg mixture. Please remember to continuously whisk the mixture while pouring else you will end up with scrambled eggs. Strain if you want. Your custard is ready. Pour this into the ramekins or bowl.

Place the ramekins in a rectangular pan. Pour very hot water in the pan until it reaches about an inch of the ramekins. Bake for about 35-40mins or until the custard is set (and has very little wobble to it when shaken). 

Remove the ramekins from the water. Cool it for about half an hour and later cover and refrigerate until serving.

To unmold the carmel custard, carefully loosen the sides of the custard with a small knife. Place a small dish or a plate on top of the ramekin or bowl, holding very tightly turn the plate and the ramekin upside down. Shake the ramekin gently to unmold the custard. Now comes the best part....once this is done you will notice delicious caramel syrup running down on the sides of the custard. Yummmyyyyy.....



Happy Cooking :)



Tuesday, 19 November 2013

Red Velvet Cake.....First Wedding Anniversary Special

Every day is a celebration, celebration of life, love, family, friends and all that we are blessed with. I am indeed really very lucky coz i am blessed with the most handsome, loving, compassionate and caring husband (touchwood). And i would yet again (as mentioned in my Facebook status) say that all the words in the world would fail to describe what we share between us. 

With him, not only everyday but every moment is like a celebration. So when it came to our first wedding anniversary it was well double celebration.....hehehe. We did miss our families and friends back home (india) but managed to celebrate our special day in our own sweet little way. Well i am not going to bore you guys with all the small details but here's what we did......


Nov 10th: I was super excited to bake my very first cake from scratch (well i have baked cakes before but never layered cakes with all the frosting). So initially i decided to bake black forest cake. After a lot of thinking black forest seemed like meh.....hahahaha.....this was our first anniversary it had to be something special. And suddenly it clicked RED VELVET CAKE. Firstly its my hubby's fav, secondly it is red which is the color of love, hmmm love.... that is what we were celebrating after all and last but not the least it is absolutely delicious. This cake takes yumminess to an all new level, especially its frosting (its to die for). So i started with the prep work late in the afternoon so that we could cut the cake and celebrate at the stroke of midnight. The recipe i followed was the one i got from joyofbaking.com.

So my dear friends do try this recipe on any of your special occasions like anniversary, birthdays and its a very popular choice for valentines day why??.... coz its RED :P.




This is how i started off...

Ingredients for the cake:

2 1/2 cups of sifted cake flour
2 tbsp of regular unsweetened cocoa powder
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 cup of unsalted butter (at room temperature)
1 1/2 cup of granulated white sugar
2 large eggs
1 tsp pure vanilla extract
1 cup of buttermilk
2 tbsp of liquid red food color
1 tsp of distilled white vinegar 
1 tsp baking soda

For the frosting:

1 - 8 ounce cream cheese at room temperature
1 - 8 ounce mascarpone cheese at room temperature
1 tsp pure vanilla extract 
1 1/2 cup of cold heavy whipping cream
1 cup of confectioners sugar or powdered sugar (sifted)

1) First off preheat your oven 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Then butter two round 9 inch cake pan and line the bottom of the pans with parchment paper. Once done set them aside.

Do cut the parchment paper in round shape.
Else it would spoil the shape of the cake. I was just too excited to do that hahaha....
 2) Sift together flour, cocoa powder and salt in a bowl and set that aside.

I had newspaper spread all over the countertop....to avoid any kind of staining from the red color
3) In a large bowl, beat the butter using electric hand mixer or stand mixer until soft. Add sugar and beat for about 2-3 minutes until nice and combined. Once that is done add the eggs one at a time and beat well. Add vanilla extract and mix until combined.









4) In a separate bowl or cup mix the buttermilk with the red food color.



5) Slowly combine the flour mixture and the buttermilk mixture in to the butter, sugar and egg mixture alternately in batches until thoroughly combined.




6) In a small bowl combine vinegar and baking soda. As soon as this is done the mixture will bubble, immediately mix it with the cake batter. Once combined quickly transfer the cake batter onto the two cake pans and divide them as equally as you can. Smooth the edges with a spoon or a spatula. Bake for about 25-30 mins or until a toothpick or a small knife inserted comes clean.






7) Let the cake cool for about 10-15 mins, remove the cakes from the pan and let them cool completely on a wire rack. Once cooled refrigerator the cake layers for about an hour. This will help in easy frosting.

I inserted a small knife in the centre of cake instead of a toothpick...lol


Cream cheese frosting:

In a bowl beat the cream cheese and mascarpone cheese until nice and smooth. Add the sugar and vanilla extract and combine. Next add the heavy cream gradually until the mixture is thick in consistency. 


Cream Cheese

Cream cheese + Macarpone cheese

Whisk 

Vanilla essence

Powdered sugar 

Heavy whipping cream

Whisk whisk whisk 

 Assembling the cake:

With a knife cut each layer of the cake into half. So that you will have 4 layers of cake. Take one layer of the cake and place it facing down onto a serving plate. Spread the some of frosting onto the first layer of cake. Repeat the same with the rest of the layers. Finish off with frosting the top and sides of the cake with the frosting. You will end up with a white cake eventually hehehee...

What i did was i only used three layers and i used the forth layer to decorate the cake. You can garnish the cake as per your desire.

Gently cut both the layers of the cake 

See how the edges of the cake are....i wish i had been more careful
Thats our homemade serving dish....hehehehe.....line the edges with parchment... so the
frosting that falls off can be cleaned up easily...once done just pull them out.
So you will end up with clean edges.


First Layer

Second layer

Third 

Third layer done and cake is frosted completely

Decorating the cake with the crumbled fourth layer of cake....
we both ate what was left of the fourth layer after that :P


All done....i know its not perfect....but looks good enough :)
Final touches done :)

Refrigerate for 4 - 6 hrs before serving or you can do that overnight as well


Nov 14th Midnight:

Time for celebration......




And we had fabulous dinner in the evening.... maybe i can tell you more about it in my next post....

Until then....Happy cooking and oh.. happy baking as well :)


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