Chocolate Banana Muffins

As Garlic Goddesses turns 2, here’s another sweet treat from our kitchens. The past year has been slow from our end due to personal commitments. We do hope we can do better this year! We appreciate and welcome all your support and encouragement. Here’s to another year of delicious food 🙂

I always turn to making the dependable Banana Bread every time I have ripened bananas on hand. This time I wanted something different and decided to turn to my favorite, Nigella Lawson, for ideas. These muffins are definitely more interesting than the bread given that it has chocolate in it and I decided to throw in some chips for good measure! I’ve swapped the all-purpose flour with whole wheat flour. Good for breakfast or if you want to sneak in a snack. You can find the original recipe here

Yields: 12 muffins

Ingredients:

Whole wheat flour – 1.5 cups
Over-ripe Bananas – 3
Unsweetened cocoa powder – 3 tbsp
Vegetable oil – 1/2 cup
Eggs – 2, room temperature
Baking Soda – 1 tsp
Raw cane sugar – 1/2 cup
Semi-sweet chocolate chips – 1/2 cup

Method:

  • Pre-heat the oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit or 200 degrees Celsius
  • Place 12 liners in a muffin tin
  • Sift flour, baking soda and cocoa powder in a bowl; set aside
  • In a large bowl, mash the three bananas using a fork until you get a thick paste
  • Beat on low using a hand mixer and add vegetable oil to the bananas
  • Continue beating and add the eggs one by one, followed by sugar
  • Add the flour, baking soda and cocoa powder mixture, beating on low until everything is combined
  • Stir in the chocolate chips
  • Spoon this mixture into the muffin liners
  • Bake for 15 to 20 minutes 
  • Allow to cool on a wire rack before refrigerating
  • You can eat them warm as well

Brownies

Brownies are a favorite at my place. These brownies are the firm-kind, not gooey. I incorporated the recipe from Hersheys. Tried and tested, it’s my go-to recipe when I am looking to whip up some brownies quickly. They are a great gift as well 🙂 Happy holidays!

Brownies

Makes: 15

Ingredients:

Unsalted butter – 1 cup
All-purpose flour – 1 cup
Unsweetened cocoa powder – 3/4 cup
Baking powder – 1/2 tsp
Vanilla extract – 2 tsp
Eggs – 4
Salt – 1/4 tsp
Chopped walnuts – 1/2 cup (optional)
Chocolate chunks – 1/2 cup (optional)
Brown Sugar – 3/4 cup

Method:

  • Pre-heat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit or 175 degrees Celsius
  • Grease a baking pan or line it with parchment paper and set aside
  • Place the butter in a microwave safe bowl and melt by heating for about 2 minutes
  • Mix in the sugar and vanilla extract once the butter cools down slightly
  • Using an electric beater or whisk, add one egg at a time and combine till well-mixed
  • Add sifted cocoa powder and mix well
  • Stir in sifted flour, baking powder and salt
  • Combine the walnuts and chocolate chunks with a teaspoon of flour and stir into the above mixture
  • Transfer the batter to the prepared baking pan and bake for about 35 minutes
  • Keep the pan on a cooling rack and allow to cool completely

Brownies

Note:
1. You can use regular white sugar if you don’t have brown sugar. I use brown sugar as it makes the brownies more moist and rich.
2. If you don’t have walnuts, you can even use chopped almonds and cashew nuts. 

Adhirasam

With Deepavali just around the corner, what better way to celebrate this occasion than with some delicious Adhirasams. This is a very traditional South Indian dessert and it also happens to be my most favorite! The preparation itself does take a bit of an effort, but with the right ingredients, proportions and consistencies, one should be able to make some great Adhirasams. It is very important that the right type of rice is used. Traditionally, this sweet is prepared with red rice but if you cannot find it, you can use regular Sona-masoori rice.

Adhirasam

Ingredients:

Rice, raw – 500 gms
Jaggery – 250 gms
Water – 100 ml
Oil – 4 tbsp + for frying
Poppy seeds – 1/2 tsp
Fennel seeds, lightly crushed – 3/4 tsp
Cardamom powder – 1/4 tsp

Method:

  • Wash and soak the rice in water for 30 minutes
  • Drain the rice and spread it on a thin cotton cloth or paper towels and let it dry

Adhirasam2

  • When the rice is 80% dry, grind it into a fine powder. You don’t want the rice to be completely dry before grinding and you should be able to feel the moisture in the powder
  • Pass it through a sieve to remove any large, coarse particles
  • Add the poppy seeds, fennel seeds and cardamom powder and mix well
  • Take the jaggery and 100ml of water in a pan and bring it to a boil
  • Keep stirring and check for single string consistency. To check the consistency, take water in a small cup and drop a little bit of the jaggery in the water, If it does not dissolve in the water and you are able to roll it into a ball, then it has reached the right consistency

                                        

  • Pour it into the flour and mix well. The dough might seem loose but over time it will absorb all the moisture and get harder
  • Add 2-3 teaspoons of oil if needed while mixing. Pour the remaining of the 4 tbsp of oil over the dough and let it rest for a minimum of 2-3 hours or overnight

Adhirasam5

  • When you are ready to make the Adhirasams, heat oil in a wok or wide pan
  • Divide the dough into small balls
  • Using an oiled banana leaf or wax paper, press them into flat circles using your fingers. Use oil to avoid the dough sticking to your fingers. Do not use rolling pin unless you place the dough between two sheets of wax paper but you might get the best results using your fingers to roll the dough

                 Adhirasam6                   Adhirasam7

  • Make sure the oil is hot enough. Right before dropping the Adhirasam, lower the heat a bit
  • Once you drop each of them, do not move away from the pan as it will cook pretty quickly
  • When it rises to the top, flip it and cook the other. It shouldn’t take more than a minute to cook an entire Adhirasam

                                  

  • Remove from oil and with the help of another ladle or spatula, squeeze out the excess oil right into the wok and place it on a plate covered with paper towel and repeat the process

Tips:

  • Do not use Basmati or Ponni rice. The Adhirasams will not hold their shape and disintegrate when frying
  • If the dough is very loose, add some rice flour
  • If the dough is very hard, add few tablespoons of milk
  • After frying, do not leave the Adhirasams on the paper towel for too long as it might become very dry

Chocolate Cake

It’s a very special day today as Garlic Goddesses completes an entire year around the sun. We are one! It was exactly one year ago that we started our small but significant entry into the world of food blogging. We have grown as a blog and as individuals interested in food as well. We have had an exciting year, cooking some unexpected dishes and some favorites too! We have had to throw out some batches of food because they didn’t turn out quite right but it has all been a massive opportunity to learn and do better. We would like to thank each and everyone of you for supporting us and stopping by our page. It means a lot to us. 

On this special day, I’m posting a cake I made for my husband’s birthday this year. While I have made the chocolate cake before (it’s a handy recipe to have from Hershey’s), I was attempting ganache for the very first time. Ganache is nothing but a deliciously thick mixture of cream and chocolate. While the cake tastes good as is, I did want something extra special to go with it and the ganache did exactly that! If this extra layer of goodness appears intimidating, let me assure you that it’s super easy to make. I also went ahead and whipped some of the ganache in order to try some piping on the cake (again, a first for me!). My only reason to do this was I wanted some sort of decoration on the cake (I take the liberty to call my child-like piping, decoration!) but not in the form of ready-made candy or shaved chocolate or kit kat bars. I wanted to make the decoration myself and didn’t want anything too rich. And this was the result! The husband was pleased and I was too 🙂

Chocolate Cake

Ingredients:

For the cake:

All-purpose flour – 3/4 cup + 2 tbsp
Salt – 1/2 tsp
Unsweetened Cocoa Powder – 6 tbsp
Baking soda – 3/4 tsp
Baking powder – 3/4 tsp
Sugar – 1/2 cup
Egg – 1
Milk – 1/2 cup
Vegetable oil – 1/4 cup
Vanilla extract – 1 tsp
Boiling water – 1/2 cup

For the Ganache:

Heavy whipping cream – 1 cup
Semi-sweet chocolate chunks/chips – 1 cup
Instant Coffee powder – 1/2 tsp (optional)

Method:

Making the cake

  • Pre-heat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit or 175 degrees Celsius
  • Prepare a baking dish by greasing with butter and sprinkling a teaspoon of flour; shake off excess flour
  • In a mixing bowl, sift together all the dry ingredients including flour, salt, baking soda, baking powder, cocoa powder and sugar
  • Add the egg, milk, vegetable oil and vanilla extract and beat using an electric mixer for about 2 minutes on medium speed
  • Stir in the boiling water and mix well; you will get a runny batter
  • Pour this batter into the prepared dish and bake for about 30 to 35 minutes till an inserted skewer comes out clean
  • Remove from oven and allow this to rest for about 10 minutes before transferring the cake on to a cooling rack

Making the ganache

  • In a heat-proof bowl, combine chocolate chunks and coffee powder; set aside
  • Heat the cream in a saucepan on medium flame
  • Swirl the cream occasionally while keeping an eye on it
  • Once it comes to a low simmer, remove from heat and pour on to the chocolate-coffee mixture
  • Set this aside for 5 minutes without stirring
  • After 5 minutes, use a whisk to slowly mix until it becomes smooth and runny
  • Allow this to rest until it cools down completely and begins to thicken
  • If you have time, let this rest at room temperature overnight; otherwise, refrigerate it for a couple hours after it cools down
  • The consistency of the ganache should be thick enough to spread over the cake 

Assembling the cake

  • Once the cake is completely cooled and the ganache has reached the desired consistency, take a couple of tablespoons of the ganache and spread it on the cake, starting from the middle and moving to the sides
  • Do this until you have used up all the ganache
  • Alternatively, you can use half of the ganache to spread over the cake; with the other half, you can beat it using an electric mixer for a few minutes until it becomes pale in color, fluffy in texture and light in taste
  • You can transfer this whipped ganache in to a piping bag and pipe designs on your cake (as shown in the photo)
  • This cake stays in the fridge for at least 4 days and tastes even better when it’s cold!

Chocolate Cake

Notes:
– In this recipe, you can make only the cake and it tastes yum without the ganache as well
– With the ganache, you need to use your judgement to decide whether the consistency works for you. I allowed it to cool down completely before refrigerating it for about an hour or two. I then spread about a layer of ganache on to the cake and then refrigerated both the cake and the ganache as it was a very hot day. After about 30 minutes, I spread another layer and put it back in to the fridge
– If the ganache becomes too thick, add a tablespoon of hot water and mix well

– As far as the whipped ganache goes, this is entirely optional. It only adds another dimension to the cake with very little effort
– If the room temperature is high, place the cake in the fridge at intervals while spreading the ganache. This helps the ganache to set on the cake
– Adding instant coffee powder to the ganache enhances the flavor of chocolate
– The ganache recipe isn’t from a particular source but a result of reading a few recipes online. Some recipes call for butter while others stick to equal portions of cream and chocolate (semi-sweet or bittersweet)

Chocolate Cake

Hot Chocolate

Hot Chocolate

Serves: 1

Ingredients:

Milk – 1 cup
Unsweetened cocoa powder – 2 tbsp
Brown Sugar – 2 tbsp
Salt – a pinch
Vanilla extract – 1/4 tsp

Method:

  • In a mug, mix cocoa powder, sugar and salt
  • In a bowl, heat milk till it reaches desired temperature or heat in microwave for 1.5 minutes
  • Pour the milk into the mug containing cocoa mixture
  • Stir till it’s well mixed 
  • Add the vanilla extract and stir again
  • Serve hot!

Note:
– You can use white sugar instead of brown sugar
– Sift the cocoa powder before adding to the mug as it prevents lumps after adding milk
– If you still get lumps after stirring in the milk, pass it through a strainer before serving
– You could even add a 1/4 teaspoon of instant coffee powder to enhance the chocolate flavor

Coconut Cupcakes

Coconut Cupcakes

Yield: 10 cupcakes

Ingredients:

For the cupcakes:

Unsalted butter – 12 tbsp
Sugar – 1/2 cup
Eggs – 3
Vanilla Extract – 3/4 tsp
Pure Almond Extract – 3/4 tsp
Buttermilk – 1/2 cup
All-purpose flour/Maida – 1.5 cups
Salt – 1/4 tsp
Baking powder – 1/2 tsp
Baking Soda – 1/4 tsp
Unsweetened Coconut Flakes – 100 gms

For the topping:

Unsweetened Coconut flakes, toasted – 1/4 cup
Coconut Water – 1/4 cup

Method:

Making the cupcakes:

  • Pre-heat the oven to 325 degrees Fahrenheit or 160 degrees Celsius
  • Line a muffin tray with cupcake liners
  • In a mixing bowl, combine butter and sugar and beat for about 5 minutes on medium to high speed till the mixture becomes light and fluffy (You can use a stand mixer or a hand-held one for this step)
  • Add the eggs one by one while mixing simultaneously on slow speed
  • Stir in the vanilla and almond extract
  • In a separate bowl, sift together all the dry ingredients including flour, salt, baking powder and baking soda
  • Add this dry mixture and buttermilk, alternately, to the batter (original recipe says begin and end with the dry ingredients); continue to mix this till everything is well-combined
  • Stir in the coconut flakes and mix well
  • Spoon in the batter into the cupcake liners, filling them up to the brim
  • Bake for 30 to 35 minutes till an inserted skewer comes out clean and the cupcakes are just about turning brown
  • Remove from oven and rest for 15 minutes before transferring them to a rack to cool completely

Assembling the cupcakes:

  • Place the toasted coconut flakes in a plate
  • In another plate, pour the coconut water
  • Take a cupcake and dip the top in the coconut water, ensuring that its surface is wet
  • Now dip the top in the coconut, so that the flakes stick
  • Do this with all 10 cupcakes
  • These cupcakes stay in the refrigerator for about 3 to 4 days

Coconut Cupcakes

Notes:
– Ensure that the butter is soft and at room temperature before using it. The eggs must also be at room temperature when using
– Avoid using almond essence and instead use pure almond extract
– If you do not have buttermilk, you can make your own by combining a tablespoon of vinegar or lemon juice with milk to form half a cup. Do this right at the beginning and set aside
– The original recipe calls for the use of sweetened coconut and at least 1 cup of sugar. I chose to use unsweetened coconut as I happened to have it in my pantry. And 1/2 cup of sugar was more than sufficient, not making the cupcakes too sweet
– To toast coconut flakes, heat them in a pan till they turn golden brown. Cool completely before using
– Original recipe is here

Coconut Cupcakes

Brookies

I’ve been meaning to try Masterchef Australia Season 8 contestant Harry Foster’s Dark Chocolate Brookies and finally got around to it! It’s one of the more simpler recipes on the TV show and Nigella Lawson (I love her!) loved it, so I had to give it a shot. A first for me!
For those who don’t watch the show, brookies are a cross between brownies and cookies. 
While I made a couple of changes to the original recipe, the end result was mouth-watering deliciousness – chewy, rich and heavenly! If you love all things chocolate, this dessert is most certainly for you 🙂 With this recipe I also hope to attempt more Masterchef Australia recipes, at least as an ode to my favorite food show on TV!

Brookies

Makes: 12

Ingredients:

72% Dark Chocolate – 175 gms
Butter – 25 gms
Brown Sugar – 1/2 cup
Corn flour – 40 gms
Baking powder – 1/2 tsp
Eggs – 2
Vanilla Extract – 1/2 tsp
Bittersweet Chocolate chips – 50 gms

Method:

  • Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit or 180 degrees Celsius
  • Line a baking tray with parchment paper and set aside
  • Place the 72% dark chocolate and butter in a bowl and set over a pot of simmering water (double boiler method)

Brookies

  • Once the chocolate and butter melt completely, remove from heat to cool down
  • In a separate bowl, place the sugar, sifted corn flour, baking powder, eggs and vanilla extract

Brookies

  • Using an electric mixer, beat on medium speed for about 5 minutes till all the ingredients are well-combined and you see tiny bubbles forming (the batter will be quite runny, but don’t worry about that)
  • Now add the cooled chocolate-butter mixture and combine well 
  • The batter will thicken as you mix well to form a wet dough
  • Spoon this mixture on to the prepared baking tray (do not worry too much about the shape) to get about 12 brookies
  • Place a few chocolate chips on each of the brookies and press down a little into the dough
  • Bake for 15 to 17 minutes
  • When you take it out of the oven, the brookies will not exactly look cooked, but allow it too cool completely on the baking tray
  • Once cool, refrigerate immediately
  • Serve with a scoop of vanilla ice cream or a glass of warm milk!

Brookies

Note:
– While the original recipe calls for the use of an electric stand mixer, I used a hand mixer since I have only that
– I refrigerated the brookies after they cooled completely as I felt they were a bit gooey. Refrigerating helped with keeping their shape
– You can use regular white sugar instead of brown sugar
– I used bittersweet chocolate chips in the recipe. You can use any kind, including dark, milk or semi-sweet chocolate chips

Carrot Halwa/Gajar ka Halwa

There are very few Indian sweets I love and halwa has never been among the top. But when I made Carrot Halwa for the first time, I loved how it turned out. It also happened to be the first dish I cooked for my in-laws before I got married. Versions I have eaten at weddings and those made by relatives have been sticky, thick, and almost dark brown in color. I don’t like that at all! My recipe is creamy and melt-in-your-mouth! And given that Father’s Day is round the corner, this post goes out to my father (who loves anything sweet!) and all dads. What would we do without you 🙂

Carrot Halwa/Gajar ka Halwa

Ingredients:

Carrots – 2 cups, grated
Whole milk – 2 cups
Saffron – a pinch (optional)
Ghee – 1 tsp + 6 tsp
Cashew nuts – 6
Almonds – 6
Sugar – 1/4 cup

Method:

  • Soak almonds in about half a cup of water for around 15 minutes; then peel the almonds and slice them into slivers
  • Heat milk in a thick-bottomed saucepan and reduce it to about half the quantity, stirring occasionally (do this step on medium heat as this will help prevent the milk from burning)
  • Add a pinch of saffron to the milk just before taking it off the heat
  • In a pan or wok, heat a teaspoon of ghee and fry chopped cashew nuts
  • Drain and set aside
  • In the same vessel, heat the remaining 6 teaspoons of ghee 
  • Add the grated carrots and cook on medium heat for about 8 minutes till the carrots are cooked and turn color
  • Add the milk to the carrots and continue to cook on medium flame
  • Continue stirring till all of the milk is absorbed; this may take about 20 minutes
  • Add the sugar and stir for about 4 minutes till the carrots begin to leave the sides of the pan (when you add sugar, a little water will be released; cook till this is absorbed)
  • Garnish with fried cashew nuts and slivered almonds

Notes:
– It’s important to keep stirring the carrots when you cook them, both before and after adding the milk. Otherwise, it may burn
– You can replace milk with cream or use 1 cup milk and 1 cup cream
– Quarter cup of sugar is just about enough to bring out the sweetness of the carrots and doesn’t make this dish too sweet
– I like the halwa to be of a creamy consistency and therefore don’t reduce the milk exactly to half 
– You can even stir in a pinch of cardamom powder at the very end

Whole Wheat Banana-Walnut Bread

There aren’t too many things one can do to say Thank you to mothers for everything they do. But for starters, you could bake something special for her! Banana Bread is one of the easiest of bakes, perfect for breakfast, as a snack or even dessert. It’s more cake than bread, actually. And you don’t have to wait for Mother’s Day to treat your mother to this!

Whole Wheat Banana-Walnut Bread

Ingredients:

Whole wheat flour – 1.5 cups
Egg – 1, beaten
Sugar – 1/4 cup
Bananas – 4
Vanilla extract – 1 tsp
Baking soda – 1 tsp
Salt – a pinch
Butter – 1/3 cup (melted)
Walnuts – 1/2 cup, chopped (optional)

Method:

  • Pre-heat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit or 175 degrees Celsius
  • Prepare a loaf pan by greasing it
  • In a mixing bowl, mash the ripe bananas using a fork
  • Stir in the melted butter
  • Add the baking soda and salt
  • Stir in the sugar, beaten egg and vanilla extract
  • Whisk in the flour and mix until combined
  • Add the walnuts and mix well
  • Pour this batter into the prepared loaf pan
  • Bake for about 50 to 60 minutes till a skewer inserted comes out clean
  • Allow to cool completely before removing from the pan and serve

Whole Wheat Banana-Walnut Bread

Note:
– Mix the walnuts with about a teaspoon of flour before stirring into the batter. This prevents them from sinking to the bottom while baking
– Alter the quantity of sugar as per your requirement. I feel 1/4 cup is just right, not too sweet
– You can add walnuts if you happen to have them; you can instead use chocolate chips or chunks or just leave them out

Almond Orange Muffins

It is a lazy Saturday morning and I am raking my brain for breakfast ideas. I see this lonely orange lying on the breakfast table waiting for someone to pick it and I am thinking French toast or muffins. But, since you cannot make French toast without bread, muffin was the way to go. I wanted to prepare something simple and light with the ingredients I had in my pantry. I thought almonds pair well with oranges and did some lookup online. I came across this recipe here and instantly liked it and prepared it with minimal effort and they turned out delicious. I tweaked the quantities to get the right balance between the orange and almond flavors since both these are pretty strong and distinct flavors, and I was extremely satisfied with the outcome!

Orange Almond Muffins

Ingredients

Almond flour – 1 cup
All purpose flour – 1 cup
Baking powder – 3/4 tsp
Salt – 1/4 tsp
Zest of one orange
Sugar – 1/2 cup
Eggs – 3
Freshly squeezed orange juice – 1/4 cup
Olive oil, light – 1/4 cup
Yogurt – 4 tbsp
Almond essence – 1/2 tsp
Almond slivers – 3 tbsp

Yield: 10 muffins

Method:

  • Preheat the oven to 350°F
  • In a bowl, mix both flours, baking powder and salt. A sieve works well for this purpose
  • In another bowl, mix together the orange juice, yogurt, olive oil and almond essence
  • In a large bowl, mix the sugar and orange zest
  • Add the eggs to the sugar and using a hand mixer, beat them until pale and fluffy
  • Add the wet ingredients to the sugar-egg mixture and mix well
  • Fold in the dry ingredients using a spatula
  • Line a muffin tin with baking cups/liners
  • Pour the batter into each cup till they are 3/4th full
  • Top each muffin with the slivered almonds
  • Bake in the oven for approximately 20 minutes or until the top is light golden brown in color and a knife or toothpick inserted comes out clean

Tip: I ground 1/2 cup of almonds to make 1 cup of almond flour but you can use store bought almond flour as well. I have used the almond essence that you typically find in the Indian stores. If you are using almond extract, increase the quantity to 3/4 tsp as in the original recipe.