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. 

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. 

Paal Puri/Badam Puri

I’m quite picky about the Indian sweets I like and Paal Puri is one of those decadent indulgences! ‘Paal’ is milk in Tamil. And the dish is pretty straight-forward – Puri dipped in flavored milk. My sister and I have been trying to trace the origin of this dish but haven’t really been able to. On our maternal side, it was usually made for Krishna Jayanthi. On the paternal side, it was made for Tulsi pooja and Ramnavami (one section of the family calls it Badam Puri).

My sister made this over the weekend, and I was her sous chef. While the puris are traditionally made using maida (all-purpose flour), we decided to keep it a little healthy and used whole wheat flour instead. 

This is a dish that’s close to my heart, simply because it reminds me of family, festivals and home-cooked meals.

Paal Puri

Ingredients:

For the milk mixture:
Almonds – 60 (80 gms approx.)
Cashew nut – 18 (25 gms approx.)
Milk – 2.5 cups
Saffron (optional) – a pinch
Sugar – 8 tbsp
Water – 2 tbsp approx.

For the puri:
Whole wheat flour – 2 cups
Salt – 1/2 tsp
Warm water
Ghee – 2 tbsp

For deep-frying:
Vegetable Oil – 500 ml approx.

Method:

Milk mixture

  • Soak the almonds overnight, in about a cup of water
  • Soak the cashew nuts for about 30 minutes in a cup of warm water
  • Remove the skin of the almonds and place in a mixer
  • Add the cashew nuts to this and grind to a smooth paste; add about 2 tablespoons of water, if required, to reach the desired consistency
  • Heat the milk in a saucepan along with sugar for about 5 minutes on medium flame
  • Add the almond-cashew nut paste to this and stir on medium to low flame, ensuring that nothing sticks to the bottom of the vessel
  • Cook this for about 15 minutes, stirring occasionally

Paal Puri

  • Remove from heat and add in the saffron and stir; set this aside
  • The milk will thicken a little as it continues to rest

Puri

  • Combine whole wheat flour and salt in a bowl and form a dough using warm water
  • The dough must be firm
  • Divide the dough into three portions

DSC_0423

  • Roll out the first portion to about 22-25 cms in diameter and spread about a tablespoon of ghee all over

Paal Puri

  • Roll out the second portion of dough and place it over the first one; spread another tablespoon of ghee over this

Paal Puri

  • Repeat this with the third portion of dough and place over the two layers of dough

Paal Puri

  • You will have three layers of dough, one on top of each other 
  • Now begin folding this layered dough inwards, as shown in the photograph below

Paal Puri

 

Paal Puri

  • Divide the dough into about 13 balls

Paal Puri

  • Heat oil in a wok for deep-frying
  • Take one ball of dough and roll out like a puri (dusting with flour if required)

Paal Puri

  • Do not roll it out too thin, otherwise the puri will not puff up
  • Once the oil is hot enough, slip in the rolled out puri and press down with a slotted ladle till till puffs up (this takes a few seconds)
  • Turn it over and cook till it is golden brown
  • Drain from oil and transfer to a container lined with paper towels to help remove excess oil
  • Do this with the remaining 12 balls of dough

Paal Puri

Assembling the dish

  • Pour the prepared milk mixture into a wide and flat-bottomed dish

Paal Puri

  • Place the first puri in the mixture using tongs and leave for a couple seconds before turning over, ensuring the puri is covered in milk 

Paal Puri

 

Paal Puri

  • Using the tongs, fold the puri in half and then again, to form a triangle

Paal Puri

  • Repeat this procedure with the remaining 12 puris and line them in the dish
  • Serve immediately or cover with cling wrap and allow to rest
  • You can also serve it chilled
  • Any remaining puris can be stored in the refrigerator for up to 3 days

Notes:
– Prepare the dough just before you are going to make the puris and not ahead of time
– The layering of the dough helps keep the puris flaky like puff pastry

Paal Puri

Badam Halwa

I have a big time craze for almonds and almond based desserts. My mother-in-law makes great Badam Halwa and every time we visit India, I put in a request for this yummy treat, and the best part is when she allows me to scrape all the bits stuck to the kadai after the halwa has been transferred. I equally love its Western counterpart, the Marzipan! In fact, every birthday I make sure my husband gets me my favorite Marzipans or Macarons, another almond treat. This birthday I decided to treat myself with some homemade Badam halwa and I hope you also enjoy preparing it for a loved one or yourself.

IMG_4477 (1)

Ingredients:

Almonds – 1.5 cups
Ghee – 5 tbsp
Sugar – 3/4 cup + 2 tbsp
Milk – 1/2 cup
Almond essence – 1/4 tsp

Method:

  • Soak the almonds in water for at least 2 hours or overnight
  • Peel the skin off of the almonds and grind them with milk into a semi-coarse paste. I like the granular texture of the almonds but if you prefer, you can grind it into a smoother pasteIMG_4464
  • Heat 3 tbsp ghee in a wide non-stick pan or kadai
  • Add the ground paste and saute for 5 minutes on medium heat
  • Add the sugar and continue stirring. Keep stirring constantly to avoid any burning

                                        IMG_4465   IMG_4466

  • It will take about 15-20 minutes to reach the halwa consistency at which point you can see that the mixture no longer sticks to the sides of the pan and starts coming together

IMG_4468

  • Add the remaining 2 tbsp ghee and the almond essence and stir for 5 more minutes
  • Transfer to a heat resistant bowl coated with ghee
  • Allow it to cool before serving. You can refrigerate it for up to 2 weeks and heat it in the microwave before serving

IMG_4479