Author Archives: anoccasionaltart

Brazilian Carrot Cake


Brazilian Carrot Cake

Do carrots scream out at you – ‘Use me’? The orange which brightens every meal. Now let me ask you another question – Did you know carrots were not always orange? Is that a – what the hell is he talking about look on your face? That is the same look I had when I first heard about it. I was in Amsterdam at the time when the tour guide bought it up and talked about how the Dutch hybridized the carrot because they wanted to honor ‘William of Orange’.

For full details you can go to Mythbusters for the entire information. However, the short version of it is that the Dutch farmers cultivated a lot of carrots (white, purple and yellow). They developed a new strain that was orange and started growing that in honor of William of Orange. The traditional just as colorful carrots were tossed aside in favor of the orange one. If you have ever been to The Netherlands you will know their national color is orange and everyone wears orange.

If you live in a big city you probably have access to a farmers market and can get heirloom varieties of carrots. If you do not and do your own vegetable gardening try growing the heirloom varieties, they will add so much color to your plate.

Now back to the cake. I have been fascinated with Brazilian desserts for a while and came across an article about their version of the carrot cake. I did a bit of research and found this site (thank you google translate) and decided to try it with some modifications. The cake is simply delicious and moist and the color. I do want to get other colored carrots and so I can try to make a carrot rainbow cake :-). The cake is not too sweet and the chocolate coating is optional. The carrot flavor is mild and the cake is really moist. Its also a very easy blender cake.


For the cake

  • 280g carrots (about 3 medium sized carrots, peeled)
  • 3/4 cup olive oil
  • 3 large eggs
  • 360g sugar
  • 240g all-purpose flour (sifted)
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • pinch sea salt

For the chocolate glaze

  • 170g dark chocolate
  • 2 tablespoons honey
  • 100g (7 tablespoons) unsalted butter


Preheat the oven to 425F. Butter your Bundt pan and lightly coat it with flour.

Blend the carrots, olive oil, eggs, sugar and salt until it is smooth. Pour this mixture into large bowl and pour the sifted flour and baking powder over it. Gently stir with a whisk until there are no lumps left.

Pour the batter into the Bundt pan. Place it carefully into the oven and bake for 5 minutes at 425F. Then lower the temperature to 400F and bake for another 25-30 minutes until a toothpick inserted into the deepest part comes out clean or with a few crumbs.

Let the cake cool for 10-15 minutes on a wire rack. Then turn the cake out onto the wire rack and let it cool completely.

For the glaze

Put the chocolate, honey and butter into a microwave safe bowl and melt it in the microwave on short 15 second bursts stirring everytime until it is smooth. This should take about 3-4 bursts depending on your microwave power. The butter needs to be melted and just keep stirring the mixture and everything will melt.

Once the cake is completely cooled place a plate under the wire rack and pour the glaze over the cake letting it run down the sides. If you are not able to cover the cake scoop up the chocolate from the plate and pour where needed.

The cake can be left at room temperature covered with plastic wrap or under a cake dome. Mine lasted only two days.






BurekWhile we were in Dubrovnik we took a day trip to Mostar in Bosnia. The day started off rather wet as we waited for the tour bus to arrive. The drive to the border was pretty. Once we crossed over the border just a mere formality with a long line, we stopped at our first stop which had a beautiful mosque at the top of the hill. Well beautiful from the outside we did not make the trek up. The roofs on the houses here were completely different compares to Dubrovnik. We carried on to Mostar and did have a shock as we entered the city. It still had all the signs of being ravaged by war. There were a lot of destroyed buildings and quite a few with a lot of bullet holes. It was really sad. When we go to the destination which is the historic portion of Mostar we were given instructions to be very careful because of the pickpockets.

We had a very nice and informative guide. The old part of the city (the only part we saw) was very charming. We climbed to the top of the oldest  mosque – that was quite a challenge as the stairwell was very narrow and fairly dark. From the top of the minaret was a fantastic view of the river and the famous Mostar  bridge. At the end of the tour we asked our guide to recommend a local dish we could try and he pointed us to the very popular local food ‘Burek’. Its really a pastry filled with either cheese, spinach or beef, that is eaten with yoghurt. It was simply delicious. If I could describe it, it would be layers of filo pastry wrapped around the filling. It was simply delicious and was our cheapest meal of the trip.

You can fill your Burek with anything that you would like as long as the mixture is more on the dry side. You could even go for a sweet filling.


For the dough

  • 2 eggs (reserve one egg yolk)
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1/3 cup olive oil
  • 2/3 cup milk
  • 1.5 tsp baking powder
  • 3.5 cups flour

For the filling

  • 1 large onion (diced)
  • 1 frozen packet of cut leaf spinach
  • 1 tablespoon tomato paste
  • 1 tsp red chilli powder
  • 1/2 tsp cumin powder
  • salt to taste
  • 3/4 packet of cream cheese


Whisk eggs (one full egg and one egg white), salt, olive oil and milk. Sift the baking powder and flour.
Pour the wet ingredients over the dry ingredients and knead until soft. If your mixture is dry add a little more milk a bit at a time. If it is too sticky add a little more flour a bit at a time. Your dough should be smooth and soft and should spring back when you do the thumb test (See notes)

Let the dough rest covered with a damp towel while you make the filling

Fry the onion until it becomes translucent. Add the remaining ingredients except the cream cheese and cook. Once the spinach is cooked add the cream cheese and take it off the heat. Stir to blend in the cream cheese.

Divide the dough into 6 equal portions.
Take one portion and roll it into a long log at least 14 inches in length.
Use a rolling ping to flatten it out along the length. Then use a rolling pin to widen it along its width. You want it to be at least 3 inches wide. It can be as thin as you can get it. I do this on a (Clean) countertop. It does not stick because of the olive oil in the dough.

Burek Steps

Lightly brush the top of the rolled pastry with either melted butter or olive oil. (This is optional but will give you better layers)

Put a thin strip of filling on the section that is closer to you just a little bit away from the end. Then lift the dough and cover the filling bit by bit along the length. Tightening the roll as you go. Repeat the procedure until you have a filled log.

Next, You are going to  make a spiral, starting at one end and rolling the log around itself. Make sure you have the top of the Burek at the same level. Brush the top with egg white and place on your foil lined baking sheet.

Bake for 350 for 30-35 mins or until the tops are golden brown. Serve hot with a side of yoghurt.

Optional fillings

  • onion, sweet potato, spinach, spices of your choice
  • cooked spiced minced chicken


Sea Salt Caramel Chocolate bars


Caramel is always in demand and there are so many ways of making it. This is a really simple one and you do not have to worry about getting the sugar burnt. This is also a really good recipe to make when you do not want to bake a cake and you get a fair amount of pieces to share. I will say there is a little patience required to make sure you have got your mixture to the right temperature so the caramel stays set for a while and does not run. Mine just took a way long time to cooperate and get to the 240C but I won out with patience.


for the Crust

  • 2 cups graham cracker crumbs
  • 6 oz unsalted butter, melted

for the caramel

  • 1/2 cup heavy cream
  • 8 tablespoons (1 stick/4oz) unsalted butter
  • 1.5 cups light brown sugar
  • 1 tablespoon water

for the chocolate

  • 12 oz bittersweet chocolate
  • 1/2 cup heavy cream
  • 2 teaspoons instant espresso (or instant coffee

for the topping

  • sea salt flakes


Line a 9 inch square pan with parchment paper. If your pan does not have a removable bottom, line the pan like with parchment paper that looks like a plus sign when laid out flat. This will help you lift out the bars when they are done.

for the crust

Melt the butter and stir it into the graham crumbs until they are all evenly moist. Pour this mixture into you lined pan and press down gently to flatten. Use the back of a measuring cup to help. Heat your oven to 350F. Put the pan into the oven and bake for 10-12 minutes. The crust will look golden. Remove pan from the oven and let it cool completely on a wire rack.

for the caramel

Mix all the ingredients for the caramel in a heavy bottomed saucepan. Cook on medium heat stirring until the sugar has melted and incorporated and you have a smooth look. Turn up the heat until the mixture boils (do not stir). Heat until a candy thermometer registers 240 C. This can take anywhere from 7-10 minutes. Once it reaches 240C take it off the heat and gently pour it over the cooled crust. Let it cool, then pop it into the fridge for 20 minutes.

for the chocolate

Heat cream in the microwave for about a minute. Pour over chopped chocolate and instant espresso and let it sit for about a minute or two. Then stir with a spatula until all the chocolate has melted. Let it sit for a minute. Take the baking pan with the caramel out of the fridge and carefully pour over the chocolate. Smoothen with a wet palette knife and return to the fridge for at least an hour.

To serve, take the pan out of the refrigerator at least an hour before serving. Sprinkle with sea salt. Take the bars out of the cake pan using the parchment paper as lifters. Cut into the size that you think in reasonable. Enjoy!


Apple Sharlotka

Apple S

I love trying out new desserts and am always looking to expand my horizons and I came across a Food and Wine recipe for Apple Sharlotka and I was intrigued. I had never made any Russian dessert before and bein that there are lots of apples around it seemed perfect.

On my trails to find out about it – I did come across Smitten Kittens recipe and history. She echo’s one of my dear friends who says – ‘When you know someone from a particular part of the world who makes good food – go to their house and eat it!’. I would make Indian food and she would make Vietnamese food and it was perfect. The whole description on her site is perfect. Its such a light airy topping to a nice Apple base. You have to try it to believe it.

So here is my take on it. The longest portion of this is peeling and slicing the apples. Of course, if you have one of those apple cutters then it would go much faster.


Prep time: 30 minutes, Baking time: 1 hour

  • 4 cooking apples (Preferably tart), peeled, cored and thinly sliced
  • juice of half a lemon
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 3/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons all purpose flour
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • pinch of salt
  • pinch of baking soda
  • 3 large eggs, at room temperature
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
  • confectioners’ sugar, for dusting
  • 1 cup heaving whipping cream (optional)


Preheat the oven to 350F. Line the bottom and sides of an 8 inch springform pan with parchment paper. Butter (or spray) the parchment paper.

Toss the apple slices with lemon juice and 2 tablespoons of sugar and set aside for 15 minutes.

Sift the all purpose flour, ground cinnamon, salt and baking soda into a bowl.

Beat the eggs and the remaining sugar on high speed until thick and pale yellow. This should take about 8-10 minutes. Add the vanilla and stir gently. Then fold the dry ingredients into the egg mixture trying not to deflate it.

Spread the apples in an even layer in the pan (save any juice that has drained from the apples for later). Pour the batter evenly over the apples and let this sit for 5 minutes before baking.

Bake for 1 hour or until the top is golden and crisp (I did not do the toothpick test but you can). Transfer to a cake rack to cool. Take off the springform sides and then the parchment paper from the sides. Gently slide the sharlotka onto your cake plate. Dust with confectioners sugar.

Beat the heavy whipping cream until soft peaks form. Add 1.5 tablespoons of sugar and beat for another minute. Gently fold the apple syrup that you had saved before (If you did not get a lot of apply syrup you can use any fruit brandy)

Serve the sharlotka with a side of the whipped cream



Roasted Lotus Root


I tried Lotus root at a restaurant recently and absolutely loved it. They had it finely sliced and roasted to a crisp. It was really like eating a salted chip and had a lovely mild flavor. I simply could not get enough – unfortunately for us they had only 2 on the appetizer plate which was a wee bit disappointing.

I was at the farmers market and I saw a bag of precut lotus root in water and I immediately picked it up. I wanted to do something similar but since it was precut there was no way I could get it down to the wonderful crispy chip like texture at the restaurant. So I hummed and hawed about what I could do with them and then decided on roasting them and of course I made them Indian style by spicing them up. As I was doing that I thought that I would make Appams (rice pancakes) and use these as well as sweet potatoes and white onions. They did come out really well and you can use them in anything you like or even eaten on their own

You should be able to get Lotus root at most Asian grocery stores


Prep time: 10 minutes, Bake time: 35-45 minutes

  • Lotus root (1 bag cut – 20 pieces)
  • 1 tsp red chilli powder
  • 3 teaspoon cumin powder
  • 1 teaspoon coriander powder
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil

Preheat the oven to 350F. Line a baking tray with aluminum foil and lightly brush it with olive oil.

Mix the oil with the spices in a medium sized bowl. Drain the lotus root and pat it dry with paper towels. Toss the lotus in the spice mixture until it is well coated. Lay the Lotus root on the foil lined baking tray. Put it into the oven for about 35-45 minutes turning the lotus root about half way through. You can keep it for longer if you want it really crispy.

When they are done take them out of the oven let them cool for a bit and then eat them any way you like. I put them with roasted sweet potatoes and roasted white onions into an Appam (rice pancake). You can also put them with other veggies into a tortilla.



Almond Cake, Caramel topping


Almond Cake Caramel Toppin

Back again after a short hiatus, it has been challenging trying to make desserts and also trying to reduce your sugar intake. However, the office always comes to the rescue as there are always birthdays to bake for and then people to eat the cake. This cake turned out really moist.

This request was for just caramel. I had made Sea Salt Caramel, Chocolate bars (recipe to be posted) a short while back and it was spectacular. So I decided to make a simple Almond cake and top it with caramel. It is really quite a simple recipe and I think the next time I try it, its probably going to be in the food processor. I am also going to try increasing the Almond flour and reducing to completely eliminating the plain flour. I also used brown sugar and I think I could have used less especially since the topping was really sweet- but it worked (something else to tinker with the next time).

I have also been using my Breville toaster oven and it has been working like a charm. It heats up really fast and once it is done cooking cools really fast. As long as you are just baking one cake and the pan fits it – voila!.


Serves 10-15 (depending no serving size), Prep+bake : 1 hour 10 minutes

For the cake

  • 8.5 oz almond flour
  • 3.5 oz all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 teaspoon sea salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/8 teaspoon baking soda
  • 8 tablespoons unsalted butter (room temperature)
  • 8.5 oz light brown sugar
  • 4 large eggs (room temperature)
  • 1.5 teaspoon lemon extract
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract

For the caramel topping

  • 8 tablespoons butter
  • 1.5 cups light brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup heavy cream
  • 1 tablespoon water


Preheat your oven to 300F. Butter and flour your 9 inch square cake pan (or if you are using a silicone pan just lightly butter it).

Mix all the dry ingredients (almond flour, all-purpose flour, sea salt, baking power and baking soda) together in a bowl.

Cream the butter in your mixer and then add the sugar. Continue to beat until light and fluffy. Add the eggs once at a time beating until incorporated. Add the dry ingredients in 3 batches mixing well with each addition. Finally, add the extracts mix and pour into your baking pan.

Put this into your oven for 50-60 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. Take the pan out of the oven and place on a rack until completely cooled. Once cooled take it out of the pan and cover with the caramel topping.


Caramel topping

Heat (on medium heat) butter, sugar, heavy cream and water in a heavy bottomed saucepan. Once the butter has melted keep stirring until the sugar has dissolved (about 3-5 minutes). Increase the heat and bring the mixture to a boil. Let it boil for about 5 minutes and then take it off the heat and let it cool. As it cools, it will start to firm up. You can spread this on the cake now and let it cool completely or heat it up right before serving and pour over the cake slices.



Mocha Pudding



Mocha Pudding

So this happened for a friends birthday. The ask was for something Mocha. I was scouring my recipes for something that I could make without turning on the oven and had initially thought that I would make a Mocha Crepe Cake. It did go through a couple of iterations before I finally settled on a pudding. This is a very rich pudding and as one of my friends said it was more like a Bodino (an Italian dessert) than what you generally think of as an American pudding.

This does require just a little bit of cooking but can be put together without a lot of fuss. You can make endless variations on this – making it a fruit pudding but omitting the cocoa powder and chocolate, but adding a fruit puree and fresh fruit, or making it just with white chocolate. The combinations are endless. You will also realize that you do not have to use the ready boxed pudding mixes and this is really easy to put together.


Time: 20 minutes, Serves: 8 – 10 depending on the size of your glasses

  • 1/4 cup + 1 tablespoon cornstarch (spoon this into your measuring cup)
  • 1/3 cup granulated sugar
  • 3 tablespoons cocoa powder
  • pinch of salt
  • 3 cups milk
  • 4 ounces of bittersweet chocolate, chopped (I used 56% cocoa)
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2 sachets instant espresso powder
  • 2 tablespoons Kahlua (optional)
  • 1 cup heavy whipping cream
  • 1.5 tablespoons granulated sugar
  • 1 tablespoon Kahlua
  • biscuits dipped in a sweet wine to serve


Whisk the cornstarch, sugar, cocoa powder and salt together in a saucepan. Add the milk slowly constantly whisking to incorporate and to avoid lumps. Turn the heat on to a medium low and continue to whisk. The mixture will start to warm and then thicken. Make sure you are whisking it constantly. You will see the mixture thickening, wait a few more seconds for it to thicken a little more (total of 10-13 minutes) and then take it off the heat. Add the chocolate, vanilla extract, espresso powder and Kahlua (optional), gently stir to make sure everything is blended. Put a piece of plastic (saran wrap) on the surface and let it cool. Once it is cool put it into your serving glasses.

Whip the cream until soft peaks form and then add the sugar continuing to whip for another minute or so until the sugar is dissolved. Fold in the Kahlua (optional). Put it in a piping bag and pipe or just put a lovely dollop on top of the pudding.

When ready to serve, dip the biscuits into the wine and stick it into the pudding and serve. Enjoy