Category Archives: Desserts

Sea Salt Caramel Chocolate bars

SeaSaltCaramelbars

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.

Ingredients

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

Method

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!

 

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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.

Ingredients

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)

Method

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

 

 


Almond Cake, Caramel topping

2

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!.

Ingredients

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

Method

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.

Ingredients

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

Method

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

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


Luscious Lemon Cake

Luscious Lemon Cake

This is my second successful attempt at making an eggless cake. This inspiration came from here. I have made just a few modifications. In my 9′ square pan it did not rise a whole lot (about an inch) but the syrup did soak through very nicely. It also got a really nice crunchy edge because of the sugar, which crust/end lovers will absolutely go for.

You have to make sure that you have all your dry ingredients well stirred so that the baking soda is evenly distributed so the cake rises evenly.

I took this to work for a colleagues birthday and he cut the cake into small bite sized pieces. Everyone was really nice and just took one first which really just was a one bite size. Then they all quickly went back for seconds. The best part was folks taking a couple of pieces home with them.

 Ingredients

For the cake

  • 1.5 cups cake flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • zest of two whole large lemons
  • 1 cup whole milk
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2 tablespoons lemon juice
  • 1/2 cup olive oil

For the frosting

  • 1/3 cup lemon juice
  • 1/2 cup confectioners sugar
  • 1 teaspoon milk (to thin the frosting)

For decorating

  • zest of one lemon

Method

Butter a 9 inch square pan and line it with parchment paper. Preheat your oven to 350 F.

Sift the flour, baking soda, salt together in a bowl. Use a whisk to stir it to make sure you have distributed your baking soda evenly. Rub the sugar into the lemon zest and then add it to the dry mix. Stir again.

Mix the wet ingredients together and pour over dry ingredients. Whisk with a balloon whisk until it is all incorporated. Pour the batter into the prepared pan and put it in the oven for 30-35 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the middle of the cake comes out clean.

Remove it from the oven and let it cool in the pan for about 10 minutes on a wire rack.

Start the syrup. Put the lemon juice and granulated sugar in a pot and bring to a boil while stirring to make sure the syrup has dissolved. Cook it just for a minute longer to thicken just a slight bit (you do not want the syrup to be too thick,

it should flow). Set aside to cool.

Once the cake has cooled for 10 minutes. Take it out onto your serving tray. Poke holes with a toothpick all over the cake and then slowly spoon the syrup over the cake. This may take a few goes as the syrup gets absorbed. You do not need to use all your syrup. Let the cake cool completely.

For the frosting

Mix the lemon juice with the confectioners sugar with a whisk.  Once it is as incorporated as you can get it add the milk to get to a pouring consistency. (Taste and see if you would like it sweeter and add more sugar). Pour over the completely cooled cake and spread with a spatula. Sprinkle the remaining zest over the cake. The cake tastes good both warm and cold.


Intensely Chocolate Cake, Raspberry frosting

strawberry-cake

Here is a cake I have been making recently. I started with inspiration from here. I normally do not use shortening and for the first time used it in the cake and it was really delightful. I then tried making it a few more times and have managed to get the shortening out and added butter. I also went just for regular cocoa as I have friends who are chocoholics but like the milky variety better. Kara’s cake is absolutely delightful and if you do like dark chocolate – it is absolutely YUMMM!

I have made the icing a couple of different ways including one that uses raspberry jam so feel free to be creative. I made this cake for a bake sale and it was the highest bid cake and went for $80. It was shared in the office and got a lot of compliments. I hope you enjoy it as much as they did.

Ingredients

For the cake

  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 2 cups granulated sugar
  • 3 Tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 2 eggs, large
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/2 cup buttermilk, room temperature
  • 2 cups all purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup cocoa powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup boiling water

For the frosting

  • 1 cup unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 4oz cream cheese, room temperature
  • 1 packet freeze dried raspberries
  • 3 cups icing (confectioners) sugar, sifted
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon milk (optional, for smoother texture)

Method

Preheat oven to 350F. Line two 8inch cake tins with parchment paper. Butter the parchment paper.

Cream butter and sugar for about 3 minutes on low in your kitchen-aid mixer, scrape down the sides if your beater blade does not have a scraper. Add the oil and turn the mixer on again until incorporated about 1 minute. Add the eggs, one at a time and beat until incorporated. Add the vanilla extract and beat to combine.

Combine flour, cocoa powder, baking powder, salt in a large bowl and whisk to combine and break up any lumps. Add half the dry mixture to the batter and on low to combine. Add the buttermilk and beat again to combine. Add the remaining dry mixture and beat to combine.

With the mixer on low, add the boiling water very slowly and gently down the side. This will help your thick batter thin out and avoid the forming of lumps. If your beater blade does not have a scraper make sure you scrape down the sides a couple of times. Let the mixer run on slow for about 3-4 minutes. Your batter will be fairly liquid.

Divide the batter evenly between the tins and bake in the oven for 33-35 minutes, or until a toothpick poked into the center of each cake comes out clean. Remove to a wire rack and let it cool for about 10-15 minutes before taking it out of the tin and letting it cool completely before frosting.

For the frosting

Beat cream cheese until soft. Add the butter and beat until the mixture is fluffy. This may take about 5-7 minutes.

Meanwhile, crush the freeze dried raspberries either in the food processor or using a rolling pin. If you use a rolling pin you may not get a fine powder, but that is fine as you will gets bursts of raspberries when you eat the cake. Pour the crushed raspberries into a bowl and sift the icing sugar into it. Use a whisk to blend.

Add the vanilla extract to the butter/cream cheese mix. Beat for about 30 seconds. Then add half the icing sugar mix and beat to blend. Then add the remaining icing sugar and salt and beat till incorporated. If your mixture is too thick you can add a teaspoon to the mixture and beat.

To assemble

Level the cakes. Brush a little sugar syrup (optional) on the cut side of the cake. Top with 1/4 of the frosting. Place the second cake on top of the frosting and brush with sugar syrup (optional). Frost the top and sides of the cake. Decorate with fresh raspberries. Place in the refrigerator for the frosting to firm up. Keep the cake out at room temperature for about 10 minutes before cutting and serving.

 


Chocolate Oreo Layer Cake

Chocolate Oreo Cake

I was invited to a very dear 11 year old boy’s birthday party. I offered to bake the cake and his mum was delighted to let me do it. His favorite ingredient is chocolate and so I decided to bake a chocolate cake with Oreo’s in it. That was the biggest surprise when the cake was cut – ‘Oh goodness – does it have Oreo’s inside? ‘. I have made an Oreo cookie birthday cake before and used more of a chocolate cake batter but I wanted this one to be lighter. I looked up one of my favorite chef personalities Ina Garten and this is a take on her Double-Chocolate layer cake.

I do not always have buttermilk in the fridge so I keep powdered buttermilk on hand and make it as needed.

I will say it was a hit. The birthday boy loved it and had two pieces. Then when I was taking the cake plate with me. He asked his mum ‘Do I get to keep the cake?’ Cutest thing ever!. I got a huge compliment from my mum. She said ‘Its your best cake ever!’

I am sorry that I do not have the times that I did to make the cake and frostings – but overall prep time should not be more than 20 minutes for the cake and 15 for each of the icings.

Ingredients

For the cake

1 3/4 cups sifted all purpose flour
1 1/4 cup sugar
3/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon sea salt
1 cup buttermilk
1/2 cup vegetable oil
2 large eggs (room temperature)
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup hot coffee (1 1/2 tablespoon of instant Nestle coffee)

1 package double stuffed Oreos

For the filling

Oreo cookies crushed
1/2 cup unsalted butter, room temperature
1 1/2 cups sifted confectioners’ sugar
2 tablespoons milk
2 teaspoons vanilla extract

For the frosting

1/2 cup unsalted butter + 2 tablespoons, room temperature
1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 1/2 cup confectioners sugar
1/4 cup milk or heavy cream

1 cup milk chocolate chips or good quality milk chocolate
Oreo cookies to decorate

Method

For the cake

Preheat the oven to 350F. Butter two 8 inch by 2 inch round cake pans and line them with parchment paper. Butter the paper.

Whisk dry ingredients (flour, sugar, cocoa, baking powder, sea salt) in a stand mixer. Whisk the buttermilk, oil, eggs and vanilla (I use the electric whisk). Add this to the dry mixture and whisk until just incorporated.

With tongs dip 12 Oreo cookies in the hot coffee to soften just a bit and set aside. Add the hot coffee and whisk to incorporate. The batter will be very liquid. Pour the batter equally into the prepared pans. Distribute 6 Oreos per pan and make sure they are submerged.

Bake the cakes for 35 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center of the pan comes out clean. Take the cakes out and let them cool on a wire rack for about 30 minutes. Run a knife around the edge, remove them from the pan and let them cool completely on a wire rack.

For the Filling

Reserve 8-9 Oreo cookies and set aside. Crush the remaining in a food processor or seal in a plastic bag and run a rolling pin over them till they are finely crushed.

Cream butter in a stand mixer using the paddle attachment. If your paddle attachment does not have a scraper, stop the mixer and scrape down the sides of the bowl at least twice. Add confectioners sugar a half cup at a time beating well between each addition. Add the crushed Oreo cookies, vanilla and milk and beat. The filling should be fairly thick but spreadable. If it is too firm add a teaspoon of milk to reach spreading consistency.

For the frosting

Microwave the chocolate with the 2 tablespoons of butter for 20 seconds. Then go for two to three 5 second bursts making sure the butter has melted. Stir the butter chocolate mixture making sure that all the chocolate has melted and let it cool. If the chocolate has not melted microwave again in short 5 second bursts stirring between each burst.

Cream the 1/2 cup of butter in a stand mixer using the paddle attachment until light and fluffy. Add the cocoa powder, vanilla extract, half the sugar and half the milk/cream and beat until incorporated. Add the remaining sugar and milk and beat again until incorporated. Add the cooled melted chocolate and beat until incorporated. Again if you feel the icing is not going to spread at this time add a little more milk/cream.

To assemble

Place one cooled cake flat side down on your cake plate. Place strips of parchment   under the edges of the cake. This will help you have a clean cake stand at the end. Spread your filling on the top of the cake in an even layer.

Place the second cake – flat side (parchment side) up on top of the filling. Press down gently to get an even top. Using an offset spatula scrape off any filling that has squeezed out.

Pour your frosting over the top of the cake and using a clean offset spatula push it gently towards the edges and let it drip over. Then using your offset spatula turn your cake plate slowly and using your offset spatula make an even edge. Gently pull out the pieces of parchment paper and you have neat edges!.

Now split the remaining Oreo cookies and scrape off the filling. Use the Oreo halfs to decorate the cake.

Refrigerate the cake for about an hour. Take it out of the fridge for about 15 minutes before you serve it.