For the most part of December, I was in Toronto. And for the most part of December, it was snowing in Toronto. And as long as one looked at it from within the warm interior of the home, the snowscape was so beautiful!
Being housebound has its plus points too… one can take up any of those projects filed away for ‘one of these days’… or one could bake! On a cold day what could be better than the fragrance of sugar and chocolate and warm caramel wafting through the house? So that is what I did… baked brownies!
And brownie goodness is something that one needs to spread around. Distributing brownies to friends is not only good karma, but good calorie control strategy too! 🙂 And one of the friends who tasted the brownies wanted the recipe. No recipe can be complete without some pictures. So just to get some pictures, I decided to bake some today. Beginning of a long relaxed weekend, what better time to mess around in the kitchen!
So I’m melting the butter with the chocolate, stirring it round and round… when the idea hit me. Why do brownies always have to be made in a square or rectangle pan? Why not try something different? After all, I claim ‘continuous improvement’ as my middle name. (Some of my people call that ‘won’t leave well enough alone’ too, but what do they know!)
In a jiffy, thought turned into action and the brownies were reborn as brownies cup cakes! But even though I say so myself, they were pretty good… pretty darn good indeed. 🙂
2 sticks unsalted butter, plus more for pan
8 ounces bittersweet chocolate chips
1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
4 large eggs
1 1/2 cups sugar
2 tablespoons instant coffee
2 tablespoons dark rum (optional)
1 1/2 cups walnuts
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
Mix butter and chocolate in a double boiler or in a pan over simmering water. When fully dissolved and smooth and shiny, remove from the heat and allow to cool.
Sift together flour, baking powder, and salt.
Dissolve the coffee in two tablespoons of warm water. Beat the eggs with sugar, dissolved coffee ,and rum, if using.
Add the cooled chocolate mixture and mix well. Add the flour in batches and incorporate into the mix. Add the walnuts.
Spoon into the cupcake pan and bake for 18 to 20 minutes. The brownie cakes are done when a skewer inserted into the center of it comes out clean.
Cool in the pan for five minutes before grabbing the brownie cakes.
17 Jan 2014
As the season demands, I’m all set to make a fruit cake. Fruit cakes are quite rich with lots of dried fruits and nuts. Unfortunately fruit cakes are looked upon with disdain. So here I’m trying to uplift the image of our poor fruit cake with some changes in ingredients and how it’s made.
Boozing the fruits
The tradition of “boozing” the fruits started only a week before. In my cake the fruits & nuts are limited to dark and light raisins, candied peel, dates and cashew nuts as I’m not very keen on using umpteen ingredients.( read no green and red thingies ) I used dark rum; brandy can also be used, as it’s always available at home.
The Christmas fruit cakes are characterised by their dark colour and dense texture and the aroma of the spices added. Cinnamon is my favourite among them. The dark colour is attained by using caramel syrup which can be made at home.
As I prefer a lighter texture for the cake I always separate the egg yolks and whites and add the beaten egg whites at the final stages of mixing the batter. A sprinkling of a couple of tablespoons of rum when the cake is still hot keeps it moist.
Soaking the fruits
|Raisins (both light and dark together)
|Candied Peel (orange)
|Dark Rum/ Brandy
Deseed the dates and mince all the above ingredients. Add rum to the minced fruits and shake them every day. Soaking of fruits can be done a week ahead of baking.
Heat the sugar in a dry pan till it caramelises. Care should be taken not to burn it, otherwise the caramel syrup will become bitter. Once the sugar attains that dark colour slowly pour the warm water and heat it again till all the solid particles get dissolved, if there are any. Keep it aside to cool. Caramel syrup can be made ahead of time.
Powder the whole spices with sugar and mix with the cinnamon powder.
Ingredients for the Batter
||250 grams / 2 cups
||1 ½ teaspoons
|Unsalted butter (at room temperature)
||175 grams / 1 cup
||200 grams/ 1 cup
|Eggs (separated into yolks and whites)
|Rum / Brandy
|Cashew nuts (powdered coarsely)
- Preheat the oven to 180 degree Celsius / 350 degree Fahrenheit.
- Butter and flour a 10 inch round, 3 inch deep cake tin.
- Sift the flour with baking powder and baking soda twice.
- Cream the butter till creamy.
- Powder the sugar and mix with the creamed butter. A handheld electric mixer or a whisk will do the job.
- Once the butter and sugar are blended, egg yolks can be added one at a time and beat well.
- Add vanilla essence, spice powder and caramel syrup at this point and whisk again.
- Add the sifted flour mixture in 3 batches and whisk in between to get a uniform mixture without any lumps. If the consistency of the batter is too thick 2 tablespoons of rum can be added in between.
- Add the soaked fruits, powdered cashew nuts and 2 tablespoons of rum (if it’s not added already) to the batter and mix well.
- Now beat the egg whites to soft peaks and fold into the cake mixture.
- Transfer the batter into the prepared cake tin and bake for 45 – 50 minutes or till a skewer inserted comes out clean.
- Once the cake is out of the oven let it cool on a wire rack. After 5 minutes sprinkle the remaining 2 tablespoons of rum over the cake and let it cool completely.
- Now loosen the sides of the cake from the pan and invert onto a plate.
03 Jan 2014