Monday, December 11, 2017

Zesty Date & Walnut Filling - No added sugar!



No much of a looker, huh? You bet! But taste comes first always. Plus there can never be too many fillings in your repertoire. This one happens to be added sugar free, exotic and aromatic with the orange zest in it. You can use it to sandwich those barely sweet cookies, as a filling in your mini pies and tarts, in your sweet rolls or strudel. Who says Christmas has to be all about mincemeat /fruit mix in just about everything? 


This recipe from Alice Medrich is super simple and fast. It is infinitely adaptable, so customize it to your taste and what you have in your pantry. The filling can be made ahead and stored in the refrigerator at least a month, she says. But given the power situation in our country, let us make it 10-15 days at a conservative estimate. 


The recipe has just a few ingredients, so make sure you use the freshest and the best quality ones,it makes a world of difference! 

Watch my video here


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Date And Walnut Filling

Ingredients: To make 2 cups of filling

Moist, soft dates, pitted and chopped - 2 cups
Soft unsalted butter - 2 tablespoons
Pinch of salt
Water - 3-4 tablespoons (plus more as needed)
2 fresh Oranges, preferably organic
Walnuts - toasted and chopped - 1 cup

Method:


  • Take all ingredients except the walnuts in a heavy saucepan. Grate the zest of the oranges directly into the saucepan.
  • Cook on low heat until the dates are extremely soft and mushy.
  • Mash with a potato masher to make a paste.
  • Let all the water evaporate, but make sure the filling doesn't dry out. We need it moist.
  • Take it off the heat, cool completely before stirring in the walnuts. That will ensure they retain their crunch.
  • Store airtight in the refrigerator for 10-15 days. 
The filling tastes great as it is straight from the jar, I can tell you that as I have been eating spoonfuls now and then. Gives me more ideas to try, but that will have to wait. 

Try this soon and let me know how you liked it. In the meantime,do check more Christmas recipes in my playlist here. While you are at it, please do not forget to subscribe to my channel!

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Saturday, December 9, 2017

5 Minute No Cook Easy Marzipan( Egg free)


I am not much of a decorator and steer clear of any kind of decoration. Two reasons. One I am terrible at it ( the pictures below will tell you). Two I have the patience of a 1-year-old. Oddly,during Christmas and I want to add those little touches to my cakes. I do not like fondant as I find it too sugary. Marzipan is on the sweeter side too, but tastes pretty good as well. I do not have to buy a whole lot of fondant and waste it, I can make marzipan in 5 minutes. So it works well for me.

During Christmas season, it is good to have some nice play dough kind of marzipan to make those little carrots or pumpkins or stars for your cakes, it will instantly make them more attractive and festive. You will find different recipes using different methods for making marzipan.


There are recipes with egg, with corn syrup and no-cook ones, varying proportions of sugar and nuts.There are recipes for marzipan meant for modelling which can be used in wedding cakes etc. In this recipe, there is no cooking, no tricky sugar syrups. Marzipan is made with almonds, cashew or even pistachios. Almonds need to be blanched, dried completely and then processed of course, but with cashews it is even more easier and faster.

Here is a simple one inspired by one of Rose Beranbaum's recipes. This is fairly easy and worked well for me, but as always details make a difference. 

Please do read the recipe / watch the video carefully and follow the recipe correctly for the best results.


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Ingredients

Cashew nuts - 38 grams, crushed into small bits this is important. These need to be at room temperature. You don't want them hot or cold from the refrigerator.
Powdered Sugar - 86 grams 
Liquid glucose - 26 grams / 1 tablespoon plus 1 tsp (read note)
Water - 1/2 teaspoon pus 1/2 teaspoon if needed.
Food color (optional)
Flavoring like cardamom powder or vanilla or orange zest - whatever goes with the flavor of your cake

Method:
  • Take the powdered sugar and cashew bits in the smallest jar of your mixer jar.
  • Grind in short spurts on the lowest speed. It is most important to grind the nuts right for best results. 
  • For more details on grinding nuts, please watch my video below.
  • Redistribute the mixture using a spoon. Grind again in short spurts. We need to grind until it is fine, but still powdery. Do not over process or it will become oily.
  • Once you grind the nuts to a fine powder, sift once to remove any largish pieces of nuts, this will give you a smoother marzipan. If adding any flavoring, add it now.
  • Add the liquid glucose and mix with your hands, it will give you a better feel of the consistency.
  • Add a tiny tiny bit of water. Be extremely careful here, add 1/2 tsp at a time. Even just a little bit of extra water and you may end up with soup. You will need to add more sugar till you get the right consistency and your marzipan will become too sweet.
  • At this stage,it will look a a bit crumbly, but it will come together. Knead lightly. Do not overwork or it will become oily. Pinch out smaller portions if you need marzipan of different colors.
  • Wrap in clingfilm and store airtight. This should keep well in the fridge for a few days. You can also try freezing it. 
  • Bring it to room temperature before kneading it gently, that is really important.

In the worst case, if your marzipan becomes oily or very sticky, you can add a tiny amount of cornflour and mix. It will not taste as good, but should work fine.
Bring marzipan to room temperature and roll between two sheets of baking parchment, and cut into shapes or mold as needed.

Please do try this and keep it ready, you will find it handy in the Christmas chaos.

Please note
You can easily get liquid glucose at most baking supplies stores, buy the smallest box. You can also check online.

Weighing / measuring liquid glucose is messy, so line your counter with plastic sheet, dip a hot spoon into the jar of liquid glucose and weigh.Weigh this as we as that is easier than measuring it. To measure, lightly oil the measuring spoon and level with a wet finger.

If grinding nuts for the first time,please watch my video here.


Monday, December 4, 2017

Snowball Truffles


So it is officially Christmas season! I don't really want to get started(again!) on all the chaos around, am sure it is all coming out of your ears. Oh but let me just tell you, I absolutely love doing this! I probably would have done it all cheerfully if I had more hours in a day, had double the energy I have and my kids were half as exasperating as they are! One teenager, the other tween and the ever busy entrepreneur husband. I surely can do with a little more quietude. Tell me you are sailing in the same boat?

I hope to come up with a few recipes for Christmas this season, starting with these melt in your mouth White Chocolate Truffles. I am going to be calling these as Snowball Truffles as they sound more Christmassy that way. Not that it matters a lot, as long as it tastes good, what's in a name anyway?

If you are looking for Christmas gift ideas, you could try these for white chocolate lovers and kids. Do check out more ideas, please find the links below.
Truffles are very easy to make, convenient as they can be made ahead. They are also very adaptable, so you can customize it as you please. But please do remember, it is important to weigh the chocolate carefully, measure the cream carefully. Less of chocolate or more of cream and you may have trouble shaping them.


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White Chocolate Truffles. Adapted from here

Ingredients to make 18-20 bite size pieces
White chocolate, chopped fine - 225 grams
(do not use chips or compound chocolate)
Fresh cream - 1/3 cup / 80 ml, I have used Amul 25%, read note
Soft unsalted butter - 1 tablespoon
Instant coffee - 1 teaspoon(optional)
Toasted hazelnuts for stuffing in (optional)
Desiccated coconut for rolling(optional) You could also use toasted almonds, pistachios or cashew nuts.
Method:

  • Heat the cream in a heavy saucepan over low heat. Keep stirring to prevent it from sticking to the pan and avoid burning.
  • Once it starts bubbling, stir in the butter, let it melt. If using coffee add that as well.
  • Add in the chocolate, stir until melted completely.
  • Take it off the heat,whisk until completely smooth. A mini whisk works great.
  • Transfer the mixture to a shallow container. Cool completely, cover and refrigerate for 2-3 hours or overnight if that is more convenient.
  • The mixture will firm up. Scoop it out using a melon baller or two spoons.
  • Roll into balls between your palms, roll in the coconut.
  • Store air tight in the refrigerator keeping  pieces of parchment in between.
  • Take them out from the fridge 15 minutes before serving.
Do try these soon, it will come in handy for that Christmas party or any other occasion!
Oh yes, please do subscribe to my channel if you haven't yet, I will back with more recipes and videos soon!