Wednesday, October 18, 2017

Quick Kesar Kalakand (Without Condensed Milk). Happy Diwali!

Hello folks! Surely you have all those sweets and festive munchies ready and stored away in boxes, waiting to be devoured? Surely all those delectable sweets you are seeing on your social media feed and phone are just ideas for the next festival? You have planned and prepared well ahead, just adding those final touches to the festive spread?  If you are thinking I am someone like that, sorry to disappoint you! 

Sometimes, I forget that I have to actually make something and not just drool over all those food images on my screen. It is most of the times the last minute mad dashing around to make ‘something at least’ as it is Diwali.

If you are like me, the tantalizing aromas from the neighbors’ kitchen begin to tease your senses and you are looking for one of those quick and easy recipes. Hey, no tricky ones okay? Good enough to make you and your family happy.  Decent enough to post on social media, impressive enough to call and tell your mother and sister all about it.

Good news! I have one such recipe here, perfect for procrastinating foodies.  Quick Kalakand, courtesy Tarla Dalal. Kalakand is traditionally made by cooking milk down for an hour or two. You will also find recipes for quicker versions of this sweet using condensed milk.  I sometimes find that condensed milk makes sweets too sweet, so tried this one.

In this recipe, milk powder, cream, grated paneer and sugar are simply cooked together for 10-15 minutes. I was a bit skeptical but found it pretty good, so had to share with you. But of course, the taste will not be exactly the same as the traditional version, but close enough!

Ingredients (to make  8-9 pieces). All ingredients measured using standard measuring cups. The recipe can easily be doubled.

Milk powder – ¾ cup
Soft paneer, crumbled – 1 cup plus 2 tablespoons
(I used fresh, homemade)
Sugar  - ½ cup / 100 grams
Fresh cream ( I used Amul 25% fat) ¾ cup / 180 ml 
Saffron  - a generous pinch (soaked in 1 tablespoon hot milk)
Cardamom powder – ¼  teaspoon (optional)
Sliced pistachios and almonds for garnish

  • Start with making the paneer (if using homemade, see method below)

  • Grease a small thali (about 4'') lightly with ghee.  Alternatively, use small pretty silicon molds, you can simply unmold the pieces once set.

  • Take the milk powder, paneer, cream, saffron and sugar in a wide non-stick pan. Cook on medium heat stirring constantly for 10-15 minutes. 

  • The mixture will be liquidy to start with, but will gradually come together, leaving the sides of the pan.  Test taste for sweetness. I like kalakand slightly moist so prefer to take it off the heat earlier than later. If you overcook, it will dry out.
  • If you don’t need much convincing that it is fine to eat kalakand with a spoon as long as it is delicious, spoon the mixture into small dessert bowls.  If particular about cutting it into squares, transfer the mixture to the thali.  Sprinkle the pistachios and almonds. 
  • Cover with cling film and smooth the surface.  Chill for 2-3 hours, this makes it easier to cut the kalakand into pieces.

  • Best served at room temperature if you ask me. Take it out of the refrigerator about ½ hour before serving.  Leftovers can be stored airtight in the refrigerator for a couple of days.

To make the paneer.  Heat 1-liter full-fat milk, bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to low. Add 1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lime juice, stir till the milk solids separate and you see clear whey. Drain immediately and wash well under running water so the lemony smell is gone. Drain the cottage cheese for about 15-30 minutes or till most of the whey drains away and then proceed with the recipe.  Use this time to prep the rest of the ingredients. 

Wish you a very Happy Diwali! 

Friday, October 6, 2017

Easy Dark Chocolate Bundt Cake - It Can't Get Easier Than This!

Lack of peace and quiet, the pandemonium our house constantly is  - you have read about these and is all coming out your ears now. The kids now have holidays and are with their grand parents in our home town since the past few days. After all the excitement of packing and getting ready to leave with Granny, the son had cold feet at the last moment, but my 4-year-old daughter surprised us by waving away enthusiastically and gleefully (a little too much for my comfort!) from the train. The one who came home teary-eyed was me

"You got to teach them to fly'' was the amused hubby's philosophical remark on the silent drive back home. By the next morning I was excited about all that I could do in these few days without having to worry about the kids. Bake, blog, read up, catch a movie, a quiet dinner out with hubby.. oh yes!! In came the maid who does the dishes and washes clothes for me. She remarked how silent the house was without them.. Errr. yes its trying to sip and enjoy my coffee and reading my baking book as early as at 8 a.m. My other house help, the neighbor, the vegetable vendor - all of them had something along similar lines to say.. sighing and 'tching' too much and too often for comfort. Well!!

Though I have hardly been home, I find the house all too silent when we come back, not much to clean up after. For all the grand plans I had to bake and blog about, there is nobody to hover over my shoulders as I take the pictures and then give me a thumbs up after eating. Feels weird and disconcerting, is this a small glimpse of the empty-nest syndrome during the later years? Funny, am now not seriously looking forward to see the kids growing up fast now!

Watch my video! 

Did I just say I have nobody to bake for? Well, this is the time to bake a couple of batches of brownies for the brother's colleagues, my colleagues, my cousins, freeze some of it for the kids, make some cookie dough, make home-made cake and bread mixes. These can really help get things in the oven real fast. And the frozen stuff would be great to feed the kids when they come back, my son is surely going to have questions for me when he 'checks' my blog for what I have been baking while he was away! 

What freezes well, awaits and this one comes from my drafts which means something they have already eaten, sparing me the sad and incredulous ''You baked this while we were away?''  The joys of being a blogger Mom!

Here is a cake which is really easy, tasty, can be put together with minimum fuss, slices beautifully and can feed a good number of people too. The beginner's perfect entertaining cake? Not just for the baking part, but also decorating it - by just slathering on some cooled ganache, garnish with some bright cherries or strawberries and you can confidently let that party crowd in!

 Recipe from Citrus And Candy. Please weigh ingredients for best results

Unsalted butter - 150 grams, cut up
Brown sugar - 220 grams 
Good quality dark chocolate, chopped - 100 grams
Cocoa powder - 50 grams
Instant coffee - 1 teaspoon (optional)
Milk - 160 ml
Large eggs, 3 / 150 grams (without shell) at room temperature
Plain flour -170 grams

Baking powder - 1.5 tsp
Baking soda - 1/2 tsp
 Salt - tiny pinch

Ganache : Recipe here. 

Method : Pre heat oven to 170 degrees C / 340 degree F.  Grease your bundt pan thoroughly.( I have used a  7.5 cup pan from Alda. Check out more of my baking product recommendations on my Amazon store  here) You could use baking spray or grease with ghee and dust with flour. Tap to remove excess flour. 

You could also use an 8'' or 9'' square tin lined with baking parchment, grease and flour the sides. 

Mise en place .

Sift the flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt , set aside.

Take the butter, milk, cocoa, sugar, coffee and chocolate in a heavy saucepan.. Heat on low till the chocolate, butter and sugar melt completely and you have a smooth mixture.. You could do also do this in a large glass bowl in the microwave. Allow the mixture to cool. 

Add the eggs to the chocolate mixture  one by one and whisk to combine. Sift over the flour mixture and then gently fold it in. Scrape batter into tin and bake for 25 -30 minutes or until a skewer inserted in the center comes out clean. 

Do not over bake. Cool in tin for 10 minutes then turn out and cool completely on a wire rack.

Invert the cake tin on the cake, then re-invert on the serving platter and pour the ganache. (Watch video above to get a better idea) 

If you end up with an overbaked slightly dryish cake, brush the cake with some simple syrup.
Heat 1/4 cup sugar and 1/2 cup water, bring to a boil and cool.

Watch my video How to make ganache 

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