Monday, December 25, 2017

Gingerbread With Milk Chocolate Chunks. Merry Christmas!

Merry Christmas folks! Am sure your  fruit cakes and other Christmas goodies are all ready, waiting to be polished off. And your home is filled the scent of warm spices and all things festive!

Do you love ginger? I always have peeled ginger in my freezer and use it often in cooking, absolutely love Ginger Chutney.  But it is unlikely you will catch me eating candied ginger or other sweets with an assertive ginger flavor. But there are lots of ginger fans out there, so there has to a recipe for Gingerbread on the channel and blog.

Gingerbread is usually made with fresh or ground ginger, spices and molasses for that rich color and flavor. This recipe from Alice Medrich has  an unusual ingredient - milk chocolate, stirred into the batter. She describes the Gingerbread as a ‘pure bolt of ginger heat’ which is what you must expect considering that there is an entire half cup of fresh ginger in the cake! A cake meant for serious ginger lovers. Honey, molasses and brown sugar are the sweeteners which soften the heat, chopped milk chocolate lends it an exotic touch.

The recipe uses light unsulphured molasses. Since I was not able to source it in time, I have used jaggery liquid. You can find it at organic food stores nearby.
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So if you are a die hard fan of intense ginger, do try this recipe! A sweet, very spicy ginger cake with a tender crumb is what you can expect.


  • All-purpose flour - 190 grams / 1.5 cups
  • Salt - ¼ teaspoon
  • Baking soda - 1 teaspoon
  • Light brown sugar - 55 grams /1/4 cup packed
  • Light molasses - 60 ml / 1/4 cup
  • ( I have used jaggery liquid from Happy Healthy Me)
  • Honey - 60 ml / 1/4 cup
  • Egg 1 large /50 grams without shell
  • Fresh ginger, peeled and very finely minced -1/2 cup
  • (or 1 teaspoon ground ginger, read note)
  •   Soft, unsalted butter, cut into pieces -84 grams / 6 tablespoons (3/4 stick)
  • Water- ½ cup/ 120 ml
  • Milk chocolate, cut into small pieces, or milk chocolate chips - 112 grams /4 ounces
  • Whipped cream or creme fraiche for serving, optional
  • Method
  • Preheat oven to 180C /350F. Line and grease a 9’’ round /9’’ square baking tin.Weigh all ingredients and line them up on the counter before you start mixing the batter.
  • Sift together the flour, salt, baking soda and ground ginger twice. Set aside.
  • In a large mixing bowl, combine the honey,molasses and brown sugar. Stir in the fresh ginger. Whisk in the egg.
  • Heat the butter and water in a saucepan until the butter melts
  • Whisk in the hot water and butter into the honey mixture.
  • Gently stir in the flour mixture until smooth
  • Fold in the chocolate chunks
  • Scrape the batter into the prepared pan. Bake for 20-25 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center of the cake comes out clean. Be sure it is not a chunk of gooey chocolate your toothpick has encountered!
  • The baking time may vary slightly in your oven. Do not overbake.
  • Cool the cake in the tin over a cooling rack.
  • When it is still very slightly warm, Invert the cake on the rack, peel the parchment. Reinvert on the serving platter,right side up. Serve warm plain or with a dollop of whipped cream /creme fraiche.
  • Note: Try using mixed spices along with a lesser quantity of ground ginger. I would suggest you halve the recipe and bake in a muffin tin. Taste and tailor the spices and ginger to your taste.

Friday, December 22, 2017

Moist Mini Fruitcakes - Quick and Easy!

As they say, the world is divided into fruitcake lovers and fruit cake haters. I love fruit cake, but haven't been really inspired to bake the 'real traditional' kind of cake. May be I haven't eaten that good a traditional cake yet. May be someday I will get lucky enough to taste one such cake and will try to recreate something similar. Next Christmas perhaps?  Now why do I get the feeling I have been saying this every Christmas?

But I love cakes aromatic with spices and orange, fruit and nuts in every bite. I have previously made this chocolate fruit cake and absolutely love it! I would have posted a picture of it here, but let me wait till I make it again and take some decent pictures. Do try it if you want to eat a 'different' kind of fruit cake, you will bake it again and again!

So I wanted to come up with a fruit cake recipe easy enough for a beginner. Played around with some easy recipes and finally came up with this one. Moist, delicious little cakes which you could bake in 1/2 an hour flat. Provided you have your mincemeat ready. If you haven't made it yet, there still is time to make this Quick Mincemeat. And please do use homemade candied peel, makes a great deal of difference, adds a ton of flavor.
 Ingredients(to make 8 mini cakes)

Please weigh ingredients for best results.

All purpose flour / maida - 65 grams (remove 1 tablespoon from this to toss with the fruit)
Salt - a pinch
Ground cinnamon - 1/4 + 1/8 teaspoon
Ground cloves - 1/8 teaspoon
Baking powder - 3/4 teaspoon
Sugar, powdered - 50 grams (increase if using alcohol to brush the cakes)
Mincemeat - 1/4 cup + 2 tablespoons(recipe link below)
Cashew nuts, toasted and chopped - 50 grams (you can use walnuts, pecans or a combination)
Soft unsalted butter - 38 grams,melted. Weigh and then melt
Milk - 2 tablespoons / 30 ml
Egg - 1 whole / 48 grams without shell
Zest of one really fresh orange

Simple syrup

1/2 cup water + 6 tablespoons granulated sugar

Ingredients (to make an 8'' round cake) Please weigh all ingredients for best results.

Use an 8 x 2 inch round pan. Any pan you use, fill the batter at least 1/2 full , maximum 2/3 full, not more. Bake for 25 - 28 minutes or till a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. The time may vary depending on the oven and pan size.

All purpose flour / maida - 130 grams (remove 2 tablespoons from this to toss with the fruit)
Salt - a pinch
Ground cinnamon - 3/4 teaspoon
Ground cloves - 1/4 teaspoon
Baking powder - 1.5 teaspoons
Sugar, powdered - 100 grams (increase if using alcohol to brush the cake)
Mincemeat - 3/4 cup(recipe link below)
Cashew nuts, toasted and chopped - 100 grams (you can use walnuts, pecans or a combination)
Soft unsalted butter - 76 grams , melted. Weigh and then melt
Milk - 1/4 cup / 60 ml
Eggs - 2 whole / 96 grams without shell
Zest of 2 really fresh oranges

Simple syrup
1 cup water + 3/4 cup granulated sugar


Preheat the oven to 180C.

I like to use mini bundt pan for this, you can also use a muffin tray, the mini ones work best for me. Each cavity in my muffin pan here is 60 ml /1/4 cup capacity. Make sure you use baking spray thoroughly or the fruit may stick to the pan.

Take out a tablespoon of flour (from the flour in the recipe), toss it with the mincemeat and set aside.

Sift the rest of the flour with sugar, baking powder, salt and spices.

Take the egg and vanilla in a mixing bowl. Grate the orange zest into it.

Whisk in the melted butter and milk

Gently stir in the dry ingredients using a spatula. It is OK if you see some flour here and there at this point.

Gently fold in the mincemeat until well combined. Do not over mix or the cakes will be tough.

The batter will be thick,lots of dried fruit and nuts held together wit some batter.

Fill the batter in the muffin tray,about 2/3 full.

Bake 12-14 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. The baking time may vary depending on your oven and size of the baking tin.

If there is any batter left over, fill it in another muffin tray and keep it in the refrigerator until baking time. Bake within an hour of mixing it. Fill any empty cavities with a couple of tablespoons of water for even baking.

You may need to increase the baking by a couple of minutes for these.

While the cakes are baking, make the simple syrup, simply heat the water and sugar together. Set aside.

Once the cakes are baked,remove from the oven. Let cool in the pan for 2-3 minutes. (If baking in a large pan, once baked, cool the cake in the pan for 10 minutes. Invert on the cooling rack,poke holes, and then brush the simple syrup.Re invert on the serving platter, poke holes and brush more syrup)

Place a baking sheet under the cooling rack. Invert the cakes on to it.

Poke some holes in the cakes using a toothpick.

When the cakes are still warm,brush them with the syrup, this will keep them moist. Do not skip this step.

As soon as the cakes cool, wrap them in clingfilm and store airtight. They should keep well for 2 days.

The spices will be a little more assertive a few hours after baking. So wait for a couple of hours, taste and then alter the amount of spices as needed.

Thursday, December 21, 2017

10 Delectable & Easy Last Minute Christmas Recipes!

Just 3 more days and it is Christmas! If you are like me, you will sit up with a start, like the day has just been announced. And then run around like a headless chicken. No store bought stuff, the baker's ego just can't take it. Moreover, you can't miss the pleasure of baking those goodies at home. 

The need of the hour - quick, easy, delectable. You know the kind which can be made with just a whisk and spatula. Reluctant beginner or an impatient, seasoned baker, here are a few recipes for you, hope you will try these!

1.Candied Orange Peel  - You need to start with this! Trust me when I say, homemade is amazing! You can make this first and store in the fridge for a month or until you decide in which recipe these will go in.

Watch me make it:
Read recipe:


2. Candied Orange Slices: A variation of the above, these are delish and pretty enough to gift!   Watch me make it here

3. Quick Mincemeat: Alright, you had all intentions to soak that stash of fruit 3 months ago.
It is human to procrastinate and then completely forget all about it. Fret not, this fruit mix will come together in 10 minutes and will keep well upto 3 days. You can make it with or without alcohol. This can be used in fruit cake or mince pies, you can get creative and use it in other things as well. Read recipe

4. 5 Minute No Cook, Cashew Marzipan: For those pretty, festive decorations for the cake. No tricky sugar syrups, so it is an almost no-fail thing(if you carefully follow the instructions of course) 

Watch my Video:
Read full recipe

5. Gingerbread Men: What is Christmas without cookies? This easy dough is quick and you can use it up in 2 days, when time and patience permit. I really like this way of rolling the  dough. Do watch the video here

6. Chocolate Fruit Cake: Sounds weird interesting right? But it tastes so good (please don't go by the picture)! If you have that homemade candied peel in the fridge, you absolutely must try this! Watch the video


7. Egg Free Dark Chocolate Truffles: Melt-in-the-mouth dark chocolate pleasure. Play around with the basic recipe, these make  great homemade gifts. Watch the video

8. Snowball Truffles: Creamy White Chocolate Truffles rolled in coconut. You can stuff them with your favorite toasted nuts, kind of homemade Raffaello. Get the recipe here

9. Stir and Mix Moist Fruit Cakes : Not your traditional boozy fruit cake, but delectable nonetheless! Nothing to stop you from brushing some rum over them if you want to make it boozy. These will get baked in 15 minutes, so you can be done and dusted with these and move on! Watch the video

10.Moist Whole Wheat Carrot Cake: An amazingly good cake with warm spices.No one will know it is 100% whole wheat unless you tell them! 
Watch video:
Read full recipe:

And a couple more slightly involved recipes if you feel upto it.

11.Whole Wheat Decorating Cookies: Egg free, crisp cookies with translucent centers. Time to humor the kids! Read recipe recipe

12. Winter Solstice Cookies: Chocolate cookies with caramel centers. Read recipe

13. Chocolate Almond Roulade : A dense chocolate and almond roll filled with coffee whipped cream. Can't be bad right? Read recipe

14. Meringue Mushrooms: Light and crisp, these will delight the kids! Plus you can use them to decorate the Bulche De Noel. Read recipe

15. Mince Pies: Spicy Mincemeat encased in light and buttery pastry. While you are at it, make some extra pie dough and freeze for later use. Read here

If you like what you see, please share the post. Hope you will try a few of these recipes, I would love to hear from you. Happy Baking!

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


  • 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!

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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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

  • 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.

  • 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!