Tuesday, December 22, 2015

Rich Christmas Chocolate Cake


"I'm dreaming of a White Christmas
 Just like the ones I used to know.."

To have witnessed a white Christmas where the thick blanket of snow covers everything, makes everything look so pure is a dream of mine ever since I was a kid and I used to read or see it in movies. That happy ending when the whole family gathers in the room with crackling fire in a real fireplace with a decorated mantle and all, a beautiful decorated and lit up real christmas tree with tons of gifts wrapped under it and they all have smiling faces and the background music plays a joyful rendition of a classic song and then suddenly the snow starts to fall and they all stare out the window- glad to be together, glad to experience the magic.

Ahhh Hallmark Christmas movies has made me such a sucker for all things corny but I love it! 

So when I saw a version of this cake on Pinterest, I just HAD to make it to have some semblance of a White Christmas in the tropical city that I live in. 

I am not sure about the original version of the cake, but I used my trusted Devil's Food Cake recipe to make a moist, dense chocolate Cake and then worked around it. Since I have already demonstrated on how to make the chocolate cake step by step, I'll just talk here about the frosting part. So lets get cookin'. 




Side note: Don't judge my christmas trees, trees in all shapes and sizes are beautiful! 

Serves: 6-8 slices

Time taken: 50 mins + icing

Complexity: ***


You'll need 

2, 6" round Chocolate cakes, about 1.5" thick
100 gms of whipping cream (atleast 35% fat)
1 1/2 cups of powdered sugar, sifted
1 tsp vanilla extract
100 gms of dark semi sweet chocolate compound/ chips
Pinch of Love

Method

Firstly, make sure the whipping cream has been chilled overnight, so it is easier to whip it up. 

Before making the whipped cream frosting, allow the cakes to cool down completely, give it about 2 hours atleast. 

Meanwhile, take your chocolate compound or chocolate chips and melt them in a microwave or over a double boiler to make it smooth and glossy. 

Once it is melted, pour that chocolate in a piping bag. As you can see here, I went with a ziplock bag. Have your trays lined with a silicone mat or parchment papers so the chocolate doesn't stick. 



Next make a small little hole in the piping bag and start piping christmas trees. I did take a video of this but i deleted it by mistake. I know, I'm such a genius! 

Anyway, you get the idea, just begin by drawing the tree trunk and move to drawing the sides. Also make sure the branches are a little thick so it helps in keeping the tree sturdy. Allow the chocolate trees to cool down in the fridge for 30 minutes before you use them to decorate the cake



Now make an ice bath before you begin your whipping, especially if you live in a hotter climate like India. In the summers, I infact chill my whipping blades as well along with the bowl so that everything is super chilled. 

Pour the cream in a large bowl and start whisking it. 



In about 3-4 minutes of whisking, you should see soft peaks form. To that, add in the sifted sugar and vanilla and whisk again. Now if you want to add in a drop of blue colour or some other flavour, you can do it at this time. 

Once again start whipping for another 3-4 minutes till the cream reaches the desired consistency. Which means that if you remove the whisk from the cream, the peaks that it forms will almost hold their shape. It is now ready to frost the cake. I stopped just before it started to form stiff peaks becuase I wanted to keep the look of the cake quite soft.



On the serving platter, take 1 cake and place it bottom side down. Try and do a neater job of levelling the cake. I was just intent on getting maximum height with my 2 layers so i skimped out on levelling it properly. 



Next top off that cake with about 1/3rd of that freshly whipped, vanilla flavoured, light as a cloud cream. 

Smear it around lightly with a spatula and leave out about 1/2" edge on each side. 



Next place the other cake, bottom side up, so it gives us a flat top, on the cream. No levelling, very precarious. I like living dangerously but I don't necessarily endorse it especially when it comes to cakes! But the texture on that cake though- oh man!! 



Take the whipped cream frosting and cover the entire cake. Now you can keep the cream as thick or as light as you want. I wanted to give the cake a naked cake kind of a look so I thinned out the cream on the sides. But for the top I went with a generous amount and give it a little texture with the spatula itself. How pretty does that look! 

Once you're done with that, take your Chocolate Christmas Trees and line them around the border of the cake. 



Ta-da!! 



Happy White Christmas to all you beautiful folks!! May the festival bring you immense cheer and generosity of spirit and may we all be blessed with kindness every step of the way. 



Indulge! 




P.s: Have you noticed the Snowfall on the blog?! I Love that feature sooooooo much!! Let me know what you think of it






Wednesday, December 09, 2015

Cutout Sugar Cookies


I'm on a sugar high!!! 

Why, you'd ask?! 

Well, didn't you read the blog title?!! 

Sugar cookies, thats why!!! 

And not just any sugar cookies, but Browned Butter Sugar cookies! 

If your home isn't smelling like 'Holidays' by now, then baking these cookies will put you right in that festive mood. 

Let me admit it, I have never made these sugar cookies ever before in my life. I've made cookies, but not this kind. And to be honest, I was quite skeptical about how these might turn out. When I baked them, I breathed a sigh of relief cause they turned out even better than I had expected. And that aroma of browned butter- that makes me weak in my knees. Have you seen my brown butter chocolate chip cookies or as I like to call them- Orgasmic Chocolate Chunk Cookies? Its one of my all time popular posts ever and deservedly so. 

I'm so obsessed with browned butter that I can't have my cookies any other way. The rich nutty caramel-y aroma and flavour that it infuses in my desserts is a new level of awesomeness! Try it and you'll never go back to your old recipes. 



I was a little let down by the icing though. Oh well!! I had elaborate designs (pun intended) on my mind, but I had a terrible headache and shortage of time, which is why I had to go ahead and make do. 

Honestly though, who cares!!! These cookies were gobbled up in no time. I'll have to practice to get it right some other time. The icing was entirely eggless, not even meringue powder or corn syrup or anything else. Just sugar, lemon, milk and vanilla. I think adding egg whites gives it a smoother texture and makes it easier to pipe. How we live and learn. The cookies, in itself though, are sheer perfection!!! Lets get cookin' then, shall we?! 

Makes: 24 cookies

Time taken: 30 minutes + chilling time

Complexity: ***

You'll need

100 gms/ 1 stick butter
1/2/ cup brown sugar
1/3 cup sugar
1 egg
1 tsp baking powder
1 1/4 cup flour
1 tsp vanilla
Pinch of love


Method

We first need to brown the butter. Here's the in detail step by step on how to do that. 

Once we have the butter ready, in a food processor, take the butter



Add the combined sugars to it. 



Add in the egg to the mix along with the vanilla extract



Give it a whizz till you see a few bubbles form on the surface



Whisk in the flour and the baking powder together and add it to the wet ingredients and pulse the processor 



till it all comes together and becomes lumpy. Make sure you scrape down the sides. 




Transfer the dough directly on a plastic wrap and shape it in a round disc as best as you can. It just makes for easier rolling out later. 



I flattened out mine in a disc of about 6" diameter and about an inch thick. 



Cover it up nice and tight and then chill it in the fridge for about 30 minutes. If you live in a colder climate than India, then you probably could skip this step. I needed the dough to firm up a little before I could roll it out, so in the fridge it went. 

After 30 minutes, take it out of the fridge and start rolling it out. Now I cut the disc into half and then rolled it out, but you can do whatever you like. Just remember that it needs to be rolled out till it is 1/2 cm or 1/8th of an inch thick. 



Also take care to roll it out as evenly as possible. If the cookies are slightly thinner in some parts, they will brown quickly in the oven than the rest of the cookies. 

Take your festive christmas cookie cutters and go to town with it! Of you can even use a simple round for the cookies. You do you! The cookies will be beautiful in all shapes and sizes! You can gather the scraps and roll them out again. But keep the chilling procedure in mind. 



Place the cut out cookies on a lined baking tray. Cover with plastic wrap and chill in the fridge for about 30 mins to an hour. This will ensure that the cookies don't lose their shape when baked. 



When you are ready to bake, pre-heat your oven for 5-7 minutes on 150C or 300F.  Place the baking tray in the oven and bake cookies for 7-8 minutes. Keep an eye on them because oven times can vary and you don't want your cookies to turn brown. Oh and if they do, its quite alright, Santa won't mind. 



After they are baked, take the tray out of the oven and allow them to cool for a couple of minutes before very carefully transferring them onto a wire rack to cool completely. The best is if you let them cool overnight before icing. 



For the icing, I am not going into detail as I am not completely satisfied with the end result. But there are tons of sugar icing recipes out there which you can use. If you still want to know how I iced mine, here it is. 

Take 2 cups sugar and powder it. Sift it to ensure there are no lumps. 




To that, add in 1 tbsp lemon juice 



and 3-4 tbsp milk. I think I added less quantity of milk which is why my sugar didn't completely melt and the texture was a little rough (lesson learnt) 



Add in a few drops of vanilla for flavour. You can add any flavour you like here. 



Mix well till it reaches a smoother consistency than this. The icing ribbon should take 10 second before fully getting merged with the icing in the bowl. Then your icing is perfect. 



Take your favourite nozzles and get piping! I piped mine with just zip lock bags and no nozzles. How professional am I?! 



Thats it! Cookies are done!! They sure look festive, don't they?! 



Now that I see them here again, they are not that bad looking as I made them out to be. Infact, I think I'm quite proud of my first attempt!! 



Don't know what it is about these cookies that whenever I see them, this song pops up in my head- 'you better watch out, you better not cry, better not pout, I'm telling you why- Santa Claus is commmiiingg to town'..... Indulge! 

Have a Merry Christmas y'all!! <3 










Thursday, December 03, 2015

No Fuss Chocolate Tarts


Aaaannnnd its here!! Its here!! My favourite month of the year is here!!! 

Make that second favourite- my birthday month- June is my 1st favourite. 

But even as I write this I am debating if that is entirely true. I mean Christmas!!! What else compares to glorious glorious Christmas!!! The fairy lights, the blanket of snow, the spirit of joy, the aroma of spice, the warm and cosy nights, the friends and family coming together, the celebrations and most of all the generosity of spirit.

Did I mention fairy lights?! I am so obsessed with them. Every single day all I want to do is capture some form of fairy lights in or out of the house. My parents think I'm a goner. But fairy lights!!! They make everything magical. Especially around this time of the year. 

To kick off the Christmassy Season, I made something really fuss free and mind bogglingly delicious! I mean if you're not a puddle after eating this truly decadent dessert, then you probably need to reassess your life! 

In all sincerity though, the way this luscious, silky tart melts on your tongue, and then that butter-y chocolate-y crumbly crust lingers on for a bit longer while you savour the chocolate, so sensual, so sexy! This recipe is perfect for a special date night during the festive season, or can be easily doubled to make a larger serving. 



Lets get cookin' then, shall we?! 


Serves: 2

Time Taken: 20 mins + chilling time

Complexity: **


You'll need

4-5 Oreo cookies (cream or chocolate filled)
30 gms butter, softened at room temperature
2/3 cup dark, semi sweet chocolate (atleast 50% cocoa)
3-4 tbsp heavy cream
Strawberries to garnish
Pinch of love


Method

We need to first make n chill our crust for a couple of hours. For the crust, in a food processor, take the oreo cookies. For a really chocolate-y flavour, I used chocolate cream oreos. Feel free to use the plain cream ones if you choose to. I made 2, 5" tartlets with these cookies. If you're making just one, use 4-5 cookies. 



Pulse the cookies till they turn crumbly, like coarse sea salt. This should take about 2-3 minutes. 



I took the butter and chopped it in smaller cubes and then heated it in a microwave for 20 seconds



Till it melted like this



Now add the butter to the oreo crumble in the food processor and give it a whizz. 



The mix should come together to form a lump like this. Don't worry right now if its too wet or dry. 



Transfer the mix onto a greased removable tartlet pan. Greasing ensures that the tart shell will come out easily. And the removable bottom makes it easier to handle. 



Press down the gravelly, oreo butter mix with the back of the spoon so it is evenly spread on and around the tartlet mould. Now we need to chill this for about 10 minutes till the crust solidifies a little. 



For the filling, we need to make a chocolate ganache. For that, cut your chocolate in small chunks. It is easier to do so if the chocolate is at room temperature. 



In a separate bowl, simmer the cream for about a minute till it starts to bubble around the edges. Pour the cream on to the chocolate and allow it to rest while the tart crust is chilling. 



After a couple of minutes, take a spatula and mix the cream and the chocolate. The heat from the cream will melt the chocolate and they come together to make a rich, creamy, chocolatey, glossy, silken ganache. 



Now take the chilled crust from the fridge and start pouring the ganache into it 



Tell me this is not sexy!!  

video


Also, guess who licked the bowl of ganache clean?! 

When the tartlet is filled with the ganache, tap it gentle on the table top to make sure there are no bubbles and you get a smooth shiny top. 



Now comes the most difficult part- the wait! You have to wait for atleast a couple of hours for the ganache to set completely. Otherwise if you cut the tart too soon, the ganache will flow down the sides. On second thoughts, it doesn't seem like a bad idea.... but for the sake of this recipe, chill the tart. I chilled mine overnight. Cover it with a plastic wrap so it stays safe from any other smells. 

Once chilled, remove the tart from the mould. 



Garnish it with some strawberries, cherries, whipped cream, mint, chocolate sauce, caramel sauce, nuts, praline, crumbled oreos, chocolate flakes, whatever floats your boat. I just went ahead with the classic chocolate strawberry combo and I realised once again why this is The best combination ever! 



Now you could very well infuse the chocolate ganache with orange zest or some Kahlua for a variation of flavours. I just enjoyed mine as a beautiful classic. 



I so wanted to dig right in but I had to wait to click the photos!! Okay, no, as much as I liked you to think I made a big sacrifice to take pics, I have to confess, I had a whole other tart ready and I was eating it while I took pics of this! Sneaky, huh?! Can't blame me though!! Blame this chocolatey gorgeousness



Look at the middle of this, soooooooo gooooooddd!! 



Irresistible?! Indeed!! Indulge!