Monday, February 18, 2013

Strawberry and Chocolate Bavarian Mousse Cake

What was the mood and it was berry-berry soft , with Valentine’s Day just gone by, the fridge had a couple of fresh Strawberry packs, these ofcourse were left after I had finished baking a batch of ‘Strawberry Nutella Cookies’ for my friend and ofcourse a dessert for my Valentine.

Strawberries crave for chocolate and needless to say the combination is just decadent. You can’t just keep your eyes off the ‘rouge’ colour and the promising luscious, sweet  and juicy taste. La Fraise can never disappoint you.

You may not know but you may have fallen in love with strawberries dipped in chocolate.

The sign of strawberries and you know the summer is just about to set in. Thanks to some very smart cultivators in India who realised two decades ago, that Strawberries can be grown in the hills of this tropical country, we have today abundant of fresh strawberries coming our way.

The time was just right, to bake this cake it was the weekend, complimented with a lovely weather and few showers that late afternoon.

I doubted that my new 9 inch mould ring will fit my round baking tin. It was the first time I was using the ring, and I just wished it fit my round baking tin.And guess what it just fit right.

I could have made this cake with the heavy mousse I usually make but I decided to do this with the Bavarian Cream because it is very light. 

The extra layer of strawberries and cream makes this cake heavy and I think the Bavarian Cream was the right choice.

A luscious and moist cake with Bavarian Cream, fresh  strawberries and dark chocolate


Chocolate Cake
4 eggs
125g caster sugar
90g flour, sifted
30g cocoa
25g unsalted butter, melted

Strawberry Cream Filling
150ml whipped cream
2tbsp powdered sugar
150gm strawberries, chopped

Bavarian Cream
150gm dark chocolate, chopped
400ml low fat cream
3 tsp gelatin
30gm sugar
50ml milk
3 egg yolks
1 tsp Vanilla Extract or ½ Vanilla Bean

Chocolate Glaze
150gm dark chocolate, chopped
200ml low fat cream
1tbsp Corn Syrup


Strawberries, sliced or the sides an few for the top of the cake.
Cocoa powder
Icing Sugar


Chocolate Cake
Prepare a 9 inch baking tin with parchment paper in the bottom and butter the sides.
Pre-heat the oven to 180 degrees.
Sift the flour and cocoa. Mix  well.
Whisk the eggs and sugar together, and then beat over a bain-marie for 8-10 minutes until it doubles in volume and becomes pale yellow, leaving golden ribbon trails. Once it has doubled in volume, remove from water, and continue beating with an electric beater or a stand mixer till the mixture becomes cool.
Gently fold in the sifted flour and cocoa.
Add the melted butter through the sides of the mixing bowl without disturbing the volume of the batter.
Pour the batter into the prepared tin.
Bake for 25-30 minutes until the sponge is firm to touch, and teaster comes out clean. Cool the cake in the tin to 10-15 minutes.

Strawberry Cream Filling
Combine the strawberries, sugar and whipped cream, to prepare a filling.

Bavarian Cream
Dissolve gelatin in a ¼ cup of cold milk.
Place chocolate in a large bowl.
Heat cream, milk and half the sugar until simmering, make sure you donot bring this to boil. Whisk the egg yolks with the remaining sugar, add one-third of the hot milk mixture over the eggs whisking continuously until well combined. Pour this  mixture back into the pan with the remaining milk mixture. Cook over low heat, stirring constantly until the cream is thickened and coats the back of the spoon.

Remove from heat immediately and stir the gelatin into this hot milk mixture well, then strain this over the chocolate. Stir until smooth. Cool this mixture. You may cover the mixture with a cling film close to the mixture to avoid formation of thick layer.

Chocolate Glaze

Place chocolate in a bowl.
Heat the cream and honey in a pan until simmering. Pour over the chopped chocolate and stir until smooth.

Assembling the cake

Cut the sponge horizontally into 2 layers. Place in the dessert ring on individual serving platter. Top this first layer of cake with the strawberries and cream mix, followed by the second layer of cake.

Line the sides of the dessert ring with sliced strawberries, gently pour the Bavarian chocolate Cream into the ring and gently level it. Cover and refrigerate overnight, or atleast for 4 hrs before serving.

Glaze the Mousse with the prepared chocolate glaze and pour over the set Bavarian mousse.

Chill for another hour, dust the edges with cocoa powder , garnish the cake with strawberries,  and dust with icing sugar to give it that soft snowy look.

Unmold from the dessert ring. 

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Remembrance of Things Past

"She sent for one of those squat, plump little cakes called "petites madeleines," which look as though they had been moulded in the fluted valve of a scallop shell. 
I raised to my lips a spoonful of the tea in which I had soaked a morsel of the cake.... a shudder ran through me and I stopped, intent upon the extraordinary thing that was happening to me"

If there is something France has got me mad about it is Madeleines and Macarons.
While I have written and made Macarons earlier, it’s time for Madeleines. These small shell-shaped traditional cakes from France are a speciality from the town of Commercy, in the North of the Lorraine region of France. 

Famous for its shape, smooth texture, and super softness the Madeleine de Commercy cookie has become a classic as an in between munch or with a cup of tea or coffee. It is certainly not a food for the weak hearts. 

Yes, because dollops of butter goes into making these buttery and soft melting in the mouth cookies.

These delightful cookies are believed to have been made first by a maid named Madeleine who worked for the Duke of Laorraine – Stanislas Leczinski in the late 1700s so the people of Lorraine believed. She made them for the first time for a Royal Banquet in the town of Commercy. When the cookies were appreciated and loved by all the Duke decided to thank Madeleine and name these cookies ‘Madeleine’

Made with very simple ingredients such as eggs, sugar, butter and flour. Orange blossom or lemon rind is added while baking to enhance the aroma and flavour. Those irresistible little cookies have been baked in scallop-shape moulds since their creation, the moulds are special with specific striped indentations on them giving the Madeleine a crisp exterior and extremely moist inside because of the egg whites and butter.

I baked the classic madeleine as well as a dark chocolate chip madeleine. My other favourite also includes orange flavoured Madeleine with a soft chocolate center. This recipe is an adaptation from Julia Child's Kitchen  by Julia Child. 
2 eggs
2/3 cup sugar
Pinch of salt
1 cup Flour 
120 gms Butter
1/2 Vanilla Essence
Grated zest of half a lemon
3 drops of lemon juice (optional as I avoid this )

Extra butter and flour for greasing and dusting the Madeleine moulds. This recipe makes 24 Madeleines. 

Pre-heat Oven at 190 degrees centigrade. Combine flour and sugar in a mixing bowl and add three quarters of the eggs.  Beat vigorously with a wooden spoon to form a pale and ribbony consistency.  Set aside for 10 minutes.  Meanwhile, bring all of the butter to a boil until it begins to brown very lightly.  Combine 1 1/2 tablespoons of the butter and tablespoon of flour in a small bowl and set aside.

Stir the rest of the butter over cold water until cool but still liquid.  Beat the remaining bit of egg into the batter and stir in the cool butter.  Stir in the salt, vanilla, grated lemon zest, lemon juice (and bergamot if using).  Cover the batter, and set aside in the refrigerator for at least one hour.  Meanwhile, paint the Madeleine cups with a light coating of the browned butter and flour mixture, wiping up any pools that form in the bottom. 
Set aside or refrigerate if the  kitchen is  .
Using a spoon or a cookie scoop drop batter into each Madeleine cup.  Do not spread the batter to fill the mold.  Repeat with remaining batter and mold.  Set pans on the middle rack and bake for about 15 minutes.  The batter will spread on its own to fill the cups and a hump will gradually form in the middle.Unmold onto a rack, humped side up.
Dust madeleines with Icing Sugar.

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Tiramisu - The Pick-me-up dessert

If there is something that seasoned travellers in my opinion have to thank, it is the Italians for their food. Their food has found its way into the hearts of millions around the world. Pastas and warm flaky, crisp crusts of pizzas are just saviours when you’re away at work and less on time. I feel so comfortable when I order a Pizza Quattro Formaggi or a Ravioli Pasta in Cream Sauce. And you know what’s coming next to finish the meal. The Tiramisu.

Tiramisu is the quintessential and most popular Italian Dessert. The literal meaning of Tiramisu is ‘pick-me- up’. 

This is partially because of the caffeine in it and partially because it elevates your spirits to a different level all together. Invented and first made in Northern Italy during 1960’s -70’s in small town away from Venice called Treviso before the dessert became popular in whole of Italy later being shared on Menus of the world.

The classic recipe calls for ladyfingers biscuits soaked in bitter strong espresso coffee, mascarpone-zabaglione cream (this is Italian custard made with egg yolks, sugar and Marsala Wine) and topped with and bitter cocoa powder. The way we make today is more like the trifle, between layers of soft sponge cake dipped in coffee and Marsala topped with custard that is mixed with mascarpone cheese. And garnished with cocoa powder.

For my version of Tiramisu I use Espresso coffee along with a coffee liqueur and Marsala wine. You’re lucky if you can find Marsala in India, because it was difficult for me to find one and I got mine from Italy. If you don’t find Marsala Wine you may use any coffee liqueur like Bailey’s Irish Cream, KahlĂșa, Amarula, or Illy’s Espresso Liqueur will do.


Seperated Egg Sponge Cake 250 gms or 10' sheet 
6 Egg Yolks
4 Egg Whites
150 gms Sugar
350 gms Mascarpone Cheese
3 cups strong espresso coffee
60 ml Coffee Liquor (Kahlua)
60 ml Marsala

Beat together the yolks and half the quantity of sugar. Once thick and creamy add the cheese and mic for jus 2-3 mins on medium, do not over beat it otherwise this mix might curdle. Keep mix aside. Now beat egg whites with sugar until stiff peaks. Incorporate the egg whites into the yolk mixture and gently fold. 

Mix the liquids (marsala,liqueur and coffee) in a bowl and keep aside. Now layer a thin sheet of cake in a deep tray of about 8-9 inches, preferable rectangular or square deep dish. Soak the cake with a brush completely with this coffee and liqueur mix. No pour the mascarpone batter. Place another layer of cake and repeat the process one more time. Finally topping the dish with a thick layer of mascarpone cheese. Dust a good layer of bitter cocoa powder. Refridgerate for atleast 6 hours before serving.

Monday, October 22, 2012

Fruit & Nut Brittle

Wanted to give a crunchy start to the upcoming Dushera and Diwali festivities. My mom and me start to make chocolates for all our friends and relatives. This time around we wanted to experiment chocolate with crunchy fruit and nut brittle.

Working with hot sugar can be tricky and if you are careless like i was, you may end up burning yourself bigtime. So please be very careful when you work with caramelising sugar.

I mixed all nuts and dry fruits to prepare this brittle, you may choose to make one with almonds only,hazelnuts only, peanuts.You may choose and pop in the fruit and nut mix of your choice.

Ingredients :

350 gms of Sugar
300 gms of Mixed Nuts
2 tbsp Water
1tsp lemon juice

Roast all your nuts in a pre-heated oven for 8 minutes at 180C. Now place the sugar in a heavy bottomed pan add , water and lemon, dissolve this mix until the sugar completely caramelised and you see the colour change to a honey colour. Now add the roasted nuts, mix and immediately pour the mix on a greased  marble top or greased tray. Level the mix with help of the rolling pin. Please be extremely careful, because this is when I burnt my poor finger with a serious burn.

After this step you may slide a pizza cutter to form diamond or square shapes while the mix is still hot so that its easier to break off the desired shaped when the brittle cools down.

Once cooled break into the desired shape. And the brittle is ready...why wait... just bite into the crunch.

Saturday, August 25, 2012

Chocolate Pistachio Mousse Cake

This dessert is a beautiful pairing of Dark Chocolate with Pistachios. Not only is the color contrast of the deep brown and green vibrant, but the taste is also heavenly. 

The dessert is more inspired from the Salzburger 'Mozartkugel' and also the Buche Pistache-Chocolat.

I think the highlight of my Cake was to decorate them with the fine and GOLD LEAVES, or as we call them "SONE KE VARAKH". I had to travel all the way to the Old Town to fetch these directly from the makers of  the Gold leaves from their workshop. It was an interesting visit, and quite a learning.

Glittery foils of Silver and Gold are made in Hyderabad's Old Town Area, just adjacent to the city's iconic landmark and monument the Charminar.  The gold and silver foil are known as Varakh. 

As I parked my car and went closer to the workshops where these are manufactured and sold in the bustling lanes of Charminar I was getting closer to sounds of hammering , the sound almost like when you keep hitting your hand against an empty tin or can. Varakh is known to add glitter to Indian sweets (mithai), supari (betel nut), paan (betel-leaf), and fruits.

The man told me that to make 160 foils of silver, layers of leather are placed together to form a book of 171 leaves. Then, small and thin strips of silver are placed between the leaves and hammered for long hours almost 3 hours. After continual hammering, extremely  micro thin silver foils of 3 x 5 inches are formed.  The fragile silver foils are then removed from the leather book and placed between papers before they are sold.

Flourless Dark Chocolate Cake
55 g dark chocolate45 g butter - softened50 g sugar1/2 t cocoa powder2 egg yolks3 egg whites
Melt chocolate and keep aside.
Add melted chocolate and whisk until just mixed.
Whip egg whites with remaining sugar until firm.
Fold the egg whites to the chocolate mixture. 
Pour the batter onto a flat tray and bake at 170 degrees for 15 minutes.
Leave to cool, and cut into 8 discs to fit the base of the cake and 8 smaller ones to go inside the cake.

Chocolate Mousse

50 g egg yolks25 g sugar25 ml water
100 g dark chocolate - melted
200 ml cream - whipped stiff and refrigerated
Whisk egg yolks well together.
Bring sugar and water to the boil. Pour into the egg yolk in a steady stream, whisking all the while. Keep whisking until the mixture has increased significantly in volume and lightened in colour.
When the egg mixture has cooled to room temperature, add to the cream.
Fold lightly with a large spatula until partially incorporated.
Add one quarter to the melted chocolate and whisk well to incorporate.
Add the rest of the egg and cream mixture to the chocolate and fold with a large whisk until just incorporated.

Creme Mousseline Pistache
120 g butter
240 ml whole milk
3 egg yolks
65 g sugar
20 g custard powder
40 g pistachio paste (if you dont have this ground around 100 gms of Pistachio to a very fine paste)
Whisk egg yolks and sugar until slightly pale. Add the cornstarch and whisk well.
Heat up milk to a gentle simmer. Pour a third of the hot milk over the egg mixture, whisk together and pour whole thing back into the saucepan. Bring to a boil while stirring and mixing well with a whisk.
Remove from heat, transfer to a mixing bowl and allow to cool for 10 minutes. Add half of butter, cover with plastic wrap (on contact to prevent a skin forming) and allow to cool completely.
When cream is cool, whip in pistachio paste and remaining butter until smooth.

Chocolate Glaze
150 ml whipping cream
50 g glucose
130 g sugar
60 g unsweetened cocoa powder
2.5 gelatin leaves

Combine glucose, cream and sugar in a saucepan and bring to a boil.

Add cocoa powder and gelatin and mix well with a whisk.
Strain into a bowl and cover with cling wrap (in contact) and leave to cool and thicken to glazing consistency.

To Assemble
Place mousse into a piping bag with a 10mm tip.
Pipe at the base of moulds and spread with a spatula up to cover the sides.
Add in the smaller discs and cover with a little more mousse.
Place in the freezer to harden slightly.
Pipe in the pistachio mousseline and place the larger discs to cover.

Freeze well
Unmould cakes by submerging the mould slightly in warm water and turning it out onto a tray.
Glaze with a ladle over a grill and tray
Decorate as you desire.

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Shrewsbury Biscuits

Shrewsbury Biscuits or Shrewsbury cake as the Britishers call it is an English dessert, named after Shrewsbury, the county town of Shropshire in England. 

According to Mason & Brown, the authors of the book ' The Taste of Britain ' wrote that Shrewsbury cakes or biscuits were first documented in the 1500's. 

The biscuits were renowned for their texture, being crisp and brittle. A couple of centuries later the Restoration playwright William Congreve used Shrewsbury cakes as a metaphor (“as short as a Shrewsbury cake”) within his play of 1700, ' The Way of the World' 

I must say that Shrewsbury Biscuits have quiet a history behind them, and come under one of those foods that came into being during the Renaissance or the Victorian Era.

Mr. Pailin was the person who first baked this humble recipe with a mix of  simple ingredients around the 1760's in Shrewsbury. A plaque on an old shop near to Shrewsbury Castle states that ...

"This shop occupies the site of a building where Palin first made the unique Shrewsbury cakes to his original recipe in the year 1760” 

It mentions, "Mr. Pailin prince of cake compounders, The mouth liquefies at thy very name!" Mr. Pailin's mix was particularly popular, and hence that praise.

After Mr. Pailin's recipe there were several other recipes that occurred in various books, family recipes, these were more or less similar with slight variation in proportions , this started happening after the Second World War due to the rationing of key ingredients, in particular butter. Just like the war gave birth to "Apple Cobbler".

When British ruled India, India decided to keep a chunk of their British Culinary and Culture, making Shrewsbury Biscuits one of the most popular and hot selling biscuits in the country.

A lot of the credit would go to the Irani Zoroastrian immigrants to India who were invited by the Parsee's of Mumbai to seek asaylum in Mumbai, Pune and even Hyderabad. Due to lack of capital to establish themselves in trading or any other industry the Irani's opened cafe's , bakery and confectionery joints. Soon their breads, cookies, biscuits and cakes became famous and relished by Indians.

This is when ordinary Indian started having access to confectionery products such as cakes and cookies. Pune's Kayani Bakery is one such stop, they are particularly famous for their freshly baked 'Shrewsbury Biscuits'. Just like Hyderabad's Karachi Bakery is famous for 'Fruit Biscuits'. A trip to Pune of Hyderabad is never complete with having bought the biscuits for loved ones back home.

I am thankful to my sister Neha and her husband Sachin for having me over one such weekend, where i visted the fanous Kayani Bakery. A traditional Bawa shop, the store opened at 4:00 pm in the evening due to a national holiday and by 6:00 the entire stock was almost polished. A whiff of vanilla bean and butter was all in the air as I entered the store. I must say, not that Sachin did not visit us earlier with the box of Kayani Bakery's Shrewsbury Biscuit, but i never had them since the packaging was so sad, but i was also on a diet then :) 

But when i finally had my first bite into the freshly baked was awesome, right texture, crisp and deliciously buttery. The store has a lot of other things to offer sich as Mava Cake, Madeira Cake, Rum and Raisin Cakes, Orange Biscuits, etc.

After that trip, and the much spoken Shrewsbury, it made all the sense to hunt down the recipe and try them. So here I am with Mr. Pailin's Original Recipe  for Shrewsbury Biscuits. The original recipe calls for use of some spices, which could be a Turkish Influence. Spices such as Caraway Seeds, Nutmeg and Cinnamon.

225 gms Flour
120 gms Castor Sugar / Powder Sugar
120 gms Butter
1 tsp Baking powder
2 tsp Rose Water
1 Egg (the original receipe uses Egg, but Kayani indicates the biscuits does not make use of any Egg)
1/2 tsp Caraway Seed (Kayani does not use this)
1/4 tsp Nutmeg Powder
Zest of One Lemon ( Kayani perhaps uses this )

Preheat oven to 170C/325F/Gas 3. Prepare two large baking sheets.
Rub the butter into the flour. 
Add the spices to the sugar and then tip the whole into the flour and butter mixture.Add the beaten egg, and also the rosewater. I did this ahead of adding sherry, and found the mixture already to be too wet for rolling out successfully. I had to add more flour and omit the sherry altogether. I then chilled the mixture, covered, in the fridge.

Roll out the mixture on a floured work surface. This still might take a bit of doing as the mixture is still a little sticky. Using circular fluted cutters to press out your biscuits and pop onto baking sheets. 
Bake for approximately 20 minutes, but keep an eye on them. They need to be baked just until slightly golden brown, infact just when they begin to turn their sides brown.
Leave biscuits to cool for a few minutes before sliding them onto a wire cooling rack.

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Hazelnut Chocolate Cookies


I really love Hazelnuts, this is a crisp cookie version of the Ferrero- Rocher Chocolate. Perfect for vegetarians as the recipe does not call for use of egg. My dad will love it. These cookies are for my Dad, his yoga friends and for my sister in Pune.
The recipe will make 50nos. small bite sized cookies, and trust me you cannot stop after having just one :)
40g unsalted butter
170g plain flour
50 roasted whole hazelnuts
80gms sugar
25gms cocoa powder
1/2 tsp baking powder
150 gms chopped nuts
Whisk butter & sugar until fluffy & light in colour.
Sieve in the flour, cocoa powder, baking powder and fold until well-mix.
Roll the dough into 50 small sized balls.
Wrap one whole hazelnut with one ball of batter then coated with chopped nuts.
Bake at 180'C in preheated oven for 15 - 20 min.