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.


Saturday, August 11, 2012

White & Dark Chocolate Mousse Cake

I would always wonder if I could ever make a perfect Mousse Cake. I finally did. It is all thanks to many of  the great chef's out there who I've never met, its their recipes, their formulas, their techniques.  I have just made few variations in this recipe with whatever was available with me today. The original recipe calls for Cheese Topping with Passion fruit. But then half way through, I thought why not do a white and dark chocolate mousse cake. Well! in the end I am happy with the result. 

We make this Mousse cake in a 8" pan. Use a spring form its easier, if you don't have a mold ring. 

Chocolate cake (8" round)
4 eggs
65 g sugar
50 g plain flour
20 g cocoa powder
30 g butter, melted
35 g milk

Line a 8" cake pan with parchment paper & grease the sides.
In a large bowl, beat the egg yolks with 15 g of sugar until thick & pale, then fold in the melted butter.
Mix & sieve all flours, then mix the flours with the egg yolks, pour in milk & fold until smooth.
In another large bowl, whisk the egg white & sugar in two to three batches until stiff.
Mix a spatula of whipped egg white with the chocolate batter.
Pour the remaining whipped egg white & fold gently until smooth.
Pipe the batter over the marked circles & bake in a preheated oven at 180C for 20-30 min.
Remove from the oven & cool on rack.
Cut out the cake in half & cut one of them into a 7'' cake.

Cake Syrup
2 tbsp hot water
1 tbsp sugar
1 tbsp Brandy
You may also use the canned water of pineapple, lychee, raspberry, cherry or peaches, the way i did in this recipe. I used my lychee syrup to soak the cake and with the rest i made the jelly. You can totally avoid the jelly bit if you want. Its really not that important.

Mix all ingredients & set aside for use.

Bittersweet Chocolate Mousse
350 g whipping cream
190 g 70% dark chocolate, melted (I used 52% cocoa)
2 tbsp sugar

In a large bowl, whisk whipping cream with sugar to soft peaks.
Fold in the melted chocolate until smooth.

White Chocolate Mousse

300 g whipping cream
20 g sugar 
50 g hot water
8 g gelatine powder

Dissolve gelatin in hot water.
Whisk the whipping cream with sugar to soft peaks.
Fold in the gelatine solution.

Fruit Jelly (Optional) use any seasonal Fruit
60 ml water
15 ml fruit pulp
10 g sugar
1.5 g gelatine leaves, bloomed

Bring the sugar, water & fruit pulp to boil then add in the bloomed gelatine, stir until dissolve.
Let the syrup cool down.

Mousse Cake (8" round): Composition
Place a 8" cake at the base of a 8" mousse ring, brush generous amount of cake syrup on the cake.
Pour in the chocolate mousse & refrigerate to set.
Place the 7" cake on top & brush with cake syrup.
Pour in the white chocolate mousse & refrigerate to set.
Pour in the jelly & refrigerate to set.
Remove carefully from the ring & decorate with white chocolate pieces.

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Dark Chocolate and Hazelnut Cake

Hazelnut is my favourite nut, and the combination of this whole nut with Dark Chocolate is ultimate. Its simply a mouth-watering explosive combination that is hard to top.
Hazelnut Cake
2 large eggs, separated
60 gms icing sugar
100 gms dark chocolate
75 gms unsalted butter
8 gms plain flour
50 g hazelnut, toasted & skinned & powdered
1 tsp rum (optional)
1/4 tsp Coffee Powder (optional)
pinch of salt
Preheat oven to 180C & line a 6" square loose base pan with parchment paper.
In a large bowl, whip the egg yolks & sugar until light & creamy
Add melted chocolate, mix well.
Gently fold in the flour, hazelnuts, rum & melted butter.
In another large bowl, whip up egg whites, fold 1/3 into the chocolate batter.
Fold in the remaining eggs whites & pour into the prepared pan & bake for 15 min.

Caramel-dipped Hazelnuts
60 g sugar
25 hazelnuts, toasted & skinned

Gently insert pointed end of a long wooden skewer or a tooth pick into the side of each hazelnut.
In a saucepan, caramelise the sugar.
Dip a skewered hazelnut into the caramel, letting excess to drip back into the pan.
When dripping caramel becomes a thin string, Let stand until caramel string has hardened.
Repeat with remaining hazelnuts.
If caramel hardens before all hazelnuts have been dipped, rewarm it over low heat.

Monday, August 6, 2012

Lychee Cheese Cake

I made this for my Mom....she loves Lychees. Her favourite however is Fresh Lychees with Vanilla Ice-cream. My most fond memories with this wonderful fruit is when my mom would peel and chill them in the fridge, as i grabbed the whole bowl and indulged in those juicy Lychee's. This one is for you Momzeee...

Note : Use a 6" round Springform Pan or you may also use 6 indiviual serving bowls/ramekins

Ingredients for the Crust:
70g or 7 nos. digestive biscuit crumbs
30g Butter (unsalted & melted)

Mix the crust ingredients & press into a pan, cool in the fridge.
Ingredients for the Lychee Cheese filling:
120g canned lychee (blended into puree)
250g cream cheese
35g castor sugar or powdered sugar
8g gelatin
50g water
150g whipping cream

Dissolve gelatin in hot water.
Whisk cream cheese with sugar until smooth then blend in the puree.
Whisk the whipping cream to soft peaks then fold in the cheese mixture.
Fold in the gelatine solution.
Fill the prepared pan and refrigerate for atleast 4 hours until set. For best results prepare a day prior to consumption
Garnish with Fresh/Canned Lychees.