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.