Monday, 3 April 2017

Frozen Elsa Birthday Cake - Chocolate Walnut Cake

If you were to ask me what I loved about the movie 'Frozen',there would be a real long list,but these three things would definitely top the list.The movie taught little girls that they don't have to wait for their knight in shining armour to save them and true love doesn't always have to be something to do with 'the special one'.I really pity all those helpless fairy tales Princesses who were trapped in towers,cursed or slept for a hundred years until their Prince came along.And honesty I pity the Princes too, who had to fight fire spitting dragons and wicked witches to save the Princess and marry them,only to end up being nagged :)Reminds me when my daughter asked me why all the fairy tales end with 'And they lived happily ever after',guess it should rather be 'And they happily bickered ever after' :P.The second thing I love about the movie is how it brought the colour 'Blue' in the otherwise Pink dominated girl's world.I really wonder who ever came up with these gender based colour notions.Thanks to frozen, it's nice to see so many blue clothes for girls in shops.And the usual pink-Princess filled kids carnival has quite a bit of blue now.My daughter's kindergarten had so many Elsa's during the carnival,there was even a sweet little boy who was dressed up as Elsa.If there's one other thing I love about the movie it's the song 'Let it go'.I'm not talking about the wonderful music or the voice,but the lyrics.Be it 'it's funny how some distance can make everything seem small' or 'to test the limits and break through' or 'the perfect girl is gone',the song is probably one of the most powerful songs I've heard in recent times.I love the other songs in the movie as well,but this one's simply the best.
Thankfully,we are now officially out of the 'Frozen' craze phase ,no more Frozen caps,clips,dresses or shoes :)I wonder what will come along next.I baked this cake for my daughter's 5th Birthday,when she was all into Frozen.I'm very bad when it comes to cake decorating and I respect all those cake decorators who so patiently create those edible wonders.This was my attempt at decorating with fondant.Though I'm not a big fan of Fondant,I must agree that it helps you create beautiful cakes.The cake was a Chocolate Walnut Cake,frosted and filled with Chocolate Ganache and covered with Fondant.The cake is rich and delicious,a perfect Party cake.Believe me, if you like me,are a beginner at cake decorating,this one's easy to make and simply yummy !

You'll Need:
A small barbie doll,whose legs are detached.
Blue Fondant - 750 gm -  1 Kg
White Fondant - a little
For the Cake :
You will need approximately twice the batter
(Adapted from Rose's Heavenly Cakes )
All-Purpose Flour - 2 cups- 230 gm
Sugar - 1 and 1/4 cup - 250 gm
Butter - 225 g ( at room temperature)
Eggs - 3 large (at room temperature)
Sour Cream - 1 cups - 250 gm
Baking Powder- 1 and 1/4 tsp
Baking soda - 1/2 tsp
Cocoa powder - 3/4 cup - 56 gm
Walnuts - 2/3 cup - 66 gm
Vanilla essence - 2 tsp
Ganache for Filling:
Heavy Cream - 200 g
Dark Baking chocolate - 200 g(broken into small pieces)
Ganache for Frosting:
Heavy Cream - 300 g
Dark Baking chocolate - 600 g(broken into small pieces)

For the cake.
-I baked them in 3 layers and in one small dome shaped bowl for the dress shape.
-It is better to bake the cake and let it cool overnight,covered by a clean linen cloth.
-Pre-heat the oven to 350°F/175 ° C and spread  the walnuts on a baking tray and bake for 5 -7 minutes.Take it out the oven and cool and grind to a coarse powder.Make sure to grind in pulses else they suddenly turn into a paste.
-In a small bowl whisk the sour cream,eggs,cocoa and essence slightly.
-In a big bowl beat the flour,walnuts ,sugar,baking powder,baking soda and salt for 30 sec on low speed.
-Add half of the whisked cocoa liquid mixture and the butter and beat on low speed until everything is moistened.Increase the speed to medium and beat for another minute or two.Scrape the sides of the bowl and beat for another 30 secs.
-Add the remaining cocoa liquid mixture in two parts,beating for 30 seconds after each addition
-Fill the pans until 3/4th full and bake in a preheated oven at 350°F/175 ° C for 30 - 40 minutes.The baking time varies depending upon the pan type,size and the oven.It can take anywhere between 30 - 50 minutes.A small skewer inserted into the middle should come out clean.Make sure you line the pans with baking paper and apply some butter and toss some four on the sides.
-After the cake is cooled in the pan for 5 minutes,loosen the sides and take the cake out.
-In a double boiler,start boiling some water.Now place a bowl with the cream and the broken chocolate on the double boiler such that the bottom of the vessel doesn't touch the water.On low heat as the water simmers let the chocolate melt,mix it gently once or twice with a fork.Once the chocolate is almost melted,remove it from the stove and mix well with the fork so that there are no lumps.Now let it cool overnight until it reaches room temperature.
-Make the Ganache for frosting and filling separately and let them cool overnight,covered with a plastic foil.
-Roll the blue fondant to a big round .

-Bake three round layers (I baked 15 cm x 4 cm )of the cake.And another small pan or bowl with the cake batter,to get the dome shape.Insert a skewer in the base of the Doll so that it can be placed on the cake.

-Place the cake layers ,one on top of each other filling the layers with the 'Filling Ganache'.Finally place the dome shape.Now carve the cake in the front side of the doll to make a slightly vertical surface,this is the area where the dress (Fondant) falls straight,it has a hump at the back,the dome  takes care of the hump.
-Now frost the cake smoothly with the 'Frosting Ganache'.Gently lift the fondant and place it over the cake and arrange it to look like the dress.Cut some more pieces of rolled white and blue fondant to make the dress for the upper body.
-The rolling and lifting the fondant can be a bit tricky.

-The sour cream can be replaced with thick yogurt,this is one more substitute that I found online:
Homemade sour cream: Mix 1 cup (240ml) heavy cream with 2-3 teaspoons lemon juice in a bowl. Whisk until it starts to thicken. Cover with plastic wrap and leave at room temperature for 1 hour or until thicker (leaving it overnight gives best results)

This is yet another version of the Chocolate Walnut Cake :

Thanks for Stopping by ! Happy Baking !

Friday, 10 March 2017


  As an avid reader I would say that there's nothing like the joy of discovering a new author.You would have come across a lot of authors, but there are only a few authors,who with their narration would literally teleport you inside the book.It leaves you with a feeling of not reading but actually watching things unfold in front of your eyes.I recently got to read the book 'Temple' by 'Mathew Reilly',If you enjoy reading fast paced thrillers, where CIA agents go chasing the bad guys with guns drawn and their Hi-Tech devices,you would definitely love this book.The story-line alternates between current happenings and happenings during the Spanish occupation in Peru in the 14th century.It's the historical touch that makes the book very special.I am a big fan of History,I believe that History,like science is one of those things that makes you realise that you are a very tiny part of a big Universe ,but you're still significant.The story is about the search for an Idol worshipped by the Incas,which was carved from a meteorite that hit the earth before a long time.The Idol was hence believed to have rare nuclear properties which could  be used to make a destructive weapon.The Incas on the other hand are waiting for the chosen man who would save them and their idol,thereby fulfilling their old prophecy.The story starts with the search of a manuscript which holds the secret hiding place of the Idols.The book takes you back to the period of the Incas,one of the largest and most interesting civilisations. The book gives you a glimpse of everything about the Incas,like how they never used Mortar to construct their Temples,but instead used interlocking stones to build air tight structures or about their sacred animal,the Rapa. I couldn't help thinking about the similarities between Indian mythology and the Inca civilisation,like the belief about how moles on the face have a significance or the construction of their temples,or the usage of the trident , the weapon of Lord Shiva in India and the weapon of Poseidon in Greek Mythology.I wonder how the book has not yet been made into a movie.Though I guess a few Tamil movies like Ayirathil Oruvan and Mundasupatti seem to be inspired from the book :) The book also talks a bit about the atrocities done by the so called Developed or First world countries during their colonisation and occupation in the third world or under developed countries,which makes you think that the word civilisation needs to be redefined. It was an amazing read and once I was done reading the book, I felt like I was back from a trip to South America. I've been reading quite a few interesting books and will soon come back with another one !!
  Coming to the recipe this is one of my all time favourite sweets.It's usually confused with Jalebi,but I would call it a lot healthier(if you ignore the frying and the soaking in the sugar syrup:)) because it's made from Urad dal. It takes a bit of patient cooking ,but it's worth the effort.The cloth press makes all the difference,it doesn't take a lot of time to make,but makes the job very easy.So off to the recipe !!

Makes about 30
You'll Need:
To soak and grind :
Urad Dal/Black Gram Dal -  1 cup
Raw Rice - 1/4 cup
Red colour a pinch
salt a pinch
For the sugar syrup:
Sugar - 1 1/2 to 2 cups
Red colour powder - a pinch
Rose essence -1 tsp or Rose water - 2 tbsp
Water -  2 cups

Oil to deep fry
A thick cloth to make the press

For the press:
-Take a thick cloth and make a tiny hole with a scissor,and them sew around the hole like a button hole to make the hole tight and give it a shape.The total diameter of the hole should be about the diameter of a real big nail,not  more.
For the Batter:
-Soak urad dal and rice in water(the water level should be about an inch above the rice and urad dal) for an hour.
-In a Grinder add the urad dal and rice and add about two tbsps of water.(Drain the excess water from the urad dal after soaking and you can use this water to add during grinding)
-Grind under the mixture turns coarse but fluffy. Sprinkle water in little quantities as you grind,the total quantity of water should be a maximum of quarter cup.Be careful about the water as it can make the batter runny.
-Now remove the batter from the grinder and add the red colour powder into it and mix well.
For the syrup:
-In a pan mix the water and the sugar and let it boil on medium heat for 3 -5 minutes and,until all the sugar is dissolved and it starts getting thick,it shouldn't be very thick.Add the colour powder and essence and take it off the stove.

For the Jangeri:
-In a wide mouthed pan, on low to medium heat,heat about 1 to 2 inches of oil .The oil should not smoke or get too hot.It works well when the oil is not too hot.Now start piping the Jangeris. Pipe two big circles and tiny circles around it.Meanwhile keep the sugar syrup warm near by ,it should be warm.If it gets thick you can add some water to it,but make sure it is warm.Cook the Jangeris,flipping them on both sides.Then take the Jangeris out and drop them in the sugar syrup,let them soak for a minute and take them out and store them.Make sure that the Jangeris don't get browned.I found that you can even remove the pan with the oil from the stove if it gets too hot and put it back again,And the sugar syrup has to be warm while dipping,else it doesn't work well.The piping gets easier after you've piped a few Jangeris.

Thanks for stopping by ! Happy cooking !

Friday, 10 February 2017

Rose Cake

Guess if you've been following my blog you would have by this time got fed up with my disappearing act.This time apart from the usual excuses like kids sick,holidays,laziness ,I have a new excuse:We moved to a new city.Little did I expect moving to be so difficult,it took me weeks to dig out the modem which I had safely packed in an unlabelled box.Not to mention my kids making moving things from one labelled box to another a game,which made unpacking even harder.I think moving is easy if you are the kind of person who easily parts with things.I have a serious problem with throwing away things.Every little legless doll, broken toy ,book full of scribblings,old dress and twisted spoon  is usually associated with a fond memory and packed away safely.I try to save each and every paper and book that I enjoyed reading,which made shifting a nightmare.Shifting taught me a very important lesson for life:to keep things as simple as possible.During the past few months there was a phase when we had to stay in our old house in just one room with sparse furniture for almost a month.Most of our stuff ,including the TV was shifted to the new one.The kids had no toys,just one or two of their favourites, and they seemed to be pretty happy.Mainly because we were spending more time with them .It was then that I realised that most of the things that we pile up are extravagances and what we actually need is very little.We are caught in this whirlpool of buying and updating things that we never actually stop to enjoy the simpler things in life.And some times we let these materialistic things even define us.It reminds me of a strange dream that I once had,I am one of those people who remember their dreams,that's a blessing and a bane :) In this dream I was near a small stream and before me ,people were crossing the stream barefoot on stepping stones.They had just a small cloth pack in their hands.As I approached the river an old man came up to me and told me that once I cross the stream, I won't be able to come back .So I could go back and get three things which matter the most to me to carry along,cause I won't be needing anything else on the other side.Then I woke up.What would you pick if you just had to take three things with you :) Makes me wonder if it is really all that easy to keep things simple.Well the truth is always hard to handle.Guess this turned out to be a philosophical post:)Lots seem to have happened since I last posted .USA has a new president,Jallikattu is back and Tamil Nadu politics has become more thrilling than Game of thrones,I really wonder who'll sit on the Iron Throne :) And hope I'd get to post more regularly !
Coming to the recipe,this cake is for those people who love Rose essence and  rose flavour..The cake is extremely soft and spongy and uses very little butter.It looks very appealing when baked in a rose cake form.So off to the recipe !

Serves : 8 - 10
Adapted from : Martha Stewart Cakes
You'll Need:
Butter - 100 gm -Little less than 1/2 a cup
All purpose flour/Maida - 1 1/2 cups
Baking Powder - 1 1/2 tsp
Salt - a pinch
Eggs - 3 large(room temperature)
Sugar - 200 gm - 1 cup
Whole Milk - 125 ml - 1/2 cup
Rose Water -  5 Tbsp

-In a big bowl sift the Flour,Baking Powder and salt.
-In another bowl beat the eggs and sugar until it turns fluffy,3 - 5 minutes.
-Preheat the oven to 350 °F. Butter the cake form and dust it with flour (rose form or 9" round form)
-In a small pan ,heat the butter and the milk on low flame until the butter is melted and small bubbles start appearing.
-Now add the sifted flour to the egg&sugar mixture and beat until well combined in medium speed.
-With the beater on medium speed add the milk and butter mixture and beat until well combined.
-Add the rose water and beat for a few seconds.
-Fill the baking pan with the mixture until 3/4th full and bake for 30 - 40 minutes,until a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean.Let it cool on the pan for 10 minutes,then loosen the sides ,remove it from the pan and let it cool completely.Done !

Thanks for stopping by ! Happy Baking !

Sunday, 2 October 2016

Rice Murukku

The other day I met another Indian lady and she smiled back at me.I was surprised,we Indians,as strange as this sounds,never smile at each other.We adeptly recognise each other from pretty far away and then make sure that we don't make eye contact.Our radars are well developed,we even sense if we speak the same language,in other words,we even recognise if we are from the same state or part of India and then decide if we need to smile.I have no clue why most Indians do this,but it could be partly because we are told right from our childhood to be cautious around strangers.Well this lady and me smiled at each other and then started speaking with each other in English.After the lady had left another friend of mine asked me why we Indians always speak with each other in English.
                                               'Is English your mother tongue ?'
                                                'No,Tamil is my mother tongue.'
                                                            'Then English ?'
                                            'Well,you could call that my Father tongue '
                                             She laughs.'Well then German ?'
                                             Me promptly 'That's my Husband tongue'
After a good laugh ,I told her how we Indians,despite having so many languages, resort to speaking in English which is more or less a common tongue.And yes we do have our official language Hindi,which we south Indians do speak a bit,thanks to Shah Rukh Khan and Bollywood,but  a very few of us actually master it enough ,to hold a decent conversation .Which leaves us with no other choice but to switch to English,which is definitely better than our Hindi ('Ek Ghao mein ek kisaan raghu thaatha ') !!
Coming to the recipe this is a very yummy snack that can be prepared in no time.The flour, if prepared from scratch at home, could take a long time to make,but if you have store brought rice flour at hand,it makes the job very easy.This murruku is usually referred to as 'Thenkuzhal',which i assume has something to do with the press.But I can never call it that because the only 'Thenkuzhal' I remember fondly are the ones I had as a kid in my grandma's place.They,true to the name Thenkuzhal-Honeytubes,were sweet and oozed out sugar syrup.So for me these would always be Muruuku :) So off to the recipe !!

You'll Need:
Rice Flour - 1 and 1/4 cups
Urad dal Flour - 1/4 cup
Melted salted butter - 2 tbsp
Cumin seeds -  1 tsp
salt - 1 and 1/4 tsp
Hing a pinch
oil as needed for deep frying
Water as needed
Murukku press

-For the flours : For the rice flour - I used store brought Idiyappam/String hoppers rice flour.
                                For the Urad dal flour- Dry roast the urad dal on a pan on low heat,once it gives a         nice aroma,grind it to a fine powder.Make sure it doesn't get burnt.
-In a bowl add the flours and the salt and mix well.Next add the butter and mix with you hand.When you take a little between your fingers and press it,it should hold its shape for a few seconds ,before crumbling.
-Mix the hing in the water.Add the water little by little to the flour to make a medium tight dough.Be careful with the amount of water as it can make the dough soggy.
-Heat the oil in the pan and let it heat up,it shouldn't be very hot,let it stay on medium heat.
-Now add a portion of the dough in the press and pipe shapes on a baking paper or any surface greased with oil so that it doesn't stick.
-Always keep the remaining portion of the dough covered with a damp cloth.
-Carefully slide the piped shape into the hot oil and  fry it ,turning it over in between.When it's done the oil around it will stop sizzling.Remove with a slotted spoon and drain on paper towels.
-Once they are cooled store them in airtight containers.

Thanks for stopping by ! Have a nice day !

Butter Murukku

This is another version of Rice Murukku,it can be made more quickly and easily as they don't even need to be pressed into shapes,they can be pressed directly into the oil.The process is more or less similar to the rice murukku,These ones are super soft and melt in your mouth !!

You'll Need:
Rice Flour - 1 and 1/4 cups
Daria/Roasted Chana Dal/Pottukkadalai powder - 2 Tbsp
Melted salted butter - 2  - 3 tbsp
Cumin seeds (optional)-  1 tsp
salt - 1 and 1/4 tsp
Hing a pinch
oil as needed for deep frying
Water as needed
Murukku press

-For the flours : For the rice flour - I used store brought Idiyappam/String hoppers rice flour.
For the Daria powder - Just grind Daria to a fine powder.
-In a bowl add the flours and the salt and mix well.Next add the butter and mix with you hand .When you take a little between your fingers and press it,it should hold its shape for a few seconds ,before crumbling.
-Mix the hing in the water.Add the water little by little to the flour to make a medium tight dough.Be careful with the amount of water as it can make the dough soggy.
-Heat the oil in the pan and let it heat up,it shouldn't be very hot,let it stay on medium heat.
-Now add a portion of the dough in the press .
-Always keep the remaining portion of the dough covered with a damp cloth.
-Pipe into the hot oil and  fry them ,turning it over in between.When they are done the oil around them will stop sizzling.Remove with a slotted spoon and drain on paper towels.
-Once they are cooled store them in airtight containers.

Thanks for stopping by ! Have a nice day !

Friday, 16 September 2016

ABC Breakfast Muffins

Sometimes when you hear a certain old song or read a certain book or watch a certain old movie ,doesn't it make you get all nostalgic and literally take you back in time to a certain phase in life.Mostly they rekindle pleasant and fond memories.Watching them or listening to them makes you feel so happy and young.I have books,songs and movies that mark almost every important phase in my life :)Once you have kids the songs and movies are replaced by cartoons and rhymes.I remember every phase of my daughter's life with cartoons,Mary had a little lamb - she's laughing and cruising,Pocoyo - she's running around, Caillou - she's talking ,Peppa Pig - Kindergarten and now Mia and Me - School :) I know I sound like that perfect bad parent who uses cartoons as her baby sitter.As much as you'd condemn the cartoons,I'm indebted to them.They are those angels who help me get at least 30 minutes of break to get something done around the house.Now I'm not talking about those cartoons where the characters speaks Filmy dialogues :) The last time on my India trip I was honestly astonished with the cartoons on certain TV channels.Chinese cartoon characters speaking Tamil movie dialogues,the world is indeed becoming small.Well I did grow up watching Uncle Scrooge (Duck Tales) talking Hindi ,but watching Hattori sing 'Naan aducha thange maate'  is heights of comedy :) I sort of believe that good cartoons do benefit our kids,they do pick up a few good things from them.The only thing I don't like is the way they portray these perfect parents who never raise they voices and keep their calm like a Buddha statue :) Guess cartoons have taken over my life,when everybody else were curious to know who Jon Snow's (GoT) parents were,I was breaking my head over who Charlie and Lola's parents were,don't you think it's spooky,they never ever show them :p
Coming to the recipe,this is a perfect snack box recipe.What I love about it ,is it's ease of preparing,just mix all the ingredients in a bowl and bake.I stumbled across the vegan version of this recipe on 'The Minimalist baker's blog'.She has a wonderful collection of easy vegan recipes. I've changed the recipe a bit and I used very ripe bananas,it kind of gave it a creamy taste.When you have those bananas which are so ripe that their skins are almost fully black,this is is the perfect recipe to use them up.I named them ABC because they have apples,bananas and carrots in them.They taste super yum for breakfast and stay good for a day or two. So off to the recipe !!

Makes about 8 muffins
Recipe adapted from here
You'll Need:
Egg - 1
Olive oil - 4 tbsp
Honey - 4 tbsp
Salt - 1/2 tsp
Cinnamon powder - 1/2 tsp
Milk - 1/2 cup - 125 ml
Carrot -  2 grated - 1 cup
Apple grated(Finely) - 1 or unsweetened Apple sauce -  1/2 cup
Half a big banana - mashed - 1/2 a cup
Spelt Flour/Whole Wheat Flour - 1 cup
Oats - 3/4 cup
Almond powder - 3 - 4 tbsp
Brown Sugar - 1/2 a cup

-Preheat the oven to 150°C/ .Line a muffin tray with 8 muffin cups.
-In a big mixing bowl add the egg,olive oil ,honey ,mashed banana and whisk.Next add the salt,cinnamon powder,sugar and apple and whisk.
-Next add the grated carrot and milk and mix.
-Finally add the spelt flour,oats and almond flower and mix well.
-Divide the batter equally among the 8 muffin cups and bake for 25 - 35 minutes.Keep checking from the 25th minute,mine were done by the 30th minute.I use a small OTG,the baking time and temperature might vary with oven.Use the temperature settings used for cake baking :)

Thanks for stopping by ! Have a nice day!

Tuesday, 6 September 2016


Have you ever noticed that your food taste changes over the years.I remember being a very picky eater as a kid.I'd rather starve than eat food that I didn't favour,and the list of foods that I didn't like was pretty long.But over the years,call it maturity or ageing, I started eating most of these stuff,partly because I realised the health benefits they offer or I just started liking them.I still don't like certain varieties of Spinach though ,and I still try to swallow them with a cup of water :) Aviyal was probably the last thing on my list as a kid,it was synonymous with my grand mom's place.My mom hails  from a small town in the border of Tamil Nadu and Kerala,and everything in the town from the food habits to culture is so similar to Kerala ,that I sometime wonder why the town is still a part of Tamil Nadu. Coconuts,fish and Aviyals are a part of day to day cooking.I started liking Aviyal mainly during my pregnancy,it's such a nutritious dish with so many vegetables and involves absolutely no sauteing.This dish really helps,when your heightened sense of smell and tiredness makes cooking difficult during pregnancy.This is not an authentic version of it,but I tweak it to fit whatever I find in my kitchen :)It pairs up well with rice ,So off to the recipe.....

You'll Need:
Drumstick - 1/2 a long one(cleaned and chopped into 2" pieces)
Carrot - 1 medium(cleaned and chopped)
Potato or yam - a small one(cleaned ,peeled and chopped)
Raw Banana - 1 big(cleaned ,peeled and chopped)
Curd - 2 - 3 tbsp
Turmeric Powder - a pinch
salt as needed
To Grind:
Green Chilli - 1 to 2
Coconut- 2 tbsp(grated)
Cumin Seeds -  1/2 tsp
Whole Pepper Corns - 1/4 tsp
To temper:
Coconut oil - 2 tsp
Mustard seeds - 1/2 tsp
Curry Leaves - leaves from a sprig

-In a vessel add the chopped carrot,potato,yam,raw banana and drumstick.
-Add about 1/2 a cup of water,a pinch of turmeric and salt as needed and mix well.
-On a medium flame let it cook until the vegetables are 3/4th cooked,they should hold their shape and not turn mushy.
-Add the ground coconut paste and mix well.Let it cook further for another 4 -5 minutes until it loses its raw flavour.
-Now remove it from the stove and add the curd and mix well.
-In a small pan heat the coconut oil and splutter the curry leaves and mustard.
-Add the tempering to the cooked Aviyal and gently mix.Done !

Thanks for stopping by ! Have a nice day !
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