Fallen Chocolate Soufflé Cake to celebrate 6 years!

Yesterday was yet another occasion that called for an incredibly rich, gooey and chocolaty dessert, our 6th wedding anniversary! No special celebrations as it was the first working day after a really long weekend, but I'm not complaining as we got to spend a whole lot of time together over the long weekend. 

It is wonderful that our anniversary comes around thanksgiving when there are some really good deals for a lot of things and I finally got the much awaited Kitchen Aid mixer. I made two cakes over the weekend when having friends over and then again this one today. Baking is all that I can think of :)

I had borrowed the book, Chocolate and the Art of Low-fat Desserts by Alice Medrich a while back and had decided to make it on this day. This cake is really a chocolate lover's dream. It's just the kind of desert that both of us love, so rich with an intense chocolate flavor. I also love the way it looks, the cracked fallen top is just so attractive. You can check out a video of Alice making the cake here.

Fallen Chocolate Soufflé Cake

1/4 cup (1.25 ounces) whole almonds
3 tbs (.84 ounces) unbleached all purpose flour
3 ounces bittersweet chocolate (70% cocoa), finely chopped
1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1 cup (7 ounces) sugar
1/2 cup boiling water
2 egg yolks
1 tbs brandy
4 egg whites, at room temperature
1/4 tsp cream of tartar (I did not use this)
powdered sugar for sprinkling
whipped cream and berries, optional

Position rack in the bottom third of the oven and preheat oven to 375 F.
Grease and 8"round spring form pan.
Grind the almond with the flour until very fine and set aside. 
In a large bowl, combine the chocolate, cocoa powder and 3/4 cup sugar. Add the boiling water and whisk until the chocolate is completely melted. Whisk in the brandy and the egg yolks and set aside.
Take the egg whites and cream of tartar in a clean and grease free bowl and beat on medium speed until soft peaks form. Sprinkle the remaining sugar over the egg whites and beat on high speed until the egg whites are stiff but not dry.
Whisk the flour and almonds into the chocolate mixture. Fold about a quarter of the egg whites into the chocolate mixture to lighten it. Fold in the remaining egg whites. Scrape the batter into the prepared pan and level the top if necessary.
Bake for 20-25 minutes or until a tooth pick inserted into the center comes out with a few moist crumbs clinging to it. Cool in the pan, on a rack, the cake will sink in the center.
Slide a small knife around the inside of the pan to detach the cake. Remove the sides of the pan and transfer the cake to a serving platter. Store cake at room temperature for one day or freeze for upto two months.
Sprinkle with some powdered sugar and serve at room temperature with berries and cream if you like.

Kale Thoran/ Kale and Coconut Stir Fry

Wish you all a very Happy Thanksgiving! I am so grateful for everything and everyone in my life right now, I may crib and complain about a lot of things all the time, but I know that things are perfect they way they are and I wouldn't change a thing! We have planned a day out today, so no fancy meal at home. I can only imagine all the turkeys roasting right now, yumm!

I am not a salad person, but I do love all greens, but cooked. I make it a point to add something green everytime I make dal, or parathas or a stir fry. I started buying Kale on;y a few months back and I love roasting them into chips. But the last two times I got distracted and they ended up burnt. So I made this thoran instead and I loved it. The best part is that kale doesn't wilt as much as the other greens, it retains its texture and I love that.

Kale Thoran

1 bunch kale
2 tsps oil
1/4 tsp mustard seeds
1 tsp split urad dal
2 whole dry red chilies
a pinch asafoetida
50 gms fresh grated coconut
2 garlic cloves
few curry leaves
1/4 tsp turmeric powder
1 tsp red chili powder
1 tsp cumin powder

Wash the kale and remove the tough ribs. Chop finely.
Crush the coconut, garlic, red chili powder, turmeric powder and cumin powder in a mortar and pestle or pulse in a food processor.
Heat a pan and add the kale leaves, some salt and sprinkle some water and cover and cook on medium heat until the leaves are tender and all the water has cooked off. 
In another pan, heat the oil. Add the mustard seeds, when they splutter and the urad sal and fry until golden. Add the dry red chilies and asafoetida and the curry leaves. Fry for a few seconds and then add the coconut mixture. Mix well and cook for a few seconds, then add the cooked kale and mix well. Reduce the heat to low, cover and cook for 5 minutes. Remove from heat and serve hot.

Mawa Rava Coconut Laddoo

I have always loved celebrating Diwali....the lights, bright colors, sweets and even the fireworks. I have never been interested in the religious aspects of any festival but I like celebrating them all and Diwali is one I really look forward to and I have such wonderful memories of time spent with family and friends on this auspicious day. 
I really wanted to do it all this year, but ended up falling sick and was down for most of the day. But I didn't want to miss out on all the fun and a few pills can do wonders. Was up by evening and quickly made these laddoos. We had a few friends over and even burnt a few sparklers, the kids absolutely loved it. Hope everyone had a wonderful Diwali!

Mawa Rava Coconut Laddoo

1 cup rava
1/2 cup coconut
3/4 cup very fine sugar
2 cups mava
4 cardamom pods
2-3 tbs milk (if required)
2 tsp ghee
few cashews and raisins

Remove the cardamom seeds and crush them fine, discard the pods.
Heat the ghee and roast the cashew nuts and raisins until golden. Drain and keep aside. 
Add the rava to the same pan and roast on medium heat until aromatic and the rava just begins to change color. Remove from heat.
Roast the coconut in the same pan for a few minutes until it seems a little dry, but take care not to brown the coconut. 
Remove from heat and mix the rava, coconut, sugar and cardamom powder together in a bowl.
Heat the mava on low heat until soft and melted. Add to the rava mixture and mix well. Mix in the raisins and cashew nuts. Cool for a few minutes.
Form small laddoos adding milk only if necessary.
Store in the fridge in an airtight container for a few days. Let sit at room temperature for an hour before serving.

Whole Wheat Spicy Methi Crisps

It has been over a year that I have made any kind of fried food at home. Except for the ocassional meal at a friends house or so, I have completely avoided fried foods since last Diwali and it wasn't as difficult or impossible as I thought it would be. But it is that time of the year again and a perfect excuse to indulge in everything I have been denying myself.
I always make Murukku and Ribon Pakoda, two of my favorite snacks. I addition to those, we have one more snack this year, these methi chips, which is really just crispy fried thepla. They are just the perfect evening snack, spicy and crunchy!

Spicy Methi Crisps

1 cup whole wheat flour
1/3 cup gram flour/ besan
1 tsp red chili powder, or to taste
1/4 tsp turmeric powder
1 tsp coriander powder
2 pinches asafoetida
1 1/2 cups fresh methi leaves, chopped
2 tbs oil
salt to taste

oil to deep fry

Combine all the ingredients in a bowl. Add enough water to form a stiff dough. Divide into small portions. Roll out each ball as thin as possible and cut into squares. Separate the squares and deep fry on medium high heat until light brown and crisp. Cool and store in an airtight container.

Creamy Pumpkin Kheer with Cashew Nuts

With Diwali just around the corner sweets are all I can think of. There are a few I would like to make and then Manoj has his favorites that he wants me to make and his list keeps getting longer! I've not yet made up mind, but I bought a block of Mawa this weekend, I just keep thinking of all the possibilities...

In the mean time, here is a very simple but delicious kheer recipe. I tried carving a pumpkin for the first time this year, made a few wrong cuts and ended up with a lot of pumpkin to cook with. This is a recipe from the book, 5 spices 50 dishes by Ruta Kahate, and it's one dish I love to make, especially when having guests over. It's an easy one and tastes even better after it sits for a while, so you can even make it ahead of time.

Creamy Pumpkin Kheer with Cashew Nuts

2 cups finely grated pumpkin
2 1/2 cups whole milk
2 tsp rice flour
1 tbs water
1/2 to 3/4 cup sugar, as needed
6-8 cardamoms, seeds removed and crushed to a fine powder
12 raw cashews, chopped coarsely
1/4 tsp nutmeg powder

Steam the grated pumpkin until soft. about 10 minutes.. Set aside.
Bring the milk to a boil, reduce heat and simmer until the milk thickens a bit, about 10-15 minutes.
Make a paste of the rice flour and water and add to the milk. Add the sugar and stir to dissolve.
Add the pumpkin, cashews and cardamom and mix well. Simmer for about 10 minutes so the flavors meld.
Stir in the nutmeg and remove from heat.
Serve hot or cold.

Halloween Cake Pops

Halloween is so much fun when you have a kid at home. Anushka is a lady bug this year and her costume comes with wings and she has been wearing it and 'flying' around the house ever since I bought it a couple of weeks ago. We already had a party last weekend in our apartment complex and another one in school today. I'm so looking forward to trick or treating with her in the evening and another party tomorrow! There is too much candy in the house!!
We had a halloween potluck at Anushka's school today and I finally got a chance to make cake pops! It was the cutest treat for their tiny hands and mouth. I had so much fun making these and they were really easy too. Will definitely be making them more often.

Every recipe I checked called for boxed cake mixes and frosting and I just can't imagine using them. So I just made one of my favorite chocolate cakes and chocolate buttercream frosting and bought candy coating from Micheals and it turned out just fine! I used two 9" round chocolate cakes and got about 42 cake pops. For the pumpkin stems I initially used tictacs, but hard mints and cake don't really go together, so I just pulled them off and piped some chocolate in their place.

Cake Pops

Chocolate Cake (Recipe here), I increased the recipe by half and baked them in two 9" pans
Chocolate Buttercream (Recipe here), I halved the recipe, but you won't need all of it
Candy Coating, about
oil based candy colors
Lollipop Sticks

Bake the cake and cool it completely. Crumble it well, making sure there are no big pieces of cake left.
Add frosting a little at a time, and mix well until you have a mixture that is the consistency of play dough. 
Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Roll the cake mixture into smooth small balls and place on the parchment. I used a small icecream scoop to get uniform balls. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for several hours until firm or you can freeze them for 15-30 minutes. The cake balls must be firm but not frozen.
Melt the candy coating according to package instructions and color it as needed. If the melted candy is too thick you can thin with shortening or plain vegetable oil. Take it in a deep container so its easy to dip, I used a plastic glass.
Work with a few cake balls at a time, keep the rest in the fridge. Dip about 1/2 inch of the end of a lollipop stick into the melted chocolate and stick it into a cake ball, not more that halfway through. Then hold the stick and dip the entire cake ball into the melted candy until it is completely covered and remove it one fluid motion. Gently shake off any excess coating gently and stick it into a styrofoam block until it dries and hardens completely.

To decorate:
To make the jack-o'-lanterns or the ghost faces, melt some black colored candy coating and pipe the eyes, nose and mouth using a No. 3 tip.
I used green candy coating and a No. 5 tip to pipe the pumpkin stems.
For the purple pops. I just drizzled some melted orange candy coating.
If using sprinkles, before the candy coating hardens, dip the cake pops into the sprinkles, so they stick.

Store the cake pops in an airtight container for upto one week.