Maamoul (date stuffed cookies)

date maamoul

You walk into the house and you’re immediately enchanted by the smell coming from the kitchen, you close your eyes and take it in:Gentle spices, orange blossom water, mastic.the scent of maamoul cookies baking!

You hear the familiar sound of the wooden maamoul molds being banged time after time. The sounds of Laughter and chatter draw you to kitchen. There you are greeted by smiling faces and mounds of beautifully decorated cookies waiting for a final dusting of powdered sugar, that will make them almost too pretty to eat. Almost!

You snatch a few ignoring the advice :”don’t ruin your dinner”.No dinner can compete with freshly baked maamoul!

You join in the fun and allow the worries of the day to melt away.

Eid is on the way .

maamoul

(more…)

About these ads

Anzac biscotti (oatmeal coconut biscotti)

biscotti

When I get my secret recipe club assignment, I go through the blog’s archives focusing mainly on healthy recipes. Salads,  and vegetarian categories are usually my first stop. This time things were a little different, I started my archive search with  bread and baked goods!

You see, May was a super stressful  month.We are moving to the United Arab Emirates in a couple of weeks and despite the fact that I have been preparing for this move for 4 months, the idea has not fully sinked in! The past few months and May in particular have been a hectic race to get everything done and organised in time for the move. I had to hand over my patients at the clinic to another Dr, the kids’  papers and school transfer arrangements, preparing the house, organizing the stuff to be shipped, the list goes on and on, I will spare you the headache and just say that venting through baking seemed like the only sane option.

(more…)

No bake vegan almond date bars

Vegan raw date nut and oatmeal bars

My kids have a love affair with oatmeal, they would happily eat anything with the word oatmeal in it.  Refrigerator oatmeal, granola, cookies, you name it. When it was time to choose my secret recipe club assignment, I went through the Saturday evening pot’s archives.I bookmarked their Berry Smoothies with Hidden Greens,  and their Quinoa with Roasted Vegetables and Balsamic Vinegar recipe among many others. Then I came across this recipe for no bake fruit crumble bars and I instantly knew that this was the one! Before I can get to the recipe let me tell you a little about my assigned blog. The Saturday evening pot is run by the Chef, who graduated from Johnson and Wales University with a degree in Culinary Arts and has always loved cooking.His family, The Lucky Wife and The Well-Fed Kids, who get to be the taste-testers of his new creations .They share their food adventures and recipes through their blog Raw vegan date almond bars This particular recipe was made by the Lucky wife. I loved it because it was quick, easy,nutritious, lunch box friendly and of course it had oatmeal in it. I adapted the recipe a little using dates as  a filling instead of jam, I also added a few spices to jazz things up a bit. I used dates because I wanted to try these bars in their purest form, raw, vegan and with out any added sugar. Why you may ask? Well until recently a recipe described as raw, vegan and without sugar was one I would not even consider. It must be bland and tasteless I always told myself but the more I read about the health benefits of raw and vegan food, the more I am tempted to give recipes like this one a try. So I ventured on,and I am happy to report that after trying these bars, the result blew me away. The crust had a wonderful texture with the earthy oats, the nutty almonds , the hint of coconut and slight sweetness provided by the dates. The filling added a spicy sweet note without making these bars overly sweet. The best part is that the kids loved them so much that they demanded them for school and I was more than happy to oblige. (more…)

Chocolate caramel crispy bites

Chocolate caramel crispy cakes

It is time for our secret recipe club reveal for the month of March. For this month my assigned blog was Trisha’s  My Hobbie lobbie.Trisha is a talented baker who gave up her corporate job to focus on her passion for baking and of late, crafting. My Hobbie Lobbie is her way of trying to keep track of all the recipes and patterns that she has tried so far. She also shares traditional Goan food that her mother taught her.

With the whole family sick with a nasty flue, yours truly included, I choose to make something quick, easy and tasty.  I made the chocolate caramel crispy cakes from Trisha’s Christmas post. The post has a wonderful collection of last minute treats that you can make for a party to enjoy with  friends and family or for the kids to enjoy after school or in the lunch box. All super quick and easy yet tasty and elegant. I made my chocolate caramel crispy treats bite size for the kids. That way they can have a fun treat without me feeling too much guilt :)

Choco-Caramel Crispy Cakes (No bake cookies)
Recipe by: Nigella Lawson
4 (2oz.) Mars or Milky Way candy bars
1/4 cup unsalted butter
2 1/2 cups corn flakes
Mini cupcake paper liners (optional)
Chop the candy bars into small pieces and place them in a saucepan along with the butter on low heat, stirring frequently.
When everything has melted, and is homogeneous you can add the cornflakes and mix well, until the cornflakes are well coated with the chocolate mixture.
 With a teaspoon, scoop out the mix into mini cupcake liners or roll into little balls
 Place them on a tray and allow them to set. If the weather is hot you can place them in the refrigerator to set for at least an hour.

Going to India for dessert: Mawa cake and bolinhas de coco

Bolinhas de coco

I am 3 days behind schedule on posting my daring bakers post of this month but if you watch the news you may know why . The drums of war are resonating through out the middle east. Being glued to the TV is something you can’t help, no matter how painful or stressful the news may get and it is getting worse by the minute!

Everyone is worried. Memories of the gulf war are vividly coming back. I was 13 at the time and I  remember the evacuation drills in school. Windows taped to prevent them from shattering in case of bombs. The news being  the one and only topic that everyone is discussing. All that and Jordan was not directly involved in it all as it seems to be this time. Everyone around you hopes and prays that this too shall pass without us “becoming the news” instead of watching the news..

To keep my head from exploding I am trying to re-focus on simple things, things that bring me joy. The new school year, blogging, photography, anything and everything that can keep me away from the TV and the gloomy news coming out of it. One of those simple things that I truly enjoy is doing my daring bakers and cooks challenges

Mawa cake

 

Aparna of My Diverse Kitchen was our August 2013 Daring Bakers’ hostess and she challenged us to make some amazing regional Indian desserts. The Mawa Cake, the Bolinhas de Coco cookies and the Masala cookies – beautifully spiced and delicious!

Mawa (also known as Khoya/ Khoa) is made by slowly reducing milk (usually full-fat) until all that remain is a mass of slightly caramelized granular dough-like milk solids. Mawa is used in a wide variety of Indian sweets like Gulab Jamun. Mawa is pronounced as Maa-vaa; Khoya is pronounced as KhOh-yaa.

In this cake, Mawa lends a rich and a caramelized milky taste.The cake is slightly dense and reminiscent of a pound cake.The cardamom taste is subtle in the baked cake but it definitely sets it apart from a plain cake. We all loved it with a cup of tea, it also goes beautifully with coffee because of the cardamom in it.(I am not a coffee drinker but still I love the combination of coffee and cardamom, it is one of those unbeatable matches like cinnamon and apples!) Typically mawa cakes are made with  cardamom and cashews but you can also make it with blanched almonds like me. I baked my cake in an 8 inch round pan but next time I plan on trying it in cup cake form.

Mawa cake, dense and delicious

 

Mawa cake

Ingredients

For the Mawa:
1 liter (4 cups) full fat milk

For the cake:
1/2 cup (1 stick) (120 ml) (4 oz) (115 gm) unsalted Butter (soft at room temperature)
3/4 cup (180 ml) packed crumbled mawa
1-1/4 cups (300 ml) (10 oz) (280 gm) castor sugar
3 large eggs
5 to 6 cardamom pods, powdered, (about 1-1/2 tsp powdered cardamom)
2 cups (500ml) (9 oz) (260 gm) cake flour
1 teaspoon (5 ml) (5 gm) baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup (120 ml) milk
1 teaspoon (5ml) vanilla extract (optional)
Cashew-nuts (or blanched almonds) to decorate (about 18 to 20)

Directions:

1. First make the “Mawa”. Pour the milk into a heavy bottomed saucepan, preferably a non-stick one. Bring the milk to a boil, stirring it on and off, making sure it doesn’t stick to the bottom.
Turn down the heat to medium and keep cooking the milk until reduces to about a quarter of its original volume. This should take about an hour to an hour and a half.

2. The important thing during this process is to watch the milk and stir it frequently to make sure it doesn’t stick to the sides or bottom of the pan and get burnt. The danger of this happening increases as the milk reduces and gets thicker.

making mawa mawa2

3. Once the milk it has reduced to about one fourth, 1/4 quantity, lower the heat to low and let cook for a little while longer. Keep stirring regularly, until the milk solids (mawa) take on a lumpy appearance. There should be no visible liquid left in the pan, but the mawa should be moist and not stick to the sides of the pan.

Mawa

4. Remove the pan from heat and transfer the mawa to a bowl and let it cool completely. Then cover and refrigerate it for a day or two (not more) till you’re ready to make the cake. It will harden in the fridge so let it come to room temperature before using it.
You should get about 3/4 to 1 cup of mawa from 1 liter (4 cups) of full-fat milk. My mawa turned out to be light in color and I only got 1/2 a cup of mawa. The mawa quality and quantity differs with the type of milk you use

5. Now start preparations for the cake by pre-heating your oven to moderate 180°C/350°F/gas mark 4. Beat the butter, the crumbled mawa and the sugar in a largish bowl, using a hand held electric beater, on high speed until soft and fluffy.

6. Add the eggs, one at a time, and beat on medium speed till well incorporated. Add the vanilla and milk and beat till mixed well.

7. Sift the cake flour, baking powder, cardamom, and salt onto the batter and beat at medium speed until the batter is well blended. If you cannot find cake flour, place 2 tablespoon of cornstarch in the bottom of your 1-cup measure and then fill it with all-purpose (plain) flour to make up to 1 cup.

8. Grease and line only the bottom of an 8 inch (20 cm) spring form pan. Pour the batter into this and lightly smooth the top.

Mawa cake before baking

Place the cashew nuts (or blanched almonds) on top of the batter randomly. Do not press the nuts down into the batter. A Mawa Cake always has a rustic finished look

9. Bake in a preheated moderate oven for about 1 hour until the cake is a golden brown and a skewer pushed into the centre comes out clean. Do not over bake the cake or it will dry out. If the cake seems to be browning too quickly, cover it will aluminium foil hallway through the baking time.
Mawa cake with cardamom

10. Remove from oven and allow it to cool for 10 min in the tin. Release the cake, peel off the parchment from the base and let it cool completely.

Notes

You can make the “Mawa” a day or two ahead of making the cake and store it in an airtight container in the fridge. When you take it out, it will look dry and a little lumpy because of the fat in the milk solids. This is alright. Just let it come to room temperature before you use it to make the cake.
The Mawa Cake is usually served as it is, without any other accompaniment, as a snack with coffee or tea.

bolinhas (Indian coconut semolina  cookies)

Bolinhas de coco

Bolinhas are cardamom flavored coconut and semolina cake like cookies from the Indian state of Goa. When they come out of the oven, they are a little crisp/ crunchy on the outside and soft on the inside. When they cool, their texture changes into a melt-in-the-mouth cloud of coconut and semolina with the wonderful taste of cardamom whispering from the back ground

What is unusual about these cookies is that they are made entirely with semolina and fresh grated coconut . There is no flour in them. To make them you have to allow the batter an overnight rest so that the semolina can soak up liquids. That is what results in the irresistible melt in your mouth cake like cookie. The process of this overnight rest reminds me of semolina maamoul another heavenly semolina based cookie

Bolinhas de coco

This recipe makes 4 dozen cookies and it can be halfed

Ingredients:

2 cups (500 ml) (5-1/3 oz) (150 gm) fresh grated coconut, packed
1-1/2 cups (360 ml) (9 oz) (250 gm) semolina
1-1/4 cups (300 ml) (8-3/4 oz) (250 gm) granulated sugar
3/4 cup water (180ml) (6 oz) (175 gm) water
A pinch of salt
2 tablespoons (30 ml) (1 oz) (30 gm) ghee (clarified butter) or melted unsalted butter
2 large eggs
8 to 10 pods cardamom, powdered (about 1-1/2 teaspoon)

Directions:

1. Run the grated coconut in your processor or the small jar of your blender a couple of times so that the flakes are smaller and uniform in texture. Do not grind into a paste. Keep aside.

2. Put the semolina in a pan and toast/ roast it, over low to medium heat, until it starts giving off an aroma, and looks like it’s about to start changing colour. This should take a couple of minutes. Do not brown. Transfer the semolina into a bowl and keep aside.

3. In the same pan, pour the water and add the sugar to it. Place it on medium heat and keep stirring until the sugar dissolves completely. Once the sugar has dissolved, keep stirring the solution and let it cook for about 2 minutes. Turn off the heat. The sugar solution should just begin to start forming a syrup but is still watery. Do not cook until it forms a thick syrup.

4. Add the toasted/ roasted semolina and mix well. Then add the coconut, salt and ghee (or melted butter) and mix well. Put the pan back on the stove, and over medium heat stir the coconut mixture until it is really hot and easily forms a thick clump. This should take about 2 to 3 minutes.

5. Take the pan off the heat and let the semolina coconut mixture cool to room temperature. Transfer this into a bowl or container, cover and refrigerate for at least 8 hours, ideally overnight. For really fluffy biscuits/ cookies, the overnight rest is recommended.

6. The next day, take the dough out of the fridge and let it come to room temperature. Separate the yolks from the egg whites.(See notes) Lightly beat the yolks with a fork to break them and add to the dough. Also add the powdered cardamom and mix well with a wooden spoon or fork.

cardamom cookies

7. Whisk the egg whites by hand until frothy and add to the dough. Mix well till incorporated.

8. You will now have a slightly moist and sticky dough. Refrigerate this dough for about half an hour so it firms up a bit.

9. Pre-heat your oven to moderate 180°C/350°F/gas mark 4. Line your baking trays with parchment or grease them well with some ghee or melted butter.

10. Take the dough out and pinch off walnut sized bits of dough. The dough should be firm enough to handle without difficulty. If the dough is sticking to your palms, lightly dust your palms with flour before shaping the dough. Roll the bits of dough into balls and then flatten them very slightly.

11. Decorate the top by marking criss-crosses (3 equidistant lines one way and another 3 crossing them at right angles), with a table knife. Press down a bit but not too deep or right through the biscuit/ cookie. Use up all the dough this way.

Indian cardamom cookies

12. Place the shaped dough on the baking trays leaving a little space between them. Bake in a preheated moderate oven for about 20 to 25 minutes until they’re a golden brown and done. Let them cool on the sheets for about 5 minutes and then transfer to racks to cool completely.

13. Store the biscuits/ cookies in airtight containers. This recipe makes about 4 dozen Bolinhas de Coco.

bolinhas (indian cardamom cookies)

Notes

  • Once the first part of the dough has been made it must be refrigerated for at least 8 hours. About 10 hours to overnight is even better, because this allows the semolina to absorb moisture and become soft. It also produces fluffier cookies.
  • If you can find fresh grated coconut, please use that as it gives you the best taste and texture. If you’re using frozen grated coconut let it come to room temperature before using it.
  • If using dehydrated shredded coconut or desiccated coconut, please look for the unsweetened kind. Also re-hydrate your coconut by adding about 1/2 cup warm water to 2 cups of dehydrated/ desiccated coconut and let it sit for about half an hour. After half an hour, drain off any excess water, if any and then use in the recipe. You should have moist coconut not wet coconut.
  • The first time I made these I made them following the recipe and separated the egg white from yolk. The second time I forgot that step and actually ended up having cookies that rose more in the oven and were better in texture
%d bloggers like this: