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Gujiyas (Indian Fried Pies or sweet empanada)

Posted by vivnidhi on March 21, 2010

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Gujiyas

This post has been lying in my drafts for months now. Yes, my dear blog turned two this November but I could not post anything or even celebrate for that matter. To make the long story short, we all kept falling sick and prey to almost all the bugs around. This certainly has been a very healthy year for the bugs, specially in Michigan. Let me shut the hypochondriac in my brain who wants to enlist every detail of the past months, starting from the no. of coughs per minutes to the boxes of tissues used and move on to better things I can share with you.

In December I attended Michigan Lady Food Bloggers (MLFB) cookie exchange which was real fun.The no. of cookies I brought back home cheered everyone like nothing else could. Check out  Kate’s blog for the photographs and you can absolutely drool at ALL the cookies ….. All the cookies were delicious! I made (as usual) roasted almond macarons with chocolate ganache. I think almost all got over baked. Yet, with all that sugar, how bad can a badly baked macaron taste ?…….so it wasn’t too bad 🙂 .

Moving on…….to an authentic old Indian treat “Gujiya” . I have interesting stories up my sleeve regarding the gujiya or pirakiya.  I grew up watching my Grandmother (Dadda)  and my Mother make gujiya for most festivals. Dadda would always fill it and close it while my Mom would make the dough, the filling and even fry it. My Mom cannot close a gujiya, she never felt the need to learn it 🙂 . Closing the gujiya or making the ‘curved pattern’ is called “Murri Banana” meaning making murri. The good thing is that I know how to make murri somewhat. [You bet, as if  I will leave the chance to brag 😉 .]  In my grandmother’s generation, when a girl (Indian girls then would be married at a very early age i.e. 13-14…..I am talking 1930’s) would be married, she would be asked to make gujiyas and the way her gujiya looked and tasted would be a measure of her competence in the kitchen. As I heard this story almost every year, I thought I better learn to make it well (lest I be judged on the same basis 😉 ) and so I coaxed Dadda to teach it to me. Well! till my last gujiya making stint with her, she was never really pleased with my murri. She always said mine was ok cause it would not open up but I could do better.  So, see I could have actually done without bragging 🙂 . There’s always a gujiya mold available in Indian stores which seals the gujiya well and one need not make murri etc. but I have never used it. An Empanada mold would be perfect too.

Fast forward to my first year after marriage…….the first year on Diwali, I planned to make gujiyas. I really thought to myself,”big deal” I have always helped Dadda and Mummy make it. I made a few and took them to the husband’s aunt (Masiji’s ) place. Oh, were they sweet(no, not the gujiyas……..my husband’s Aunt & Uncle)….. my gujiyas were really soft and I have blanked out on the filling now. Masiji just put all the gujiyas in the oven and I think transformed it into something edible somehow. Then I kept making gujiyas every year and I doubt I ever really got it right. Either the dough would be soft or I would fry on a higher temperature or I would play with the filling , I was always unsatisfied and a bit hesitant to offer it to others. 3 years later came my Mother-In-Law who actually taught me how to make the real thing. Since then, I have been successful consistently. Nothing beats practice.

The Recipe: (For about 30 gujiyas)

For the Shell:

  • 2 cups All Purpose Flour
  • 4 Tbsp. Canola Oil
  • 1/4 cup Water + /- 2 Tbsp. water

For the Filing:

  • 200 g Khoya/Mava (Indian cooked dried milk) cut in small cubes
  • 1/2 cup dry fruits (cashews, almonds, pistachios) slivered, sliced thin
  • 1/4 cup raisins (green/golden ones are preferable )
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1 Tbsp. Cardamom powder (I even crush the cardamom seeds using a rolling pin when in hurry)
  • Canola/Vegetable  Oil for frying

For the binder:

  • 2 Tbsp. All Purpose flour
  • 1/4 cup water

To make the shell dough:

Add the oil to the all purpose flour and rub the mixture between the palms of your hands. The oil should be uniformly distributed in the flour and should resemble fine bread crumbs.

Add the water slowly to the flour and make a stiff dough. It is important to knead the dough well for good gujiyas. A good tip for all such dough is to set aside a tsp. of oil initially and then at the very end add it in a corner of the plate you are using to knead. The dough is then broken in 2 -3 pieces and then made smooth by touching those pieces with the oil in the corner till all the oil is absorbed. Cover the dough and let it rest for 1/2 an hour while the filling is prepared.

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Stiff gujiya dough

To make the filling:

Heat a wok or a saucepan on medium heat (no. 5 mark) and add the khoya (milk solids) in it.

Use a spatula to break the big lumps of the khoya.

Keep frying the khoya till it turns golden brown. The heat can be reduced a little bit if you are not able to stir all the khoya to (no. 4 mark). Once the khoya turns brown, add the nuts, raisins and cardamom powder.

Let the mixture cool and then add sugar to the mixture. The sugar amount can be varied as per taste too.

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Store bought Khoya / Mawa

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Khoya cut into cubes

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Adding nuts and raisins to fried Khoya….we do not want to brown it too much at this stage

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Khoya, nuts, raisins and cardamom…….filling’s ready…it will be crumbly when dry

 

To make the Gujiyas:

First prepare the binder paste by mixing the all purpose flour and water. Set it aside.

The dough should be more pliable now as it has rested (goes same as humans 😉 ). Break the dough into 30 equal parts and keep rounding them with your palms as you are breaking. Cover the broken and rounded dough with a moist cloth so that they do not dry too much.

Using a rolling pin, roll each dough ball into a round about 2.5″ in diameter.

Apply the binder paste along the edges. Use your index finger to dip in the binder paste and then spread it around the circumference of the rolled out round.

Add about 1 Tbsp. of the filling into the round and fold the round into a semicircle now. At this step, you can either press all the edges hard so that they do not open, or use a gujiya mold ( empanada mold) or make a murri. The murri is made by pulling very small portions of the dough edge and rolling it over the edges. Honestly, it is a little difficult to write about it, its easier to learn when seen. I shall try someday to insert a video here but that has to wait. Keep the prepared gujiya aside and cover with a moist towel while you prepare the other gujiyas.

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Almost round 😉 dough and filling

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Folding and closing in process

The wok or frying pan should at least have 2″ of oil. Start heating the oil on medium heat as you prepare the gujiyas. Once 5 or 6 gujiyas are ready, add them to the oil. Drop a tiny dough piece to check the oil. It should not be so hot that the dough ball comes to the surface at once. The oil should be just hot enough that the dough ball stays immersed for about 30 seconds. You should be able to see the bubbles as you add the dough piece. Lower the heat just a little bit to about medium low (gas mark 4) and fry the gujiyas till golden and crisp.

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Gujiyas in hot oil

Serve hot or at room temperature. These gujiyas keep well for at least 2 weeks in an airtight container.

These gujiyas are sometimes further dipped in sugar syrup. The consistency of the sugar syrup varies. The sugar syrup can be quite dry or even a little liquid resulting in different tasting gujiyas. I most often like it without the extra sugar though the other kinds have their own place in my heart 😉 .

If you have made any dumpling, empanada, sweet pie before, please do try this simple filling. It is extra-ordinary. No coconut, semolina….yet these will taste quite good. Most North Indians make it on Holi, the festival of colors….ah well for the next year now!

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Only pictures for now 😉

 

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Posted in -All Purpose flour, -Almonds, -Canola Oil, -Cardamom, -Cashews, -Khoya/Mava (Milk solids), -Pistachios, -Raisins | Tagged: , , | 4 Comments »

Daring Bakers 2010 : Nanaimo Bars

Posted by vivnidhi on January 27, 2010

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Nanaimo Bars

This is the only picture I was able to take…..took them to a friend’s potluck and forgot to take photos

All the Daring Bakers are headed to Canada for winter Olympics. Of course, I can’t fool you….no……we are not going….just celebrating 😉 by making nanaimo bars. OK, I also had never heard of these until………..”The January 2010 Daring Bakers’ challenge was hosted by Lauren of Celiac Teen. Lauren chose Gluten-Free Graham Wafers and Nanaimo Bars as the challenge for the month.”

Nanaimo Bars are a classic Canadian dessert created in none other than Nanaimo, British Colombia. In case you were wondering, it’s pronounced Nah-nye-Moh. These bars have 3 layers: a base containing graham crackers, cocoa, coconut and nuts, a middle custard layer, and a topping of chocolate. They are extremely rich and available almost everywhere across the country.

Lauren wanted us to bake the Graham Crackers gluten free. I used all  whole wheat pastry flour (atta) instead of the gluten free flours as I am too lazy. These are absolutely divine. You will not want to buy store bought after trying these out. Superlative praises for these graham crackers. I stopped buying Indian Glucose biscuits long long back because of Trans fats. These graham crackers will certainly fill that craving. Please visit Celiac Teen or the other daring bakers this month for some great gluten free versions.

Recipe Source: Graham Wafers — 101 Cookbooks (http://www.101cookbooks.com/archives/000126.html) I adapted it to be gluten-free. The adapted recipe is below.
Nanaimo Bars — City of Nanaimo (http://www.nanaimo.ca/EN/main/visitors/NanaimoBars.html)

The Recipe:

Preparation time:
• Graham Wafers: 30 to 45 minutes total active prep, 2 ½ hours to overnight and 45 minutes inactive prep.
• Nanaimo Bars: 30 minutes.

Equipment required:
• Food Processor
• Bowls
• Parchment paper or silpats
• Cookie sheets
• Double boiler or pot and heatproof bowl
• 8 by 8 inch square pan
• Hand mixer or stand mixer (You may use a wooden spoon, but this makes it much easier!)
• Saucepan

  • For  Graham Wafers
    Ingredients
    2 1/2 cups + 2 Tbsp. Whole wheat pastry flour (atta)
    1 cup (200 g) (7.1 ounces) Dark Brown Sugar, Lightly packed
    1 teaspoon (5 mL) Baking soda
    3/4 teaspoon (4 mL ) Kosher Salt
    7 tablespoons (100 g) (3 ½ ounces) Unsalted Butter (Cut into 1-inch cubes and frozen)
    2 Tbsp. Honey, Mild-flavored such as clover.
  • 3 Tbsp. Molasses
    5 tablespoons (75 mL) Whole Milk
    2 tablespoons (30 mL) Pure Vanilla Extract

Directions:
1. In the bowl of a food processor fitted with a steel blade, combine the flours, brown sugar, baking soda, and salt. Pulse on low to incorporate. Add the butter and pulse on and off, until the mixture is the consistency of a coarse meal. If making by hand, combine aforementioned dry ingredients with a whisk, then cut in butter until you have a coarse meal. No chunks of butter should be visible.
2. In a small bowl or liquid measuring cup, whisk together the honey, molasses, milk and vanilla. Add to the flour mixture until the dough barely comes together. It will be very soft and sticky.
3. Turn the dough onto a surface well-floured with atta and pat the dough into a rectangle about 1 inch thick. Wrap in plastic and chill until firm, about 2 hours, or overnight.
4. Divide the dough in half and return one half to the refrigerator. Sift an even layer of whole wheat pastry flour onto the work surface and roll the dough into a long rectangle, about 1/8 inch thick. The dough will be quite sticky, so flour as necessary. Cut into 4 by 4 inch squares. Gather the scraps together and set aside. Place wafers on one or two parchment-lined baking sheets. Chill until firm, about 30 to 45 minutes. Repeat with the second batch of dough.
5. Adjust the rack to the upper and lower positions and preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit (180 degrees Celsius).
6. Gather the scraps together into a ball, chill until firm, and reroll. Dust the surface with more flour and roll out the dough to get a couple more wafers.
7. Prick the wafers with toothpick or fork, not all the way through, in two or more rows.
8. Bake for 25 minutes, until browned and slightly firm to the touch, rotating sheets halfway through to ensure even baking. Might take less, and the starting location of each sheet may determine its required time. The ones that started on the bottom browned faster.
9. When cooled completely, place enough wafers in food processor to make 1 ¼ cups (300 mL) of crumbs. Another way to do this is to place in a large ziplock bag, force all air out and smash with a rolling pin until wafers are crumbs.

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Graham Crackers

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We loved our graham crackers with some nutella and whipped topping……….Husband can’t have enough of it 🙂

Nanaimo Bars
Ingredients:

For Nanaimo Bars — Bottom Layer
1/2 cup (115 g) (4 ounces) Unsalted Butter
1/4 cup (50 g) (1.8 ounces) Granulated Sugar
5 tablespoons (75 mL) Unsweetened Cocoa
1 Large Egg, Beaten
1 1/4 cups (300 mL) (160 g) (5.6 ounces) Graham Wafer Crumbs (See previous recipe)
1/2 cup (55 g) (1.9 ounces) Almonds (Any type, Finely chopped)
1 cup (130 g) (4.5 ounces) Coconut  unsweetened

For Nanaimo Bars — Middle Layer
1/2 cup (115 g) (4 ounces) Unsalted Butter
2 tablespoons and 2 teaspoons (40 mL) Heavy Cream
2 tablespoons (30 mL) Vanilla Custard Powder (Such as Bird’s. Vanilla pudding mix may be substituted.)
2 cups (254 g) (8.9 ounces) Icing Sugar

For Nanaimo Bars — Top Layer
4 ounces (115 g) Semi-sweet chocolate
2 tablespoons (28 g) (1 ounce) Unsalted Butter

Directions:
1. For bottom Layer: Melt unsalted butter, sugar and cocoa in top of a double boiler. Add egg and stir to cook and thicken. Remove from heat. Stir in crumbs, nuts and coconut. Press firmly into an ungreased 8 by 8 inch pan.
2. For Middle Layer: Cream butter, cream, custard powder, and icing sugar together well. Beat until light in colour. Spread over bottom layer.
3. For Top Layer: Melt chocolate and unsalted butter over low heat. Cool. Once cool, pour over middle layer and chill.

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Making of the Nanaimo Bar………bottom layer

(This is the only photograph I have :-)) )

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My Tweaks to the recipe:

  1. Used whole wheat pastry flour (atta) for the crackers.
  2. Substituted molasses for some  honey as I was out of honey.
  3. I made double the middle layer (mistake..) and double the chocolate (bring on more 🙂 )

Additional Information:

These bars freeze very well, so don’t be afraid to pop some into the freezer.

The graham wafers may be kept in an airtight container for up to 2 weeks. Mine lasted about that long.

If making the graham crackers with wheat, replace the gluten-free flours (tapioca starch, sweet rice flour, and sorghum flour) with 2 ½ cups plus 2 tbsp of all-purpose wheat flour, or wheat pastry flour. Watch the wheat-based graham wafers very closely in the oven, as they bake faster than the gluten-free ones, sometimes only 12 minutes OR even 10.

For the Nanaimo Bars, if making with wheat, replace the gluten-free graham wafer crumbs with equal parts wheat graham wafer crumbs!

Information on Celiac Disease: http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/celiac-disease/DS00319

Information on Vancouver 2010: http://www.vancouver2010.com/

City of Nanaimo: http://www.nanaimo.ca/EN/index.html

Gluten Free Flour Information: http://glutenfreemommy.com/gluten-free-grains-101-the-best-flour-blend/

Video on making Nanaimo bars: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=x5aqa6R1jIM&feature=fvsr

Recipe and video for Vegan Nanaimo Bars (you didn’t think I’d leave you guys out?): http://www.everydaydish.tv/index.php?page=recipe&recipe=159

Recipe for gluten-free and vegan Graham Wafers: http://www.thesensitivepantry.com/the-sensitive-pantry/2009/8/3/grahams-…

 

Nanaimo bars disappointed me because of the middle layer. A bit too sweet. I will try other buttercreams or some custard as filling the next time. The husband was pretty impressed with the texture of the middle layer though and wanted me to just follow the recipe and make the amount of filling given.

For the funny attempts at decorating. I used plastic chocolate. I will post the plastic chocolate recipe separately later.

It’s after ages I am posting a daring baker challenge on time. I also hope that I shall continue to do so in the coming months and blog a little more….I have dozens of posts half written which have not yet made it to the blog.

Expenditure:

Heavy Whipping Cream 1/2 pint ……….$1.99………….from Meijer

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Total………………………………………$1.99

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I just received this photo…..it certainly looks better than the first

Posted in - Confectioner's Sugar, -Almonds, -Butter, -Coconut, -Cream, -Dark Brown sugar, -Honey, -Molasses, -Semisweet Chocolate, -Vanilla, -Whole Wheat Pastry flour, Baking Soda, Daring Bakers, Eggs, Milk, Sugar, Vanilla Pudding mix | Tagged: , , , | 4 Comments »

Macarons………..

Posted by vivnidhi on October 27, 2009

Daring Bakers finally…..made MACARONS .

measure_w180x180 presents…..

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PLAIN but nevertheless ;-)…..Roasted almond macarons with chocolate ganache

If you have been reading even one food blog these days, you cannot escape macarons ( A good history lesson here 😉 ) I  can speak for the food blogosphere , Macarons are a rage these days. I had been dreaming of eating these and dreading baking these myself. I kept reminding the husband what is a must eat…..whenever we visit Paris 🙂 . Mon Paree is a soft spot with me (as anyone who knows me is aware 😉 ). It’s one place I never want to visit on a budget 🙂 . David Lebovitz’s 10 Insanely Delicious things you shouldn’t miss in Paris will be a starting point 🙂 .

Anyway , moving on, Ami finally chose macarons for this month’s daring Bakers challenge, finally giving the weak hearted like me an incentive to try it out. The 2009 October Daring Bakers’ challenge was brought to us by Ami S. She chose macarons from Claudia Fleming’s The Last Course: The Desserts of Gramercy Tavern as the challenge recipe.

In Ami’s words “French macaroons are notorious for being difficult to master. Type in “macaroon,” “French macaroon” or “macaron” in your search engine of choice, and you will be inundated not only with bakeries offering these tasty little cookies, but scores and even hundreds of blogs all attempting to find the perfect recipe, the perfect technique. Which one is right? Which captures the perfect essence of macaroons? The answer is all of them and none of them. Macaroons are highly subjective, the subject of passionate, almost Talmudic study and debate. Chewy? Crisp? Age your egg whites? Ground the nuts or use nut meal or nut flour? Cooked sugar syrup, or confectioners’ sugar? In the words of a therapist, what do you think is the ideal macaroon? The answer lies within you.

Will French macaroon supplant the cupcake as the next sweet trend? There’s no way to know. I couldn’t have predicted the resurgence of leggings, yet here they are.”

I am sorry Ami , I did not use the recipe given. I read each and every post on the daring bakers forum and everybody seemed to be getting more success with Helen‘s recipe and so…….I decided to tread carefully on my first experiment.

Oh..I have come to know that these are often called macaroons in United States though they also refer to another coconut cookie as well.

Ok ….now to my “Hurrah” moment. I got it right the first time. Reason: I have made it a 100 times in my head. It was completely different when I actually made it yet I knew what I was doing. What I should be doing and what can lead to what. Two people require special mention and thanks as without them, I would not have been able to complete the challenge: 1. Helen of Tartelette and 2. Audax Artifex of Audax Artifex.  The recipe and instructions I used to make my first macarons are Helen‘s. The explanations, clarifications, warnings and encouragement……..even conversions are from Audax. He provided so much information that I did not have to even use my brains for menial conversions.

Roasted Almond macarons: (Makes approx. 11 macarons and hence around 22 shells)

  • Egg White 1 (approx. 32 g …aged 4 days in the refrigerator) brought to room temperature before whipping
  • Icing Sugar 64 g
  • Granulated Sugar 16 g (3 1/2 tsp. )
  • Roasted almond meal 35 g

1. I measured these with my tipsy weighing scale (which my kids have fiddled with well) and the least count of which is 25 g …….so do not get deterred by the weighing scale (oh…only if you are like me ) and take the plunge. It was fun :-).

2. First I toasted the almonds under the broiler and kept checking every two minutes. When the almonds were browned uniformly, removed them for the oven and let them cool. Once the almonds were cool, I used my blender to grind them along with the icing sugar. This helps the almonds not clump up. Audax also mentions that the grinder should not get  hot. Well! mine did…..I was scared but after sifting, the mix seemed fine to me.

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Sifted Ground almonds and icing sugar

3. I whipped the egg white to a firm foam. Then added the granulated sugar till the egg whites were firm and glossy. I had heard that if the egg whites are whipped right, the bowl can be turned upside down and it won’t fall off. Well! I took  the plunge with confidence and here we are:

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Whipped Egg Whites…..without sugar and after addition of sugar

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There is whipped egg in there….really……

4. I then used this video to learn how to fold the almond mixture in the egg whites. I may have required 10-12 strokes to get it to magma like consistency. The key is that when the mix is dropped back in itself. It should mix with the mix soon and no trace should remain.

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My final macaron batter

5. Then I piped it on marked parchment paper. Here was the problem. I did not have a big enough tip with my piping bag. Next time, I will just use a ziploc cut in a corner. 

6. Left the piped macaron shells to dry out for half an hour. Up to an hour is fine I believe. Meanwhile preheat the oven to 300 F . When the shells have formed a skin on top, I used another baking tray under the piped one (another Audax tip…..to ensure even heating) and slid them in the oven. In spite of the fact that I had all kinds of sizes, baking for 10 minutes was good.

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Please do not look at their amoebic shapes, they will be better next time……oh, this is after the skins have formed on top……….30 minutes after piping

7. When warm, the macarons like to stick well to the parchment paper. I used Helen’s tip and sprinkled/sprayed a few droplets of water under the parchment on the tray while still warm. Then I used a plastic knife to slide the macaron shells off the parchment. Worked very well for me.

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Out of the oven… oh… what joy,

I was almost expecting flat grainy biscuits…..but I got this……..

and because I can do it………….U can too

Chocolate Ganache Recipe:

I used unsweetened chocolate cause I knew that the macaron shells are very sweet (yes I love licking all my cake batters 🙂 and by now know before hand , how the baked product will taste based on the batter)

  • Unsweetened chocolate 2 oz. grated or chopped fine
  • Sugar 1/4 cup
  • Butter 1 Tbsp.
  • Whipping Cream 1/4 cup
  • Vanilla extract 1/4 tsp.

1. Add chocolate , butter and whipping cream in a bowl.

2. Heat the whipping cream and sugar in a heavy bottomed pan on low heat. Do not let it boil or form a skin. Keep whisking to dissolve the sugar.

3. Add hot cream in the bowl with the chocolate and mix well. Whisk to achieve a smooth texture.

4. As it cools, the mixture thickens. Pipe it on top of half the shells. Cover the piped chocolate ones with plain shells and you are ready to munch.

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Please do try one …………(These are all that were left by the time I could take pictures)

Bottom line is : Macarons are quite do-able. As Helen says…..” if you find a recipe that works for you, stick to it, no matter whose it is, especially if you are new to macarons and don’t make them that often.” I will stick with hers…….. 🙂 . My opinion is that one must not get intimidated by macarons and do try them at home unless you can afford Laduree‘s all the time :-).  Some may find it too sweet but kids love it. Here we are in the sniffles season so kids taste buds are very difficult to please……macarons made my work easier as there were smiles all around. My son couldn’t say enough of “Thank you Mama” AND ‘I just want half more” . Well! if you have kids ….do make these………until we visit Paris ….that is……..I like to dream 🙂 .

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Bad light……..but great taste

Before I close, I really must thank Ami for the challenge, Helen for  such a foolproof recipe and Audax for the tremendous support. This has been a great challenge and I loved learning a great skill. I have 5 days aged 3 egg whites in he refrigerator. This time I will be playing as I am not that scared. Looking forward to the adventure. If I find the time, I will certainly update with better pictures.

Update Nov. 1 : I did forget the expenses; didn’t I ?

Expenditure :

Confectioner’s Sugar ……..$2.74 ……from Kroger (I am absolutely done with this store….too rude for me to handle)

Posted in - Confectioner's Sugar, -Almonds, -Butter, -Cream, -Egg Whites, -Unsweetened Chocolate, -Vanilla, Eggs, Sugar | Tagged: , , , , | 8 Comments »

Last of the oldies: Daring Bakers June Challenge : Bakewell Tart….er…Pudding

Posted by vivnidhi on August 10, 2009

Perhaps the pictures I took were so bad that I never felt like posting. But, nevertheless, I must say that I made this delicious dessert in the month of June when I was supposed to, I don’t know why I did not post it. It was my first time making frangipane……..”it was lovely indeed” ……….as the English would say 😉

It’s easy and quite delicious. The June Daring Bakers’ challenge was hosted by Jasmine of Confessions of a Cardamom Addict and Annemarie of Ambrosia and Nectar. They chose a Traditional (UK) Bakewell Tart… er… pudding that was inspired by a rich baking history dating back to the 1800’s in England.  You can read all about the bakewell tart on these blogs and it is a very interesting read. I am just on one of my “too tired to write sessions” today.

The Mighty Flame at 180 x 180 (largest)presents:

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Bakewell Tart ….er pudding

Looks plain but trust me ….tastes delicious

The recipe:

Makes one 23cm (9” tart)
Prep time: less than 10 minutes (plus time for the individual elements)
Resting time: 15 minutes
Baking time: 30 minutes
Equipment needed: 23cm (9”) tart pan or pie tin (preferably with ridged edges), rolling pin

One quantity sweet shortcrust pastry (recipe follows)
Bench flour
250ml (1cup (8 US fl. oz)) jam or curd, warmed for spreadability
One quantity frangipane (recipe follows)
One handful blanched, flaked almonds

Assembling the tart
Place the chilled dough disc on a lightly floured surface. If it’s overly cold, you will need to let it become acclimatised for about 15 minutes before you roll it out. Flour the rolling pin and roll the pastry to 5mm (1/4”) thickness, by rolling in one direction only (start from the centre and roll away from you), and turning the disc a quarter turn after each roll. When the pastry is to the desired size and thickness, transfer it to the tart pan, press in and trim the excess dough. Patch any holes, fissures or tears with trimmed bits. Chill in the freezer for 15 minutes.

Preheat oven to 200C/400F.

Remove shell from freezer, spread as even a layer as you can of jam onto the pastry base. Top with frangipane, spreading to cover the entire surface of the tart. Smooth the top and pop into the oven for 30 minutes. Five minutes before the tart is done, the top will be poofy and brownish. Remove from oven and strew flaked almonds on top and return to the heat for the last five minutes of baking.

The finished tart will have a golden crust and the frangipane will be tanned, poofy and a bit spongy-looking. Remove from the oven and cool on the counter. Serve warm, with crème fraîche, whipped cream or custard sauce if you wish.

When you slice into the tart, the almond paste will be firm, but slightly squidgy and the crust should be crisp but not tough.

Jasmine’s notes:
• If you cannot have nuts, you can try substituting Victoria sponge for the frangipane. It’s a pretty popular popular cake, so you shouldn’t have any troubles finding one in one of your cookbooks or through a Google search.
• You can use whichever jam you wish, but if you choose something with a lot of seeds, such as raspberry or blackberry, you should sieve them out.
• The jam quantity can be anywhere from 60ml (1/4 cup) to 250ml (1cup), depending upon how “damp” and strongly flavored your preserves are. I made it with the lesser quantity of home made strawberry jam, while Annemarie made it with the greater quantity of cherry jam; we both had fabulous results. If in doubt, just split the difference and spread 150ml (2/3cup) on the crust.
Annemarie’s notes:
• The excess shortcrust can be rolled out and cut into cookie-shapes (heck, it’s pretty darned close to a shortbread dough).

Sweet shortcrust pastry

Prep time: 15-20 minutes
Resting time: 30 minutes (minimum)
Equipment needed: bowls, box grater, cling film

  • 225g (8oz) all purpose flour
    30g (1oz) sugar
    2.5ml (½ tsp) salt
    110g (4oz) unsalted butter, cold (frozen is better)
    2 (2) egg yolks
    2.5ml (½ tsp) almond extract (optional)
    15-30ml (1-2 Tbsp) cold water

Sift together flour, sugar and salt. Grate butter into the flour mixture, using the large hole-side of a box grater. Using your finger tips only, and working very quickly, rub the fat into the flour until the mixture resembles bread crumbs. Set aside.

Lightly beat the egg yolks with the almond extract (if using) and quickly mix into the flour mixture. Keep mixing while dribbling in the water, only adding enough to form a cohesive and slightly sticky dough.

Form the dough into a disc, wrap in cling and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes

Jasmine’s notes:
• I make this using vanilla salt and vanilla sugar.
• If you wish, you can substitute the seeds of one vanilla bean, one teaspoon of vanilla paste or one teaspoon of vanilla extract for the almond extract

Frangipane

Prep time: 10-15 minutes
Equipment needed: bowls, hand mixer, rubber spatula

  • 125g (4.5oz) unsalted butter, softened
    125g (4.5oz) icing sugar
    3 (3) eggs
    2.5ml (½ tsp) almond extract
    125g (4.5oz) ground almonds
    30g (1oz) all purpose flour

Cream butter and sugar together for about a minute or until the mixture is primrose in colour and very fluffy. Scrape down the side of the bowl and add the eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. The batter may appear to curdle. In the words of Douglas Adams: Don’t panic. Really. It’ll be fine. After all three are in, pour in the almond extract and mix for about another 30 seconds and scrape down the sides again. With the beaters on, spoon in the ground nuts and the flour. Mix well. The mixture will be soft, keep its slightly curdled look (mostly from the almonds) and retain its pallid yellow colour.

We had gone strawberry picking that weekend and so of course I prepared some quick strawberry jam. No pectin, nothing but strawberries, sugar and lemon juice….that’s it and folks at home could not have enough of it…..actually there wasn’t t enough of it as I used it up in the tart 🙂 .

Optional element: Home made jam or curd
We know several amongst us are rather jammy with making their own jams and preserves. Go ahead get wild and creative or simply showcase whatever’s local and in season. If you haven’t jammed before and want some hints or recipes, take a look at Bernardin’s homecanning.ca. If you want to just make some jam for this challenge and not go through sterilizing jars and snap lids, you can try a pan jam, similar to Jasmine’s Blackberry Pan Jam. If you do use homemade jam, please include your recipe or the link to the one you used in your post.

Quick Strawberry Pan Jam (similar to Jasmine‘s pan jam)

  • Strawberries 2 cups cleaned and quartered (measured after cutting)
  • sugar 1 1/2 cups
  • Lemon Juice 1 Tbsp.

On a heavy bottomed pan, heat the strawberries till they boil and add the sugar and lemon juice. Let this cook on medium heat till a  successful plate test can be done. For the plate test, place a plate in the freezer or chill it well. Pour a big drop of jam on this cold plate and give it 30 seconds. If the jam has reached the right consistency, it will very slowly spread a little. More about jam making here.

July1_39

Strawberry Pan Jam

I also made some strawberry leather ( I mentioned we went strawberry picking, so, yeah I had a bounty)  for “decoration” which looked good but bad pictures…. Anyway, the boy is nuts about this fruit leather and I prefer making it at home to avoid preservatives and less sugar compared to store bought. Very simple to make, patience is the only virtue required in making fruit leather. Most types of fruits can be used to prepare fruit leather. Please leave melons :-)). I have made fruit leather out of strawberries and kiwi fruit so far. It’s basically like aam papad that we would eat just with other fruits….kids love it. Unfortunately, I have no pictures…next time.

Strawberry Leather:

The Recipe:

  • Strawberries 2 cups cleaned, hulled and pureed
  • sugar  1/4 cup
  • Lemon juice 1 tsp.

1. The same ingredients as jam but tastes quite different. Lemon juice is required both here and in jam to reduce crystallization of sugar. I remember jam bottles which would have rims covered in sugar. Anyway, so far I have only made in small quantities which lasts me about 3-4 weeks in the refrigerator and no sugar crystallization so far. Anyway, puree the strawberries and strain them. I just add the strawberry seeds to the jam….I like the crunch in it .

July1_31 July1_32

Strawberries for strawberry leather

2. In a heavy bottomed pan, add sugar, strained puree and lemon juice and heat on medium heat. Stop after about 20 minutes or until the mixture has thickened considerably yet should be of pouring and spreading consistency. Try your hand at it……..the result will be delicious anyway 🙂 .

3. Cover a baking sheet with parchment paper. Parchment paper is a necessity for making fruit leather. Spread the mix as thinly and uniformly as possible. We don’t want to spread very thin as it will get crisp or worse burn but too thick will take an eternity. About 1/4 inch is good enough.

4. Preheat the oven to 200 F. Keep the baking sheet in the oven and forget for at least an hour. After the first hour (for a small batch) I like to check every half hour. The mixture keeps drying and when it’s ready, there won’t be any soft portion left & will also not be very sticky.

5. Let it cool completely and store wrapped in parchment. Can be cut as desired. The result is worth the effort.

July2_07

Bad attempt really……bakewell tart was delicious with some whipped topping

The red stuff is strawberry leather roses…..bet it didn’t look as bad as here 🙂

We all thoroughly enjoyed this bakewell tart…..er..pudding. It’s a great & easy make ahead dessert. We liked it better the next day. 

Did not cost me anything as I made half the quantity and had everything at home.

Posted in - Confectioner's Sugar, -All Purpose flour, -Almond extract, -Almonds, -Butter, -lemon, -Strawberry, Eggs, Sugar | Tagged: , , | 3 Comments »

Daring Bakers Layered Chocolate Amaretto Cheesecake

Posted by vivnidhi on April 27, 2009

Spatulla at 180 x 180 (largest)Oh Yeah, it was the E L Spatulla’s magic this month!

Apr_84

Perfectly layered Chocolate Amaretto Cheesecake

I must admit here that cheesecake is the ultimate dessert for me. Yes, I am extremely fond of custards and the like…..and if you bake it………I can eat it all the time. This is my all time favorite cake. And I had never eaten it all these years when I was in India! Ah! what a waste………I wish I could have eaten it without the guilt ……..calories…….look at yourself……..you still have 10 lbs to lose………look at all the plain sugars you are putting in your body!! UFF!!!  So, when now I baked it and placed it on the table……..in spite of the fact that I was pleased no end that the cake did not crack one bit and was layered exactly as I wanted………the husband’s look said something else.

“This is a calorie bomb…..fat, sugar, cheese………what kind of life will you have……. if you eat more of these”

“Well! when temptation rules, the mirror breaks, and I asked the husband to look the other way ….pleeeeeeeease….”

Ah! I so wish we did not have to fight this constant war against cholesterol and high blood sugar. As, I have so often admitted, the husband has to keep a check on his cholesterol and I have to worry about an eventual high blood sugar. And since I am still 10 lbs more than I was pre-second pregnancy, the threat is real for me. I am not overweight, just that I’d do my health and myself a favor if I lost these pounds.

Well! this blog is not about health rants (it so often becomes) ! I absolutely loved this cheesecake. I have baked cheesecakes before (coffee caramel remains the husband’s fav…….he can’t get over coffee and I chocolate)  but this is the best recipe. I had never tried layering the cheesecakes and since I got all daring ……….I tired it out!

Love you Jenny and your famous friend Abbey for sharing a great, easy recipe. The April 2009 challenge is hosted by Jenny from Jenny Bakes. She has chosen Abbey’s Infamous Cheesecake as the challenge.

This is truly an easy recipe and I know this will be made again!

Abbey’s Infamous Cheesecake:

crust:
1 3/4  cups / 240 g chocolate wafers

7 Tbsp. / 3 1/2 oz butter, melted
1/4 almonds ground

cheesecake:
3 sticks of cream cheese, 8 oz each (total of 24 oz) room temperature
1 cup / 210 g sugar
3 large eggs
1 cup / 8 oz heavy cream
3 tbsp. Amaretto

7 oz. semi sweet chocolate

The recipe calls for 1 Tbsp of lemon juice, 1 Tbsp. of vanilla extract and 1 Tbsp. of booze. I replace all with amaretto.

DIRECTIONS:
1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (Gas Mark 4 = 180C = Moderate heat). Begin to boil a large pot of water for the water bath.

2. Mix together the crust ingredients and press into your preferred pan. You can press the crust just into the bottom, or up the sides of the pan too – baker’s choice. Set crust aside.

Apr_39 Apr_40

Crushed Chocolate Wafers, almonds and butter

Apr_43

Chocolate wafer crust

My crust definitely had too much butter. I need to reduce it the next time. This did not compromise the taste but it would be better with lesser butter.

3. Combine cream cheese and sugar in the bowl of a stand-mixer (or in a large bowl if using a hand-mixer) and cream together until smooth. Add eggs, one at a time, fully incorporating each before adding the next. Make sure to scrape down the bowl in between each egg. Add heavy cream, amaretto and blend until smooth and creamy.

4. Pour batter into prepared crust and tap the pan on the counter a few times to bring all air bubbles to the surface. Place pan into a larger pan and pour boiling water into the larger pan until halfway up the side of the cheesecake pan. If cheesecake pan is not airtight, cover bottom securely with foil before adding water.

Apr_44 Apr_47

Cream cheese on the left and creamed ingredients on the right

Apr_49

3 cups plain Amaretto batter is removed and rest mixed with melted chocolate

I chopped the chocolate well and then melted it in the microwave for 1 minute. Stir the chocolate and check for lumps. Melt further in 15 sec or 30 sec intervals only if there are lumps. Keep stirring after every heating. Removed 3 cups of the batter separately and then added the melted chocolate to the rest of the batter. Mixed with a light hand so as to not overmix.

Apr_54 Apr_55

On top of chocolate wafer crust goes chocolate layer and then sieved very finely ground almonds on top of it.

Apr_57

Ready for the oven

5. Bake 45 to 55 minutes, until it is almost done – this can be hard to judge, but you’re looking for the cake to hold together, but still have a lot of jiggle to it in the center. You don’t want it to be completely firm at this stage. Close the oven door, turn the heat off, and let rest in the cooling oven for one hour. This lets the cake finish cooking and cool down gently enough so that it won’t crack on the top. After one hour, remove cheesecake from oven and lift carefully out of water bath. Let it finish cooling on the counter, and then cover and put in the fridge to chill. Once fully chilled, it is ready to serve.

Pan note: The creator of this recipe used to use a springform pan, but no matter how well she wrapped the thing in tin foil, water would always seep in and make the crust soggy. Now she uses one of those 1-use foil “casserole” shaped pans from the grocery store. They’re 8 or 9 inches wide and really deep, and best of all, water-tight. When it comes time to serve, just cut the foil away.

Prep notes: While the actual making of this cheesecake is a minimal time commitment, it does need to bake for almost an hour, cool in the oven for an hour, and chill overnight before it is served. Please plan accordingly!

Apr_60

The end result! Perfect layers! Hurrah!!

Things I learnt: As I read more on the Daring Baker forum, I realized that my cake top got brown and it should not have browned at all for a perfect cheesecake.

Next My crust indeed got soggy , so I should have either used more foil or used a normal cake pan instead of spring form. Jacque of Daisy lane cakes has very beautifully demonstrated how to use regular pan for cheesecake in her post Sweet Potato Cheesecake.

Some variations from the recipe creator:

** Lavender-scented cheesecake w/ blueberries – heat the cup of heavy cream in the microwave or a saucepan until hot but not boiling. Add 2 tbsp of lavender flowers and stir. Let lavender steep in the cream for about 10-15 minutes, then strain the flowers out. Add strained cream to cheesecake batter as normal. Top with fresh blueberries, or make a quick stovetop blueberry sauce (splash of orange juice, blueberries, a little bit of sugar, and a dash of cinnamon – cook until berries burst, then cool)

** Cafe au lait cheesecake with caramel – take 1/4 cup of the heavy cream and heat it in the microwave for a short amount of time until very hot. Add 1-2 tbsp. instant espresso or instant coffee; stir to dissolve. Add this to the remainder of cream and use as normal. Top cheesecake with homemade caramel sauce (I usually find one on the food network website – just make sure it has heavy cream in it. You can use store-bought in a pinch, but the flavor is just not the same since its usually just sugar and corn syrup with no dairy).

** Tropical – add about a half cup of chopped macadamias to the crust, then top the cake with a mango-raspberry-mandarin orange puree.

** Mexican Turtle – add a bar of melted dark chocolate (between 3 and 5 oz., to taste) to the batter, along with a teaspoon of cinnamon and a dash of cayenne pepper (about 1/8 tsp.). Top it with pecan halves and a homemade caramel sauce.

** Honey-cinnamon with port-pomegranate poached pears – replace 1/2 cup of the sugar with 1/2 cup of honey, add about a teaspoon or more (to taste) of cinnamon. Take 2 pears (any variety you like or whatever is in season), peeled and cored, and poach them in a boiling poaching liquid of port wine, pomegranate juice/seeds, a couple of “coins” of fresh ginger, a cinnamon stick, and about a 1/4 cup of sugar. Poach them until tender, then let cool. Strain the poaching liquid and simmer until reduced to a syrupy-glaze consistency, then cool. Thinly slice the cooled pears and fan them out atop the cooled cheesecake. Pour the cooled poaching syrup over the pears, then sprinkle the top with chopped walnuts and fresh pomegranate seeds.

Some variations from Jenny (from JennyBakes):

**Key lime – add zest from one lime to sugar before mixing with cream cheese. Substitute lemon juice, alcohol, and vanilla with key lime juice.

**Cheesecakelets – put in muffin tins, ramekins, or custard cups. Try baking 20-35 minutes, or until still a little jiggly, and cool as before.

I just melted some more chocolate and piped it lines on top. As I was in a rush, I did not paint the actual leaves with melted chocolate, instead just piped them freehand in leaf shape on wax paper. In the freezer for a quick 15 minutes and the leaves were ready. Remove from wax paper and decorate 😉 .

In spite of the mistakes, this cake was a hit. Loved it a lot and will make again. And guess what the husband visited New York for work and got me a Junior’s cheesecake. Now, I could compare mine against the best. And, I tell you mine was not far from the best. The junior’s cake crust absolutely bowled me over though. I have the junior’s cheesecake cookbook (borrowed from the library) and so I will note down their crust recipe and post when I try it.

If you want to have a look at what all can be done with a cheesecake , please visit the Daring Bakers Blogroll. See imagination and creativity at it best!

r100_3304

Here’s a bite…….enjoy!

Oh, I forgot to list my expenditure:

Cream Cheese 3 (8 oz.) packs ..........$6.18.........from Meijer.......none left
Chocolate wafers ......................$2.50.........from Meijer......all eaten up
Semisweet chocolate....................$2.50..........from Meijer......all eaten up
----------------------------------------------------------------------
Total ................................$11.18

Posted in -Almonds, -Butter, -Chocolate wafer, -Cream, -Semisweet Chocolate, Amaretto, Cream Cheese, Eggs, Sugar | Tagged: , , , , | 31 Comments »

Winter Squash Puli or Coconut Stuffed Gulab Jamun

Posted by vivnidhi on March 12, 2009

Mar_18

Wish you all a very colorful & Happy Holi

Yesterday was the festival of colors Holi. In India, almost every household would be full of unrecognizable children colored with every shade in the spectrum. My Kids here in Michigan managed playing with dry colors and still coloring the kitchen walls and their clothes :-). If you want to know more about Holi this wikipedia article is great! I have written too many essays on “My Favorite Festival” on Holi and the Wikipedia article is quite comprehensive.

One cannot welcome the coming of spring (  😉 Summer in India) without sweets. I wanted something simple and was happy when I discovered a GITS Gulab Jamun pack in the cupboard. Gulab Jamuns are very soft fried dumplings made of milk solids. The milk solid could either be dried milk powder or more traditionally Khoya (very thick milk, almost solid). I find the GITS mix to be the easiest and the best. There are very few things that I use from a premade mix but Gulab Jamun mix is definitely one of those. Its quite foolproof whereas in homemade ones, a little change in ratio can result in the sugar syrup not reaching the center of the sweet.

My relationship with making Gulab Jamuns is very old 😉 . I made Gulab Jamuns for the entire class & the teachers as a team leader in class 8 (part of work experience). You bet that did wonders to my confidence as a cook :-). Then onwards I have made Gulab Jamuns very often. At potlucks I am always asked to get these. While I oblige, I am bored of making more of the same. ( I get bored of cooking the same thing very very easy 😉 ) Now, don’t talk about Roti & Arhar ki Daal, that’s the staple 😉

OK, First though I am rewriting the recipe as per what I did with it, full credit for this recipe goes to Sury’s Ranga Alur Puli of (Lima) Beans and Delhi Cha(a)t and Indira’s sweet potato Gulab Jamuns of Mahanandi. I remembered reading on Indira’s blog (I have read her’s back to front 😉 ) about some sweet potatoes and gulab jamuns so I went back to hers and checked out Sury’s too.

Give all the food bloggers 1 recipe and you will find unimaginable variations as results. That is what happened with me. Now , Ranga Alur Puli in Bengali should certainly mean colored potato sweet treat. I started working on Sury’s and Indira’s recipe and here’s what I ended up making. I don’t know what to call it and don’t care how it looks but it tastes absolutely fabulous. The husband commented that it tastes like coconut laddoo rolled in a gulab jamun :-).

 

Mar_30

What do you want to call it?

Fried pumpkin pie with coconut , anyone? ………..well Stuffed Gulab Jamuns is good enough!

So, I used butternut squash in the mix with Gulab Jamun mix and of course some spices. Stuffed it with coconut, almond, raisin, milk mixture and dunked it in sugar syrup with cardamom.

The Recipe: (Makes 35 large stuffed gulab jamuns )

For the Jamuns/Pulis/Gujiyas (what do U want to call it?)

  • GITS Gulab Jamun mix 250 g (any other brand would be fine, GITS is my favorite)
  • Butternut squash 125 g (cut in half, bake for 1 hour, cool, peel and puree)……….yeah………..that’s it 😉
  • Ground Cinnamon 1 tsp.
  • Ground nutmeg 1 tsp.
  • Canola Oil 2 Tbsp.
  • Oil for frying 3 cups

For the Stuffing:

  • Sweetened flaked Coconut 4 oz. (1/2 cup)  or substitute Fresh grated coconut
  • Fat free Evaporated milk 8 oz (1 cup) or substitute whole milk
  • Raisins 1/2 cup
  • Ground almonds 1/2 cup

For the sugar syrup:

  • Sugar 800 g / 3.5 cups
  • water 1 liter/ 4 cups
  • Cardamom 5 powdered

1. So, one day before making the gulab jamuns, I cut the butternut squash in half, removed the seeds and baked it for approximately an hour till the flesh was really soft. After it cooled , I peeled it and pureed it in a blender. Smooth, silky puree is ready. This puree could be used for soups or gravies also. Baking increases the sweetness of the squash and hence this method. A sweet pumpkin would be a great substitute too. This puree helps make rich gulab jamuns without the use of ghee.

Mar_07 Mar_16

Butternut squash before baking and after baking

2. Mix all the stuffing ingredients in a microwave safe bowl and microwave for a total of 6 minutes. Microwave in 1 minute / 30 seconds intervals initially and mix. When the mixture is sticky and not liquidy, the stuffing is ready.

Mar_13

Coconut stuffing ingredients

3. Mix the gulab jamun mix with the spices and mix well breaking any lumps with the hands. Add the pumpkin puree and mix. The dough will be quite sticky. Take the 2 Tbsp. oil and spread it in the palms of your hands and try to bring the mix together into one mass. Break off 35 pieces from the dough of equal size. Use more oil for the hands as required to avoid the stickiness. Make a thin round from the broken dough pieces using the tips of the fingers. Add 1/2 Tbsp. filling in each round and fold the round into a semicircle. Any shape that pleases the heart would be good. I made it into a semicircle based on Sury’s description and then just raised the edges for some pattern. Make sure there are no cracks on the surface. Cover with a moist towel to prevent drying up of the prepared jamuns.

Mar_23

Stuffed Gulab jamuns…..ready for frying

4. Add the sugar syrup ingredients in a deep vessel and let it heat up on medium heat till the sugar dissolves and then reduce the heat to very low.

5. Heat oil in a fryer or a wok as the sugar syrup is being made.When a very small piece of dough dropped in oil does not stick to the bottom and bubbles up immediately, the oil is ready. reduce the heat to medium. Add the stuffed prepared jamuns one by one slowly and continuously turn them with a very light hand making sure that it does not get broken.

Mar_24

Stuffed Gulab Jamuns frying

6. They should be fried well and reach a dark brown color. Transfer them to the slightly simmering sugar syrup. Fry the next batch as the earlier batch soaks in the syrup. The jamuns increase quite a bit in size as they soak. Remove them on a different plate if there is crowding in the vessel with syrup and transfer them all back to the vessel once all the gulab jamuns have soaked. Put the heat off under the sugar syrup when all the jamuns have finished soaking. Some syrup should remain in  the end and it should not be very thick.

Mar_30

Mar_38

Stuffed Gulab Jamuns

Posted in -Almonds, -Butternut Squash, -Canola Oil, -Cardamom, -Cinnamon, -Evaporated Milk, -Nutmeg, -Raisins, Sugar, Sweets | Tagged: , , , | 5 Comments »

Daring Bakers French Yule Log

Posted by vivnidhi on December 30, 2008

I would have never known of this and certainly not attempted to make a FRENCH YULE LOG had I not joined Daring Bakers. December has been a wacky month with my mind just unable to concentrate on anything at all. And here was a challenge which required immense amount of planning and precision.

So, here’s the result ………shoddy work, but a sincere effort nevertheless. It was a delicious dessert undoubtedly (even with the kind of work I have done.) The next time it will definitely be better looking than this;)……….I only have to figure out an occasion that deserves such a lot of work:))

100_2836

Here’s my Log!

This month’s challenge is brought to us by the adventurous Hilda from Saffron and Blueberry and Marion from Il en Faut Peu Pour Etre Heureux.
They have chosen a French Yule Log by Flore from Florilege Gourmand

A French Yule Log!!!
SO, what is a French Yule Log you say and how is it different from the cake roll Yule Log made last December by Daring Bakers.

In France you can buy two kinds of Yule log, either the Genoise and Buttercream type that we made last December, or what is more commonly purchased which is a frozen Yule Log very reminiscent of an ice cream cake, only often it’s not made of ice cream but rather frozen mousse of some sort. In French this is called an entremets which is sometimes loosely translated in English as simply a cream dessert. This also means that this recipe is not holiday-specific, it is also just a scrumptious dessert recipe.
This recipe comes almost entirely, except for one small labeled portion and some of the variations courtesy of our dear Daring Baker Fairy Tartelette, from the website: Florilège Gourmand (address above) which belongs to Flore (who has not disclosed her last name to me in my exchanges with her) and is unreal. Her website is in French and different portions of the recipe have been pulled from the recipes in the entremets section.
So, to the business of our Yule log:

THE CHALLENGE RULE is that you MUST MAKE ALL 6 of these elements for the log:
1)  Dacquoise Biscuit-               Almond
2)  Mousse-                                   Dark Chocolate with Orange Curacao
3)  Ganache Insert-                   White Chocolate with orange undertones
4)  Praline (Crisp) Insert-      Milk Chocolate & almond praline
5)  Creme Brulee Insert-        Vanilla with orange undertones
6)  Icing-                                       DARK chocolate
The assembly will essentially be a Dacquoise Biscuit at the bottom, and the inserts inter-layered with mousse, with an icing finish.
That’s about it for rules. Oh yeah, please have fun!

FRENCH YULE LOG OR ENTREMETS RECIPE by Flore of Florilège Gourmand

Element #1 Dacquoise Biscuit (Almond Cake)
Preparation time: 10 mn + 15 mn for baking
Equipment: 2 mixing bowls, hand or stand mixer with whisk attachment, spatula, baking pan such as a 10”x15” jelly-roll pan, parchment paper
Note: You can use the Dacquoise for the bottom of your Yule Log only, or as bottom and top layers, or if using a Yule log mold (half-pipe) to line your entire mold with the biscuit. Take care to spread the Dacquoise accordingly. Try to bake the Dacquoise the same day you assemble the log to keep it as moist as possible.
Ingredients:
2.8 oz (3/4cup + 1Tbsp / 80g) almond meal
1.75 oz (1/2 cup / 50g) confectioner’s sugar
2Tbsp (15g) all-purpose flour
3.5oz (100g / ~100ml) about 3 medium egg whites
1.75 oz (4 Tbsp / 50g) granulated sugar
1.    Finely mix the almond meal and the confectioner’s sugar. (If you have a mixer, you can use it by pulsing the ingredients together for no longer than 30 seconds).
2.    Sift the flour into the mix.
3.    Beat the eggs whites, gradually adding the granulated sugar until stiff.
4.    Pour the almond meal mixture into the egg whites and blend delicately with a spatula.
5.    Grease a piece of parchment paper and line your baking pan with it.
6.    Spread the batter on a piece of parchment paper to an area slightly larger than your desired shape (circle, long strip etc…) and to a height of 1/3 inches (8mm).
7.    Bake at 350°F (180°C) for approximately 15 minutes (depends on your oven), until golden.
8.    Let cool and cut to the desired shape.

This was really really delicious! I could eat the whole thing alone. I made a normal almond dacquoise with almond meal made at home. Yes, I had the skins on the almonds. You think I’d not eat that fiber 😉

Element #2 Dark Chocolate Mousse
Preparation time: 20mn
Equipment: stand or hand mixer with whisk attachment, thermometer, double boiler or equivalent, spatula
Note: You will see that a Pate a Bombe is mentioned in this recipe. A Pate a Bombe is a term used for egg yolks beaten with a sugar syrup, then aerated. It is the base used for many mousse and buttercream recipes. It makes mousses and buttercreams more stable, particularly if they are to be frozen, so that they do not melt as quickly or collapse under the weight of heavier items such as the crème brulee insert.
Gelatin is the gelifying agent in all of the following recipes, but if you would like to use agar-agar, here are the equivalencies: 8g powdered gelatin = 1 (0.25 oz) envelope powdered gelatin = 1 Tbsp powdered gelatin = 1 Tbsp Agar-Agar.
1 Tbsp. of agar-agar flakes is equal to 1 tsp. of agar-agar powder.
Ingredients:
2.5 sheets gelatin or 5g / 1 + 1/4 tsp powdered gelatin
1.5 oz (3 Tbsp / 40g) granulated sugar
1 ½ tsp (10g) glucose or thick corn syrup
0.5 oz (15g) water
50g egg yolks (about 3 medium)
6.2 oz (175g) dark chocolate, coarsely chopped
1.5 cups (350g) heavy cream (35% fat content)
1.    Soften the gelatin in cold water. (If using powdered gelatin, follow the directions on the package.)
2.    Make a Pate a Bombe: Beat the egg yolks until very light in colour (approximately 5 minutes until almost white).
2a.  Cook the sugar, glucose syrup and water on medium heat for approximately 3 minutes (if you have a candy thermometer, the mixture should reach 244°F (118°C). If you do not have a candy thermometer, test the sugar temperature by dipping the tip of a knife into the syrup then into a bowl of ice water, if it forms a soft ball in the water then you have reached the correct temperature.
2b.  Add the sugar syrup to the beaten yolks carefully by pouring it into the mixture in a thin stream while continuing to beat the yolks. You can do this by hand but it’s easier to do this with an electric mixer.
2c.  Continue beating until cool (approximately 5 minutes). The batter should become thick and foamy.
3.    In a double boiler or equivalent, heat 2 tablespoons (30g) of cream to boiling. Add the chopped chocolate and stir until melted and smooth.
4. Whip the remainder of the cream until stiff.
5.    Pour the melted chocolate over the softened gelatin, mixing well. Let the gelatin and chocolate cool slightly and then stir in ½ cup (100g) of WHIPPED cream to temper. Add the Pate a Bombe.
6.    Add in the rest of the WHIPPED cream (220g) mixing gently with a spatula.

I added 1/2 tsp. of orange extract and 1 Tbsp. Orange Curacao………..to please the hubby and he loved it;) I cannot rave enough about this, it is among the most delicious mousse I have ever made. The alcohol just makes it perfect!!

Element #3 Dark Chocolate Ganache Insert (I made a white chocolate ganache)
Preparation time: 10mn
Equipment: pan, whisk. If you have plunging mixer (a vertical hand mixer used to make soups and other liquids), it comes in handy.
Note: Because the ganache hardens as it cools, you should make it right before you intend to use it to facilitate piping it onto the log during assembly. Please be careful when caramelizing the sugar and then adding the cream. It may splatter and boil.

Variations on the Dark Chocolate Ganache Insert listed above:
White Chocolate Ganache Insert
1.75 oz (4 Tbsp / 50g) granulated sugar
5 oz (135g) white chocolate, finely chopped
4.5 oz (2/3 cup – 1 Tbsp / 135g) heavy cream (35% fat content)
1.    Make a caramel: Using the dry method, melt the sugar by spreading it in an even layer in a small sauce pan with high sides. Heat over medium-high heat, watching it carefully as the sugar begins to melt. Never stir the mixture. As the sugar starts to melt, swirl the pan occasionally to allow the sugar to melt evenly. Cook to dark amber color (for most of you that means darker than last month’s challenge).
2.    While the sugar is melting, heat the cream until boiling.  Pour cream into the caramel and stir thoroughly. Be very careful as it may splatter and boil.
3.    Pour the hot caramel-milk mixture over the dark chocolate. Wait 30 seconds and stir until smooth.

OK, here I just did not realize that I had to reduce the cream by a Tbsp. My weighing scale is messed up, thanks to the Sonny Boy and so my ganache just never set. BUT, do you know, I loved the caramely gooey ganache, you can’t see a layer of that, but I could taste it:)). Failure in some sense, but I do not mind it one bit.

Element #4 Praline Feuillete (Crisp) Insert
Preparation time: 10 mn (+ optional 15mn if you make lace crepes)
Equipment: Small saucepan, baking sheet (if you make lace crepes).
Double boiler (or one small saucepan in another), wax paper, rolling pin (or I use an empty bottle of olive oil).
Note: Feuillete means layered (as in with leaves) so a Praline Feuillete is a Praline version of a delicate crisp. There are non-praline variations below. The crunch in this crisp comes from an ingredient which is called gavottes in French. Gavottes are lace-thin crepes. To our knowledge they are not available outside of France, so you have the option of making your own using the recipe below or you can simply substitute rice krispies or corn flakes or Special K for them. Special note: If you use one of the substitutes for the gavottes, you should halve the quantity stated, as in use 1oz of any of these cereals instead of 2.1oz.
If you want to make your own praline, please refer back to the Daring Baker Challenge Recipe from July 2008.

Ingredients for the Praline Feuillete:
3.5 oz (100g) milk chocolate
1 2/3 Tbsp (25g) butter
2 Tbsp (1 oz / 30g) praline
2.1oz (60g) lace crepes(gavottes) or rice krispies or corn flakes or Special K
1.    Melt the chocolate and butter in a double boiler.
2.    Add the praline and the coarsely crushed lace crepes. Mix quickly to thoroughly coat with the chocolate.
3.    Spread between two sheets of wax paper to a size slightly larger than your desired shape. Refrigerate until hard.

I did make my own praline, with almonds (skinned) this time but could not achieve a paste with it. It was more like a fine powder, again tasty nevertheless;) I used Special K for the feuillete as I did not have time to make gavottes. BUT my feuillete never really set. I made it twice and both times it was a crumbly mass and it fell both times. Anyway, I refrigerated it well the second time and I could get like big set pieces of it! This makes the final result so very delicious!

Element #5 Vanilla Crème Brulée Insert
Preparation time: 15mn + 1h infusing + 1h baking
Equipment: Small saucepan, mixing bowl, baking mold, wax paper
Note: The vanilla crème brulée can be flavored differently by simply replacing the vanilla with something else e.g. cardamom, lavender, etc…
Ingredients:
1/2 cup (115g) heavy cream (35% fat content)
½ cup (115g) whole milk
4 medium-sized (72g) egg yolks
0.75 oz (2 Tbsp / 25g) granulated sugar
1 vanilla bean
1.    Heat the milk, cream, and scraped vanilla bean to just boiling. Remove from the stove and let the vanilla infuse for about 1 hour.
2.    Whisk together the sugar and egg yolks (but do not beat until white).
3.    Pour the vanilla-infused milk over the sugar/yolk mixture. Mix well.
4.    Wipe with a very wet cloth and then cover your baking mold (whatever shape is going to fit on the inside of your Yule log/cake) with parchment paper. Pour the cream into the mold and bake at 210°F (100°C) for about 1 hour or until firm on the edges and slightly wobbly in the center.
Tartelette says: You can bake it without a water bath since it is going to go inside the log (the aesthetics of it won’t matter as much since it will be covered with other things)….BUT I would recommend a water bath for the following reasons:
– you will get a much nicer mouth feel when it is done
– you will be able to control its baking point and desired consistency much better
– it bakes for such a long time that I fear it will get overdone without a water bath
Now…since it is baked in a pan and it is sometimes difficult to find another large pan to set it in for a water bath, even a small amount of water in your water bath will help the heat be distributed evenly in the baking process. Even as little as 1 inch will help.
5.    Let cool and put in the freezer for at least 1 hour to firm up and facilitate the final assembly.

I again added 1/2 tsp. of orange extract. Lovely. Mine cooked as per the directions and tastes very good.

Element #6 Dark Chocolate Icing
Preparation time: 25 minutes (10mn if you don’t count softening the gelatin)
Equipment: Small bowl, small saucepan
Note: Because the icing gelifies quickly, you should make it at the last minute.
For other gelatin equivalencies or gelatin to agar-agar equivalencies, look at the notes for the mousse component.
Ingredients:
4g / ½ Tbsp powdered gelatin or 2 sheets gelatin
¼ cup (60g) heavy cream (35 % fat content)
2.1 oz (5 Tbsp / 60g) granulated sugar
¼ cup (50g) water
1/3 cup (30g) unsweetened cocoa powder
1.    Soften the gelatin in cold water for 15 minutes.
2.    Boil the rest of the ingredients and cook an additional 3 minutes after boiling.
3.    Add gelatin to the chocolate mixture. Mix well.
4.    Let cool while checking the texture regularly. As soon as the mixture is smooth and coats a spoon well (it is starting to gelify), use immediately.

This is a great icing recipe. Changed nothing but did make 1.5 times the quantity specified. Had leftovers:)

How To Assemble your French Yule Log
Depending on whether your mold is going to hold the assembly upside down until you unmold it or right side up, this order will be different.
THIS IS FOR UNMOLDING FROM UPSIDE DOWN TO RIGHT SIDE UP.
You will want to tap your mold gently on the countertop after each time you pipe mousse in to get rid of any air bubbles.

1)    Line your mold or pan, whatever its shape, with rhodoid (clear hard plastic, I usually use transparencies cut to the desired shape, it’s easier to find than cellulose acetate which is what rhodoid translates to in English) OR plastic film. Rhodoid will give you a smoother shape but you may have a hard time using it depending on the kind of mold you’re using.
You have two choices for Step 2, you can either have Dacquoise on the top and bottom of your log as in version A or you can have Dacquoise simply on the bottom of your log as in version B:
2A)  Cut the Dacquoise into a shape fitting your mold and set it in there. If you are using an actual Yule mold which is in the shape of a half-pipe, you want the Dacquoise to cover the entire half-pipe portion of the mold.
3A)  Pipe one third of the Mousse component on the Dacquoise.
4A)  Take the Creme Brulee Insert out of the freezer at the last minute and set on top of the mousse. Press down gently to slightly ensconce it in the mousse.
5A)  Pipe second third of the Mousse component around and on top of the Creme Brulee Insert.
6A)  Cut the Praline/Crisp Insert to a size slightly smaller than your mold so that it can be surrounded by mousse. Lay it on top of the mousse you just piped into the mold.
7A)  Pipe the last third of the Mousse component on top of the Praline Insert.
8A)  Freeze for a few hours to set. Take out of the freezer.
9A)  Pipe the Ganache Insert onto the frozen mousse leaving a slight eidge so that ganache doesn’t seep out when you set the Dacquoise on top.
10A)  Close with the last strip of Dacquoise.
Freeze until the next day.
OR
2B)  Pipe one third of the Mousse component into the mold.
3B)  Take the Creme Brulee Insert out of the freezer at the last minute and set on top of the mousse. Press down gently to slightly ensconce it in the mousse.
4B)  Pipe second third of the Mousse component around and on top of the Creme Brulee Insert.
5B)  Cut the Praline/Crisp Insert to a size slightly smaller than your mold so that it can be surrounded by mousse. Lay it on top of the mousse you just piped into the mold.
6B)  Pipe the last third of the Mousse component on top of the Praline Insert.
7B)  Freeze for a few hours to set. Take out of the freezer.
8B)  Pipe the Ganache Insert onto the frozen mousse leaving a slight edge so that ganache doesn’t seep out when you set the Dacquoise on top.
9B)  Close with the Dacquoise.
Freeze until the next day.
If you are doing the assembly UPSIDE DOWN with TWO pieces of Dacquoise the order is:
1)  Dacquoise
2)  Mousse
3)  Creme Brulee Insert
4)  Mousse
5)  Praline/Crisp Insert
6)  Mousse
7)  Ganache Insert
8)  Dacquoise
If you are doing the assembly UPSIDE DOWN with ONE piece of Dacquoise on the BOTTOM ONLY the order is:
1)  Mousse
2)  Creme Brulee Insert
3)  Mousse
4)  Praline/Crisp Insert
5)  Mousse
6)  Ganache Insert
7)  Dacquoise
If you are doing the assembly RIGHT SIDE UP in a springform pan the order is:
1)  Dacquoise
2)  Ganache Insert
3)  Mousse
4)  Praline/Crisp Insert
5)  Mousse
6)  Creme Brulee Insert
7)  Mousse
8 OPTIONAL) Dacquoise
THE NEXT DAY…
Unmold the cake/log/whatever and set on a wire rack over a shallow pan.
Cover the cake with the icing.
Let set. Return to the freezer.
You may decorate your cake however you wish. The decorations can be set in the icing after it sets but before you return the cake to the freezer or you may attach them on top using extra ganache or leftover mousse, etc…
Transfer to the refrigerator no longer than ½ hour before serving as it may start to melt quickly depending on the elements you chose.

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That’s for December………..2009 will be beautiful!

Mine has dacquoise on top and bottom and one crisp insert. Overall, the almond, chocolate and orange flavors merged so well that this cake tasted absolute top rate. IN SPITE of my mistakes. This should be tried (even by the faint of heart) cause it will be delicious! A big thank you to the hosts! Wanna see more of these…….check it out here Daring Bakers Blogroll

Expenditure:

  • Confectioner’s Sugar 2 lb. ……………$2.19 from Kroger……..tons left
  • Sugar 4 lb………………………….                    $2.25 from Kroger………..yes left but we will eat it up!
  • Dark Chocolate 8 oz. (Bakers)…..    $2.50 from Kroger……..couple of oz. left
  • Heavy cream 1 Quart………………        $5.99 from Kroger …………hardly any left:(

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That’s it…………………………                                                $12.73……….ah,I know how much I spent!

Posted in - Confectioner's Sugar, -All Purpose flour, -Almonds, -Butter, -Cocoa Powder, -Corn Syrup, -Cream, -Dark Chocolate, -Milk Chocolate, -Vanilla, -White Chocolate, Cereal, Chocolate, Eggs, Gelatin, Sugar, Uncategorized | Tagged: , , | 24 Comments »

Baked Guna

Posted by vivnidhi on December 10, 2007

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Baked Gunas with a cup of milk and thekuas

Its fun participating in the various events going on this season. That was part of the reason why I wanted to write a foodblog; to be able to participate and chronicle my recipes. So, I have been really excited about participating in the Eat Christmas Cookies event hosted by http://foodblogga.blogspot.com. And, I got a surprising go-ahead from my Doctor when it seems like I am not going to get gestational diabetes this time around. This news definitely called for a celebration!

I have never seen my mother bake a lot except cakes and nan khatai……..the only Indian cookie that could be made at home. But I have seen my mother deep fry a lot of snacks.  As I wanted to try something authentic, I decided to try one of her standard recipes and bake it instead of frying. The result was fabulous, delicious like fried yet healthier.  I also wanted to use a recipe which had whole wheat flour instead of all purpose flour and oil instead of ghee which is almost entirely saturated fat.

Though not a regular everyday snack, Guna is certainly made on Hartalika teej in Uttar Pradesh. It is  accompanied by “mathi” which is plain, unsalted form of Guna made using all purpose flour.  Hartalika teej is a 3 day festival which takes place on the onset of monsoon, the third day of first fortnight of ‘Bhadra’ month based on lunar calendar. Its a festival very dear to the womenfolk cause it celebrates them in a way. Rural parts have fairs and make shift swings seem to spring up on every tree. Women adorn themselves with jewellery, new clothes and its basically fun time.  Mythology states that Goddess Parvati had penanced for a 100 years to be able to unite with Lord Shiv. Goddess Parvati is worshipped on Hartalika teej  as her blessings would lead to marital bliss. The difficult part for married women is that they have to fast, without water on the second day. The next day, fasting women break their fast with guna and mathi. As I do not celebrate teej anymore here in  the US, I can certainly make it as a sweet treat for Christmas. The festive spirit’s the same!!

The recipe:
(Makes 50-60 gunas)

Whole wheat flour 2 cups
Almonds 1/4 cup
Walnuts 1/4 cup
Jaggery 1 cup
Green Cardamom 2
Vegetable Oil 1/4 cup + 2 Tbsp.

I have used jaggery in this recipe cause it gives a very distinct taste to the gunas. First wet the jaggery in as little water as possible, just to make it pliable enough to be mixed with flour. Alternatively you can put small pieces of jaggery in a food processor and mix the sticky jaggery with flour. Soaking the processor container in water for 10 mins will clean it without a hassle. Grind the almonds and walnuts along with cardamom to flour like consistency. A few bigger pieces remaining would be fine. Mix all ingredients really well. This is the most difficult and important part: mix everything really well.

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Flour, oil and grinded nuts

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Mix the ingredients well

If you need to add any water, just keep adding by fistfuls, till you are able to make a hard dough.

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Guna Dough

Make 3 parts of the big dough and roll it with hands till you have a thinner, longer dough piece. There will be oil on your hands as well as the rolling board. Having enough oil is the key to making crisp yet not hard gunas. Break it with hands along the cross section into smaller pieces or use a knife to cut. Heat the oven to 350° F. Flatten the small rounds now using a rolling pin. Line a cookie sheet with aluminum foil and keep putting the flattened rounds on it.  Bake it in the oven for 8-10 minutes. The gunas get crisper as they cool.

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The gunas are ready!

Another sweet called thekuas can be made from the same dough.

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Small rounds are made of the dough. The colander imprint is made by pressing on the colander.

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These are baked at 350° F for about 15-20 minutes.
My personal choice are the gunas. Hope you like them too!

Posted in -Almonds, -Walnuts, -Whole wheat flour, Sweets | Tagged: , , , | 5 Comments »