Peppermint Mocha Cups

Peppermint mocha cups inspired by the popular holiday classic peppermint mocha coffee. Tart shells filled with a mint flavored ganache and topped with coffee flavored cream to rekindle the holiday memories.

Peppermint mocha season is long gone now but we are still craving for more. It is one of the most cherished holiday drinks for us especially for my three year old who absolutely loves the chocolate and mint combo. I have always been a fan of chocolate and mint and chocolate and orange flavors. Nothing beats chocolate when it comes to making people happy. I made these mocha cups for my son who just relished each and every bite.

Ganache Cups

Making a ganache is not as tough as it looks or sounds. You just need to get the right Quality and right Quantity. I prefer Hershey’s semi sweet chocolate chips for the ganache and a good quality heavy cream. The ratio for a ganache is two parts chocolate and one part cream. The cream should be very warm but not boiling.

Ganache

You can buy readymade tart shells or bake your own at home. You can make them in any shape you like. Remember to fill the muffin cups with beans while you bake them. This dessert is best enjoyed chilled.

peppermintMocha

Ingredients

For the Tarts

Makes 12 small tarts

  • 140 gms all purpose flour
  • 70 gms butter
  • 2 tsp sugar
  • ¼ tsp baking powder
  • 2-2.5 tbsp milk

Ganache

  • 150 gms semi sweet chocolate chips
  • 100 ml heavy cream
  • ¼ tsp peppermint flavor

Mocha Cream

  • 1 cup heavy whipping cream (at least 30-40% fat)
  • 3-4 tbsp powdered sugar
  • ½ tsp vanilla
  • 2 teaspoon coffee powder

Recipe

For the Tarts

Combine flour with baking powder and sugar.  Cut in the butter using only finger tips till it resembles bread crumbs. Add one table spoon chilled milk at a time and make dough.  Refrigerate for 10 minutes. Roll out the dough and cut in rounds and line the muffin cups. Fill the cups with beans/rice and bake in a preheated oven at 180 C for 15-20 mins. Cool them completely before proceeding with next step.

For Ganache

Put chocolate chips in a bowl. Heat cream until it is just about to boil. Pour it over the chocolate chips. Leave it for a minute or two to let the chocolate melt. Stir with a spatula and mix well. At first it might look broken but keep stirring until it comes together in a creamy and shiny texture. Add the peppermint flavor and mix again. Keep it aside to cool.

For Whipped Cream

Mix coffee and sugar in little cream (you can adjust the coffee and sugar proportion as per taste or how strong you want the flavor to be). Add rest of the cream and whip till you get hard peaks. Chill in the fridge.

To Assemble

Put ganache in a piping bag or simply spoon it in tart shells. Top it with whipped cream and sprinkle cinnamon on top. Chill for 15-20 mins before serving.

 

Badam ka Seera

Almond Halwa

Seera can be cooked very quickly. Roasting the flour is the only thing that takes time. And well roasted flour is the key to a delicious seera. Flour gets burned quickly. Roast it on a slow or medium flame and do not leave it unattended. If it is over roasted it can even taste bitter. Do remember to soak the almonds for at least 4 hours. This will help to grind them very smooth.

Badaam ka Seera

Seera Puri is the traditional combination but the combo I like is papd churi with seera. Crush a roasted papad and serve it with the seera. It cuts the sweetness of seera. This seera tastes best when it is hot.

Almond Halwa

Ingredients

Serves 4

  • ½ cup whole wheat flour (gehun ka aata)
  • ½ cup pure ghee
  • ½ cup sugar
  • 10-15 almonds soaked for 4 hours
  • 1 ¼ cup hot water

Recipe

Peel the almonds and grind them to a smooth puree. Use little water if required.

Heat ghee in a kadhai or a thick bottomed pan. Add the flour and roast on low flame till it is lightly browned and you can smell the aroma of ghee and flour. Keep mixing the flour non-stop or it might get burnt. Add the almond paste and roast again for 2-3 minutes till the flour is brownish. Add the hot water and stir continuously making sure no lumps are formed. Once the seera is slightly thicker, add the sugar and mix well. Cook for 1-2 minutes. Serve hot with papad.

 

Fruit Shrikhand (Fruit Yogurt)

Fruit Shrikhand

Shrikhand is an Indian dessert made with hung yogurt, sugar, dry fruits, and cardamom powder. This is a fruity version of the traditional homemade Shrikhand. This is one of the desserts we had as kids (there were no pastries or doughnuts). We mostly had homemade desserts like these which we would help our grandmother prepare for us. My oldest memory of making Shrikhand is helping my grandmother whisk the yogurt as a 7-8 year old and waiting for her to divide it for us in bowls so that we can take our share and relish it in the summer heat.

Hung yogurt is basically the creamy thick yogurt you get when you drain out all the water from yogurt. You can use a muslin or cheese cloth and hand the yogurt on your kitchen tap or any other clean place for 4-6 hours. Since I wanted a very thick and creamy yogurt for this recipe, I left it over night. You can also use the Greek yogurt.

Fruit Yogurt

You can add any fruit of your choice. For me berries work the best and so does Mango. You can decide to leave the seeds or fruit bits in the Shrikhand or just pass the fruit puree through a fine sieve for a rich creamy shrikhand. Remember to chill it for 4-5 hours before serving. You can serve it with fresh fruits and drizzle it with the remaining fruit puree or make it a mini pickup dessert by piping it in mini tart shells. I made chocolate tart shells and piped the shrikhand using icing tips. However you serve it, this summer dessert is sure to please your taste buds with tangy fruits and health yogurt.

Fruit Shrikhand

Ingredients

Serves 5-6

  • 1 ½ cup Hung Yogurt*
  • Icing sugar to taste

Fruit puree

  • ½ cup strawberries
  • ½ cup blueberries
  • ½ cup mango pulp
  • Icing sugar to taste

Recipe

For the Strawberry Puree

Wash and chop the strawberries. Put them in a nonstick pan. Add a table spoon of sugar. You can add or reduce the quantity of sugar based on the natural sweetness of the fruit. Mix well and cook for 1-2 minutes. Once the strawberries are soft, mash them using the back of a spoon or spatula. Make sure to scrape the edges while cooking. Cook for 1-2 minutes or till the puree comes to boil. Let it cool for 5-10 minutes. Pass this through a fine sieve for a smooth and shiny fruit puree or just leave it as it is if you like bits of fruit in your Shrikhand.

For the Blueberry Puree

Follow the same procedure as the strawberry puree. Make sure to pass this puree through sieve or you will have the fruit peels in your Shrikhand.

For Mango Puree

Depending on the thickness of the mango juice, you can just pass it through a sieve and use it or if it is too runny cook it for few minutes to make it thicker and then use it. As with other fruits, add sugar based on the natural sweetness of the fruit.

For Shrikhand

Whip the yogurt using a whisk or an electric mixer until it is smooth and creamy (approximately 2-3 minutes should be good). Divide the yogurt in three bowls. Add the fruit puree of your choice to each bowl. Add 2 table spoon of puree at a time and whisk well. Add more or less puree depending on taste and consistency requirements. I used approximate 2-3 tbsp of puree for half cup of hung yogurt.  Add icing sugar as per taste. Mix well and chill for at least 4 hours before serving. You can serve it with fresh fruits, fresh cream, or a drizzle of fruit puree on top. You can even fill the Shrikhand in plain tarts or chocolate tarts.

*To make hung yogurt, put fresh yogurt in a muslin or cheese cloth, tie the ends and hang it to your kitchen tap over night. Once all the water I drained out, transfer the thick yogurt to a bowl and chill.

Nutella Truffles

Nutella Truffles

I am a big hazelnut fan and for me Nutella is THE best hazelnut spreads. It adds the delicious nutty taste to any dessert. I have made cake icing, milkshakes, chocolate mousse and many more desserts with Nutella. Nutella truffle is one of the quickest recipes I know. This is a real quick recipe with very few ingredients.

I have tried using various biscuits as a base for these truffles but Marie works the best for me. You can try using digestive biscuits too but they don’t bind too well. Marie biscuits are easier to crush and bind. You can crush them using a rolling pin. I used a blender to make it quicker and easier.

You can coat these truffles with anything you like; toasted nuts, icing sugar, cocoa powder, sprinkles, melted chocolate. I like the toasted nuts and coconut coating for my truffles. Only tough thing in the recipe is to wait for the truffles to set. If you can resist that, you have amazingly quick and delicious truffles ready in minutes.

Ingredients

Makes 14-16 Truffles

  • 12 Marie biscuits
  • 7-8 tbsp Nutella

For Coating

You can use any of these or all of these or any other coating of your choice.

  • ¼ cup roasted and coarsely ground almonds
  • 7-8 tbsp dry desiccated coconut
  • 3-4 tbsp cocoa powder

Recipe

Put the biscuits in a zip lock bag and crush them using a rolling pin. Or simply put them in a blender and crush them finely. Put the crushed biscuits in a bowl. Add one tbsp Nutella at a time and make a moldable mix. Make small balls and roll them lightly in the coating of your choice.

Refrigerate for 2-3 hours. The truffles are ready to eat.

Rainbow Cupcakes

Rainbow Cupcakes

Cupcakes are my favorites when it comes to baking so when Hannah (my wonderful neighbor) offered me some cake flour and icing a day before Christmas, I already knew how I am going to use it. Unlike other parts of the world, Christmas is not cold and nice in Singapore. To add to my complain about bad weather, this year it was a super wet Christmas with the rain refusing to stop whole day. I wanted to add color to the cupcakes to make us feel happy and colorful in this gloomy weather.

I decided to make simple vanilla cupcakes with as many colors as I can to make them look even more prettier. You can also use sour Indian curd instead of the milk and vinegar mix. But this one needs less whisking than mixing the oil and curd.

You can add as many colors as you like and you can even layer different colors, give a marble effect or try any other creative ideas instead of baking single colored cupcakes. Make sure not to over fill the liners.

Rainbow cupcakes

After looking at these colorful cupcakes, icing was really not on my mind but thanks to Hannah again, I had a super delicious chocolate icing. Whipped cream, or cooked flour icing is ideal with these cupcakes. To add a festive touch, I tried icing couple of them with white icing and tried making Christmas trees with the icing too. These cupcakes can be enjoyed for up to 3 days when you store them in refrigerator. Remember to warm them up for not more than 10 seconds before eating.

Rainbow Cupcakes

Ingredients

Makes 24 mini cupcakes

  • 240 gms cake flour (you can use all purpose flour too but this helps to make the cake soft, and spongy)
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • ½ tsp baking soda
  • ½ tsp salt
  • 120 gms sugar
  • ½ cup oil
  • 5 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 cup milk
  • 1 tbsp vinegar
  • Different gel colors ( I used blue, orange, pink, yellow, green, purple, and red)

Recipe

Mix the milk and vinegar in a bowl big enough to add the wet ingredients and keep aside for couple of minutes (1-2 minutes is enough). Combine cake flour, baking soda, baking powder, and salt and sift it 1-2 times so that the ingredients get mixed properly. Put the sifted flour in a deep bowl. Add the sugar and mix well.

Add the oil and vanilla extract to the milk and vinegar mix and whisk well (atleast 2-3 minutes) till all the ingredients are mixed well. Add this liquid to the dry ingredients. You can make a well in the dry ingredients and add the liquid ingredients and mix it using a whisk. Do not over mix this batter. Just mix it enough so that there are no lumps.

Divide the batter into 7 bowls. Add few drops of color to each bowl and mix gently till the color is incorporated into the batter completely.

Preheat the oven to 180 degrees celsius. Line the cupcake mould with cupcake liners and fill each mould with different color batter. Do not fill the liners more than 2/3rd with the batter. Bake the cupcakes for 15-18 minutes. The cupcakes are done when you put a toothpick in the center of the cupcake and the toothpick comes out clean.

Cool the cupcakes completely and ice with the desired icing. I have used chocolate butter cream icing. The cooked flour frosting goes very well these cupcakes.

Cham Cham Pops (Indian Dessert Pops)

Cham Cham Pops (Indian Dessert Pops)

Chamcham pops or you might want to call them rasgulla pops going by their look. Its an east meets west experiment gone right. Cham cham is a famous sweet in India. It is made with fresh chenna and cooked in sugar syrup. This is my idea of dressing up the traditional Indian sweet as cake pops. Chilled cham chams iced with khoa cream taste just perfect for people who like sweets with a twist. The same taste and texture but without the mess of sugar syrup and overdose of sweetness.

Fresh and full fat milk makes the best chenna. Make sure there is no water left in the chenna otherwise it will be very difficult to roll the chenna balls. You can add colors of your choice to the chenna. I used the gel colors and added them just before mashing the chenna.

Do not over boil the sugar syrup. Add the chenna balls as soon as the syrup starts boiling and do NOT touch the cham cham unless it is cooled and chilled. Let it sit for at least 6 hours or more if possible.

For the icing, you can be as creative as you want. You can just simply dip the cham cham in khoa cream and roll it in dessicated coconut, coarsely  ground dry fruits, sprinkles etc. Or you can just fill the icing in a piping bag and ice it as you want.

As this is made with fresh milk, the shelf life of this dessert is not as long as other sweets. Two days is the max this can stay in the fridge. Chill it well before serving.

Cham Cham Pops (Indian Dessert Pops)

Ingredients

  • 3 cups milk (preferably full fat)
  • 2-3 tbsp lime juice
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 4 cups water
  • 1-2 pinches food color (optional)
  • 1 tbsp plain flour or corn starch for dusting

For the khoa cream

  • ½ cup khoa
  • 3 tbsp icing sugar
  • 2-3 tbsp milk
  • ½ tsp cardamom powder (Ilaichi powder)
  • 1-2 pinches food color (optional)

Recipe

Bring milk to boil. Switch off the gas as soon as the milk starts boiling. Let it sit for 3-5 minutes. Keep stirring in between. Dilute the lime juice with some water. Start adding 1 tbsp lime juice at a time. Stop adding the lime juice when the milk curdles. Let it sit for 3-5 minutes. Take a white cheese cloth and spread it in a deep bowl. Put the curdled milk and tie the cloth. Now run the tied cloth under fresh water for 2-3 minutes so that the chenna (curdled milk) gets washed and gets rid of the lime flavour. Hang it over a sink or any clean place  where water can drip. Let it hang for 20-30 minutes so that all the whey is strained out.

Transfer the chenna to a flat surface or a wide plate. Mash the chenna well using the heel of your palm. If you wish to make colored cham cham, add color at this point and mash the chenna well. Divide the chenna into 16 portions and roll them into smooth balls without any cracks. Keep these chenna balls on a plate dusted with plain flour or corn starch.

Combine sugar and water in a pressure cooker and bring to boil. As soon as the sugar syrup starts boiling, add the chenna balls. Close the lid and cook on high heat for 1 whistle. Reduce the heat to low and cook for 8-9 minutes. Switch off the heat and put the cooker under running water to release the steam. Open the cooker and transfer the chamchams and the sugar syrup to a bowl. Do NOT touch the cham cham until they are completely cooled. Let the cham chams cool down and refrigerate them for 7-8 hours.

To make the khoa cream, blend the khoa, icing sugar, milk, and cardamom powder to a smooth paste. If you want to add color to your icing, add color at this point. You can change the consistency of this icing as desired. Add or reduce milk based on the how you want to ice the pops. If you want to dip the pops in khoa cream, keep the consistency runny. Keep the consistency stiff if you want to ice it using a piping bag.

Put a cham cham in cocktail stick and ice it as you like. You can dip it in the icing or put the icing in an piping bag and ice it as you like. Serve chilled.

Fruit Trifle

Fruit Trifle

Trifle is an English dessert made of layers of fruits, jelly, cake, custard, and whipped cream. This one of my most asked for recipe by my family and friends. I tasted this dessert for the first time in London at my husband’s cousin’s place. It was love at first bite 🙂 . This recipe does not include the sponge cake. This looks difficult but with a little preparation it is a very easy dessert to prepare.

Use fresh fruits whenever possible but the tinned fruits work well too.  I like to use apple, pear, and peach for the bottom layer and cherries, raspberries, and strawberries for the top layer.

You can choose any flavor of jelly but I like raspberry or strawberry jelly with this dessert. Jelly can be set at room temperature. But if you are in a hurry, you can refrigerate the Trifle to set the jelly faster. Make sure the jelly is set before adding the next layer.

Preparing thick, creamy, and lump free custard can be the only tricky part in this recipe. You need to add or reduce the custard powder based on the quality of custard powder you use. I use vanilla flavored custard powder for this dessert. Once you take the custard off from the gas, and it has cooled down a bit, you can blend the custard using a blender to make it smooth and lump free (be careful while blending as the custard might be hot still). Cover the custard with a cling film to avoid getting a dry layer on top of the custard while cooling it.

Whipping cream in India, especially during summers is hoping for magic. After trying innumerable times and failing almost every time, I rely on the ready to whip cream powder or the ready to serve whipped cream for the final layer. When using the ready to serve whipped cream, add it just before you serve the Trifle.

This dessert tastes best when served/eaten chilled. You can set the layers in individual serving sized ramekins and add whipped cream and top it with fruits just before serving.

Fruit Trifle

Ingredients

Makes one 9” bowl of Trifle

Layer 1

  • 250 gms/ 1 cup chopped Fruits (peach, pear, pineapple, cherry, apple)

Layer 2

  • Jelly 40gms/ 2 ½ tbsp
  • 200 ml water

Layer 3

  • Custard vanilla flavor
  • 235 ml/1 cup + 2 tbsp milk
  • 2 tbsp custard powder
  • 1 ½ tbsp sugar

Layer 4

  • Fresh cream (as much as you like)
  • Strawberries/Raspberries/Cherries

Recipe

Mix the custard powder in 2 tbsp milk. Bring milk to boil in a non stick pan. Add sugar and mix well. Add the custard powder and milk paste. Mix well. Keep mixing to make sure that the custard does not stick. Once the custard thickens, switch off the gas and take the pan off the gas. Keep aside to cool. Cover the custard with a cling film to avoid getting a dry layer on top.

Arrange the fruits in a glass bowl. This is the bowl in which you will be adding all the layers.

Take jelly in a dry bowl. Pour boiling water over the jelly crystals and mix well. Once this mixture is slightly cooler, pour this over the fruits and keep it aside to set. Jelly can be set at room temperature too. It takes 20-25 minutes to set.

Once the jelly is set, pour the prepared and cooled custard and spread it evenly. Keep it in the fridge for 40-60 minutes to set.

Whip the cream with sugar as per taste. You can also use the ready whipped cream or ready to whip cream powder.

Add a layer of cream and chill for 2-3 hours. If you are using the ready to use whipped cream, add it just before serving. Top the final layer with fresh berries of your choice. To serve, cut through the layers just like you would cut a cake. Top it with fresh fruits or more whipped cream if you like.