Eggless Blueberry Cheesecake

Eggless Blueberry Cheesecake

Blueberry cheesecake – Eggless – No Bake! Any better way to start the New Year? I enjoy making eggless desserts and enjoy it even more when people around me love to eat them. This is one of my dear friend’s favorite dessert. This post comes a little late but I wanted to make something special to thank her for all the effort she has put in helping me create this blog. Thank You Sowmya for all the late night nonsense discussions, answering my silly questions, and helping me create this blog. Hope this post will remind you of the time we spent in Bangalore searching for the perfect blueberry cheesecake.

Blueberries are rich in antioxidants, yummy, are in season now, and most of all I got them cheaper at the supermarket this week. Traditionally, cheesecakes are made using cream cheese but I have used Mascarpone cheese for this cheesecake. Combination of Mascarpone and fresh whipped cream seldom goes wrong.

I have used Mcvites Digestive Biscuits for the base. You can use graham crackers or even Marie biscuit based on your choice. Oreo is another great choice if you are a Oreo lover. I like the base nutty so I have added cinnamon powder. You can experiment with the base too by adding powdered almonds, walnuts, and spices like nutmeg and cinnamon.

You can substitute blueberries with other berries like strawberries, raspberries, or even cherries. If you are lazy to make the compote, you can buy the ready made fruit preserves available in the market. Happy New Year!!!

Eggless Blueberry Cheesecake

Ingredients

Serves 6

For the Base

  • 6 digestive biscuits
  • 1 tbsp cocoa powder
  • ½ tsp cinnamon powder
  • 2 tbsp brown sugar
  • 2 tbsp butter at room temperature

For Filling

  • 2/3 cup mascarpone cheese
  • 2/3 cup heavy fresh cream
  • ½ cup sugar
  • 1 tsp vanilla essence
  • 2 tsp lemon juice

For Topping

  • 2/3 cup fresh blueberries
  • 2 tbsp sugar
  • 2-3 tsp lemon juice
  • Whipped Cream (Optional)

Recipe

Crush the digestive biscuits to crumbs. You can use a hand mixer for this. Mix rest of the ingredients for base. The mixture should be like moist sand. Press down the mixture tightly into a spring form pan and put it in fridge for 15-20 mins to set.

In a bowl, whip together the cream and 2 tbsp sugar till stiff peaks form. Keep aside.

In another bowl, beat the mascarpone cheese with remaining sugar, lemon juice, and vanilla essence till it is smooth and creamy. Fold in the whipped cream carefully and spread this mixture on the base. Let it set in the refrigerator for 3-4 hours.

In a pan, put the blueberries, sugar, and ¼ cup water and cook on low flame till you get a thick sauce like consistency. This should take approximately 7-10 minutes. Add the lemon juice in the end and mix well. Keep aside to cool completely.

Once the cheesecake is set, spread this blueberry topping and serve chilled. You can use whipped cream also to decorate the cheesecake.

 

 

Eggless Chocolate and Vanilla Cupcakes

Eggless Chocolate and Vanilla Cupcakes

Merry Christmas! It is eggless chocolate and vanilla cupcakes for the Christmas. It’s a rainy Christmas in Singapore and with all the neighbors gone, our floor is even gloomier so I just needed something to cheer me up. What better than baking a cake! I like to bake cakes more than eating them. The smell of a freshly baked cake just lifts up the spirits and makes me happy. Baking or rather eggless baking has always been very satisfying for me. As kids, we never had any cakes for birthdays or any occasion for that matter. It was not a Marwadi thing or rather not a middle class thing to afford. But being the odd one out always, I have been trying to bake since my school days. From pressure cooker cake disasters to decent cakes in convection oven, I have tried lot of baking at home. Now that I have a wonderful oven in my kitchen, I experiment even more.

I don’t know what it is with eggs and baking. The more things I want to bake the more I need to research on how to bake an eggless version of it. Once you try these cupcakes you will agree that eggs don’t matter really. For me the most important lessons of baking are Follow the recipe point to point; PREHEAT the oven – however excited you are to put your cake in; ALWAYS use the best quality and exact measurement of Ingredients.

I have made chocolate and vanilla flavors as few members in my family prefer vanilla flavor to chocolate. Really! If you wish to make all chocolate cupcakes, just double the quantity of cocoa powder and mix it in the whole batter or if you wish to bake only vanilla cupcakes, leave out the cocoa completely and double the quantity of vanilla essence.

One thing to keep in mind while baking them is that every oven has a different baking time. Best would be to bake the cupcakes for 15 minutes and check them once and then continue baking as required. These mini cupcakes go well with tea, or as a dessert after a meal or just eat them when you like. You can choose to ice them or just eat them warm.

Eggless Chocolate and Vanilla Cupcakes

Ingredients

Makes 40 mini cupcakes or 25 normal cupcakes

  • 1 ½ cup plain flour
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • ½ tsp baking soda
  • 3 tbsp cocoa powder
  • ½ cup hot water
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • ½ cup oil (preferably rice bran)
  • ½ cup curd (Indian curd)
  • ½ tbsp. vanilla essence

Recipe

Mix flour, baking powder, and baking soda in a bowl and pass this mix through a sieve once or twice so that the soda gets mixed with the flour.

Combine hot water and sugar and beat them on medium speed till the sugar is almost mixed in water and you see very small grains. Add the curd and oil and blend on high speed for 2-3 minutes. Add half of flour mix and blend on low speed. Add rest of the flour mix and blend on low speed till the flour is mixed into the liquid ingredients and there are no lumps. Make sure to scrape the edges in between. 2-3 minutes should be enough to mix the dry and liquid ingredients well.

Divide this batter into two portions. Add vanilla essence to one portion and cocoa powder to another one. If you find the batter with cocoa too stiff, add one table spoon hot water at this time.

Preheat the oven to 180 degrees. Grease a cup cake mould or put cupcake liners in a cupcake mould. Spoon the vanilla mixture in half the liners and cocoa mixture in half. Fill only 3/4th of the liners. Tap the mould lightly on a flat surface. This is to get rid of any air bubbles in the spooned batter. Bake at 180 degrees for 20 minutes or till a skewer comes out clean when you put it in the cupcake.

For a variation you can also spoon alternate layers of chocolate and vanilla.

Once the cakes are baked, cool them completely and decorate with the icing of your choice.

Icing

I have used Betty Crocker’s Dark Chocolate icing and Cooked Flour frosting from leelabeanbakes.com.

In India, you can get the ready butter cream icing from Pillsbury. It is easily available at supermarkets like FoodWorld and Spencers. You can also try whipped cream or Nutella  Icing. Happy baking!!

Rasgulla

The pioneer of cookery shows and cook books in India, Tarla Dalal passed away on Wednesday, 7-Nov-13. She was truly the first master chef of India and has inspired generations of cooking enthusiasts. Be it traditional Indian food, healthy cooking, cooking for kids, or different types of cooking, list of her expertise is endless. She taught people to cook healthy and cook well. Whenever I am stuck or confused while making a traditional mithai, her recipes work like an encyclopedia. I am sharing her recipe and hope her recipes keep spreading the cheer and happiness that she always did. RIP Tarla Dalal.

After trying 4-5 different recipes and methods, it was this recipe of Tarla Dalal, which helped me make perfect rasgullas in a flash. Yes! The cooking time is not more than 12-15 minutes. This is the easiest and simplest recipe of rasgulla I have seen so far.

Rasgulla

Though there are only four ingredients you need to follow every step as mentioned to get the perfect rasgullas. Here are few tips before the recipe:

  • If possible, use half quantity cow’s milk and half quantity buffalo’s milk.
  • Quantity of lime juice required to curdle the milk depends on the quality of milk.
  • Adding excess lime juice will make the rasgulla lemon flavoured.
  • Do not touch the rasgullas once you place them on the plate.
  • Make sure the cooker has enough space for rasgullas to expand. They will double in size. If there is no space rasgullas will break.
  • Always cook rasgullas on high flame.

Soft and fresh chenna(hung curdled milk) is the key to perfect rasgullas. The process of making chenna looks long but it is worth it. Since rasgulla is milk-based, it is best enjoyed fresh. The shelf life of milk-based sweets is not very long. You can keep them in fridge for few days though.

Rasgulla

Ingredients

Makes 20 Rasgullas

  • 1 litre full fat milk
  • 1 -2 tbsp lime juice
  • 1 cup + 1/4th cup sugar
  • 5 cups water
  • Little (1-2 tsp) refined flour

Recipe

Bring milk to boil and switch off the gas. Wait for 3-4 minutes, stirring it occasionally for the steam to escape. Stir in 1 tbsp of lime juice. If the milk starts to curdle, then you will not need more lime juice. Add little more lime juice if the milk does not curdle.

Let it sit for some time. Take a white muslin cloth and spread it in a deep bowl. Put the 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. Hang it for 3-4 hours or till the water drips out completely.

Take the chenna in a plate and mash it with the heel of your palm till you get a smooth mixture. This should not take more than 2-3 minutes.

Dust the back of a plate with refined flour. Take little chenna at a time and make smooth balls and place on the dusted plate. Make sure there are no cracks in the balls.

While you are making the chenna balls, put sugar and water in a cooker and bring to boil on a high flame.

Once the sugar water comes to boil, add the balls to it by tilting the plate. Do not touch the balls. Close the cooker and cook on high flame for 8-9 minutes without the whistle. Switch off the gas. Let the cooker get cooled. Do not touch the rasgullas still.

Open the cooker and slowly transfer the rasgullas to a bowl. Chill them in a refrigerator for 45 minutes to 1 hour before eating/serving.

 

 

Chandrakala (Sweet filled with Khoa and nuts)

Chandrakala (Sweet filled with Khoa and nuts)

Two three days before Diwali, my home resembles a sweet shop. The aroma of the sweets and savories can be felt in the neighborhood. My grandmother, mom, and aunt make lot of sweets and savories to be distributed to family, relatives, friends, employees, friends of friends, the postman, sweeper, and anybody and everybody who comes home to get the Diwali inaam. The most popular of these preparations is chandrakala. I end up eating them for lunch the day they are being made. This is the by far the best mithai/sweet my grandmother makes. No garnishes, no saffron in sugar syrup, plain simple chandrakala which is crispy outside and melts in mouth with each bite. Heaven!

This mithai is a sweet kachori/pastry filled with dry fruits, fried in ghee/oil and dipped in sugar syrup. Its heavy on calories but isn’t Diwali a perfect excuse to indulge.

Folding the chandrakala is an art. I have learnt this from my grandmother. Once you seal two puris with the stuffing inside, gently pinch the edges and twist them to form a pattern. This will make sure that the filling does not come out while frying.

Do not keep these in fridge. They can be stored in an airtight container for few days. Enjoy the sweet treat this Diwali. Wishing you and very happy and sweet Diwali!

Chandrakala (Sweet filled with Khoa and nuts)

Ingredients

Makes 20 Chandrakalas

  • 1 cup refined flour (maida)
  • ¼ cup ghee (clarified butter)
  • Oil for frying

Filling

  • ¼ cup khoa/wava (dried whole milk)
  • 2 tsp sugar
  • 2 tbsp coarsely crushed dry fruits
  • ¼ tsp cardamom powder

Sugar Syrup

  • 2 cups sugar
  • 2 cups water
  • ½ tsp ghee (optional)

Mix the refined flour and ghee till it resembles bread crumbs. Add very little water at a time and make a firm dough. The dough should not be very stiff or very soft. It should be of medium consistency. Cover and keep it aside for 15 minutes.

Put khoa in a microwave safe bowl and heat it on full power for 20-25 seconds. Add sugar, nuts, and cardamom powder immediately and mix well. Keep aside.

You can even fry the khoa in a pan for 1-2 mins and move it to a cool bowl immediately and mix other ingredients.

Divide the dough into 40 portions and roll out small puris (approximately 3 inches). Take two puris at a time. Put one portion of khoa filling in one puri, cover it with the second puri and seal the edges and pinch and fold the sides in a pattern so that the edges do not open while frying. You can use the moulds available in the market.

Heat enough oil in a deep pan/kadhai and fry the chandrakalas few at a time, till they are golden brown. While you are frying the chandrakala, bring to boil the water and sugar for sugar syrup and make a sugar syrup of one thread*.

Once all the chandrakala are fried, poke each chandrakala on top with a fork. This will help it absorb the sugar syrup. Put them in the hot sugar syrup and coat them with sugar syrup on all sides. You can leave the chandrakala in the syrup for few minutes (3-4) and remove it carefully. Garnish with dry fruits or eat as it is.

*Sugar Syrup

Consistency of sugar syrup is very crucial for Indian desserts. You need to be very careful while working with sugar as it gets extremely hot and can even burn your skin. This recipe calls for one thread consistency of sugar syrup.

One thread consistency is when a single thread is formed when you take little syrup between your index finger and thumb and pull apart the fingers gently. The thread should not break.

Second way to test this is, pour the syrup in a small plate with water. If the syrup does not dissolve immediately and dissolves when you try to gather it, it is one thread consistency.

Another simpler way is to use the cooking thermometer. Single thread syrup is approximately 220ºF – 222ºF/104º-105ºC and is used for sweets where it needs to be absorbed

To test the consistency of sugar syrup, dip a wooden spatula in the syrup and lift out. Allow to cool for a few seconds. Now touch the syrup with a clean index finger to pick a small amount of syrup and bring your thumb and index finger together and pull apart gently.

Berries Parfait (Berries Shrikhand)

Berries Parfait (Berries Shrikhand)

This Diwali, east meets west i.e. shrikhand meets Parfait. I am a big shrikhand fan but it has to be home made. My grandmother makes the best shrikhand. It’s not extremely sweet or heavy like the shrikhand you get in stores. I am a parfait fan too; especially the strawberry parfait. When I saw fresh cranberries at the grocery store, shrikhand parfait was the first thought to cross my mind. I bought lot of them and put them in the freezer for next dessert.

You can also use blueberries and raspberries for this dessert. Berries are not only rich in antioxidants, but are low in calories and yummy too. I wanted to cut the sour taste of cranberries with the sweetness of strawberries and black currant. I used fresh strawberries and black currant juice for the berry compote.

For the shrikhand part, you can either use hung yogurt or use the Greek yogurt which is ready to use. I used my grandma’s method and hung fresh yogurt in muslin cloth for 5-6 hours to let all the water drain. But the Greek yogurt works equally well if you want a quick dessert. Sugar and lime juice in this recipe depend on the taste of berries. Since I was using black currant juice and the strawberries were sweeter, I used less sugar. You can store the extra compote in refrigerator and add it to yogurt and make a quick dessert.

This time I gave a miss to the cocoa powder for dusting and used my favorite memory boosting spice – Cinnamon to add the nutty flavor to the fresh cream. You can layer it in shot glasses, square glasses, or any other way you want. Make sure to chill it for at least 2 hours before eating or serving.

Berries Parfait (Berries Shrikhand)

Ingredients

Serves 2

For Shrikhand

  • 2/3 cup hung yogurt or Greek yogurt
  • 1 ½ tbsp. Icing sugar or powdered sugar
  • 1 tsp Vanilla essence

For Berries Compote

  • ½ cup chopped strawberries
  • ½ cup cranberries
  • ¼ cup blackcurrant juice (I used Ribena)
  • 2 tbsp sugar (if the berries are very sour add 1 more tbsp. sugar)

Garnish

  • 1 tbsp finely chopped strawberries
  • Whipped cream (appx 4 tbsp)
  • ½ tsp cinnamon powder

Recipe

Whip together the shrikhand ingredients till you get a smooth and creamy mixture (approximately 2 minutes) and chill for 1 hour.

Put all the Compote ingredients in a pan and let in boil on low flame till you get a thick sauce like consistency (approximately 12-15 minutes should be good enough). Keep stirring in between. Let it cool completely.

Now layer the dessert glass with alternate layers of compote and shrikhand, start with a layer of compote and end with a layer of shrikhand. Top with a layer of chopped strawberries and pipe or spoon some whipped cream and dust it with cinnamon powder.

Chill for at least two hours before serving.

If you are using the ready to pipe whipped cream, you can add the whipped cream just before serving.

 

Rabdi ka Malpua (Indian Dessert Pancakes)

Rabdi ka Malpua (Indian Dessert Pancakes)

Rabdi ka malpua is Rajasthan’s answer to pancakes. It is a dessert which is crispy on edges and soft in the center. This melt in your mouth wonder is a fried version of pancake and as with most of the Rajasthani desserts this too is made in ghee. This is a quick dessert that can be made with very few ingredients and most of which are available at home.

Malpuas are a regular feature at all the Rajasthani festivals. The way I like my malpua is soft centered, crispy on edges, and hot of course. You can garnish them with any dry fruit of your choice.

Batter of pouring consistency is the key to a perfect malpua. Keep the batter too thick and it will turn out as thick as bread. Keep it too thin and it will break when you try to turn it.

Every family has a variation to this traditional marwadi mithai. This is my family recipe of the rabdi ka malpua. Happy Eating!

Rabdi ka Malpua (Indian Dessert Pancakes)

Ingredients

Makes around 15-18 malpuas

  • 100 gms flour (maida)
  • 50 gms khova (dried whole milk)
  • 1 pinch soda
  • 5 almonds slivered
  • Approximately 1 cup milk

For sugar syrup

  • 1 ½ cup sugar
  • 1 cup water
  • 5 cardamoms powdered
  • Few strands of saffron

Recipe

Blend together maida and khova in a mixer with half of milk to make a batter of pouring consistency. Consistency of batter is the key for malpuas. Add more milk if required. Keep it aside for one hour.

When you are ready to make the malpua, add soda to the batter and mix well.

For the sugar syrup, combine all the ingredients and bring to boil. The syrup should be sticky but without strings. Keep the syrup aside. The syrup should we used warm. If it has cooled by the time of serving malpuas, you can reheat it a little.

Heat enough ghee in a flat bottom kadhai. Pour a spoonful of batter to form a pan cake. Cook on both sides till the edges are crisp and brown. Remove the malpua and dip it in the sugar syrup immediately. Remove it from the syrup. Garnish it with slivered almonds and serve warm.

 

Gulab Jamun

Gulab Jamun

When I decided to start a food blog and was thinking of recipes to include, this was the first recipe that came to my mind. Gulab jamun; this is perhaps the best of the sweets that my grandmother makes. I have very fond memories of helping my grandmother roll the gulab jamuns. As an 8-9 year old, I used to feel so proud to have contributed to a recipe.

Though I am not a fan of oily and fried food, this is an exception. I do not prefer gulab jamun made in oil. It has to be made in ghee (clarified butter). I think that is what gives it the yummy taste and aroma. Fresher the ingredients, better the taste. There are various versions of this sweet too. You can stuff it with mishri, chironji, or any other dry fruit of your choice. Though I do not try to modify such time tested recipes, this time I tried using chocolate chips as a stuffing and was happy with the result.

Gulab Jamun can be enjoyed warm and cold both. It particularly goes well with Vanilla Ice-cream. Warm Gulab Jamun with a dollop of Vanilla Ice-cream tastes delicious. What else, it is indeed a quick dessert.

Gulab Jamun

Ingredients

Makes 10 Gulab Jamuns

  • ½ cup dried whole milk (khoya/mawa)
  • 1 tbsp  Indian cottage cheese (paneer)
  • 1 tbsp multipurpose flour (maida)
  • 2 pinches soda
  • 3-4 pinches cardamom powder (ilaichi)
  • Few chocolate chips
  • 8-10 strands of saffron (kesar)
  • 1 ½ cup sugar
  • 2 cups water
  • Pure ghee to fry the gulab jamuns
  • 1-2 tbsp water
  • Chopped almonds for topping

Recipe

Crumble or grate mawa and paneer. Add maida, soda, and cardamom powder. Mash all the ingredients using the heel of your palm and keep mixing till you get an even mixture. If you find the mixture too dry, you can add 1 tablespoon water at a time till you get a soft dough. Divide the dough into 10 portions and roll into balls. You can add the stuffing at this time. Press the ball to make a hole, add the stuffing, seal the ends and roll into a ball again making sure there are no cracks.

Heat sufficient ghee in a thick bottomed deep pan/kadai.  Fry on sim gas till golden brown. Do not over crowd the pan. Once you put the gulab jamuns in hot ghee, do not put spoon in the pan till the balls come up in ghee or they will break.  Fry gently and drain and keep aside.

In another pot, heat sugar and water till the syrup becomes light golden. Add saffron strands. Do not over boil the sugar syrup. It should be boiled enough to be sticky. Switch off the gas as soon as the syrup startsbto boil and let it cool a little. Add the gulab jamuns to the syrup when it is warm. Let the gulab jamuns soak in the syrup for at least 30 minutes before serving. You can garnish them with chopped almonds or pistachios.