(Yoghurt) Cheesecake

February 28th, 2014 was the day I last posted to this blog. So much has happened, since. So so much. I’ve been really happy about it, mostly. But then, I never really got around to re-organizing life to make time for blog posts. And that’s not very nice, to be honest.

So, here’s me, trying to make a come back. With the hope that I’ll be more regular now on.

These seven plus months that I went missing, I was cooking. Cooking a whole bunch of good things. I also did a bit of travelling. And a TONNE of work (that’s my usual excuse, isn’t it?). And amidst all of that, I chanced upon a cheesecake recipe that uses Greek Yoghurt, instead of mascarpone. The couple of times I’d tried my hand at no-bake cheesecakes and regular cheesecakes when I was in USA, I’d ended up with fairly disastrous results. This one worked for me. So well! I did the one suggested in this recipe – a lemon blueberry cheesecake. I played around with it a little and did just a lemon cheesecake. Following that, there was a kiwi cheesecake. There was also a Black Forest cheesecake more recently. And a mango cheesecake when I went home for a bit this May. I also used the hung-yoghurt technique to make some pretty darned good tiramisu and I hope to be able to post that recipe soon enough too.

You can follow A Baking Girl’s recipe to the tee. But I’ll quickly go over the small changes I usually make – depending on what flavour I’m using.

Ingredients:
Must-haves:
For the Filling:
2 500g boxes of yogurt (I buy Nestle or Nilgiri’s), hung for a couple of hours until all the whey is drained out – results in 2 cups of hung yoghurt
1/2 cup sugar
2 eggs
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 tablespoons cornstarch
pinch of salt
For the Crust:
2 cups muesli, coarsely ground
2 tablespoons butter

Additional ingredients:
For the Lemon-Blueberry Cheesecake:
3 1/2 tablespoons lemon juice
zest of one lemon
1/4 cup blueberries, whole
1/4 cup blueberries, crushed or roughly chopped (sieve out the seeds, if you like)
For the lemon cheesecake:
4-6 tablespoons lemon juice
4-6 tablespoons of sugar
A tiny bit of yellow food colouring
zest of 1-2 lemons
For the kiwi cheesecake:
1 kiwi, roughly chopped
1 kiwi mashed to pulp and strained
A tiny bit of green food colouring
1/2 cup water
1/4 cup sugar
For the mango cheesecake:
1 mango, roughly chopped
1 cup mango concentrate or mango juice (I used Paper Boat Aamras)
Extra sugar, if required.
A pinch of ground cinnamon
For the Black Forest cheesecake:
1/2 cup cocoa powder
1/2 cup cherries, pitted and roughly chopped
2-4 tablespoons of cherry liqueur (you can use vodka, in case you don’t have cherry liqueur)
A few whole cherries, to garnish

(General) Method:
1. Preheat oven to 350F.
2. Line the base of your springform cake tin with the coarse ground muesli. Melt the two table spoons of butter and pour over so that the muesli is evenly covered. Bake this for 5-7 minutes, until the crust just begins to brown. Allow this to cool down to room temperature, while you prepare the filling.
3. In a bowl, combine the eggs, sugar, yogurt and vanilla with a hand blender for 1-2 minutes, until you get a smooth mixture.
4. Add cornstarch, pinch of salt, and the added flavours and blend again, for another minute or two. Read more on this in the Specific Instructions section below.
5. Pour filling over the crust, now, and bake for 35 minutes. Check the Notes section below for done-ness.
6. Let the cheesecake cool down to room temperature, by which point the centre will have set and then release the springform.

Notes:
1. When the cheesecake is done, it will be a little jiggly in the centre, though the edges will have started to pull away from the sides of the pan.
2. The disadvantage with over-baking will be a cheesecake that tastes more like flavoured cottage cheese with this slight rubbery texture. 30-35 minutes of baking time will ideally ensure a good cheesecake.

Special Instructions:
For the Lemon-Blueberry Cheesecake:
1. Add the lemon juice and lemon zest in at Step 4 in the General Method above.
2. After Step 5 above, when you’ve poured the filling in, add the whole blueberries, the crushed blueberries and give the filling a little swirl for a pretty pattern.

For the lemon cheesecake:
1. Add the lemon zest in at Step 4 in the General Method above.
2. In a separate pan, cook the lime juice and the sugar, until the sugar has melted and the mixture reduces to a thick sauce. Add a small amount of yellow food colouring. Pour this over the cheesecake, when both the cheesecake and the lime syrup have cooled. Refrigerate for an hour before serving.

(It’s worth noting that my best friend ate a couple of slices without complaining and I made it one more time, the exact same recipe, and this one was gone in 15 minutes flat, 5 people. So maybe it wasn’t *that* lemony, y’know.)
For the kiwi cheesecake:
1. Add the chopped kiwis zest in at Step 4 in the General Method above.
2. In a separate pan, cook a sugar syrup using the water and the sugar. When it has thickened to a sauce-like consistency (though not caramelized), add the strained kiwi pulp and the green food colouring. Pour this over the cheesecake, when both the cheesecake and the lime syrup have cooled. Refrigerate for an hour before serving.
(A few friends were over for dinner when I had made this and we were all too drunk to wait for photographs! Sorry!)
For the mango cheesecake:
1. Add the chopped mangoes in at Step 4 in the General Method above.
2. In a separate pan, reduce the mango pulp and the cinnamon to a thick consistency, adding sugar, if required. Pour this over the cheesecake, when both the cheesecake and the lime syrup have cooled. Refrigerate for an hour before serving.

For the Black Forest cheesecake:
1. Soak the pitted, chopped cherries in the liqueur/liquor for at least 30 minutes.
2. Add the cocoa powder and the soaked cherries in at Step 4 in the General Method above.
3. Garnish the cheesecake with whole cherries.
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And because I’ve baked so many cheesecakes over the past few months, I’ve had some pretty random ideas too:


Much Summery So Wowe

(Pardon the doge meme title for this post, but given the Paper Boat Flavours I’m going to write about here, a summery title seems apt.)

What’s the first thing that comes to your mind when someone says kalakhatta? For me, it’s baraf golas. Always.

I kept it simple with the Paper Boat kalakhatta flavour. I poured some of it into a cutting-chai glass and froze it for a couple of hours. I then stuck a lollypop stick into it and froze it overnight. Voila! Good old baraf gola, sans the tongue-lip-and-t-shirt-staining purple colour. And just as delicious. There’s jamun and some spices (for that added kick) that go into making this taste as good as it does.

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I’m not sure if their aam-panna is out in the market yet, but I did get to taste some of it. It was good, but it was missing the old-school panha taste I was secretly hoping it’d have. I can’t pin what exactly was missing, though. Maybe that little bit of kesar? Or possibly some other spice, other than those mentioned on the pack? Or maybe just maa ke haath ka jaadoo. Heh. Not to say it was bad or anything, but this one didn’t quite do as much for me, as the other flavours have. Which is why I decided to work it into a recipe. Just like I did with the aamras.

The inspiration to use aam panna as a salad dressing came from a Thai Mango Salad I used to love having at a restaurant in Pune. Slices of raw mango, shrimp, a sweet-and-spicy dressing and greens. I modified the salad by using aam panna and olive oil for the dressing. I threw a couple of kinds of lettuce, a few basil leaves, some sprouts, thinly sliced red chillies and chopped spring onions into a bowl. I grilled some prawns, with chopped garlic, salt and black sesame seeds, and added those to the salad mixture. I finally put dressed it all in a lot of the aam panna dressing. The salad made for a delightful eating – the aam panna lending it’s characteristic tangy-sweet touch to the salad and just a hint of spice from the red chillies with the crunch of the greens. I was hoping it wouldn’t need any additional herbs and I was glad it didn’t.

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That leaves me with not having tasted only the kokum flavour. I know it exists because I’ve seen it on their Facebook page. But I’ve never gotten around to seeing it at any of the stores I buy my groceries at. But then again, knowing me, I’d probably add some vodka to it (oh, vodka and kokum sarbat is a killer combination, I’ve left waiters at several restaurants mildly surprised) or try making sol kadi out of it (though I trust being able to do a better job, making it the conformist way) or throw it into a Coastal seafood curry.

{Edit: March 9th, 2014 = I found the kokum! I found the kokum!}


Life is *still* beautiful

If you don’t know what I’m talking about already, here’s a hint (Inside secret: I discovered only last afternoon that somebody I know personally manages this page for the guys at Paper Boat. Oh, I’m such a celebrity!)

I love the Paper Boat Facebook page. It showed up on my twitter timeline a few months ago. And there were so many things on it that took me back to 20 years ago. Quite heart warming, that. And very aptly explained on their FAQ page – simple and reminiscent of the days gone by, yet easy enough to relive (folding paper boats and sailing them in rivulets of rain water or well, just opening up one of their drinks!)

@vip_nair brought some Paper Boat Aamras home one evening, a few months ago. As someone that has grown up on a steady stock of Alphonso mangoes from Valsad every year of my existence so far (yes, even when I was in USA and of course, my one summer in Bangalore), I find it very difficult to appreciate anything that involved packaged/processed mango (a la Frootis and Maazas from the eighties and the nineties). But what I had wasn’t mind-numbingly sweet, unlike most other mango-flavoured beverages. It wasn’t something I’d go out of my way to have again, but knowing that they had flavours other than aamras was enough reason now, for me to give those a shot. And I did – the jaljeera and the kalakhatta (more on those as you read on).

I was thrilled when the guys at Paper Boat wrote in to me last week (they said a bunch of nice things about me, so yay! I’m a celebrity!) and asked what I thought of their beverages. They even let me in on a flavour they’re launching soon. (and oh boy! Am I excited about it, or what! It’s another one of those that I’ve grown up drinking and to have it in packaged form will be quite a treat!)

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So, then, this is a formal post on the awesomeness that Paper Boat beverages are (a small mention for the flattering email-writing skills,teehee, and their ‘awwww’ Facebook page).

I sampled two of the three flavours they sent in, to be fair. And set my brain to work, to make this post a little different and more than just a review of a bunch of beverages.

(I promise to do the third in another post. I’ve been busy with work and travelling for my cousin’s wedding and everything is all just so overwhelming.)

The jaljeera was perfect. Everything like a jaljeera my mum might make me if I nag her. The ingredients on the jaljeera pack says they’ve added jeera (cumin), lemon and kala namak to the drink already, but when I served myself some, I threw in a few fresh mint leaves and a slice of lime – for added pretty. I LOVED the jaljeera and cannot recommend it enough. It’s everything home-made (only, it’s not! It’s Paper Boat!)

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With the aamras, I made a sauce – added a dash of fish sauce, some tabasco and crushed garlic cloves – brought it to a boil and used it to marinate and grill some chicken. I cooked up a quick coconut rice, using regular rice, (Parachute, haha!) coconut oil and some coconut milk. That dinner was fantastic, even if I say so myself. I’d never imagined I could use a packaged beverage to make a savoury meal that’d be this good!

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All that said, you get about two glasses (each packet is 250 ml) of naturally flavoured desi beverages for Rs 25/- – flavours you don’t really find in other bottled/packaged beverages. To me, that’s pretty cool, really!

Their drinks page gives some pretty detailed insight into what you can expect from a drink, when you open it. And sure enough, they deliver what’s written out there. They do.

So yeah, here’s me pimping them to the very last ml of that jaljeera I just finished! Go buy some, you guys! And tell me what you think?

(Oh, and there’s another post coming up in a few days, not on just one, but two other flavours!)


Whole Wheat Bread

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And yes, I mean brown bread. Whole wheat bread, in the truest form of the term. Made with the same flour that I use to make chapatis. And it was soft and cooked all the way through and except for the shape, it was every bit as good as store bought bread.

Ingredients:
(makes one loaf)
2 cups wheat flour (plus a couple of tablespoons, for dusting)
1 cup warm water
1 tablespoon gluten
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
3 teaspoons sugar
3 teaspoons active dry yeast
1 teaspoon salt
1 egg

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Method:
1. Add the yeast and the sugar to the water and let it sit for 10 minutes, so that the yeast can cultivate.
2. Sieve the wheat flour and the gluten into a bowl, for uniformity, and add the oil, salt, egg and the yeast mixture in and knead into a smooth dough. Continue to knead well for 5-10 minutes.
3. The dough should be smooth and not sticky. Add a few table spoons of flour to achieve the desired consistency, if required.
4. Oil a large vessel and place the dough in to to rest for a few hours, covering with a damp cloth (or until doubled in size).
5. Once the dough has risen sufficiently, pre-heat the oven to 180C and knead the dough into the shape of a loaf. If you have a bread tin, grease it and set the dough into it, else, you can work with a round mound of dough.
6. Brush the top of the mound of dough with some vegetable oil or a beaten egg, and sprinkle sesame seeds or dried onions or herbs and garlic and bake for 30-40 minutes.
7. Let it cool completely (20-30 minutes) before cutting it.

Notes:
1. I made the mistake of being hasty and trying to cut the bread while it was still warm. I ended up not being able to cut perfect slices.
2. Undoubtedly my best baked bread, ever! I made a portion of baked beans to go with it for dinner that evening. And cooked some eggs, sunny side up, the following morning because who doesn’t like dunking good bread in runny yolks and making the most of Sunday brunch!
3. Yes, I know using gluten isn’t the healthiest thing to do. But here’s the thing gluten is protein. Gluten is made by processing wheat flour and regular wheat flour is therefore, devoid of the extra protein content that gluten may have given it, had it not been extracted before hand. All purpose flour (maida) already has enough gluten content in it.
4. A little under 1% people are gluten intolerant – the most common symptoms of intolerance being tummy trouble and cramps.
5. Gluten helps bread cook better – it gives elasticity to dough and lightness to the bread, in itself.
6. There are enough people who think gluten isn’t healthy. But here’s my take on the whole deal. I don’t eat bread very often. In fact, in my one year in Bangalore, I’ve ended up buying bread only thrice. And I’ve baked some about 4 times. That still puts me at once a month, even if I stretch it. And I’m sure my system can handle that much gluten. People who claim gluten is unhealthy are probably the kind who live off bread diets. Well, that’s not very healthy to begin with, right?

Problems:
1. The crust of the bread was hard and non-shiny. I intend to fix that in the upcoming weeks, when I bake some more bread. The pleasure of baking good bread, is unparalleled.
2. I wish I’d used a bread tin. I don’t own one. But come February, and I will.

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Like I mentioned, I made some baked beans to go with the bread Saturday evening.
Ingredients:
1 cup of rajma beans, soaked for 7-8 hours and boiled
1 teaspoon coriander powder
1 teaspoon cumin powder
Tabasco, to taste
salt, to taste
1/2 an onion, minced or finely chopped
3-4 cloves of garlic, minced or finely chopped
1 large tomato, pureed or finely chopped
Oil, to cook
Chopped coriander, to garnish
Mozzarella cheese, to garnish
Wedges of lime, to serve
Small cubes of butter, to serve

Method:
1. Heat some oil in a skillet and cook the onions and garlic in it, until the onions are translucent.
2. Add the pureed tomatoes and cook for a few more minutes.
3. Now add the spices, tabasaco (add more, if you like it spicy), the salt and the beans (along with the water they were soaked/boiled in) and cook until the excess water from the beans and the tomatoes has boiled off, leaving a mushy mixture of porridge-like consistency.
4. Butter a few slices of bread (you may want to toast them just a little, if the bread is too soft, to prevent the beans from making the bread soggy).
5. Layer the bread with some of the bean mixture. Grate some mozzarella cheese over it and bake at 180C for 3-4 minutes or until the cheese has melted.
6. Garnish with coriander and serve with a wedge of lime and a dollop of molten butter over the beans. The dash of lime and that extra butter do wonders to enhance the taste of the dish as a whole, they do!


Vanilla and Nutmeg Frozen Yoghurt with Pear Crisps

I’m sure you crave different food things ever so suddenly, every once in a while. I do too. And then I go ahead and try making it, from scratch. At home. Because I’m an idiot.

I’m also not the biggest fruit eater around. So, in the event I end up with extra fruit at home, I use it to make dessert-y stuff that I might like better. Not to say I don’t like eating fruit. I eat some at work every day. And then, the usual fare of strawberries or oranges is usually sitting inside or on top of my refrigerator. But then, there was this pear. I’d already eaten two. And I really didn’t want to eat the third one plain, so I looked up for things I could do with it, on Google. And I found this brilliant recipe on Food 52.

Of course, mine look nothing as great and I will admit I did burn them a little. But they taste awesome! I also altered the recipe a wee little bit.

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For the pear crisps:
Ingredients:
1 pear, thinly sliced
1 tablespoon sugar
1 inch inch piece of dried galangal
1 inch stick of cinnamon
1 tablespoon cocoa powder

Method:
1. Preheat oven to 135°C.
2. Grind the sugar, the galangal, the cocoa powder and the cinnamon to a powder and empty into a bowl.
3. Line a baking tray with a baking sheet.
4. Toss each slice of the pear in the spice mix and lay out on the baking sheet.
5. Bake for an hour (or a little more), until the slices are almost dry. Flip the slices over, about half way into the baking process, so that they bake evenly on both sides.
6. The slices will become crisp when they cool.

For the frozen yoghurt:
Ingredients:
(makes 6-8 scoops of froyo)
3 cups of regular yoghurt
1 cup heavy cream
1/2 teaspoon powdered nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
1 tablespoon powdered sugar

Method:
1. Empty the yoghurt into a muslin cloth and hang to drain all the water. This can take upto 4 hours. You know the water had drained when the yoghurt emptied out resembles a lump of block of ricotta cheese.
2. Whisk the heavy cream for 5-7 minutes, until it begins to take on the texture of whipped cream.
3. Add the yoghurt, nutmeg, vanilla and sugar to this and whisk for a few more minutes to a smooth consistency.
4. Put this mixture away in the freezer for a couple of hours.
5. Take it out after a couple of hours and give it a good mix again.
6. Flash freeze it for another hour.
7. Take it out again and mix well. Mixing it a few times over prevents crystallization.
8. Freeze it one last time for an hour, before serving.
9. If you plan to freeze it overnight, leave it out at room temperature for a few minutes before serving the following day.


Gajar Halwa

When I baked the Yule Log for Christmas, one smart ass tried being funny and said “You only ever make all these firang things.”
Me: No! That’s a lie! I made ras malai for Diwali, didn’t I?

And then, the other day, I made some gajar halwa. It tasted just like mom’s. And that is saying a lot, even if I say so myself. Well, the two Siddharths who tasted it liked it too. One other person also tasted it, but I generally don’t take his opinion too seriously, because he doesn’t eat mushrooms. And he doesn’t eat eggs. And he doesn’t eat corn. And he eats only boneless chicken and calls himself a non-vegetarian (even though he is one of my closest friends. Ok, ok. Everybody knows it’s Yasho.)

All that said, I can now make good ras malai AND good gajar halwa. Alright, I will admit, the one thing I can’t cook decently is a good batata bhaaji. Also, chai. But it’s going to be a while before I am married. I’ll make sure I fix those two, before the parents of the husband raise any complaints. Hah!

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(Don’t ask me why I’ve spelt it with extra a’s in the pictures. I don’t know.)

I’ve also been thinking of how much money I spend when I make good food and comparing it against how much people charge, when they sell good food. And this time around, I actually did the math.

Ingredients:
1.5 kilos of carrots – Rs 45/-
300 g khoya – Rs 90/-
1/2 litre milk – Rs 20/-
3-4 tablespoons of sugar
8-10 pods of elaichi/cardamom
3-4 almonds
2 teaspoons of ghee
(those last three put together, Rs 45/- ?)
That puts me at Rs 200/- for 12-15 bowls of gajar halwa (which my mum estimates is about 1.5 kilos of halwa, because you actually cook it down a whole bunch so that the carrots loses most of their water.)
And if I were to buy as much of it at a halwai, I’d probably pay Rs 300/- per kilo, upwards. If the effort involved were entirely not accounted for (in terms of money), most people who sell gajar halwa make a 100% profit on it, at a minimum. Which almost tempts me to do a price study for cupcakes or cookies. Innate Gujju traits die hard, I guess.

An aside about khoya:
It is similar to ricotta cheese, but lower in moisture and made from whole milk instead of whey.

Method:
1. Peel the carrots and grate them. This is possibly the toughest part of the whole deal.
2. Coat a thick bottomed pan with a couple of table spoons of ghee, so that the carrots don’t stick to the bottom of the pan, when you cook them.
3. Cook the carrots on low flame for a good 20-30 minutes, stirring occasionally, until they turn a bright orange-red colour and begin losing their moisture. The consistency of the cooked carrots at this point should be extremely soft and mushy, at this point.
4. Add the milk and stir the mixture for another 20 minutes (or so). The resulting consistency must be very porridge-like.
5. Now, add the khoya. Make sure it is crumbled (by bringing it down to room temperature before adding to the carrots) or grated (if it is still cold) into the carrot mixture. Stir constantly to ensure no white lumps of khoya remain. The consistency should be thick, and a spatula when stuck into the centre of the mixture, should stay (for about half a minute, instead of flopping over).
6. Add only as much sugar as you might like, by the tablespoon. The consistency of the halwa might loosen upon addition of the sugar, but cook it until it is back to the consistency described in (5), above.
7. Once the gajar halwa has cooled down, add some ground cardamom seeds and slivered almonds. Mix and serve. You can heat it a little before serving too, that’s how I’ve seen a lot of people eat gajar halwa. Me? As long as it’s there, I’m eating it!

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Yule Log

I had big plans to keep myself busy the weekend before Christmas. I wanted to make green, red and white cake-pops to take to work. I wanted to try my hand at working with white chocolate to make pretty shapes, snow-flakes for instance, freeze them and use them to decorate cupcakes. Reindeer antlers. Rudolph red noses. All that.

I also wanted to roast a whole chicken, stuffed with lemon and rosemary. And so much more.

But that weekend was a disaster. Sometime during the week I hurt my lower back and it got severely bad by Saturday morning. I spent all weekend in bed, pretty much unable to move.

Yes, I’ve seen a doctor. Yes, he has diagnosed it. Yes, I am working to fix this. But yes, I’m also quite hobbling around to get thing done by the end of the day. But then, my lower back has been a pain point, quite literally, for a few years now. And I try not to let it stop me from doing stuff. (Even if it means going overboard sometimes. Sigh.)

So, I baked a Yule Log. I had always really wanted to. And I was fairly pleased with how it turned out. I took it to Ketki’s house because she invited me over for dinner on Christmas Eve. Ketki is my best friend’s long time girlfriend. And he’s my long time best friend. And given that, I’m still surprised why we (girlfriend and I) never really met or held such awkward (and untrue) opinions of each other for close to eight years. But all is well that ends well. And yay! They’re official now! Parents and all! And I’ve been over the top with all of this. I cannot tell you how much I love them. Together. Gosh! I just really really want them to be happy! Forever! Because sigh. They’ve been through a bunch, just to be together. And they deserve every bit of this.

This is me, meeting my best friend and his girlfriend together. For the first time. EVER. (Which is, to say, since 2005). And she’s just about moved to Bangalore and is still setting up, so I knew dinner would be simple. He’d brought some wine from Bordeaux, on his way back from his student exchange program. And I wanted to make them a nice dessert to make everything feel amazing.

And that, dear reader, is the story of THIS Yule Log.

The real story of the Yule Log, however, has something to do with traditionally setting out a large-ish log of wood (called the Yule Log) in the fireplace and then cooking Christmas Eve meats over it’s flame (and heat). It is believed that the ashes from the log had magical powers and could ward off evil spirits, thus assuring people of all things good and a great year ahead.

I used this Nigella Recipe, to the tee. So, I won’t write it out again, here. I will, however, add everything else that I did to decorate it. And what I thought wasn’t quite right.

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(no snow on this one, yet)

I’d intended to make some meringue mushrooms to decorate the cake. But back and all, I had to give up that. Instead, I quickly made acorns with melted chocolate and cereal.

And then, I made some berries: Parle-G biscuits, a teeny bit of milk and some red food colouring.

I’d also wanted to placed some candied rosemary on the log. I did need to step out to do groceries that weekend and I couldn’t find any rosemary (I went to four stores, broken back and all, yes, bad call). So I just picked up some greens from the florist, along with my usual weekly bunch of flowers for home.

And for the snow, just good old powdered sugar.

Right, that covers the acorns, the berries, the greens and the snow.

To get the effect of the bark, I ran a fork through the frosting when the cake had been refrigerated long enough.

The cake was immensely heavy. I couldn’t make it through a single slice, to be honest. It was delicious, yes. But too rich and chocolatey.

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(bummer, you can’t see the text on the pictures, really!)

My biggest problem was the icing/frosting.
Notes:
1. I don’t like icing. It is invariably too sweet.
2. The recipe calls for confectioner’s sugar (or icing sugar). I use powdered sugar (ground to a fine powder, at home) on the few occasions I DO need to make icing. And it usually turns out very smooth and pretty delicious. This time, however, it didn’t. It was grainy and overly sweet. I guess I’ll just stick with the icing recipe I used for this cake. (Well, I used icing sugar here. So may be it IS my fault after all.)
3. Yeah, next Christmas, I should perfect this recipe.
4. Oh, the interesting part is that a colleague brought in a cake to work a couple of days ago, and she made a very very similar chocolate buttercream frosting and her frosting with a little grainy too! And we arrived at the conclusion that using icing sugar would’ve been a smarter move afterall.

I’ve cooked some amazing things in 2013. I’ve gotten my baking mojo back. I’ve even successfully started baking bread. I’ve consciously started taking better pictures of food and even fewer pictures of myself. Yes, I’ve had a few not-so-great experiments (case in point, New Year’s Eve burger buns about which I’ll blog later).

The one thing I didn’t do in 2013 was travel. Travel to travel, that is. But I hope to fix that soon enough.

I hope 2014 is awesome. I hope there’s tonnes more amazing cooking, feeding people I love, getting to be with them a lot more. I hope there’s a lot of good progress at work (the last couple of months were meh.) I hope I can travel this year to that place I’ve been saving up for. And I hope to read a few more books this year. And then, I hope everything is just the kind of right it has been these past few months and it only gets better.

Enough sap. I’ll end this post here, then! And Happy New Year!


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