Baked Apple Roses

Apple roses

Unless you have been under a rock, you must have seen the Apple Roses Video. Its been making rounds on the interwebs. At first I ignored it. Then it popped up in my Facebook Newsfeed again. And again. Till, we had an email from Varun’s school for a bake sale. That day the video which I had ignored for days popped up again. Cut apples, roll them in puff pastry with a bit of jam and bake. The video made it look real easy. I figured I could bake a few dozen of those. I signed up for the bake sale. And even told a couple of mom’s about it. Big mistake. Now I had to make them. And make sure they were edible. And looked good. Good enough for someone to buy them with real $$. So I made the first batch using Manuela’s recipe.They looked ok. Not as good as in the video. But were edible. No one died ūüėČ I decided to make chocolate cupcakes instead. My trusted fallback! Only to find we are out of flour and butter. So I had to make another batch of apple roses. Since we have a ton of apples at home from the trip to the apple farm on Columbus day. Apple roses

This time, I made a few changes:

  1. Didn’t defrost the puff pastry completely. When it was partially thawed, rolled it thinner.
  2. Made 12 sections instead of 6 from one pastry sheet.
  3. Didn’t cut the apples paper-thin but slightly thicker
  4. Cooked the apples for 90 secs instead of 3 mins.
  5. Baked them longer for about 50 mins.

It’s not easy to work with puff pastry but with smaller sections that are not completely thawed,¬†it’s not that hard either.

Voila! Had a better batch of apple roses.

Apple rosesThe real success: People bought them at the bake sale and they were gone in no time. We were sold out! A big deal given that there were dozens of professional cookies/cupcakes/brownies there.

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Give them a try for a fun dessert! Well worth the effort to put it together ūüôā

Mind-blowing Super Easy Tiramisu

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Father’s Day weekend and a weeklong Vipul’s trip to London (read as absence at home) made my heart go fonder. My heart debated should it be JEALOUS (¬†it absolutely was when I saw his pictures drinking beer outside pub’s in London); HAPPY¬†that I get to hog the entire bed, plain UPSET that he gets to be off parent’s duty for an entire week or GLAD that when we go to London, I get to sightsee without kids (as he will be on parent duty as he has already been to the tourist spots).

Finally, his LUCK prevailed. It was Father’s Day weekend, it was not the weekend to be MAD at him or his work travels. His arrival made me forget all the negative feelings (after a jibe or two at him while I saw his pictures from London Eye) and I decided to make it up ( to my own sanity) by an extra large serving of Tiramisu. ¬†Oh, I mean how can I be MAD at him. I ought to make him something special ūüėČ . That’s how this extra large – super delicious Tiramisu was made on Saturday night.

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Seriously this is the best and most easy recipe of Tiramisu possible. It is so freaking easy that I am afraid I am gonna make some next week as well. It’s easy because most of the ingredients are store bought and the only hard part of beating egg yolks and mascarpone cheese is made easy by using an handheld electric whisk.

Leaving it overnight in the fridge makes the flavors meld, the biscuits soften and everything becomes this one big flavor feast that only begs to be had over and over again. It ends the meal on a special note.

It can be¬†doubled easily and made ahead. Be warned, its easy to make and even more easy to have second helpings. And more than one serving, it will dent your summer bikini plans. But with a luscious dessert like this on hand who gives London or bikini’s a damn?

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Tiramisu Recipe

  • 2 1/2 cups boiling-hot water and¬†4¬†tablespoons instant-espresso powder ( Alternately make 2 1/2 cups of espresso which is what I used)
  • 1/2 cup plus 1 tablespoon sugar, divided
  • 3 tablespoons Tia Maria (coffee liqueur) (I use Kahlua, which works well)
  • 4 large egg yolks
  • 1/3 cup dry Marsala
  • 1 pound mascarpone (2 1/2 cups)
  • 1¬†tub whipped cream ( or use 1 cup heavy whipping cream and whip it till it forms stiff peaks)
  • 36 savoiardi (crisp Italian ladyfingers; from two 7-ounce packages)
  • Unsweetened cocoa powder for dusting

1. Stir together espresso ( or hot water and espresso powder), 1 tablespoon sugar, and Tia Maria in a shallow bowl until sugar has dissolved, then cool. Set aside.

  1. Beat egg yolks, Marsala, and remaining 1/2 cup sugar in a metal bowl set over a saucepan of barely simmering water using a whisk or handheld electric mixer until tripled in volume, 5 to 8 minutes.

If whisking by hand it will take about 10 mins of constant beating till the eggs are foamy and double in volume. I figured double in volume is good enough. And it was.

  1. Remove bowl from heat. Beat in mascarpone until just combined. Don’t over-mix.

4. Fold mascarpone mixture into whipped cream gently but thoroughly.

  1. Dipping both sides of each ladyfinger into coffee mixture, line bottom of a shallow Pyrex 9 X 13″¬†pan¬†with 18 ladyfingers in 3 rows, trimming edges to fit if necessary.Spread half of mascarpone filling on top.

Remember there is no need to grease the bottom of the pan.

 

  1. Dip remaining 18 ladyfingers in coffee and arrange over filling in pan. Spread remaining mascarpone filling on top and dust with cocoa.

  2. Chill, covered with loose foil , at least 6 hours to overnight.

Serve chilled.

 

 

Semi-sweet Chocolate Pudding

Chocolate Pudding

The other thing besides Dahi vada, I was craving during last couple of weeks of pregnancy was a good old fashioned pudding. Made from scratch at home with love.

Creamy, chocolately, that leaves a thick drape on back of the spoon that you want to lick.

Puddings are really easy to make. But most recipes call for cream and corn starch; which I never don’t have on hand.

When I am at Whole Foods, I pause at the fresh cream bottles, thinking that I can make a pudding with this today. Those Straus cream bottles are very inviting. In their cute shape, they sit right next to the milk gallons begging to be brought home. And made into pudding.

But at 25% fat ( albeit good fat), I don’t really give into temptation and walk away as quickly as possible.

Recently, I came across a Tyler Florence recipe using whole milk ( which is what we have switched to given the milk powder and other additives in low fat milk), I decided to give it a try.

Low in sugar, this is a healthier version of chocolate pudding that you can otherwise make.

Flour can be used in a pinch as a substitute to cornstarch.

The result was a silky, creamy pudding as rich as the one made with cream.

If you are craving a special treat this weekend, give this a try. You probably have everything you need in your house to make it right now.

Its bound to surprise you with its ease and its taste. And its something you wouldn’t mind your kid indulging in.

Note: 

1. Don’t use fat free or 1% milk for this. The resulting pudding will be thin and you may not like the texture.

2. Don’t skimp on whisking. It will reward with a smooth lump free pudding.

Chocolate Pudding

Semi sweet Chocolate Pudding Recipe

  • 1 1/2 cup whole milk + 1 table spoon milk
  • 3 tablespoons sugar
  • 1/3 cup cocoa powder
  • 1 1/3 tablespoon flour
  • 3 large egg yolks, at room temperature
  • Vanilla from 1/2 bean, split and scraped ( or 1 teaspoon extract)
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt

 For garnish 

  • Whipped Cream ( I didn’t use any but sounds delicious)
  • Grated Chocolate
  • Sugar tossed raspberries or strawberries
  1. Mix 1 1/2 cups of the milk, sugar, and the cocoa powder in an saucepan. Bring it to a simmer, over medium-high heat, whisking intermittently to avoid scorching the milk. Remove from the heat and keep aside.
  2. In the meantime, whisk eggs, flour and table spoon of milk, salt and vanilla in a bowl  ensuring there are no lumps in the mixture.
  3. Add a tablespoon of chocolate milk from the saucepan to the eggs. Whisk till incorporated. Repeat with another 2 – 3 tablespoons of milk, adding one tablespoon at a time. This ensures that the eggs don’t get scrambled when added back to the chocolate milk mixture.
  4. Add eggs- milk mixture to the saucepan. Whisk it with the remaining milk and  cook over medium-high heat. Whisk constantly  until pudding comes to a full boil. Reduce the heat to maintain a simmer, and continue whisking until thick, about 2 or 3 minutes more.
  5. Pour the pudding into 4 ramekins. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 4 hours.

Garnish with chilled whipped cream, raspberries or strawberries or grated chocolate.

Serve chilled.

A healthy dessert – Ricotta Stuffed Strawberries

Strawberries Stuffed with Ricotta

We have been on the healthy eating bandwagon since earlier this year. It was our only New Year Resolution, if you will.

And although there have been occasional slips ( French-Creole food from Brenda’s, Fish curry from Gajalee and Vada-Pav from DOSA), largely we have stuck to the game plan. More veggies, moderate amount of protein, no sugar, no artificial processed foods and whole natural fat.

After nurturing years of sweet tooth, its hard to go without a sugar fix. Thankfully two deserts have come to our rescue. Ricotta stuffed strawberries and Oatmeal-applesauce cookies.

Made with all natural ingredients both these desserts are naturally sweet. Now I know, sweet is a very relative term. My parents can’t have their cuppa of tea without a teaspoon or two of sugar in it. That’s their baseline. For me, more than half a teaspoon sugar makes it too sweet.

Thanks to the south beach diet and the palate cleansing, we can actually taste the natural sweetness in vegetables – tomatoes, bell peppers and even squashes. Sadly that means we find traditional desserts at restaurants too sweet.

To indulge in our sweet tooth while still maintaining the diet, I made us some ricotta stuffed strawberries. I know strawberries are not in season but I got them on sale at Whole Foods so there they were. I am sure the ricotta would go well with grilled peaches, pineapples or whatever fruit is in season.

This is a recipe where ingredients shine – so don’t buy the prepackaged ricotta which is grainier but get some freshly made ricotta. Whole Foods, Trader Joe’s and other natural food markets carry them next to fresh guacamole,salsa etc. Or make it yourself. There are tons of recipes online.

I used to always think that bloggers who ask to get premium ingredients are snooty – but really after having this I change my mind. The fresh ricotta melts in your mouth. I added a little bit of maple syrup and Meyer lemon juice to the ricotta to brighten this further but it was good even as is.

A take on strawberries and cream, this is one dessert that I think we can make over and over again especially once spring brings fresh seasonal berries.

Strawberries Stuffed with Ricotta

Ricotta Stuffed Strawberries Recipe

  • 10 – 12 strawberries, washed and core removed
  • 1/2 cup fresh ricotta cheese
  • 1 tablespoon maple syrup
  • 1 tablespoon juice from Meyer lemon
  • 1/2 teaspoon zest of Meyer lemon

1. With a light hand, core the strawberries and scoop out the flesh. Save it to make some strawberry jam.

Set them aside in a serving dish.

2. Whip the ricotta cheese with 1 tablespoon maple syrup, lemon zest and juice. Taste and add more syrup if necessary. Whip again.

3. Using a small spoon (or pastry bag if you really want to be fancy and make swirls), spoon the ricotta cheese in strawberries.

Refrigerate for couple of hours at least. Garnish with Meyer lemon zest. Serve chilled.

Fudgy Peanut Butter, Chocolate and Pistachio Truffles

Fudgy Pistachio Chocolate Peanut butter truffles

If you are anything like me, your Pinterest, Gojee and FoodGawker boards are full of fudges.

They go by tempting names like White Chocolate and Peppermint or Salted bourbon with Butterscotch Fudge or with Eggnog and mini marshmallows. And you know when the sweets are this tempting, I can never stop at one piece. I sneak in for a piece here and there for sustenance.¬†Most of these have cream, butter, sugar or even corn syrup. I even saw 2 ingredient recipes that use frosting and bisquik!¬†Now, just because it’s the holidays, doesn’t mean we need to unnecessarily pack on the pounds!

Sorry to be a party-poopper but I need to fit in my jeans on Jan 2nd and not size up (even though the sales all around make it easier on the pocket).

Between the holiday parties, drinks, cookies and other desserts at office, we don’t need to contribute to the sugar overload. I wanted to make a healthier version of fudge. Pistachio and Chocolate fudge truffles fit the bill.

Made with 4 ingredients and naturally sweetened these have to find a place in your dessert bar. They are no cook, no bake truffles and come together easily. They can be customized many different ways, with different coatings ( coconut flakes, sprinkles, chopped nuts or cocoa nibs) to make them sweeter and appeal to different age groups.

Pair them with other natural desserts Рlike date truffles and you are bound to have enough to snack on without guilt. In fact I encourage Varun to eat them as the ingredients are all healthy.

Cheers to healthy desserts! Especially the ones that are as easy as this!

Fudgy Peanut Butter, Chocolate and Pistachio Truffles Recipe

For 8 – 10 balls

  • 4 oz peanut butter, room temperature (creamy kind for a smoother truffle)
  • 4 oz apple sauce
  • 2 tablespoons sweetened dark chocolate powder
  • 1/4 cup unsalted pistachios coarsely chopped
  • 1 teaspoon canola oil or butter (to grease your palms while shaping the balls)

1. Beat the peanut butter and apple sauce till smooth (about a minute)

2. Add the dark chocolate and pistachios to the peanut butter and mix well.

3. Line a plate or pie pan with a wax paper. Spread the mix on the plate/pan till about 1/2 inch thick and then set it in the fridge covered with a foil.

Leave it overnight to firm up.

4. Grease your palms and shape them into balls.

As we are not using cream or butter or sugar, the ‘fudge’ is soft and it will be hard to cut them into bars.¬†Keep them refrigerated in an air tight container. Though I doubt they will last long ūüôā

Enjoy healthy holidays!