Delicious World of Chefette Spicy

formerly Ladles and High Heels


3 Comments

Birthday Means Cake

Yep, it is that time of the year when I make chocolate cake with shameless abandon- the hub’s birthday. If you have been keeping up with this blog since 2011, you would see the pattern here. I am a sucker for chocolate cake. I also feel that no other flavor of cake is worth making so I generally refrain from it. This time, I decided to make Kishore’s favorite cookie ever in cake form, the Oreo. When I say favorite, I am probably understating his love for Oreos because not only does he have the capacity to empty a whole carton of Oreos in one sitting but he also orders milkshakes and ice creams in the flavor. At the make your own froyo bar, he will replicate the Oreo with freaky precision and a madcap glee in his eyes.

So to make sure he really did have a wonderful birthday, I decided that this was it. The bottom is a devil’s food cake that was made from scratch at home and it has two kinds of frosting: the cream cheese OD’d on crumbled Oreo cookies that was used as the filler and the frosting, and the chocolate ganache slathered on the sides. We cut the cake last evening and I can tell you that he will be in serious Oreo heaven for a long time to come. The recipe is from Kraft’s website which I modified a little and it has five star reviews from around 700 people. Do I need to say more?!

Happy Birthday, honey, and for your sanity’s sake (and mine), may the world never run out of Oreos!
Oreo cake


9 Comments

Flaky-Dense Chocolate Cooker Cake

Long long ago, one of my aunts made a chocolate cake. I was around seven at that time and ovens were practically unknown to mankind… in India. I got to taste this delicious cake, which was eggless, on one of my cousin’s ninth birthday and life was never the same again. I craved this dense, rich cake over the years but never really got to taste it again. Years went by and the memories of that fun party, primarily highlighted by the wonderful cake, kept coming back to me.

cooker cake2

So the last time I did remember it, I decided to find out the recipe. My aunt was not reachable but I did remember one vital part of the recipe: she made it in a pressure cooker. We use the cooker rather extensively in Indian cooking so sourcing one was not a problem. The problem lay in figuring out what to put under the batter to heat it up. I know my aunt used sand but where do I go for sand, so far away from the sea? A quick research online gave me two options: steaming it or heating it directly. I was afraid that the latter would probably damage my rubber ring (that thing we call gasket in India) so I opted for the former method.

I ended up with a wonderfully moist, dense and flaky cake that I am in love with. Though it lacked the rather earthy flavor of the cake using the sand method, it was good! And who knew something as easy as steaming could yield such a rich dish?!

This is how I made it:

Chocolate Cooker Cake

Ingredients:
One and a half cup all-purpose flour

Four Tbsp dark cocoa powder

Three quarter cup sugar

One tsp vanilla essence

One cup yogurt (or replace with buttermilk. You could also use soy/almond milk for a vegan version)

Half tsp baking soda

One and a half tsp baking powder

Half cup vegetable oil

Method:
Mix the dry and wet ingredients in separate bowls. Add the dry to the wet, while whisking it. I used the KitchenAid but a whisk or a hand mixer works equally well. Fill the bottom of the cooker with water (incidentally, salt, raw rice and beans work too) and place a steaming plate in the bottom. Grease and flour a container well. Transfer the batter and make sure it is sealed well. Use a perfectly-fitting lid or aluminum foil. This is key: *Make sure it is tightly sealed* While steaming, water has chances of entering the cake container, making the cake soggy and, well, gross.

Close the lid but do not use the weight. Steam the cake on medium-low for 45 minutes, until completely done. You can check the doneness by inserting a knife or a fork.

This cake is not overly sweet, primarily because of the dark chocolate. If you want a sweeter cake, add one cup sugar. I “iced” it with Nutella so the sweetness was perfect. If you want something fancier, I would suggest a chocolate ganache icing. But then, I, as everyone knows, am partial towards ganache so I feel that works the best. I am sure a simple buttercream frosting works really well too.

If you don’t have a cooker, you can steam it in a large container with a tight lid too. Finally, 45 minutes is a ballpark. It could take you longer or lesser time. It really depends on the size of your cake container.

cooker cake


3 Comments

Why I would never be a baker

choccake

The case in point is the reason why I would never be a baker or a pastry chef. Reasons: I have shaky hands, no patience and I would never acquire the talent a baker needs. Why? Lets go back to the second reason. I have no patience. My patience spans until I take the cake out of the oven and it comes to an abrupt standstill. I love slathering on the icing and making sure I get to those nooks and crannies but that’s it.

Anyway, as I had mentioned earlier, this is my third chocolate cake on this blog. And the second with ganache frosting. But this time, I made it to give away. In my opinion (and I formed this after tasting a mere sliver when my hostess served it this afternoon) it was a tad too sweet. But K disagrees.

Ah, this brings us to the million dollar question: was it for a Superbowl party? Nope. Sadly not. Well, I could pretend it was a domestic tailgate for a bunch of us Desis at one of our friends’ place where we ate, played and caught up with each other. But strike 6pm, we made our way back home, settled with a bowl of guac and oven-baked corn chips and watched the Baltimore Ravens take the trophy home. Go, Ravens! We love you.

To top all this craziness, I did not get a decent picture of the cake (unless you would consider an Instagram click). Poor baby. Let’s hope for a better week (methinks that’s not going to be possible for me. There! I have spread my optimism for the week). Have a wonderful one!


3 Comments

Birthday Cake!!

Four days ago, the Mister gifted me the KitchenAid stand mixer for my birthday and our Anniversary. I know right!! So after three full days of admiring the beauty from every angle my kitchen counter would let me, I decided to break into it. And I found the perfect reason too: His birthday cake.

Now, I bake a lot and all that but I haven’t had much experience with icing and decorating a cake. I got a cake decoration set a couple of months ago and have tried to decorate my kitchen counter with loose dough a bunch of times. And that’s as far as my talent goes. I did want to sign up for Michael’s cake decoration course but that has been just a plan for nearly two years now. And I have a Michael’s right opposite to my house!

1. Buttercream Frosting ready to be slathered                                2. Chocolate cake fresh from the oven

So until I do that, I decided not to keep myself from playing cake artist and dive into it. This is a variation of the Extreme Chocolate Cake I made last year for his birthday (he loves chocolate cakes the best and I don’t dispute) but instead of the ganache icing, I gave it a coat of buttercream frosting with whipped cream decoration. Also, I cut last year’s proportions into half because it is just the two of us this year. Hence, this became a single-tier cake but I assure you that it was filled with as much love 🙂


4 Comments

Chocolate Ganache Love

Last Thursday seemed to be the most fitting time to make a gourmet cake. What with the Mister’s birthday coming up the next day and all that, baking a cake seemed to be entwined with my kitchen’s fate. I had shopped the day before, completely stocked my baking pantry with all the goodies needed for the treat.

I had picked the recipe a month ago during a random dessert-lust browsing session: the idea was to make an ultimate chocolate haze cake with ganache icing. My recipe required a shocking amount of chocolate flavoring: cocoa, chocolate chips, coffee granules and vanilla essence. The idea was to go all out on the cake, not sparing or settling. My springform pan 9 1/2 came to my aid and I had the stage all set.

The recipe called for the usuals: flour, cocoa, chocolate chips, coffee, butter, baking soda, salt and the not so usuals: brown sugar, vinegar, sour cream. I even had the icing ready. Since it was a birthday cake, I had to bake it in two pans and then put them one on top of the other with the icing. After a bit of struggle, I ended up with two moist, crumbly, rich cakes. Slather on the icing I did and a few messy minutes later, I was left with a soggy birthday cake that moved me to helpless tears.

Since I was not ready to give up on it yet, I transferred it on to the pastry dish, put on the lid, dumped it in the fridge and tried to forget about it for the next couple of hours. The result: beautifully set, wonderful Extreme Chocolate cake with Ganache Icing. Seriously hazardous to your waistline, but sinfully yummy.


8 Comments

Week 3- Go Bananas!

Buying fruits and not eating them used to be a routine at home until I stopped buying the ones that easily mush away. Banana, or plantain as it is called back in India, is the one that is often tossed into the trash and I am always reluctant to consider adding it on my grocery list.

Last week while shopping, we saw stacks of beautifully arranged bunches of banana in the store and fell instantly in love. Ranging from light pastel green to hues of bright yellow, we couldn’t help but wonder whether it was time to end our abstinence. Five minutes later, we fund ourselves at the counter, along with a huge bag of plantains that would have made King Louie (“Man cub, have a banana”) swell with pride. This time, I was well prepared.

I knew that a couple of fruits later, the bunch would sit forgotten on the counter and one day, we would end up smelling its sickly-sweetness before noticing it rotting on the counter. So I gave it a week since we bought a pale green bunch. When I made sure there were no more takers, I brought my recipe box out and decided to make Banana Bread and put the poor fruit out of misery. Hence, the slight alteration in schedule for Week 3 of the Bread Challenge.

Though I did not use yeast this time, this recipe is still considered a bread, an irony since it is a sugary product worthy of a boulangerie’s rack. The recipe I followed, I am proud to declare, is a product of trial and error, therefore, I am entitled to share it.

Ingredients:

1 1/2 cups flour (I used 3/4 cup baking flour and 3/4 cup whole-wheat flour but go ahead and use 1 1/2 cups of baking flour if you want)

1/2 cup white sugar

1/4 cup light brown sugar

1 teaspoon baking powder

1 teaspoon baking soda

1/2 teaspoon salt

1 medium-sized egg

a little less than 1/4 cup melted butter and equal amount sour cream (you can use yogurt if you don’t have sour cream at home)

two (in my case) over-ripe bananas mashed

Optional: 1/4 cup chopped walnut

Method:

Pre-heat the oven to 375 degree F (or 190 degree C). Sift the dry ingredients together. Add the butter, sour cream/yogurt, egg and finally the mashed bananas and walnut. Stir the mixture together. Grease a loaf pan (or a cake pan), pour in the mixture. Bake for 17 minutes or until a knife inserted into the bread comes out clean.

You can also make this in a muffin/brownie pan.

The result would be a yummy coffee-break snack that is full of fiber and nutrition because bananas, the starch apart, are a very good source of Vitamins C and B6 and fiber. They also very low on saturated fats and cholesterol. Since India is the biggest producer of bananas, we can safely claim it is Desi.

if you look hard, you can see the fibrous parts of the plantain on the bread. They look like threads of saffron spice

I couldn't help cutting a wedge for me!


7 Comments

For the Love of Baking

I admit it. I am a compulsive baker. I love my ancient yet awesome oven and all the scintillating smells it can create when I am in the mood for it. When I first moved here, new to the country and my home, I took an oath: I will venture anywhere in this new land but I will never dare to open my oven to cook food. A few of my friends use it as a storage space of sorts and I actually thought it was a novel idea. Thank god I changed my mind!

Hours of watching Food Network and Cooking Channel actually made me curious about the forbidden territory that lay behind the dark door under my stove. For some reason, I hadn’t found the heart to stack my pots there so it lay hollow, like an empty cave. During one of our grocery escapades a month after the relocation, I found a packet of Betty Crocker’s SuperMoist cake mix on sale and decided to grab it.

Since then, it has been a journey for me. I read up some oven tactics on the internet and the Food Network website has always been a guide to me. My culinary gurus, Ina Garten and Giada De Laurentiis have never given up on mentoring me (of course, they would be surprised to know that!) For a haphazard cook like me,  I have had it pretty easy so far. First of all, I took Ina’s advice seriously.  Quantity is really the key to baking. Hence, I decided to move up a step by abandoning my faithful little coffee cup measuring device (I know Rachael Ray did). Lucky for me, I found an inexpensive plastic set at a local store. I didn’t want to give up baking but I was not very keen on taking giant steps either.

Oh, I remember the day so well! To celebrate my black cups, I made biscuits. Apart from a charred stray that set off the fire alarm, the rest of it was crisp, delicate and wonderful. So I have moved a few phases. Right now, I have a well stocked baking pantry and a couple of basic baking pans. I have a whisk that I use to mix pretty much everything. So in case, if you are planning to start baking after this “inspirational” blog, here is a small list of things you need in your kitchen:

Oven mits (keep those hands safe!)

Measuring cups (very very VERY important!)

Couple of basic baking sheets

Aluminum foil sheets

Tongs

Whisk (for desserts in which you use dry and wet ingredients)

Baking soda

Baking powder

Vanilla essence

All-purpose flour (Maida)

Sugar

Butter

Eggs

Of course, I am still a beginner and making scones or croissants is a pretty far away dream to me. But I am hoping to get there. There are so many awesome bakers in this country so I am hoping that being in their radius will rub some of their goodness on me. Anyway, I’ll post a couple of my favorite recipes the next time. They are easy and delicious. Until then, look for a packet of Betty Crocker, Pillsbury or Cadbury cake mix in your local store and have fun. May the baking begin!

Ps: People in India can use the perfectly beautiful alternative for the oven there: the OTG. I bought one for my mother from Vivek’s (this is not the exact one but the closest one I could find) and it is amazing!