Bad Cake Gone Good

I was recently trying out a new chocolate cake recipe that I had been meaning to try for a while now. Alas! To say the cake fell apart would be a gross understatement; it’s a pity I couldn’t take a picture of the disastrous cake….but rather than throwing the whole thing away eating my mistake here’s what I did…..

Take about 5 cups chocolate cake crumbs (though I’m sure they will taste swell with any other cake as well)
1/2 cup cream
100gms dark/bittersweet chocolate (chopped into large chunks)
1 tbsp instant coffee(opt)
3 tbsp brandy
¼ cup chopped almonds(opt)

You can add or reduce ingredients as you wish…..

Put all ingredients in a mixer and mix until they come together to form a ball. If you think the mixture is too dry, add more cream or even milk or brandy to moisten it and form smooth even sized balls.

Now chill them and the cover with melted dark chocolate(hmmm heavenly) or just dust cocoa powder and you are done. Absolutely delectable truffles that look gourmet, like you’ve slogged for hours when in reality its just add few ingredients to leftovers.

So go on mess up that cake and turn it into these….you can thank me later!

Swiss Roll Ice Cream- DB July


The July 2010 Daring Bakers’ challenge was hosted by Sunita of Sunita’s world – life and food. Sunita challenged everyone to make an ice-cream filled Swiss roll that’s then used to make a bombe with hot fudge. Her recipe is based on an ice cream cake recipe from Taste of Home.

Cake and Ice cream..Now that’s a combination that has the angels carousing in divine happiness..and who are we mere mortals to resist its exquisite pleasure.

To say we were thrilled at the prospect of making this dessert would be an understatement….and the end result did not disappoint. NOT ONE BIT. On the contrary it was a perfect dessert at a party we had a few weeks back that had my guests oohing and aahing like never before.

Taking a picture was another story altogether. Somehow the cake came apart by the time I took pictures so the pics I must admit belie its incredible deliciousness.

I made this dessert over the course of 4 days though it can be done in just a day. The ice creams took longer than I expected…..actually deciding what flavor of ice cream to make took even longer. But finally I chose to make a chocolate chip Ice cream and a caramel ice cream. Both turned out great….but sadly don’t have pictures. Maybe next time. Yes there will be a next time for sure. This one’s a keeper. Thanks Sunita.

Swiss roll ice cream cake

The Swiss rolls-

Ingredients-

6 medium sized eggs
1 C / 225 gms caster sugar /8 oz+ extra for rolling
6 tblsp / 45gms/ 3 oz of all purpose (plain) flour + 5 tblsp/40gm /2.5 oz of natural unsweetened cocoa powder, sifted together
2 tblsp /30ml / 1 fl oz of boiling water
a little oil for brushing the pans
For the filling-
2C / 500 mls/ 16 fl oz of whipping cream
1 vanilla pod, cut into small pieces of about ½ cm (or 1 tsp vanilla extract)
5 tblsp / 70gms/2.5oz of caster sugar

Method-
1. Pre heat the oven at 200 deg C /400 deg F approximately. Brush the baking pans ( 11 inches by 9 inches ) with a little oil and line with greaseproof baking paper. If you have just one pan, bake one cake and then let the pan cool completely before using it for the next cake.
2. In a large mixing bowl, add the eggs and sugar and beat till very thick; when the beaters are lifted, it should leave a trail on the surface for at least 10 seconds.
3. it should leave a trail on the surface for at least 10 seconds. Add the flour mixture, in three batches and fold in gently with a spatula. Fold in the water.
4. Divide the mixture among the two baking pans and spread it out evenly, into the corners of the pans.
5. Place a pan in the centre of the pre heated oven and bake for about 10-12 minutes or till the centre is springy to the touch.
6. Spread a kitchen towel on the counter and sprinkle a little caster sugar over it.
7. Turn the cake on to the towel and peel away the baking paper. Trim any crisp edges.
8. Starting from one of the shorter sides, start to make a roll with the towel going inside. Cool the wrapped roll on a rack, seam side down.

9. Repeat the same for the next cake as well.
10. Grind together the vanilla pieces and sugar in a food processer till nicely mixed together. If you are using vanilla extract, just grind the sugar on its own and then add the sugar and extract to the cream.
11. In a large bowl, add the cream and vanilla-sugar mixture and beat till very thick.
12. Divide the cream mixture between the completely cooled cakes.
13. Open the rolls and spread the cream mixture, making sure it does not go right to the edges (a border of ½ an inch should be fine).
14. Roll the cakes up again, this time without the towel. Wrap in plastic wrap and chill in the fridge till needed, seam side down.

Chocolate Chip Ice Cream
from The Perfect Scoop

1 cup whole milk
3/4 cup sugar
2 cups heavy cream
Pinch of salt
1 vanilla bean, split in half lengthwise
6 large egg yolks
3/4 tsp. vanilla extract
5 ounces bittersweet or semi-sweet chocolate (not chocolate chips), chopped
Warm the milk, sugar, 1 cup of the cream, and salt in a medium saucepan. Scrape the seeds from the vanilla bean into the warm milk and add the bean as well. Cover, remove from the heat and let steep at room temperature for 30 minutes.
Pour the remaining 1 cup cream into a large bowl and set a mesh strainer on top. In a separate medium bowl, whisk together the egg yolks. Slowly pour the warm mixture into the egg yolks, whisking constantly, then scrape the warmed egg yolks back into the saucepan.
Stir the mixture constantly over medium heat with a heatproof spatula, scraping the bottom as you stir, until the mixture thickens an coast the spatula. Pour the custard through the strainer and stir it into the cream. Put the vanilla bean into the custard, add the vanilla extract, and stir until cool over an ice bath.
Chill the mixture thoroughly in the refrigerator. When ready to churn, remove the vanilla bean, rinsing and reserving it for another use, and then freeze. Meanwhile, melt the chocolate until there are still small chunks, the residual heat will melt those. Gently add to the vanilla ice cream and mix well and freeze again.

Caramel Ice Cream (Glace Caramel) Recipe
Adapted from here

Serves 4

Ingredients

70 g sugar
80 ml cream
3 egg yolks
360 ml milk
1 vanilla pod

Method
1. To make the caramel, put 45 g of the sugar in a heavy-based saucepan and heat until it dissolves and starts to caramelize – tip the saucepan from side to side as the sugar cooks to keep the colouring even. Remove from the heat and carefully add the cream (it will splutter). Stir over low heat until the caramel remelts.
2. Whisk the egg yolks and remaining sugar until light and fluffy.
3. Put the milk and vanilla pod in a saucepan and bring just to the boil, then strain over the caramel.
4. Bring back to the boil and pour over the egg yolk mixture, whisking continuously.
5. Pour the custard back into the saucepan and cook, stirring, until it is thick enough to coat the back a wooden spoon.
6. Do not let it boil or the custard will split.
7. Pass through a sieve into a bowl and leave over ice to cool quickly.
8. Churn in an ice-cream maker following the manufacturer’s instruction.
9. Alternatively, pour into a plastic freezer box,cover and freeze.
10. Stir every 30 minutes with a whisk during freezing to break up the ice crystals and give a better texture.
11. Freeze overnight with a layer of clingfilm over the surface and the lid on the container. Keep in the freezer until ready to serve.

The Hot fudge sauce

Preparation time-2 minutes
Cooking time-2 minutes

ngredients-
1 C / 230gms/ 8 oz of caster sugar
3 tblsp / 24gms/1.5 oz of natural unsweetened cocoa powder
2 tblsp /15gms/ 1 oz of cornflour/cornstarch
1 and ½ C /355ml /12 fl oz of water
1 tblsp /14gms/ 1 oz butter
1 tsp/5 ml / .15 fl oz vanilla extract

Method-
1. In a small saucepan, whisk together the sugar, cocoa powder, cornflour and water.
Place the pan over heat, and stir constantly, till it begins to thicken and is smooth (for about 2 minutes).
Remove from heat and mix in the butter and vanilla. Keep aside to cool .

Assembly-

1. Cut the Swiss rolls into 20 equal slices ( approximately 2 cms each ).
2. Cover the bottom and sides of the bowl in which you are going to set the dessert with cling film/plastic wrap. Arrange two slices at the bottom of the pan, with their seam sides facing each other. Arrange the Swiss roll slices up the bowl, with the seam sides facing away from the bottom, to cover the sides of the bowl. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and freeze till the slices are firm (at least 30 minutes).
3. Soften the chocolate chip ice cream. Take the bowl out of the freezer, remove the cling film cover and add the ice cream on top of the cake slices. Spread it out to cover the bottom and sides of the bowl. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and freeze till firm ( at least 1 hour)
4. Add the fudge sauce over the chocolate chip ice cream, cover and freeze till firm . ( at least an hour)
5. Soften the caramel ice cream and spread it over the fudge sauce. Cover with plastic wrap and freeze for at least 4-5 hours till completely set.
6. Remove the plastic cover, and place the serving plate on top of the bowl. Turn it upside down and remove the bowl and the plastic lining. If the bowl does not come away easily, wipe the outsides of the bowl with a kitchen towel dampened with hot water. The bowl will come away easily.
7. Keep the cake out of the freezer for at least 10 minutes before slicing.

Kalimpong

The second leg of out journey after Gangtok,was a stop at the small picturesque town of Kalimpong( 4,100 ft).

While Kalimpong was not initially on our schedule we made it our pit stop due to road sickness issues. But I tell you we regretted it not one bit. There’s not much to see really..but it’s a beautiful little hill-town in the Eastern Himalayas and its gentle laid-back charm can soothe your soul.

Kalimpong once belonged to Sikkim but was then taken by the Bhutanese and then passed into the hands of the British. Under the British it was primarily a center of Scottish missionary activity.

Apparently shopping is the most exciting touristy thing to do. There are two crowded bazaars as well as weekly markets on Wednesdays and Saturdays where one can buy Chinese textiles and lots of handicrafts attractive to anyone with a taste for oriental designs at DIRT CHEAP rates. No, I didn’t buy much as we were proceeding to Bhutan and I didn’t want to add to the already bulging suitcases.

Now , Doesnt this beat any BB Court in the world!

What to do in Kalimpong? Well, we did do visit all the must-see places, but I must admit none were overly impressive.There’s not much to do. But then that’s not the point. it’s just a quiet, picturesque town with loads of old British houses with its chimneys and gables and lovely gardens, great views. Most of all it has some sort of a charm , a placid ambiance that lends it character; basically great for a wander,trekking, for a chill out or to just savour the local food.

Kalimpong has also been a fav getaway for some big names among them Rabindranath Tagore and Dr. J.A.Graham. Rabindranath Tagore’s poem Janmadin was broadcast in India’s first Live Radio Broadcast from Kalimpong. Dr Graham is considered the father of Kalimpong for his various contributions to this enchanting town. His orphanage and school which was founded in 1880, with its own church, dairy, poultry, vegetable garden & bakery still run today.


Apart from Dr.Graham’s school one can also visit the Durpin Dara monastery in the south as well as check out the excellent views of the surrounding mountainside and the mighty Kanchenjunga range from the top of Deolo Hill(5,590 ft) in the North.

Stiking a Pose at Deola Hills

There is also a Science Center that you can visit if you are traveling with kids. Kalimpong produces 80% of India’s gladiolas and has a great number of nurseries.
We visited the Pineview Nursery which has a mind-blowing variety of cacti from the world over.

To Get to Kalimpong

• Air : Nearest airport Bagdogra (80 kms from Kalimpong)
• Rail : Two nearest railway stations are New Jalpaiguri (NJP) and Shiliguri
• Road : Kalimpong is connected by road with Calcutta 651 kms, Guwahati 513 kms, Delhi 1312 kms and other major cities in India.

Eat Out

Options are limited and we generally had our meals at the Hotel itself. We did go to the recommended Fresh Bite at
Rishi Road to taste the local cuisine,

To Stay
Kalimpong has a surprisingly large number of hotel options(since it is not tourist-choked). We stayed one night at Komfort Inn, a small yet homely cute place , and also at the colonial Himalayan Hotel.

Both GREAT places.

After our stay in Kalimpong, we left for Bhutan, refreshed and ready to take on more mountainous roads!

Super Healthy Eggless Choco-Nut Banana Bread

Banana Bread, that innocuous looking cake-masquerading-as-bread breakfast choice has eluded me for a while now. But when I saw this, it took me less than five minutes to assemble the required ingredients and a very short while later I had a wonderful banana bread that my family and I absolutely loved. And here’s the bonus- Its low fat and very healthy( flax seeds, almonds..and what have you…).

Go ahead, make some now…….

Eggless Choco-Nut Banana Bread


Ingredients:
(yields one loaf in a 9 X 12 pan)

1. 2 cups whole wheat flour + 1 cup all purpose flour plus more for dusting
2. a pinch of salt
3. 2 teaspoons baking powder
4. 1/3 cup flaxseed powder
5. 1/3 cup + 1 cup milk
6. 1/4 cup oil
7. 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
8. 1 cup sugar
9. 1 cup mashed banana, about 3-4 bananas depending on the size
10. 1/2 cup chopped semisweet chocolate
11. 1 tablespoon cocoa powder
12. 1 cups chopped almonds

Method

Preheat oven to 350 degree F. Lightly grease a 9 X 12 loaf pan.

First sift the flour, cocoa powder, salt and baking powder.

Take 1/3 cup of the milk and add the flaxseed powder to it.Keep it aside for 10 minutes.

Meanwhile in another bowl combine the oil, sugar, vanilla essence ,mashed banana, and the remaining milk.

Add the flaxseed powder-milk mix to this and stir to combine.

Add the flour mix to this wet ingredients and stir with a wooden spoon until just blended. Dont panic if its a sticky dough. Thats the way its supposed to be.Thrwo in the chocolate chips and the chopped(or powdered in my case) almonds. Fold it it.

Spoon the dough into the loaf pan and bake for about an hour to hour and a half or till the toothpick comes out clean .

Cool completely for about 15 minutes before turning the bread over. Slice only when completely cool or it will fall apart.

Travelling with the Teesta- Gangtok

We have always wanted to visit atleast one North Eastern state in India. But it was only once we were on the flight to Bagdogra did I truly believe we were finally going.

The first few days are still bit of a chaotic blur( I AM married to Mr.LAST MINUTE, after all!!)

We took the road from Bagdogara to Gangtok(124 km) though one can also get there by train from the nearest(148 kms) New Jalpaiguri railway station. But which ever route you take, the view will of the mountains and the gushing, foaming white-water Teesta will continuously entice and accompany you.

Traveling with kids is never easy and driving around with kids who are car sick even less so. Inspite of the regular puke-stops we had to make ,the beauty of the place seemed to keep everyone is high spirits.

And once we got to Gangtok the effort of getting there seemed worth it.

The capital of Sikkim, a small state (7096 sq.km.)in India, Gangtok, aptly meaning ‘hilltop’ left me impressed not only because of its pristine beauty but also largely because it was sooo clean; probably the cleanest city in India. Plastic bags are forbidden and this rule is actually enforced unlike in other cities. We took a taxi and did our sightseeing over a span of 2 days. The taxis here are the main mode of transport.

You can choose the number of touristy places you want to visit and you are charged accordingly. For our 7 point agenda we were charged Rs 1000 in total. However I do feel that the one can easily cover the main tourist spots in a few hours and then explore the place and travel the less trodden path for the rest of the stay.

First we visited the Do-Drul Chorten( Stupa) with its gold plated spire that was built by the revered Trulshi Rimpoche, head of the Nyingma order of Tibetan Buddhism in 1945.It is one of the most important stupas in Sikkim and has 108 Mani-lhakor or prayer wheels.

It is believed that turning these prayer wheels will invoke Buddhisattva and is supposed to have the same benefits as chanting prayers.

We glimpsed lamas young and old working and studying.

The Namgyal Institute of Tibetology nearby, houses rare artifacts and a million Buddhist manuscripts, statues and books.

What I really did enjoy here was the collection of antique jewelry and precious stones as well as the typical Tibetan architecture and art work at the Institute. We bought a lot of lovely souvenirs from the wonderful store near it.

The Ropeway at Deorali market too is a major tourist attraction. However I was not very impressed and the cable car was way too crowded for us to feel comfortable.

Nevertheless it does afford a birds view of the city including the lovely Assembly. Other places we visited were the Flower Exhibition centre which had numerous local flowers

and plants on display and Hanuman Tok, from where we had our first clear view of the mighty ‘Mother of Pearl’ Khang-Chen-Dzod-Nga (Kanchenjunga)

While I really wanted to visit Nathu-la Pass, it was closed due to landslides and we missed a wonderful chance to visit. Remember that one need to make a pass a day earlier.

We did however visit a couple of other monasteries such as the Rumtek Monastry and Enchen Monastry. both of which were we enjoyed tremendously.

The sight of the fluttering multi-hued prayer flags that one finds all over is so comforting, don’t you think?

Prayer flags form an integral part of Sikkim’s landscape and have a unique beauty about them and are believed to bring peace and happiness to all.

Places to Eat- The only place worthy in my view of much talk was Allens Kitchen.

The small restaurant was widely recommended and while the food was good especially the momos, what really struck us as unique was the decor and style of the place very TGIF-ish but in a quaint and cozy sort of way.

Shop- Hmmmm..honestly we didn’t do a lot of shopping.

Though the stone-paved MG Road is a GREAT place. It’s a walk only road, much like Shimla’s Mall Road. There are three main markets: Old Market, New Market and Lal Markets .


The road has most branded stores a couple of nice cafe’s where one can sit back and watch the interesting and beautiful people go by:)

What we found and did buy were great footwear, and traditional items such a Thangakas (embroidered silk religious scrolls) and prayer wheels.

In short a lovely town that I would sure love to visit again….

The Red Book – Meaghan Delahunt


The book is basically about three strangers – an Australian photographer Francois ,Arkay a Scottish alcoholic turned Buddhist monk and a Tibetan refugee, Naga who meet in India and subsequently find their lives entwined by destiny.

Written by Australian born Meaghan Delahunt I picked up the book as I always have a fascination to see India through the eyes of an outsider. I also picked up the book for another reason. The Bhopal gas tragedy and the subsequent suffering of the victims has always saddened and angered me. So I figured this book that was supposedly set against the background of the twentieth anniversary Bhopal tragedy might prove to be an interesting read.

Francois, who is drawn to India after she sees the iconic photographs of the dead baby from the gas tragedy travels to Bhopal to travels to Bhopal to rediscover herself and take photographs that are not clichéd .There she meets and falls in doomed love with Arkay who is vainly battling addiction and memories of abuse as well as develops a close friendship with Naga, whose repressed anger caused by losing his family to the disaster stands in contrast with Arkays impulsive and moody temperament. The Red Book is a book where Francois stores photographs that tell of their time together.

What I liked about the book was the short effectiveness of Delahunt’s prose, and though not much else moved me about the book. Bhopal was just a background, a touching point for the characters. Nothing more. I was also not very impressed by the characterization. The three main characters all sounded the same to me. Like three voices of the same person. In the end while the book is mostly a tale of identity, despair, love and the west and East outlooks, it left me quite unmoved and unimpressed.

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