Category Archives: Desserts

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.

Purple Carrots and Ricotta Tart

Purple Carrots and Ricotta TArt

Today is a happy day.

We are almost on the verge of signing apartment lease and Varun is one step closer to staring a daycare next week. Both of these things are a nightmare in San Francisco especially if you have recently moved to the city, are used to larger apartments at a cheaper price and need something right now and can’t really fight with others for an apartment or be on a wait list for ever. There are wait lists here, not just daycare but for everything – pediatricians, school information sessions, gynecologists, dentists. Moving to this city after having kids and figuring things out is a nightmare.

But today, we are not as anxious and stressed out.

To celebrate, I made us a tart. A low sugar tart with sweetened ricotta and purple carrots. The colors of purple carrots are inviting. The center is pale creamy or orange. Just look at those colors. They taste great caramelized with sugar. Ricotta is always a hit. And crunchy phyllo is always welcome.

Purple Carrots and Ricotta TArt

Purple Carrots and Ricotta TArt

Purple Carrots and Ricotta TArt

Purple Carrots and Ricotta TArt

Simple flavors that come together in a colorful plate. They reminded me a bit of Indian carrot pudding – gajar ka halwa–  just a lot less sweet and cream. I topped it with more fresh fruits before serving to pump up the color and dessert factor. Though it was splendid as is. Vanilla ice-cream or fresh whipped cream would be another good side to this.

Purple Carrots and Ricotta TArt

Purple Carrots and Ricotta TArt

Purple Carrots and Ricotta Tart Recipe

  • 2 Purple carrots, peeled and thinly sliced
  • 1 teaspoon butter to grease the baking sheet
  • 2 + 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 4 tablespoons ricotta cheese
  • 1 tablespoon raisins (optional)
  • 5 phyllo dough sheets, thawed overnight per directions
  • 3 tablespoon oil ( or butter) to grease the phyllo sheets

1. Preheat the oven to 400 F. Grease a cookie sheet with 1 teaspoon butter.

2. Toss the carrots with 1 tablespoon of sugar and layer them in a single layer. Bake for 10 – 11 minutes till tender. Remove from oven and set aside to cool.

Lower the oven temperature to 350 F

3. In the meantime, whip the  ricotta cheese with sugar and raisins (if using). Set this bowl of ricotta aside.

4. Prepare the phyllo sheets. Use oil or butter to grease the sheets and layer them on a shallow pie pan. Cut the sides leaving some hanging to fold over on the edge of the pan.

5. Spread ricotta cheese at the bottom of the phyllo sheets. Layer the carrots in a circular pattern.

Bake for 10 – 12 minutes till the tart edges are golden brown. Cool.

Serve with more fresh fruits, fresh cream or with vanilla ice-cream.

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 – like 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 🙂

Enjoy healthy holidays!

Cardamom Poached Pears in Red Wine Sauce

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With holiday season in full swing, we all want recipes that can be made ahead, look like ton of work but are actually quick and easy. Poached pears fall in that category. Easy to make ahead, elegant and inexpensive – as all ingredients are seasonal.

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Or perhaps you have some fruit and left over wine from the party last night and are looking for a new way to use it all up.

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This dessert wins on all categories: fruit based, nut and dairy free and is light. And the red hue is very appealing. Based on what you pair with it can be dressed up ( puff pastry, custard, candied fruits) or had simply in a rustic wine sauce or just fresh diced fruits (kiwi, pomegranate and oranges would complement the flavors fabulously). It can be individually plated ( or served in wine glasses with a bit of creme anglaise to stabilize the base) for smaller gatherings or served in a platter for a potluck party.

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Oh, and citrus and cardamom perfumes the entire house. As Candice Olson would say, Simply Divine!

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Note:

1. I didn’t core the pears but I have seen recipes that quarter or halve the pears and remove the seeds. Probably makes eating them easier but I find the whole pears look more fancy.If you do halve or quarter, the pears will poach sooner than what the recipe below calls for. Keep an eye out for tender but not mushy pears.

2. You can use All Spice or Nutmeg instead of cardamom. I used what I had on hand. I had a gift pack of pepper, mace and cardamom spices from our trip to Nilgiris, Ooty, India.

Cardamom Poached Pears in Red Wine Sauce Recipe

  • 2 Bosc or Bartlett pears
  • 1 cup red wine
  • 1 – 1 1/2 cups water
  • 1/2 cup freshly squeezed orange juice
  • 1/2 small orange thinly sliced (like a cutie orange)
  • 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 7-8 cardamom pods peeled and seeds crushed.
  • 4 black peppercorns

1. Mix all the ingredients (except the pears) in a saucepan. Bring it to a boil and then reduce to a simmer.

2. In the meantime, peel and remove the bottom brown bit from the pear ( the brown bit is from its blossom flower). Slice it at the bottom to make it stand upright.

Optionally, halve or quarter the pear and scoop out the seeds.

3. Submerge the pears in the saucepan. Add water if necessary to cover the pears. Cover and let simmer on low to medium low heat for about 30 minutes or till tender. Test with a fork or a spoon.

Keep ladling the wine mix over the pears if they are not fully submerged. Rotate the pears carefully midway through for even poaching.

4. Scoop the pears out and set aside in the refrigerator to chill for at least 4 hours.

5. Reduce the wine and spices mix to half or even third of the volume on high heat. Chill this reduction as well.

To serve, arrange the pears on a platter. Spoon the reduction over the pears to get a shiny glaze.

Serve chilled with remaining reduced sauce.

Craving Donuts!

Donut

I know its been ages since I posted. My bad. I know excuses, explanations simply wont cut it. Another heartfelt attempt to start blogging at least twice a week.

My sincere apologies for the tardiness thus far.

Last weekend, I was craving donuts. Someone at work mentioned Krispy Crème donuts and I had to have donuts. Now there is a Krispy Crème in Bangalore but there isn’t one around. And when I mean I had to have donuts – I really needed them right then and there!

But we didn’t have eggs on hand. So I searched online for soft fluffy ones without eggs. And randomly picked a recipe and decided to give it a try. After all how hard can fried dough donut be?

Donut making in progress

Here is a recipe for simple eggless fried donuts. Its yeast based so it’s not instant gratification but it was fun kneading and rolling with Varun. We both waited eagerly for the dough to rise and then shape and fry them. Patience sure isn’t a virtue in my family.

Donuts

I am sure the recipe can be easily used for baked donuts, but the general consensus was that baked donuts don’t stay fresh as long. I didn’t really have to worry about that as they were all devoured while they were still warm!

Homemade Eggless Donuts Recipe

Dough

  • 1/2 cup milk
  •  1 1/2 teaspoon sugar
  • 1 tablespoon yeast
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 cup butter ( at room temperature)
  • 1 tablespoon fresh cream (optional)
  • Pinch of nutmeg
  • 1 teaspoon oil ( for kneading)
  • 1/2 cup oil ( for frying)

Topping

  • 1/4 cup butter melted
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1 tablespoon cinnamon

1. Warm milk and dissolve sugar in it. Add yeast to the milk and set aside for 10 minutes to froth. If the yeast does not froth, discard and repeat with fresh milk and yeast.

Do not proceed with the recipe if yeast isn’t active.

2. Take all-purpose flour in a bowl, add nutmeg and salt. Mix well. Add milk and yeast mixture as well as butter and cream. Mix and knead well for about 8 – 10 minutes.

Grease your hands with oil for kneading.

The dough will be a little sticky but resist the temptation to add more flour.

Set aside to double for about 2 hours

3. Once doubled, punch, roll out till 1/2 ” thick. Cut shapes using cookie cutter or bottle caps. We made hearts and regular circular donuts and had plenty of donut holes.

5. Set aside to puff up again for 30- 45 minutes

6. Heat oil and keep it on a medium flame. Fry donuts on low to medium -low  flame till golden brown,

Adjust heat so that the donuts don’t burn / brown without cooking from inside. It took me about a min to fry each.

7. Toss warm donuts in butter and cinnamon sugar.

Serve warm. Enjoy! Nom, nom!!

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