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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.

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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 – 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!

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!!

Flan de Coco – Coconut Flan

Coconut flan

It was raksha bandhan last week – the festival to celebrate the brother-sister bond.

As kids, we used to meet at my grand mom’s house and tie rakhi’s to all brothers. And coconut barfi was the sweet of the day. Sweet coconut rice used to part of the ensuring dinner.

I don’t know why coconut is so important but it did feature on the menu.

Varun’s cousin sisters sent him rakhi this year. To celebrate the occasion I wanted to make something with coconut. I find both coconut rice and barfi to be too sweet for my taste. So instead to make something not too sweet, I made coconut flan.

Now, flan’s, like soufflé’s, are temperamental. Sometimes they don’t set, other times they get soup-y, or they can be egg-y ( if that’s a word!). Also water baths sound very terrifying.

Fortunately, I have a recipe that does not fail. I have tried this several times over the years and it has never failed me. And if you are careful with hot water bath and caramel it is not very daunting task.

The flavors of coconut are subtle so don’t skip this even if you otherwise hate coconut. The flan is creamy but not too rich or sweet. It’s that perfect dessert , made individual servings or as a whole which never fails to impress.

What are you waiting for, give it a try!! Am sure you will make it as often as we do!

Flan closeup

Coconut Flan Recipe

  • 1/2 cup sugar ( for caramel)
  • 1 tablespoon water
  • 1 can light coconut milk
  • 1/2 cup 2 % milk
  • 4 eggs
  • 1/3 cup brown sugar ( for custard)
  • 1 teaspoon rum or vanilla extract ( or 1/2 vanilla bean split and scraped)
  • 2 cups water (for water bath)

1.  Heat the sugar with water in a saucepan on medium heat till it melts. It will caramelize into golden brown syrup. You will see big bubbles forming. Take it off the heat at this point and pour the caramel into individual ramekins or a pie dish.

Caramel is very hot, so don’t touch it. Be very careful handling it. It hardens as it cools.

Set the ramekins (or pie dish) aside to cool.

2. Pre-heat the oven to 180 C ( or 350 F)

Set water to boil in another saucepan for the water-bath

3. Bring the coconut milk and milk to a light boil in another saucepan. In the meantime, whisk the eggs with sugar and rum. Add a spoonful of milk to the eggs mixture and whisk.

This will help the eggs consume the hot milk without scrambling the eggs.

Add milk bit by bit and whisk well.

4. Pour the custard mixture in the containers

Place the custard containers in a deep baking pan

5. Place the dish in oven and then pour the water in to the base dish till it comes up half way to the custard containers.

Be careful. Hot water and hot oven should be handled carefully!

6. Bake for 30 – 35 minutes till the custards are baked and a toothpick inserted in the center comes off clean.

7. Take the custard ramekins out one by one and let them cool on counter top before letting them chill in the refrigerator for at least 4 hours ( overnight preferred).

8. Run a knife along the edge of the containers, invert and serve with some fresh coconut for garnish.

Enjoy!

Mini Plum Tart

Plum tart2

Plums are in season here in India. Smaller than their US counterparts, these are part sweet and part tart. I had pastry dough on hand and after eating many plums as is I wanted to make something else.

A simple fruit tart is what I made. A good pastry dough or puff pastry sheets, fresh fruits and sugar is all that is needed. Its one thing that can be pulled together effortlessly and will impress your guests. For there is nothing like baking a cake or dessert for your family to say that you care!

fresh plums

We had this for breakfast – just because it was ready by then. But it pairs well with ice-cream for a light dessert post a heavy dinner.

The recipe works well with any fruit – pear, apples, nectarine, peaches and even berries. For juicy fruits make sure you macerate them with a little sugar and salt to release the juices. Lift the fruit from the juice and then use those slices on your tart. This will prevent the tart from becoming soggy.

The juice can be reduced and served as syrup or drizzled lightly over the tart before and after cooking so that it still will be juicy but not soupy.

The crusty base with sweet and tart plums as topping pair beautifully in this summer classic dish. I prefer this to be on tart side and hence have used very little sugar. Feel free to play around to suit your taste. I think the plums would play well with balsamic reduction and I am going to give that a try next!

Plum tart

Mini Plum Tart Recipe

  • 1 cup homemade pastry or store-bought puff pastry
  • 8 – 10 fresh plums, pitted and thinly sliced
  • 2 tablespoons sugar ( divided) ( more if your fruit is tart and how sweet you like your dessert)
  • Pinch of salt

1. Preheat the oven to 190 C or 350 F

Place the plum slices with a tablespoon of sugar and salt in a bowl to macerate. This will help it release excess juice which otherwise turn the pie into a soggy mess.

2. Roll out the dough into a 8 inch circle about 1/4 inch thick. Prick all over with a fork to prevent puffing leaving about an inch edge around the perimeter untouched.

3. Blind bake this pastry dough for about 6 – 8 minutes till golden brown. I weighed this down with an oven safe bowl with some beans to keep the center un-puffed.

4. Layer the plum slices over the pastry. Drizzle some of the juice over the tart.

Sprinkle remaining sugar over the plum slices/

5. Bake for 10 – 12 minutes till the tart is deep golden brown at the edges and the fruit looks cooked.

Remove from the oven, and let cool.

Slice and serve warm or cold with fresh cream, ice-cream or simply as is.

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