Because Life is a blend of flavours…

Dal Makhani (Creamy Lentil) Soup

by Sugar et al

I learnt the fundamentals of Indian cooking from my mother. But it was from my father that I learnt to relish a plate of food. Though a small eater, even today he is so particular about the way food is seasoned and served. He has remained staunchly true to his heritage when it comes to choosing what he wants to eat. On weekdays our meals were simple home cooked mostly vegetarian curries, dal (lentils) and flatbreads. On weekends the lunches were late and elaborate and nothing short of an 10 course meal. Vegetables stir-fries, lentils, meat and seafood curries, chutneys and sweets. Dal was a constant, like it is in most Indian households. It was there every single day. Yet nobody complained as there were varieties of lentils to choose from. However, they had to be seasoned perfectly and compulsory garnished with fresh sprigs of coriander. If it wasn’t Dad would make sure he did it himself. After all these years it wasn’t surprising for me to see my Dad quietly delighting in a bowl of Dal and rice at our home in Sydney, while the rest of us lapped up garlic seafood risotto.

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Dal Makhani is one of those lentil dishes that were made on special occasions at home. It’s silky creamy taste, melt-in-your mouth texture and the aromatic presence of garam masala makes it a delicacy but it is rich, not something you could eat everyday. Traditionally this is made with whole black lentils and kidney beans that are soaked overnight and cooked down the next day with spices and cream. My version is simpler with fewer ingredients and slightly thinned down to fit into a soup profile. The taste would differ a bit from the original as there are fewer spices in the recipe but nevertheless it tastes delicious. This is particularly keeping in my that a non -Indian kitchen may not be having all the authentic spices in the pantry. I make this soup version at home for my little ones who are yet to get accustomed to a substantial amount of spice. And soup goes down better with children than calling it lentils. Overall, this is a dinner that is ready under 30 minutes and is loved at home.

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I use canned lentils which are pre-cooked and makes the process a whole lot simpler and quicker. If you are making this and want to serve it like the Dal Makhani, follow the exact recipe but skip the last step of blending the lentils. I like to serve this with homemade naan bread but any kind of crusty bread will do. Garam Masala is available in most supermarkets and Indian stores. If you like heat, add a few finely chopped chillies before serving.

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Dal Makhani (Creamy Lentil) Soup
Serves 4

1tbsp olive oil
1 bay leaf
2 pods of cardamom
1 stick cinnamon
2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
1 tbsp. grated ginger
1/2 red onion, finely chopped
1/2 cup, diced canned tomatoes
1 can (420g) brown lentils (do not drain)
1/2 tsp garam masala
1/2 cup pouring cream
1/2 cup vegetable stock or water (depending on desired thickness of soup)
1/2 tsp brown sugar
salt and pepper to taste
handful coriander, to serve

In a frying pan over medium heat, heat the olive oil, add the bay leaf, cardamom and cinnamon and fry for a few seconds till aromatic. Add the onion and cook till transluscent. Add the garlic and ginger and fry for a minute. Add the tomatoes and lentils and simmer until cooked, stirring occasionally (about 15 minutes). Add the garam masala, cream, vegetable stock (if using), seasoning, sugar and stir to mix. Remove from heat and blend with a stick blender. Ladle into bowls, garnish with coriander.

 

 

 

 

 


Hazelnut and Chocolate Chunk Friands (Financiers)

by Sugar et al

Financiers or friands as they are known in Australia are a great way of using up egg whites. Personally, I find it hard to decide between a meringue based dessert and a friand if I happen to have egg whites at home. I love making and eating both immensely. The deciding factor ultimately is whether or not I want to use my electric mixer. Friands are simple to make with a few ingredients and can be put together with just a bowl and a whisk. But that is not really the reason why I love them.  Friands use nut meal, ground nuts as a core ingredient. Therefore they have a nutty flavour and a crunchy bite to them which is so addictive. And textures are an important part of my recipes.

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Though friands are relatively heavier on the butter as compared to a muffin or an unfrosted cupcake, they are truly a treat. The crispy exterior and nutty buttery centre is open to many different add-ins…fruits, chocolate, coconut, nuts and so on. Any ground nut works which means you have so many permutations and combinations to choose from. For me, chocolate and hazelnut are made for each other. In this case, big chunks of chocolate melt in your month as you bite into a warm crunchy hazelnut pastry. I love to use my oval friand moulds to bake these but they result in about 6 big ones that are a bit too much for my little ones to eat. I used a regular muffin pan that yielded 10 friands.

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Hazelnut and Chocolate Chunk Friands (Financiers)
Yields 10

6 egg whites
180g butter, melted and cooled
1 cup (100g) hazelnut meal
1/2 cup (75g) plain flour
1 1/2 cups icing sugar mixture
1 tsp vanilla essence
100g dark chocolate, roughly chopped into small and big chunks

Preheat oven to 180 degrees C. Grease or line a 12 capacity muffin pan with paper liners.
Combine the egg whites, hazelnut meal, icing sugar, flour and vanilla essence in a large bowl. Add the butter and stir to combine. Add half the chocolate chunks and stir to combine
Pour the friand mixture evenly among the prepared pans. Sprinkle the remaining chocolate chunks over each friand. Bake in preheated oven for 12-15 minutes or until a skewer inserted into the centres comes out clean. Set aside for 5 minutes before turning onto a wire rack to cool. Eat warm or at room temperature.

 

 

 


Beetroot Panzanella Salad

by Sugar et al

This has been one long winter. Now that it is in its last stretch, the wait is the hardest. The last always seems like the longest, coldest and darkest to me. The length of this wait, however is not as lasting, extended and painted as the dreams and plans I have for the upcoming Spring and Summer.  There will be fresh berries. Picking, eating and adorning my cakes. There will be the colours of Spring, spilling out everywhere. There will be picnics. Planned, impromptu ones (the ones you plan in your head, then do on an impulse). A mega dose of sunshine. And a good few extra hours to photograph.

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We are fortunate in Australia to have access to pretty much every fruit and vegetable, round the year. But I still tend to look at root vegetables as a winter thing particularly for their warming characteristics in food. Part of this stems from my growing up years in India when beetroot, radishes and good quality carrots were available only during the colder months. Beetroot is my favourite, which is apparent since this is the second recipe I am dedicating this season.
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I have been making Panzanella even before I knew it was called Panzanella salad. Crusty bread, ripe tomatoes, leftover vegetables from the fridge, a good dose of extra virgin olive oil (I use a garlic infused one), a hint of vinegar and fresh basil from my garden, It is as simple as it sounds. This is one salad which is not only refreshing but can fill up your stomach while feeding your body with a whole lot of nutrition. The classic Panzanella is a celebration of juicy tomatoes, torn stale toasted bread that soaks up the tart vinaigrette and the fresh flavours of basil. More of a summertime salad. I am however happy to eat it and feed it to my pre-schoolers with the addition of sweet beetroot in winter. It provides a nice balance to the sharpness of the vinegar. It is important to use a crusty bread with body that does not become soggy in the salad. Olives, cucumber are added in some recipes. But basically, you can go ahead and make the recipe your own.

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Beetroot Panzanella Salad
Serves 4

200 g (about 1/3rd a loaf) sliced Sourdough bread
2 tablespoons olive oil
250 g cherry tomatoes, halved
200 g yellow tomatoes, halved
200 g baby beetroot, peeled, cooked and quartered (I use the packaged ones from Coles, Australia. Canned will also do)
1/4 red onion, thinly sliced 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil (I use garlic infused extra virgin olive oil)
1 tablespoon red wine vinegar (or balsamic vinegar) 1
1 garlic clove, finely chopped (optional, not required if you are using the garlic infused variety of olive oil)
Salt & freshly ground pepper
Fresh basil, to scatter

Tear the sliced bread into rough pieces about 3-5cm in size. Heat 1 tbsp. olive oil in a large frying pan over a medium-high heat. Add half of the bread. Cook, tossing occasionally, for 4 minutes or until golden. Transfer to a large bowl. Repeat with the remaining olive oil and bread.

Place the tomatoes, beetroot, red onion and bread in a salad bowl or tray. Combine the extra virgin olive oil, red wine vinegar and garlic (if using). Add to the salad. Season with salt and pepper. Use clean hands to toss until well combined. Scatter with torn basil leaves to serve.


Chocolate Almond Coconut Cake

by Sugar et al

A few days ago, I chanced upon a carton of almond milk. You can read about it here. It is no secret how much I love almonds and I use them quite often in my recipes. However, creating with almond milk was a first. I made simple and healthy banana blueberry almond popsicles to get a feel of how it would work in a recipe. The nuttiness was there and it proved to be a great dairy alternative. I was impressed. I wanted to add it to anything and everything. Most of all, I was curious to know how almond milk would work in a cake or a baked item. Would it add an element of texture? Would it take away some of the moisture that regular milk/buttermilk/sour cream contributes? Will I get a crisp crust on my cake? Anything that lends itself well to a cake is up there on my ingredient list. So I put it to the cake test.

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Chocolate and coconut are another combination that works well together. I discovered that when I made the Chocolate Coconut Slice. In bar form, when they tasted so good, I could imagine what it would do to a cake. The cake turned out just the way I wanted it to be. It was moist, it had texture from the coconut and almonds. It had the richness of cocoa and a crisp crust like a brownie. You could taste all the elements in the cake. And I loved how rustic it looked.

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I have put my carton of almond milk to good use. Some sweet recipe and a savoury. The cake would still work if you use regular milk instead of almond milk. But if you like almonds or if you get your hands on some almond milk, it is worth a try. I like the cracked top and rustic appearance so much that I decided against adding a ganache or glaze to the cake. A generous sprinkling od icing sugar did it for me. I  kept the styling along the same lines. You could glaze it if you are looking for more chocolate in the cake.  Or even add chocolate chunks to the cake batter. In any case, this cake is going to go through a few different variations in my house. With almond milk as a constant, of course. I can’t wait to share more with you.

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Chocolate Almond Coconut Cake
Serves 6-8

160g butter, softened
1 cup castor sugar
1 tsp vanilla essence
2 eggs
1 cup self-raising flour
1
/4 cup cocoa powder
1/2 cup almond meal (ground almonds)
1
/2 cup desiccated coconut
1 cup almond milk
Icing sugar or dessicated coconut, for dusting

Preheat oven to 180 degree C. Grease a 18 cm round cake pan. Line with baking paper. Using an electric mixer, beat butter, sugar and vanilla essence together. Add eggs, 1 at a time, beating well after each addition

Sift the flour and the cocoa over butter mixture. Add the coconut and the almond meal. Stir to combine. Add the almond milk. Stir to combine. Pour into prepared pan. Smooth top. Bake for 55 minutes or until a skewer inserted in the centre comes out clean. Stand in pan for 10 minutes. Turn out onto a wire rack to cool. Dust with icing sugar or dessicated coconut.

 


Pear and Raspberry Pie

by Sugar et al

I had my first real pie when I came to Australia. My excitement knew no bounds when I discovered a charming little bakery a short distance away from my new home. I went back every day. I had pie every day. For dinner, and for breakfast the next day. My kitchen ware were still in boxes so living on something that was convenient to bring back home, didn’t need too many dishes and filled up our empty stomachs while satisfying our taste buds, saved me a lot of trouble. I walked all the way to the bakery and back, convinced that it was the workout I needed to burn those pie-enriched calories. Till one day the bathroom scales told a different story!

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I still love pie. What is there not to love about warm meaty and fruity fillings encased in pastry! However, when making pie at home, I tend to skip the bottom layer. The deep dish ones are my current favourite. It is a like a cross between a crumble and a pie. Plus you can play around with the pastry on top. I especially get my little boys to help me with the top and it makes for a wonderful afternoon activity with kids.

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The pie is inspired by a slightly different recipe I had come across in Donna Hay magazine using white peaches and raspberries. The pie crust caught my eye and decided to make my own version using pears. This one is not a large one so if you plan a standard size, you may want to double the measurements.

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Pear and Raspberry Pie
Serves 4

For the crust
3/4 cup plain flour
60 g unsalted butter, chilled, chopped
1/4 cup icing sugar
1 egg yolk (from an extra-large egg)
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 tbsp. iced water
1 egg white
raw sugar for sprinkling

For the filling
3 ripe pears, skin removed and roughly chopped
1 cup frozen raspberries
1/3 cup castor sugar
1 tbsp. corn flour
1 tbsp. lemon juice

Place the flour, butter and icing sugar in a food processor and process in short bursts until the mixture resembles fine bread crumbs. With the motor running, add the egg yolk, vanilla and water and process until the dough just comes together. Turn the dough into a lightly floured surface and bring together to form a ball. Flatten into a disc, wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate for an hour.

Pre heat oven to 200 degrees C. Place the pear, sugar, cornflour and lemon juice in a non stick pan over high heat till the sugar dissolves. Bring to the boil and cook for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally until thickened. Remove from heat and stir through the raspberries. Spoon the mixture into a baking dish (I used a 20 cm by 13 cm oval Pyrex dish.)

Roll the pastry out between two sheets of non-stick baking paper to a 3mm thickness. Using a 5 cm round cookie cutter, cut out circles from the dough and place on top of the filling, overlapping until the entire top is covered.  Brush the pastry with the egg white and sprinkle with raw sugar. Bake for 15-20 minutes or until the pastry is golden. If you like the top of the pie, really browned and crisp like this one, switch over your oven to the grill mode
and brown the pastry for 2-3 minute. Remove carefully from oven. Serve warm with ice cream on the side.

 

 

 


Spicy Thai Corn Soup with Greens

by Sugar et al

If soup is synonymous with comfort in winter, I cannot get enough. The smell of a pot of deliciousness simmering away on the cooktop, makes me hungry. The thought of a bowl of fresh, steaming soup cradled within the confines of fine china warms up my insides like snuggling by a fireplace in the company of loved ones on a cold wintry evening. I wrap my hands around it. I enjoy moving my spoon in circles picking up pieces of crispy garlic croutons or chunky vegetables on the way before they plump up within the soup.

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Although soup has a year-round occurrence in our home, it tends to take centre stage as soon as the weather turns nippy. To turn it into a main meal, I cook it in either of the two ways. A noodle soup of broth-like consistency with Asian flavours, greens and some form of protein. Or a thick soup comprising of lentils, beans or barley cooked in a flavourful and spicy stock with vegetables. This one is somewhere in the middle. The soup is thick, spicy, filling, satisfying and tastes every bit like a Thai red curry without going through the actual process of cooking a curry. Thai curry pastes are extremely handy when you are not in the mood of making your stock from scratch. The base of a good soup lies in the stock in which it is cooked. Using a strong flavouring agent like a curry paste rules out the necessity of a stock and makes life so much easier. Plus you get all the sweet, spicy, acidic flavours that are unique to Asian cuisine. If you have not already realised, the convenience of this soup is that you are making it from few and ingredients that are tinned or canned which makes it perfect for a rainy day.

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I have kept the soup vegetarian. You can add your choice of protein to make it your own. The creaminess of coconut milk paired with sweet corn and heat from the curry paste makes the soup outright delicious. Adding greens like broccoli, snow peas, green beans and fresh herbs like coriander, basil or chives makes it nutritious and gives it another level of texture. I enjoy the added heat of chilli flakes in my soups so I sprinkled some on top. It can be easily left out as the soup itself is moderately hot.

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Spicy Thai Corn Soup with Greens
Serves 3

2 tsp Thai Red Curry paste
1 canned of corn kernels (400 g)/ frozen corn kernels
1 can coconut milk (400 g)
1/2 cup water (depending on the consistency of the soup you are after)
Salt and pepper, to season
1 tbsp. palm sugar/brown sugar
Greens- broccoli florets, green beans, snow peas
Fresh herbs- Basil, Coriander, Chives
Red Chilli flakes, for garnish (optional)

Heat the Red Curry paste in a large saucepan till aromatic (about 1 minute). Add the corn kernels, coconut milk (reserving 3 tbsp. coconut milk for serving later) and water to the saucepan. Simmer on medium heat for 15 minutes, stirring at intervals till corn is slightly tender. Remove from heat. Season. With a stick blender (or in the food processor), blend the soup into a thick somewhat smooth consistency. (You could go with a finely blended soup or slightly coarse like the one above). Put it back on the heat, add the palm sugar and vegetables. Cook for 5 minutes or till vegetables are slightly tender. Ladle into serving bowls, spoon over reserved coconut milk. Garnish with herbs and a sprinkling of chilli flakes (if using). Serve warm

 

 


Cherry and Cashew Nut Streusel Cake

by Sugar et al

Fridays have fascinated me all my life. Like a lot of people, It has remained my favourite part of the week since I was a child. At different stages of life though, the interpretations varied. Before the twins came, I was employed with a bank where I worked for several years. I handled various roles and though the nature of work and work load were different, Fridays were always a treat. Most of the times, it meant long lunches at new restaurants each week with colleagues and friends. I had a printed list pinned on the board next to my cubicle and would tick away as we explored places, old and new.

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After the birth of my boys, Fridays brought relief. The promise of a weekend. Of support and respite. It meant eating at the table. Eating food on a plate ,while my husband shared the responsibility of dealing with two infants who needed to be fed, consoled, carried, changed at a tiring pace. Time flew. The children grew up and help was outsourced in the form of Child Care. They would go twice during the week and Friday was one of them. Precious hours that I had all to myself, I would want to do things that made me happy. Like bake cakes. Sometimes one, sometimes more. The prospect of eating cake throughout the weekend made the twins excited as well. Win win. So Fridays turned out to be Cake days. It became a ritual.

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Cakes were my blank canvas to play around with flavours, textures or look and my favourite subjects to photograph. I belong to the group of people who believe that with eggs, butter and sugar, there is little that can go wrong. The rest is left to one’s personal taste and creativity. For me, the best cakes are full of texture. And the simplest way to achieve that is to substitute the flour component, completely or partly with a nut meal (ground nuts). There are so many nuts to choose from. Fruits to go with them. The options are unlimited. As much as I love frosted cakes, the simplicity of a nutty and fruity cake freshly baked and served warm with a dollop of whipped cream on the side has a greater appeal. In this cake, along with ground cashew nuts, the texture is enhanced in the form of a crispy sweet crumble.

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Cherries have started to show up at the markets. Although they are not exactly cheap at the moment, they are tempting. Since I love them so much, it was hard to go past them without buying a punnet. These were not very sweet but they were perfect for the cake. Cashew nuts have more bite to them than hazelnuts or almonds (which I use more often) so if you are nuts about nuts, this is a cake not to be missed. However, any nut or fruit would work.
The recipe uses egg whites but does not need to whipped up. In other words, this is a one bowl cake that takes minutes to put together. I have used a tart pan (with a non-removable base) to get a large but shorter (in height) cake. You can go with a 20 cm cake pan instead for a regular sized cake. In that case the baking time will need to be increased.

Do you have a favourite day in the week? Do you have a ritual that you would never like to miss?

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Cherry and Cashew Nut Streusel Cake
Serves 8-10

200 g cherries, pitted and roughly chopped
6 egg whites
170g unsalted butter, melted and cooled
50g (1/2 cup) plain flour
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
125g ground cashew nuts
3/4 cup castor sugar

 

For the streusel topping

1/2 cup plain flour
50 g butter, chilled and chopped into cubes
1/4 cup brown sugar
1/3 cup cashew nuts, roughly chopped

To make the crumble topping, place all the ingredients in a bowl. Use your fingertips to rub the butter into the mixture until the mixture contains large and small crumbs.

Preheat oven to 190°C. Grease a 23 cm round cake tin and line the base with baking paper. Place the egg whites, butter, sugar, flour, cinnamon and ground cashew nuts hazelnuts in a bowl. Mix gently until just combined. Spoon into tin, scatter with half the crumb topping, then cherries, then remaining topping. Bake for 35 minutes or until firm. Cool in tin for 10 minutes. Serve warm or at room temperature.


Banana Blueberry Almond Popsicles

by Sugar et al

A little box followed me back home on a recent trip to the grocer’s. I always took pride in being an ardent almond fan but here I was, intently studying the back of a carton of almond milk. Almonds in different forms adorn the shelves in my cupboard yet I had never tried out almond milk. Perhaps I thought it was a bit too ‘healthy’ for me and my blog. I did not buy it so I assumed that it was placed by mistake in my shopping bag by the people at the store.

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The long list of checked boxes at the back…Gluten Free, Cholestrol Free, Lactose Free, Suitable for Vegetarians, No Cane sugar and so on caught my eye. I went back to return the carton and here’s what I did. I bought one for myself. Since the blog is not just about me but also my dear readers, I thought it was worth a try, And it had almonds in it, so it was certainly a safe bet.

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You don’t mess around with a healthy ingredient and add sugar and butter to it. Or do you? Actually, we will keep that for later. Right now, sticking to the healthy philosophy, I preferred to add fruits and honey and turn it into a frozen milkshake. A popsicle, in other words.  These days, things look better on a stick than in a glass. Especially to my four year olds.

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So all you do is put everything together in your processor and blend. Blueberries are beautiful, they add a touch of purple to anything they are added to. Feel free to increase or decrease the quantities in the ingredients. If you are not concerned about sugar, substitute sugar for honey. Then freeze and enjoy your super healthy popsicles.

Banana Blueberry Almond Popsicles

2 cups Almond Milk
1 large banana
1 cup frozen blueberries
2 tbsp. honey

Place the ingredients in the bowl of your food processor and process until smooth. Pour into popsicle moulds and freeze for an hour. Insert sticks and freeze until firm (about 3 hours).

 

 

 


Ombre Triple Chocolate Cheesecake Tart (No Bake)

by Sugar et al

Let’s talk about colours! Or the absence of them. Can you imagine a world without colours? How boring would that be! Colours contribute to our visual experience. They help us to relate to our environment. They stimulate imagination and creativity. One of the earliest and basic things we learnt as kids were to recognise and differenciate between colours. We painted the yellow sun, wanted to dive into the blue sea, ride the red bike and messed up the brown cake. Most of us loved it. Because it simplified our understanding of the big world around us and gave us our first powers. The power of choice! I can tell you how big and powerful I felt at 4 years when I was allowed to choose the colour of my birthday dress.

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As bloggers, photographers, food enthusiasts colours have never been more important to us. How much do we love Pinterest!  Being a colour fanatic myself, I love what I can do with the pictures and recipes on of my blog. I feel empowered, in a humble way. On the topic of colours, Ombre is amazing! It is a feast for the eyes. When you add Chocolate and Cheese to it, it is a feast for the soul.

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Getting the Ombre effect on a tart was impossible without piping the filling onto it. I didn’t want to make a cake as there are plenty of beautiful ones out there. So I decided to go with the usual no-bake crust that I use to make my cheesecakes, only in tart form. I started out with a base cheesecake mixture, then divided it into three bowls and mixed the 3 types of chocolate individually. Then it was a matter of filling up a piping bag and piping in the filling (starting with white) in a shaded effect.

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This recipe is easier than it looks. Like a no-bake cheesecake, this is best stored in the refrigerator. Because this is a large tart, the tart  crust might be slightly delicate to deal with, so do be carful while releasing the sides of the tart pan. I have not used gelatine in this recipe, which I would usually do to get a firmer texture for my cheesecake. Since, I intended to pipe the cheesecake filling, I reduced the heavy cream content so it was firm enough to hold shape. If you are going to use a single piping bag, needless to say, it is best to start with the white chocolate filling.

This Ombre tart is my contribution to the Sweet Adventures Blog Hop for the month of July. This is hosted by the lovely JJ of 84th &3rd and the theme as you might have guessed is Ombre. Do check out the other creations at the bottom of the post.

Starting with something sweet on a Monday morning is my best start to a week. I hope you are off to a colourful & sweet start too!

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Ombre Triple Chocolate Cheesecake  Tart (No Bake)
Serves 8-10

300g chocolate cookies
100g unsalted butter, melted
200g dark chocolate, melted and brought to room temperature
150g milk chocolate, melted and brought to room temperature
150g white chocolate, melted and brought to room temperature
500g cream cheese, room temperature
1/2 cup Castor sugar
250 ml heavy or thickened cream
cocoa powder, to serve
chocolate shavings, to serve

Grease a 23 cm Tart pan (with a removable base) and line the base with baking paper.
Place the cookies in a food processor. Process until fine crumbs. Add melted butter and mix to combine. Using your fingertips, press biscuit mixture over base of prepared pan. Refrigerate for 30 minutes or until firm.

Using an electric mixer, beat cream cheese and sugar in a large bowl until smooth. In a separate bowl, whip heavy cream to stiff peaks. Fold through cream in the cream cheese mixture, gradually. Divide this mixture equally among 3 bowls. Mix the dark, milk and white chocolate individually into a bowl of the cream cheese mixture. Fold in till smooth and blended.

Fill up a piping bag fitted with a large round nozzle with the white chocolate cheesecake filling. Meanwhile, refrigerate the other two bowls. Pipe cheesecake kisses onto 1/3rd of the tart base. (I have done two overlapping layers). Repeat with the milk and dark chocolate cheesecake fillings till the entire tart base is covered. Refrigerate for 4 hours or until set. Sprinkle with cocoa. Decorate with chocolate shavings. Serve cold.

 

 

 

 


Masala (Spiced) Coke Popsicles

by Sugar et al

The sidewalks in India are home to some amazing Indian food. Street food, as it is popularly known is not only cheap and convienient but also authentic. This kind of food may also be available in big and small restaurants but rarely measures up to the taste and feel of food from the vendors. There is something incredibly exciting about watching the food being assembled right before your eyes.. the sultry weather coupled by the smoke escaping the sizzling tawas (large frying pans), crowds of people waiting for their turn, the fiery heat of the chillies as they are generously sprinkled over Chaat or Chicken rolls or for that matter any food originating from these makeshift stalls. It is an experience in itself. To go with this kind of food there are refreshing thirst quenchers that send flavours splattering across your palate. The key to this can only be one. Spice!

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Masala Coke is nothing but a spiced up version of Coke. Adding spice and salt to a cola drink not only lifts up its flavour but leaves your senses refreshed and energised. The after-taste is incomparable, trust me! The spice blend or seasoning in this case is Chaat Masala, a tangy, zingy, mildly hot mix that is a must-have in most Indian households. Unlike some spices, it does not require to be cooked down so it can be easily substituted for seasonings in savoury dishes. I would recommend this spice, not only for this popsicle recipe or the drink, but also on salads, fritters and vegetarian dishes. If you love spice, this is a great investment to store in your pantry. Try it on fruit, you are sure to get hooked on! Here in Sydney, Chaat Masala should be available in any Indian store.

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These popsicles are easy to make. I’ve been making these for as long as I can remember. Put all the ingredients together in a large jug and leave aside for 30 minutes. This is necessary for the flavours to blend and the aeration to escape or the popsicles tend to expand and become uneven in size. Needless to say, this recipe would work on any drink of similar variety.

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Masala Coke Popsicles
Yields 6

500 ml Coke
Juice of 1 Lime
2 tsp Chaat Masala
1/4 tsp salt (optional)
1 tsp ground black pepper
Fresh herbs, mint and/or basil

Place all the ingredients together in a large saucepan. Cover loosely and leave aside for 30 minutes. Remove fresh herbs and pour into popsicle moulds. Freeze for 2 hours and insert popsicle stick. Freeze for 4-6 hours (preferable overnight).

 


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