Category Archives: Bakes/Desserts

Spiced Rum Chocolate Mousse (topped with Buttercrunch Toffee Crumble)

Reading through the past couple of blog posts, I realised that almost every post starts with a description of the weather. How boring is that!

After moving to Melbourne, the weather began to play such an immense role in my mood swings but that does not mean I need to bore you guys all the time. So let’s talk of something different today.

Let’s talk of deliciously wicked silky and smooth Chocolate Mousse laced with spiced rum and then topped generously with buttercrunch toffee crumble. And maybe some strawberries too…..

Spiced Rum Chocolate Mousse (topped with Buttercrunch Toffee Crumble) - thespiceadventuress.com

Chocolate desserts also evoke a sense of luxury, a sinful indulgence for the senses. And this chocolate mousse is no exception. But it is sinfully luscious and one to be enjoyed without any guilt because it is made from coconut cream.

My experience with coconut cream has always been savoury. The beautifully aromatic and creamy fish curry from Kerala is what comes running to my mind when I think of coconut milk or cream. And whenever I have had coconut based desserts, I have not really enjoyed it because it has always felt super sweet for my tastebuds.

This recipe comes from @lady.flamingo, also known as The Boozy Baker (now you get the spiced rum!).

One of the recipes featured in the Bank of Melbourne #socialfeeds cookbook 2016. If you are a long time reader of my blog, then you would have heard about this book before, because I have had the privilege and honour of being featured in both the cookbooks bought out so far.

(The featured recipes can be found here and here. You can also download the e-version of the cookbooks here).

Spiced Rum Chocolate Mousse (topped with Buttercrunch Toffee Crumble) - thespiceadventuress.com

And if you follow me on Instagram, you would also have seen a post featuring the August edition of Foodies Collective – the Decadent Desserts box. I was privileged to receive one box, filled with the most amazing goodies from some of the best Australian artisan food producers. So I decided to use the award winning Charley’s Mount Edna dark chocolate (has a complex, distinct flavour with whisky notes) for making the chocolate sauce and the buttercrunch toffee crumble from Poetry Fine Foods as the topping.

I highly recommend Charley’s if you can get your hands on it, otherwise any good quality dark chocolate would do. Also if you can’t find the crumble, you can use praline, chopped toasted nuts, whipped cream etc….

Foodies Collective Discovery Box - thespiceadventuress.com

(This recipe can be made 100% vegan by using dairy free chocolate and @lady.flamingo also says that it is a good dessert option for those who suffer from Menieres disease as it is low in sodium).

So let’s hop on to the recipe for this silky and luscious Spiced Rum Chocolate Mousse.

Ingredients:

(Serves 6)

Spiced Rum Chocolate Sauce:

  1. 1 can coconut cream (400 ml)
  2. 220gm high quality dark chocolate
  3. 60 gms raw brown sugar (if using white sugar, add half the quantity, taste and add more if necessary)
  4. 1 vanilla pod, split in half and scraped
  5. 2 tbsp spiced rum
  6. 2 clove pods

Mousse:

  1. 2 x 400ml coconut cream cans (chilled)
  2. 120gms cocoa powder (unsweetened)

Method:

To make the chocolate sauce:

  • Melt the chocolate in a microwave or using the double boiler method.
  • Shake the coconut cream can well and pour out the contents into a bowl.
  • Once the chocolate has melted, add a few spoons of the coconut cream into it and mix well to combine. (This is to create a homogenous mixture and prevent the chocolate from seizing which can occur sometimes).
  • Then add the entire chocolate mixture into the remaining coconut cream followed by all the other ingredients listed and mix well to combine. Make sure the sugar gets dissolved completely.
  • Refrigerate for about 10 minutes to thicken the chocolate sauce lightly.

To make the mousse:

  • In a mixer or using a large bowl, whip the coconut cream till you get soft peaks.
  • Remove the cloves from the chocolate sauce and add it slowly to the coconut cream along with the cocoa powder, mixing lightly to combine each time.
  • Whip for a few more seconds till the whole mixture becomes light and fluffy.
  • Spoon into glasses or ramekins; refrigerate for about 3-4 hours till set.
  • Top with the buttercrunch crumble and serve with a side of strawberries.
  • Enjoy!

Spiced Rum Chocolate Mousse (topped with Buttercrunch Toffee Crumble) - thespiceadventuress.com

Spiced Rum Chocolate Mousse (topped with Buttercrunch Toffee Crumble) - thespiceadventuress.com

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Moroccan Lamb Chops + Snippets from my Early Easter Party

It was an early Easter party for us this year. Actually totally unplanned; it was meant to be a barbecue party with a few friends which eventually turned out to be sort of an Easter lunch.

Succulent - thespiceadventuress.com

Before we get to the party and the recipes, let me share with you the story of my Weber and how it came into our lives. Way back in 2013, when I had just started blogging, I came across a giveaway hosted by Kikkoman in association with Weber. The prize pack was the new Kikkoman condiments being released that year along with a Weber Q200.

And on a lark I participated (I enter a lot of giveaways guys and its pretty common knowledge amongst my friends) and won!

The prize pack arrived and the interesting bit is that we were living in an apartment at that time where the Weber could not be used. And it stayed in a box for the longest time till we moved homes late last year. So finally the Weber that I got in 2013 was inaugurated in 2016 for a Christmas party. So naturally we are very excited to use it after waiting all these years that every party planned eventually ends up as a barbecue themed one.

There were a few recipes I had scheduled to be developed and photographed for the blog as well as clients and two of these fit in perfectly for the party menu. So the idea of a casual get together turned into an early Easter party. And coupled with other dishes, we soon had a feast on our table.

So here’s what I had on the menu for the day…

For starters, we had Cajun sausages and grilled corn.

The recipe for Cajun sausages has been there on the blog for the longest time and is a favourite in our home. It’s quick to put together and hence features regularly on our weekend entertaining.

No barbecue would be complete without grilled corn and we had it the classic way, rubbed with butter, lemon and chilli powder (substitute with paprika for less heat).

Cajun sausages, a delicious party starter - thespiceadventuress.com

Grilled corn with butter, lemon and chilli - thespiceadventuress.com

For mains, we had two meat dishes – Moroccan lamb chops and the Middle Eastern style beef kofta platter.

I have been dying to try out Noha’s beef kofta recipe for the longest time and this seemed to be the perfect occasion for it. No adaptations or tweaks; just followed the recipe as such. And yes, good quality beef mince with a bit of fat is highly recommended.

If you aren’t already following her, please do for all the deliciousness she puts up on her space.

Middle Eastern beef kofta platter - thespiceadventuress.com

Coming to Moroccan lamb chops, I had to share it with you guys because it’s simple, tastes awesome and everytime I have made it, it’s been a big hit.

Lamb chops with a bit of fat attached is recommended especially while grilling because it helps keep the meat moist and tender. The marination is simple and is best done a day ahead. I have frenched the lamb chops because it looks nice and pretty that way but you don’t strictly need to.

Moroccan lamb chops - thespiceadventuress.com

Moroccan lamb chops - thespiceadventuress.com

Our choice of wine for the day was the Yering Station Pinot Noir 2015, a really balanced wine on the palate with hints of cherries, dark berries and savoury forest floor spice. I loved the fact that the tannins are not overpowering and has a delicate finish, thus pairing beautifully with grilled Moroccan lamb chops.

Yering Station Pinot Noir 2015 - thespiceadventuress.com

Moroccan lamb chops - thespiceadventuress.com

Recipe adapted from Cooking with Alia

Ingredients:

  1. 1 kg lamb chops; frenched
  2. ½ cup fresh flat leaf parsley; finely chopped
  3. ½ cup fresh coriander leaves; finely chopped
  4. ½ cup fresh mint leaves; finely chopped
  5. Salt; to season
  6. ½ cup olive oil
  7. 3-4 garlic cloves; grated
  8. 1 tbsp paprika
  9. 1 tsp red chilli powder
  10. 1 tsp cumin seeds; crushed

Method:

  • In a bowl, mix the herbs and spices with olive oil.
  • Add the lamb chops; season with salt and allow to marinate for at least 6 hours, overnight if possible.
  • Grill on high heat on both sides till done.
  • Enjoy!

And finally it was time for dessert. I had created an Easter themed icecream cake as a guest post for Stuff Mums Like. Since it was a warm day, the icecream cake made the perfect dessert to end our happy meal.

Easter themed icecream cake with chocolate nest - thespiceadventuress.com

An extremely simple one, this cake consists of three different icecream layers on a base of cookie crumble. Store bought icecreams were used; saves time and great for parties. Choose whichever flavours you prefer and the number of layers too. A totally customizable cake, it’s great for birthday parties too especially if you are hosting one at home for children.

The addition of the chocolate nest and chocolate filled Easter eggs add that special touch of festivity.

So hop over to their website for the full recipe.

Easter themed icecream cake with chocolate nest - thespiceadventuress.com

Good Palm Oil vs. Bad Palm Oil + a Recipe for Tim Tam Vanilla Icecream Cake

Today, we are going to have an important conversation regarding palm oil. And even though the recipe might sound like a more interesting read, I would encourage all of you to spend a few minutes and read through this post.

Do you use palm oil? I bet most of you would answer ‘no’ to that.

The truth is that most of us still remain largely unaware of the fact that palm oil is an integral part of our daily lives. Often labelled as ‘vegetable oil’, it is a main ingredient in almost 50% of our supermarket goods ranging from biscuits, cookies, chocolates, margarine, sauces, condiments etc… The raw materials derived from palm oil are also a main component of more than 70% of the cosmetics and household detergents we use.

Surprised? I sure was but what was even more surprising or rather shocking was the fact that many of the everyday products that I purchase for my household was made from ‘bad palm oil’.

Does your cookies have good or bad palm oil - thespiceadventuress.com

Does your icecream have good or bad palm oil - thespiceadventuress.com

Good vs. Bad Palm Oil is not about health; it is more about sustainability and protecting our forests and ecosystems.

And it is my own lack of awareness that made me want to collaborate with RSPO (Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil) and take part in the #GoodBadPalmOil campaign.

This global campaign which was launched on 23rd Sept in Australia aims to raise awareness around good and bad palm oil and why it is important for each one of us to make an informed choice everytime we reach out for our favourite lipstick or biscuit.

To quote, ‘at RSPO, we believe that achieving 100% certified sustainable palm oil (CSPO) is not only a realistic ambition but a vital one too. The production of ‘bad’ palm oil is rapidly destroying virgin rainforests and ecosystems causing air pollution to rise and putting many species at the risk of extinction. If grown sustainably, ‘good’ palm oil can benefit local communities with fair working conditions and help protect valuable species and forests.’

Good vs. Bad Palm Oil - thespiceadventuress.com

I was happy to read that there are a lot of companies, both Australian and global, who have pledged to use sustainable aka good palm oil. They are certified RSPO producers and the products carry the trademark so that ordinary customers like you and me can make the right choice. But these numbers are not enough; more work needs to be done and there has to be higher visibility and transparency. And this can come only through our informed choices. It is the consumer’s voice that eventually leads to change, albeit one small change at a time!

Read more about the #GoodBadPalmOil campaign here and also watch Jessica Dance’s knitted food videos which spread this valuable message.

I did spend a lot of time looking through this list of Australian companies to understand more about who are certified and also to find out if my favourite products are indeed doing their bit. There were a few nasty surprises but there was good news too.

And when it was time to create a recipe for today, I chose Arnott’s; incredibly happy that one of our favourite brands believes in sustainability and also exhibits a strong social responsibility. Arnott’s ANZ is not only a member of RSPO but also works with a third party NGO so that they can trace their supply back to the mill. All the palm oil used in their products are sourced from Peninsular Malaysia, regions that are meant for agricultural cultivation and does not result in deforestation, peat destruction or exploitation of workers. You can read more about the company’s corporate and social responsibility here.

And when we think of Arnott’s, we think of Tim Tams – the Aussie icon! And what a delicious icon it is!

Mango flavoured Tim Tams - thespiceadventuress.com

Tim Tams are much loved in our household (I am sure it’s the same for you). Even a non-biscuit lover like me is extremely fond of this chocolicious delight. And now I am relieved that I do not have to feel too guilty about eating these.

So I decided to create a summer treat using these and packed the hubby off to the nearest Coles to get me a few packets. My mind was torn between the dark chocolate and chewy caramel but imagine the surprise to find the new mango flavoured ones. I am guessing these are limited edition for the season so grab a few packets before they disappear from the shelves.

And a few experiments later…..here we have a delicious frozen treat to beat the sunny days!

Mango flavoured Tim Tams with a no churn Vanilla Icecream Cake!

Tim Tam Vanilla Icecream Cake - a super simple and delicious summer dessert - thespiceadventuress.com

Drawing inspiration from the cheesecakes, I blitzed the Tim tams and used it as the bottom layer. And though icecreams are traditionally made using eggs, I used a simple eggless version so that a lot more people can enjoy making this. The texture of this is somewhere between a traditional icecream and a semifreddo.

This is an extremely versatile recipe and just about any Tim Tam flavour can be used. Can’t find Tim Tams where you live, buy your favourite pack of biscuits (just make sure it is RSPO certified). You could also add other ingredients to the icecream for eg: some fresh berries for a more fruity flavour especially if you are using a chocolate flavour base.

Mango flavoured TIm Tams - thespiceadventuress.com

Tim Tam Vanilla Icecream Cake - a super simple and delicious summer dessert - thespiceadventuress.com

Tim Tam Vanilla Icecream Cake - a super simple and delicious summer dessert - thespiceadventuress.com

Tim Tam Vanilla Icecream Cake - a super simple and delicious summer dessert - thespiceadventuress.com

An easy peasy summer dessert which is a sure hit with children too; you can get them to help you make this infact. Comes together in no time at all especially for this party season. A very light and delicious ending to any kind of meal.

Ingredients:

  1. 1 pack mango flavoured Tim Tams (use any flavour you wish to)
  2. 400ml full cream milk
  3. 400ml condensed milk
  4. A pinch of salt
  5. 250ml double/thick cream (chilled)
  6. ½ tsp good quality vanilla essence

To decorate:

  1. ½ pack mango flavoured Tim Tams
  2. Dark chocolate shavings
  3. Cake Sprinkles

Method:

  • Line the bottom of a round springform cake tin (20cm) with baking paper.
  • Crumble the Tim Tams in a food processor and add this to the cake tin. Press down well using a spoon or ladle to form a tight base. Refrigerate.
  • Add the milk, condensed milk and salt to a pot; bring to boil and then simmer gently till you get the consistency of a thin custard. Make sure you keep a close eye stirring often or else the mixture can bubble over. Remove from heat and allow to cool down completely and then refrigerate for at least 30 minutes.
  • Beat the chilled cream to get soft peaks. Add the vanilla essence and then gently fold in the chilled condensed milk mixture till combined well.
  • Pour this over the Tim Tam mixture in the baking tin and freeze for at least 4 hours or till completely set. Remove from the cake tin onto a serving stand.
  • To decorate, I lined the edges of the icecream cake with chocolate shavings. Added 2 Tim Tams to the top and a handful of sprinkles. Just let your creative juice flowing and decorate it however you wish to.

Tim Tam Vanilla Icecream Cake - a super simple and delicious summer dessert - thespiceadventuress.com

Tim Tam Vanilla Icecream Cake - a super simple and delicious summer dessert - thespiceadventuress.com

Disclaimer – This post has been bought to you in collaboration with RSPO. But all the opinions, recipe, photographs and the decision to use Arnott’s biscuits is entirely mine. 

 

 

Jura Z6 and Impressa A9 (a Review) + a Recipe for Mocha Cake with Coffee Butter Icing

Jura….the coffee and the machine!

Jura Impressa A9 - a review - thespiceadventuress.com

Unlike what most people think, it is a very daunting task for a food blogger (the honest types!) to do a product review. Starting from the day the mail from the brand arrives in my inbox to the day the final post gets published, I am under a certain kind of pressure to ensure that the review is honest, frank and unbiased. And there are days of research and testing out that happen behind the scenes before I say that I liked and enjoyed a certain product.

It was the same with Jura, albeit a bit easier because I fell in love with their coffee machines right on day one when I got to attend the launch of their latest machine, the Z6. And of course the fact that coffee is indeed a passionate obsession of mine.

Unlike the usual glamorous media launches, I was lucky to attend a trade launch which gave me a lot of insight into the technology and superior craftsmanship that Jura employs across all their coffee machines. Armed with all this information (and plenty of coffee sampling at the venue), I gave my nod to review two Jura coffee machines – Z6 and Impressa A9. So read on to know my thoughts and experiences over the past two months with these beauties and there’s also a delicious Mocha Cake recipe waiting at the end for you.

Jura Z6 launch - thespiceadventuress.com

Let me rewind a bit and give you a brief intro of the company itself. Jura is a Swiss brand which began manufacturing coffee machines as early as 1937.  Over the years, they have launched several lines of premium automated coffee machines which clearly puts them as one of the top leaders of the coffee machine world.

Early this year, Jura unveiled its latest innovation in automated coffee technology – the Z6 which incorporates the Pulse extraction process which ensures that perfect shot of espresso right in the comfort of your home. The tagline ‘be your own barista’ is befitting to the Z6 (this one should totally be on your Christmas wish list guys).

Jura Z6 - a product review - thespiceadventuress.com

Picture courtesy – Jura Australia

Jura Z6

Looks – I know that I should be speaking of technology first but looks do matter, right? The glamorous black and stainless steel exterior (that combination is a weakness of mine when it comes to gadgets) of the Z6 ensures that it sits pretty on your table top; in fact this machine is truly a conversation starter.

Pulse Extraction Process (P.E.P) – This is the game changer which makes the Z6 stand apart from all the other automated coffee machines in the world. A process which optimizes the extraction time so that you can enjoy the perfect short speciality coffees like espresso and ristretto.

Latte Macchiato with Jura Z6 - thespiceadventuress.com

Functionality – At the touch of a button, literally! The Z6 has a rotary selection feature and a TFT display using which you can select the type of coffee you wish to have and also customize it to your specific needs like coffee strength, amount of milk foam, coffee etc….. You can even rename the customized versions and position it on the main screen. Like I said, the perfect coffee at the touch of a button.

Jura Z6 - a product review - thespiceadventuress.com

Taste – which is how most of us judge a cuppa. Intense and full bodied with a velvety soft and long lasting crema, each cup promises a café like experience every single time. I am more of a cappuccino girl and I wouldn’t hesitate to say that the Z6 makes an absolutely stunning cappuccino at par with some of the best cafes of Melbourne. Apart from the Jura beans, I also used several different varieties of coffee beans and it was quite interesting to experience the different tastes and flavours.

Order your coffee through an app! You heard it right; an exclusive Jura app that can be downloaded on your phone and used to customize and order your coffee. My son had such a fun time playing the ‘virtual barista’ at home. (Don’t forget to keep a cup in place though!)

Jura app - a product review - thespiceadventuress.com

Cleaning this machine is a breeze. The machine will notify when the drip tray needs to be emptied or when the used ground coffee container needs to be emptied. The large rectangular water tank sits at the side and is easy to remove, clean and fill. The machine also self cleans 15 minutes after the last use and shuts down itself. A milk clean must be done everyday (if you use milk) and all that you need to do is add the cleaning liquid to a small container and hook it to the machine.

Disadvantages:

Well none really, except the price tag! But I am not sure if I can call this a disadvantage as you bring home a premium Swiss fully automated coffee machine, endorsed by none other than Roger Federer. Retailing at $3790, the Z6 does not come cheap. It must be seen as an investment and a replacement for all those expensive café style coffees that you usually indulge in.

And be prepared for friends to drop in more often once you have introduced them to the Z6!

Jura Impressa A9

Jura Impressa A9 - a product review - thespiceadventuress.com

When discussions regarding reviewing the Z6 were going on, I requested to the client that I would like to review another coffee machine too, one which might be a bit more affordable to coffee lovers like me. And that’s how I got to play around with the Impressa A9.

Smaller size – The A9 is a much smaller machine when compared to the Z6, perfect for those who live in apartments or do not have lots of bench space. The same black and stainless steel looks that I love with a simple yet distinct design.

Simplicity – While the Z6 speaks of sophistication, the A9 focuses on simplicity. I loved the fact that the machine is much simpler to use in spite of having 12 specialities of coffee to choose from. The cappuccino doppio was my favourite program in this one. The touchscreen is simple to use with clear and concise directions; you hardly need a catalogue to use the machine.

Taste – While the A9 does make a really good cup of cappuccino, it might not be the best if you are an espresso lover. And that’s where the difference lies; A9 is currently not equipped with the P.E.P technology which means that while the coffee is still good, it does not have the same full bodied taste that the Z6 will give you. But this difference is most noticeable with the short blacks and espressos.

Cost – Retailing at $1990, the Impressa A9 is definitely more affordable for the average household. While it may not bring the sophistication of the Z6, it still is a really good fully automated coffee machine to make your favourite brew.

Jura Impressa A9 - a product review - thespiceadventuress.com

So which one is going to be in your Christmas wish list? I definitely have my eyes on the Z6…..

And since all of you have been patient and with me on this Jura coffee journey, it wouldn’t be nice if I didn’t share a great recipe here – one that uses coffee ofcourse!

Mocha Cake with Coffee Butter Icing

Mocha Cake with Coffee Butter Icing - thespiceadventuress.com

While there were a zillion ideas buzzing through my mind, especially ones like this Grilled chicken with Coffee Spice Rub, I decided against all of it and instead went hunting for a simple and basic coffee infused cake.

That search ended when I found this super simple and easy Mocha Cake in Rachel Allen’s cookbook ‘Bake’. Now that’s a cookbook you need if you want to learn some baking fundamentals.

The timing couldn’t have been more perfect; the school holidays had just started so this Mocha Cake became a fun project for me and my little champ. Adi was with me through every step of this, right from weighing, mixing, baking to decorating the cake and also photographing it. The cake looks messy, the frosting is sloppy and the photographs are inconsistent. I can vouch for the fact that the cake was delicious though and we had fun like we never had before and I guess that’s all that matters.

Mocha Cake with Coffee Butter Icing - thespiceadventuress.com

Mocha Cake with Coffee Butter Icing - thespiceadventuress.com

And at the end of it, Adi ordered me to say an official thanks to him on my blog post (in fact he insisted on it). So Adi, thanks a lot for helping me bake and photograph this beautiful Mocha Cake.

Ingredients:

For the cake:

(5 x 9 inch loaf tin used)

  1. 175gm self raising flour
  2. 40gm cocoa powder
  3. 220gm raw brown sugar
  4. 175gm unsalted butter, melted
  5. 4 medium eggs, separated
  6. 70ml strong coffee, cooled
  7. 3 tbsp water
  8. Coffee butter icing; to decorate
  9. Dark chocolate sprinkles; to decorate

For the coffee butter icing:

  1. 100gm butter, softened
  2. 200gm icing sugar, sifted
  3. 4 tbsp strong coffee, cooled

Method:

To make the cake:

  1. Preheat the oven to 175°C. Lightly butter and line the loaf tin with baking paper.
  2. Sift the flour and cocoa powder into a bowl and add the sugar; stir to combine well.
  3. Add the melted butter, egg yolks, coffee and water into the dry mixture and beat using a hand held whisk or beater till smooth.
  4. Whisk the egg whites in another large clean bowl till fairly stiff peaks form and then gently fold this into the cake mixture in three batches. Be gentle but make sure no lumps of egg white remain.
  5. Pour the mixture into the prepared loaf tin, smoothen the surface and tap to remove any air bubbles.
  6. Bake at 175°C for 30 minutes, reduce the temperature to 160°C and continue to bake for another 15-20 minutes or till a skewer inserted in the middle comes out clean.
  7. Allow the cake to cool in the loaf tin for at least 10 minutes before lifting it out. Then leave on a cooling rack to cool completely before decorating with the butter icing.
  8. Once cooled, cut the cake along the middle horizontally into two equal halves. Apply half of the icing on the lower half and then place the other half of the cake on top. Spread the remaining icing on top and decorate with the dark chocolate sprinkles.
  9. Allow the cake to settle for half an hour before cutting.

Note – I used a conventional oven; you may need to adjust the temperature and timings depending on the kind of oven you are using. To be on the safe side, check after the first 20 minutes and adjust temperatures accordingly.

To make the icing:

  1. Place the softened butter in a large clean bowl and beat till soft.
  2. Add the sifted icing sugar in batches and continue to beat.
  3. Add 3-4 tbsp cooled coffee and beat till smooth and creamy.

Enjoy! And if you do bake this, do send me a picture or tag me in your post using #thespiceadventuress

Mocha Cake with Coffee Butter Icing - thespiceadventuress.com

Mocha Cake with Coffee Butter Icing - thespiceadventuress.com

Disclaimer – This is a sponsored post and the coffee machines were given on loan to me by Jura Australia. But all the opinions expressed are truly mine. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Vanilla Cardamom Cheesecake (with Macadamia crumble)

Every recipe has a story and today’s Vanilla Cardamom Cheesecake (with Macadamia crumble) has quite a few.

To start with, I didn’t like cheesecake much till I got to attend this year’s In One Voice Jewish festival and experienced the cheesecake competition. That’s when I realized that I have been eating bad cheesecakes all this while and the real deal is delicious.

Those who follow me on Facebook or Instagram would have seen the pictures from this event, especially the one where I got to have a small chat with Alice Zaslavsky, popularly known as ‘Alice in Frames’ (Masterchef fame). Alice was the judge at the cheesecake competition which saw a delicious array of sweet and savoury cheesecakes. Once the cheesecakes were judged, slices were sold to the public to raise money for Caring Mums, a charity program run by National Council of Jewish Women of Australia (Vic).

Alice Zaslavsky, popularly known as ‘Alice in Frames’ (Masterchef fame) judging the cheesecake competition at In One Voice Jewish Festival, 2016 - thespiceadventuress.com

Alice Zaslavsky, popularly known as ‘Alice in Frames’ (Masterchef fame) with The Spice Adventuress at the In One Voice Jewish Festival, 2016 - thespiceadventuress.com

I decided to try out the winner’s cheesecake and much to my surprise found that it was nothing like the ones I had tasted before that. This one was smooth, creamy with a delicious balance of flavours and that was the moment I decided that I am going to bake one myself.

But that plan didn’t work out for a long time till now which brings us to the second story.

Just like thousands around the globe, I am a huge huge fan of Masterchef Australia. I have not missed a single episode since its inception 8 years ago. For me, this show is not about reality TV, gourmet food, complex recipes, outstanding chefs, creative homecooks or even the amazing hosts. I mean, it’s all of that but for me; it’s all about the basics. It’s all about the Master classes and learning the basics and fundamentals of cooking, be it an ingredient, technique, dish or cuisine. The knowledge that I have acquired from this show over the years has been immense.

And much to my surprise, one of the Masterclasses by Matt Preston turns out to be cheesecake. For me, this was a sign from the culinary God to try my hand at making a cheesecake. As always Matt made it super simple and taught us the secret to a deliciously creamy and simple vanilla cheesecake.

I, ofcourse, had to fiddle with the recipe and make it my own but the recipe is quite similar to his. For that hint of spice, I added crushed green cardamoms to the cream cheese and for the base, I used a mix of macadamias and digestive biscuit crumble for that nutty buttery and toasty flavour.

So, here’s presenting my Vanilla Cardamom Cheesecake with Macadamia crumble.

Vanilla Cardamom Cheesecake with Macadamia crumble base - a creamy delicious cheesecake with the flavours of vanilla and cardamom - thespiceadventuress.com

If it was summer, I would have garnished with some fresh berries but for the chilling weather here, all I could think of was some sort of a caramel sauce. But that would have made it very heavy and I was looking for a light dessert. So I kept it plain and paired it with a glass of sparkling Pinot instead.

Vanilla Cardamom Cheesecake with Macadamia crumble base - a creamy delicious cheesecake with the flavours of vanilla and cardamom - thespiceadventuress.com

Vanilla Cardamom Cheesecake with Macadamia crumble base - a creamy delicious cheesecake with the flavours of vanilla and cardamom - thespiceadventuress.com

If you notice the photographs, you will see a crack on the surface. Well, that’s nothing to do with the recipe but rather my clumsiness while moving the cheesecake to a platter. I had two choices; to photograph the cake with that crack showing or to make another one from scratch just for the photographs. I chose the former, because beautiful and delicious food does not have to look perfect and this is no commercial photography assignment. So enjoy the cake guys, with the imperfections.

Vanilla Cardamom Cheesecake with Macadamia crumble base - a creamy delicious cheesecake with the flavours of vanilla and cardamom - thespiceadventuress.com

(Psst….this has nothing to do with the recipe but this year, I also got to attend the shooting of one of the Masterchef episodes. For those who are following the show, it was the carnival one where I got to meet Nigella Lawson. Yes!)

At the shooting of Masterchef Australia Season 8 with Matt Preston and Nigella Lawson - thespiceadventuress.com

Ingredients:

Crumble Base:

  1. 175gms digestive biscuits
  2. 175gms raw macadamias
  3. 60gms caster sugar
  4. 60gms melted unsalted butter

Cream cheese filling:

  1. 750gms cream cheese (room temperature)
  2. ½ tsp powdered green cardamom seeds
  3. 230gms caster sugar
  4. A good pinch of salt
  5. 4 eggs
  6. 2 ½ tbsp lemon juice
  7. 1 tsp vanilla essence
  8. 300ml double cream

Others:

  1. 23cm spring form cake tin
  2. Aluminium foil
  3. Roasting tray (ensure that the cake tin fits in snugly)

Method:

For the crumb base:

  1. Preheat the oven to 175°C.
  2. Line the cake tin with baking paper (bottom and sides). I first coat the base and sides with a thin layer of butter and then place the baking paper so that it sticks properly. Take 3-4 sheets of aluminium foil and double wrap the outside of the cake tin like a jacket of sorts. (This is to prevent water from getting in and also add to the bain marie effect while baking the cheesecake).
  3. Blitz the biscuits and macadamias in a processor to a fine crumb and then add the caster sugar. Blitz again to combine and then add the melted butter. Blitz for a few more seconds to combine.
  4. Transfer this crumble to the cake tin and spread evenly. Using a spoon, pat down tightly especially evening out at the edges. (If you prefer a thinner base, use lesser quantity of the crumb).
  5. Bake this for 10 minutes; remove and set aside to cool well.

For the cheesecake filling:

  1. Put on the kettle water for hot water to pour in the roasting tray.
  2. To make the cream cheese filling, add the softened cream cheese to a cake mixer and beat for a couple of minutes until smooth and creamy.
  3. Then add the caster sugar and beat well till the sugar has combined and dissolved well.
  4. Add one egg at a time, making sure each has dissolved well before adding the next one.
  5. Reduce the speed of the mixer and add the lemon juice, vanilla essence, cardamom powder and salt. Beat till combined and add the double cream. Beat again just for a few seconds till the cream has combined well.
  6. Pour into the cake tin with the cooled crumb base. Tap to even the surface and place the tin inside the roasting tray.

To bake:

  1. Place the roasting tray inside the oven and carefully pour the hot water into the tray to atleast half the height of the cake tin (around 2 cm).
  2. Bake for 65 minutes or till golden and cooked through at 175°C.
  3. Once baked, turn off the oven and allow the cake to cook down for at least 1 hour inside the oven (with the door closed).
  4. Remove from oven and allow to cool completely before removing from the cake tin.
  5. Enjoy!

Vanilla Cardamom Cheesecake with Macadamia crumble base - a creamy delicious cheesecake with the flavours of vanilla and cardamom - thespiceadventuress.com

Vanilla Cardamom Cheesecake with Macadamia crumble base - a creamy delicious cheesecake with the flavours of vanilla and cardamom - thespiceadventuress.com

Vanilla Cardamom Cheesecake with Macadamia crumble base - a creamy delicious cheesecake with the flavours of vanilla and cardamom - thespiceadventuress.com

Chocolate Fudge Cake with Milk Chocolate Buttercream and Fresh Strawberries

Today, I am going to tell you a story….my love story!

Chocolates and Red Roses - Food Photography - thespiceadventuress.com

 

I met Sam while at college. To be more specific, while doing my graduate programme in lab sciences. I was an extremely gawky, nerdy looking, fresh out of school teenager with a funny hairstyle and thick glasses that drowned out my eyes. And he was this stick thin, equally gawky fresh out of school teenager who thought a bit too much of himself. And we became friends.

It was an easy friendship. Though we appeared to be very different people outwards, we had very similar views on relationships and life in general. For me, he was this guy who was easy to talk to, non-judgemental and someone who truly respects women. So time went on…..with a lot of studies and a whole lot of fun too and before we knew it, four years had passed and it was time to say goodbye.

The goodbyes were difficult since we were a close knit class of 12. But with the promises of keeping in touch always, we parted ways to embrace life the way it takes us. For me and Sam, it meant working for mission hospitals for the next two years. We did keep in touch as promised…..those were the days of beautiful handwritten letters unlike the instant chat messengers of today. And over those two years and innumerable letters, we became best buddies.

Destiny crossed our paths again when both of us became classmates once again when we decided to pursue our Master’s. Perhaps we were meant to be together because there is no other explanation on how we ended up in the same institution. A completely random event that changed our lives forever.

Somewhere along the first year, we both realized that our relationship had changed. It was more than a friendship now; it had become a desire for happily ever after.

It became increasingly difficult to keep our true feelings hidden but yet we were so scared of the changes that this admission would bring. We valued our friendship much more than anything, even more than being together as a couple. But one fine day, the beautiful lyrics of an English song paved the way to finally admit what we were hesitant to say out loud to each other all along.

Every love story has hitches and we had our fair share too but here we are today. Married for close to ten years with a beautiful precious boy who is the living testimony of our love.

And ofcourse you would have guessed the reason I am sharing this story….it’s a Valentine’s Day dedication!

Chocolates and Red Roses - Food Photography - thespiceadventuress.com

 

Frankly, I don’t celebrate Valentine’s Day. Chocolate and roses are not really my thing too. But this year, I wanted to dedicate a post to my beautiful readers who have asked me over the past two years for the same.

So here I am, taking the classic route with this intensely rich Chocolate Fudge Cake with Milk Chocolate Buttercream and Fresh Strawberries – saying ‘I love you’ to my precious little family and to each one of you too for being there for me unconditionally.

Chocolates and Red Roses - Food Photography - thespiceadventuress.com

 

Let me admit, it’s not a perfect looking cake; I am not a baking pro and you guys know it by now. But it more than makes up in the taste department even though not by looks. It’s fudgy, chocolatey, rich with that silken, even more chocolatey buttercream and finally the refreshing sweetness from the strawberries.

I had these heart shaped baking tins which is why I ended up using it but you can a regular round tin. Again, this cake works great as a single layer too but making it two-tier or three-tier makes it extra special with all that buttercream that gets layered in between.

The fresh strawberries are essential to cut through the richness of the cake and make sure you get ones that are sweet and not too tangy.

Chocolate Fudge Cake with Milk Chocolate and Fresh Strawberries - the most delicious way to say 'I love you' this Valentine's Day - thespiceadventuress.com

 

 

Chocolate Fudge Cake with Milk Chocolate and Fresh Strawberries - the most delicious way to say 'I love you' this Valentine's Day - thespiceadventuress.com

So here we go – my Valentine’s Day special Chocolate Fudge Cake with Milk Chocolate Buttercream and Fresh Strawberries.

Recipe for Chocolate Cake adapted from Sugar et al

 

Chocolate Fudge Cake with Milk Chocolate and Fresh Strawberries - the most delicious way to say 'I love you' this Valentine's Day - thespiceadventuress.com

Ingredients:

For Chocolate Fudge Cake:

(Makes 2 medium and 1 small heart shaped cake. Makes 2, if using regular circular tin)

  1. 200 gm unsalted butter, at room temperature
  2. 1 cup firmly packed powdered brown sugar
  3. 150 gm dark chocolate (70% cocoa); melted and cooled
  4. 2 eggs, at room temperature
  5. 280 gm self raising flour; sieved
  6. 100 gm almond meal
  7. ¾ cup buttermilk
  8. 35 gm cocoa powder

For Milk Chocolate Buttercream:

  1. 125 gm unsalted butter, at room temperature
  2. 300 gms icing sugar
  3. 50 gm milk chocolate; melted and cooled
  4. ½ tsp cocoa powder
  5. 1 tbsp milk

To assemble:

  1. 1 cup fresh strawberries
  2. Chocolate shavings; for garnish

Method:

For the Chocolate Fudge Cake:

  • Preheat the oven to 140°C (fan forced); line the base of the tins with baking paper and grease well with butter.
  • Beat the butter and sugar till pale and creamy using an electric beater.
  • Pour in the melted chocolate and eggs; beat till combined and creamy.
  • Fold in the flour, almond meal, buttermilk and cocoa powder till well combined. The mixture is slightly thicker than regular cake batter.
  • Pour into tins and smooth the surface. Bake the medium tins for 35 minutes and the small one for 20 min or until a skewer inserted in the thickest part of the cake comes out clean.
  • Slightly cool before transferring onto a wire rack. Cool completely before applying the buttercream.

Note – If using a conventional oven, you will need to increase temperature by 15-20°C. The timings may need to be changed to suit the mould and size of cake you are making. So keep an eye once in the oven.

I have used only 2 cakes to assemble though I made 3.

For Milk Chocolate Buttercream:

  • Using an electric beater, cream together butter and half of the icing sugar. Once creamy, add the remaining sugar and beat till fluffy and creamy.
  • Add the melted chocolate, cocoa powder and milk; beat well till a thick, creamy consistency is obtained.
  • Add more milk if the mixture feels too thick.

To assemble:

  • Once the cakes have cooled completely, apply an even layer of the chocolate buttercream on the larger cake.
  • Then place the smaller cake on top and cover it with an even layer of buttercream.
  • Cut some of the strawberries into halves. Decorate the top surface of the smaller cake with both whole and halved strawberries.
  • Garnish with chocolate shavings.

Chocolate Fudge Cake with Milk Chocolate and Fresh Strawberries - the most delicious way to say 'I love you' this Valentine's Day - thespiceadventuress.com

Chocolate Fudge Cake with Milk Chocolate and Fresh Strawberries - the most delicious way to say 'I love you' this Valentine's Day - thespiceadventuress.com

 

 

Have you got any plans this Valentine’s Day?

 

Strawberry Jelly (with Chambord Liqueur) and Vanilla ‘Semifreddo’ Custard

2015 has been an incredible year so far.

The first post of the year was this berrylicious semifreddo and in all likelihood, today’s semifreddo might be the last post for this year. Not at all planned and a big irony that both the dishes turn out to be desserts.

A fellow foodie recently asked me, ‘aren’t you making any cakes or cookies for Christmas? The entire blogging fraternity seems to be doing so.’ I am quite un-Christmassy in that regard! But I still wanted to make a dessert that is reminiscent of the season, something light and refreshing after a heavy meal, especially keeping in mind the soaring temperatures here.

It must have been the crates and crates of strawberries at our local market that sparked off the thoughts of a strawberry jelly.  Also the fact that I wanted to master homemade jelly after years of eating the packet ones.

After much internal debate along the lines of strawberries and cream, here is what I came up with…….Strawberry Jelly (with Chambord liqueur) and Vanilla Semifreddo Custard.

A berrylicious Christmas with this fun Strawberry Jelly (with Chambord Liqueur) and Vanilla ‘Semifreddo’ Custard - thespiceadventuress.com

 

The strawberry jelly is really easy to make, a tad bit time consuming though. But the good part is, it can be made much ahead of time especially if you are making it for a party. I added a dash of Chambord liqueur to the jelly for that hint of raspberry flavour. But it is entirely optional or you can add any liqueur of your choice.

And to accompany the jelly, a delicious and creamy Vanilla ‘Semifreddo’ Custard. Well, who am I kidding! It’s not really custard but a semifreddo which is not completely frozen. We tried both the frozen and semi-frozen semifreddo with the jelly and the unanimous decision was that the latter tasted better.

There’s so much you can do to personalize this recipe. Use any berries in season; raspberries would be great! Can’t bother to make semifreddo? Just get a tub of your favourite vanilla icecream, I bet it will be as delicious. Or add a bowl of chopped summer fruits…..perfect if you are hosting a lunch party!

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I set the jelly in a flat tray to cut out some stars for the kiddos and the rest in shot glasses. After a heavy meal, most of my guests hardly have any room for dessert and these shot glasses are the right size. But you can use any type of mould, glass or bowl to set the jelly in.

A berrylicious Christmas with this fun Strawberry Jelly (with Chambord Liqueur) and Vanilla ‘Semifreddo’ Custard - thespiceadventuress.com

 

 

A berrylicious Christmas with this fun Strawberry Jelly (with Chambord Liqueur) and Vanilla ‘Semifreddo’ Custard - thespiceadventuress.com

Strawberry Jelly (with Chambord Liqueur) and Vanilla ‘Semifreddo’ Custard – my kind of Christmas in a plate shot glass!

Merry Christmas folks!

Ingredients:

Strawberry jelly:

(Adapted from delicious.com)

  1. 1 kg strawberries; hulled and halved
  2. 1 tbsp lemon juice
  3. 60ml Chambord liqueur
  4. 70g caster sugar
  5. 15 g gelatin leaves

Vanilla Semifreddo:

  1. 400 ml full cream milk
  2. 400 ml condensed milk
  3. A pinch of salt
  4. 1 tsp pure vanilla extract
  5. 250ml heavy cream

Method:

Strawberry Jelly:

  1. Place the strawberries in a large heat proof bowl and cover tightly with plastic wrap. Place over a pot of simmering water and allow to cook for 1 ½ hours to extract all the juice from the fruit.
  2. Line a sieve with muslin or cheese cloth and place over a large bowl. Pour the cooked strawberries with all the juice into the cloth and allow to drain for 30-45 minutes. Do not press the fruit as this will make the jelly cloudy. Discard the pulp.
  3. Soak the gelatin leaves in cold water to soften.
  4. Pour the drained juice into a measuring jar and add lemon juice and liqueur. Make up the volume to 600ml with water and transfer to a pan. Place over heat and add the caster sugar, stirring to dissolve. Remove from heat.
  5. Add the gelatin leaves to the warm liquid and stir until completely dissolved.
  6. Pour into moulds and allow to cool for about 15 minutes. Refrigerate for 2 hours or until set.

Notes:

  • Buy the ripest strawberries you can find; don’t go looking for the perfect, beautiful ones. The lightly mashed up ones are the best.
  • As mentioned, use any liqueur of your choice. If you do not want to use any, make up the extra volume with water itself.
  • Add half the quantity of sugar, taste and keep adding as all strawberries might not have the same sugar content.
  • Rinse the moulds before pouring the jelly, helps it come out easily.

Vanilla Semifreddo:

Method:

  1. Place the milk, condensed milk and salt in a pan and bring to boil; stirring continuously. Reduce heat and add the vanilla paste.
  2. Continue to cook for another 10-12 minutes, stirring often, till it reaches the consistency of a thin custard. Allow to cool and then chill in the fridge.
  3. Whip the cream into soft peaks and then fold into the chilled milk mixture.
  4. Line the tin with baking paper and pour the mixture into the tin. Freeze for at least 3 hours for a semi-frozen texture or 4-5 hours for a frozen one.

Serve the jelly along with the vanilla semifreddo and garnish using a baby basil or mint leaf. Enjoy!

 

A berrylicious Christmas with this fun Strawberry Jelly (with Chambord Liqueur) and Vanilla ‘Semifreddo’ Custard - thespiceadventuress.com

Lemon Cake

And I finally baked a cake!

There is a strange sense of excitement and fulfillment that I felt at the end of this baking exercise. Yes, I have made cupcakes before but not a traditional cake. In spite of having a mom who is a baking pro and in spite of having considerable experience assisting her in the baking process (my job was to hold the egg beater as she added one ingredient after the other creating fluffy, moist magic inside the bowl), I put off baking for the longest time possible.

There are a zillion recipes bookmarked in my baking folder but when I finally decided to do bake one, it had to be Cook Republic’s ‘lemon cake’.

Cook Republic is a brilliant food blog by Sneh Roy – a blogger, photographer and designer par excellence. I had shared my views about her cookbook, ‘Tasty Express’ on my social media channels recently and today’s lemon cake is one of her creations from the book.

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This lemon cake works brilliantly during the spring summer season when we all like to enjoy light and moist cakes. It is an extremely simple recipe to master especially for amateurs and beginners like me. Very few and basic ingredients, but loaded with flavour!

In spite of being a simple to follow recipe, I admit I stuffed it up the first time I made it. But that’s entirely my fault. The original recipe called for baking in a conventional oven at 180°C and Sneh has mentioned in the book that if you are using a fan forced oven, temperatures need to be reduced. But I completely missed it and so the first attempt did not turn out as moist as it should have been.

But the folly was soon rectified and the second time, it was a brilliant reproduction of Sneh’s original….and I did my little happy dance after tasting it.

I followed the recipe to a T, except for the lemon juice quantities which I reduced and also took care of the baking time and temperatures as I have a fan forced oven. Though Sneh has not used any buttercream icing for the cake, I did because I am a crazy buttercream lover. Just a basic vanilla icing to cover the cake very lightly. But believe me, you really do not need it….a dusting of icing sugar would do, as Sneh suggests in the book.

Do try and get your hands on a copy of Tasty Express; this lemon cake is just one of more than a hundred easy to make, brilliant recipes for everyday cooking.

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Here’s Sneh’s lemon cake, done my way! A summery, light and tangy affair……

Disclaimer – My pics or cake definitely do not look as gorgeous as Sneh’s but believe me, it tasted divine.

Ingredients:

For the cake:

1. 125 gm butter, softened
2. 220 gm caster sugar
3. Finely grated zest of 2 large lemons
4. 3 standard eggs (55 gms each)
5. 225 gms self raising flour
6. Juice of 1 lemon
7. 125 ml milk

For the buttercream:

1. 170 gms butter; softened
2. 300 gms powdered/icing sugar
3. 2-3 tbsp milk
4. 1 tsp vanilla extract

Note – This yield more buttercream than necessary. Either you can spread a thicker layer on the cake or hand over the bowl to your little one to lick!

Method:

To prepare the cake:

1. Preheat the oven to 160°C (fan forced). If using a conventional oven, preheat to 180°C.
2. Grease a cake tin and line the base of the tin with baking paper.
3. Using an electric mixer/beater, beat the softened butter, sugar and zest till creamy and fluffy.
4. Then add the eggs one at a time, beating after each one to incorporate.
5. Sift the flour into the beaten mixture and add the juice of ½ lemon. Beat for a few seconds to incorporate (just a few seconds!). Taste and add more lemon juice if necessary.
6. And finally, add the milk and beat for a few more seconds till incorporated.
7. Pour the cake batter into the tin and tap gently to settle the batter evenly in the tin.
8. Bake for 40 minutes until golden. Make sure you check the cake after 30 minutes. Insert a skewer to check of the cake has cooked through and then bake more if necessary. If you find that the top of the cake is browning faster but not cooked inside, then reduce the temperature and bake further.
9. Stand in the tin for 5 minutes and turn onto a wire rack or cake stand to cool further.
10. Serve warm dusted with icing sugar or cool with buttercream icing like I did.

To prepare the buttercream:

1. Sift the sugar to ensure there are no lumps.
2. Using a hand/electric mixer, beat the butter till pale and fluffy. This will take at least 5-6 minutes or more by an electric mixer so be patient and let the mixer do its work.
3. Add ½ cup sugar, first mix on low speed and then on high till the sugar is fully incorporated. Continue until all the sugar has been added and mixed thoroughly with the butter.
4. Then add the vanilla extract; beat further till incorporated.
5. Add 1 tbsp of milk to fluff up the mixture. The texture of the cream is a personal choice so if you prefer a thick cream, then add just a tbsp but if you prefer a softer and more wet cream, then you can add more milk.

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Masala Chai Semifreddo served with Crushed Pistachios and Fresh Figs

Surprised seeing another dessert so soon? Honestly, I am too…..

This masala chai semifreddo is the result of inspiration striking from several different quarters!

First, there has been a lot of ‘semifreddo’ talk on Masterchef this season, and then there was this amazing masala chai ice cream by ‘A Brown Table’. But what really made me take this plunge finally was an event that I attended a couple of weeks ago – Melbourne’s first ever ‘Chai Festival’ hosted by T2 at their headquarters in Richmond.

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I am more of a coffee gal but I still wanted to attend this chai festival; to broaden my knowledge about this beverage and also play a little at the ‘make your own tea blend’ station which was the highlight of the festival. We came home with lots of special tea blends; my son went totally bonkers and I now have all sorts of crazy blends at home…..a Chinese tea blend with plenty of dried rosebuds (the aroma of this one is heavenly) and a spicy Indian chai spiced further by my son with loads of pink peppercorns.

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I tasted crème brulee tea for the first time ever (and here is a badly shaken picture of it!!)

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And how I envied this copper teapot….

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The idea of this Masala chai semifreddo just got stuck in my head and I really wanted to give it a shot. Had a small chat with the gorgeous girls at T2 who after hearing my idea, guided me towards their organic spiced chai blend. One of the girls got me a sample of the tea so that I could experience the taste and aroma before making up my mind. Little did she know that anything with spice gets me hooked!

So I did a fair bit of research on semifreddos and eventually today’s dish happened…..

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Traditionally, a semifreddo is made using eggs but I decided to try out this eggless version. The last time I made this no-churn icecream, there were so many readers who wrote to me asking for an eggless recipe. So this time, considering all those requests, here is my recipe for Masala chai semifreddo served with crushed pistachios and fresh figs.

If you have never made a semifreddo, seriously you need to give it a go. It is creamy, delicious, sweet, cold (yes, of course)…everything that you want from an ice cream but at a quarter of the time or effort. And what’s more, you can go completely bonkers with flavours…..get as creative, experimentative or wild as you like.

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For those who aren’t too familiar with the semifreddo term, it basically is the Italian name for a semi-frozen dessert which can be like an icecream/frozen custard/icecream cake……anything which has a frozen mousse texture comes under this class. Which means that there is plenty of room to play around in terms of flavours…….

Again, there is no particular shape to a semifreddo, though you are most likely to see it in a rectangular tin to scoop out like an ice cream. If you want individual portions, you can set it individual glasses or moulds. I wanted an ice cream cake sort of feel, so went for a circular shape.

So, here’s my humble dedication to India’s much loved beverage….a creamy, tea-licious masala chai semifreddo!

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Ingredients:

Note – This is not a sponsored post of any manner and my use of T2 chai is entirely my own decision. So please feel free to use your own masala chai blend; just make sure you adjust the strength of the flavour accordingly as the T2 organic spiced chai blend is really strong and full on.

(Serves 4-6)

1. 400 ml full cream milk
2. 400 ml condensed milk
3. A pinch of salt
4. 3 tbsp T2 organic spiced chai blend
5. 200 ml water
6. 250ml heavy cream
7. Crushed pistachios; to garnish
8. Fresh figs (optional); to garnish

Method:

1. Add the chai blend to water and bring to boil (adding the chai blend to cold water and slowly bringing the water to boil helps to deepen the flavours). Reduce heat and simmer for 3-4 minutes.
2. Strain and return the liquid to heat; simmer for another 4-5 minutes to slightly thicken the infusion. Remove and allow to cool.
3. Place the milk, condensed milk and salt in a pan and bring to boil; stirring continuously. Reduce heat and add the tea infusion. I added one tbsp at a time, tasting after each till I was happy with the flavour. Since the strength of your tea infusion might vary, taste and add enough to get that warm chai flavour but not too strong to overpower the dessert. I added approximately 7-8 tsp of the infusion.
4. Continue to cook for another 10-12 minutes till it reaches the consistency of a thin custard. Allow to cool and then chill in the fridge.
5. Whip the cream into soft peaks and then fold into the chilled milk mixture.
6. Line the tin with baking paper and pour the mixture into the tin. Freeze for at least 4 hours or till set.
7. Garnish with crushed pistachios and serve with fresh figs on the side.

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Chocolate Cupcakes with Nutella Buttercream

I am a very reluctant baker!

And I know I would have never baked these ‘chocolate cupcakes with nutella buttercream’ if I weren’t a mother.

The whole world of baking, sweets, desserts gives me the nerves. I am the savoury girl who does not believe in measurements or recipes; one who uses her fingers to play around with spices instead of measuring spoons and weighing scales. A pinch of this, a dash of that kind of cook whose strength lies definitely in the savoury world.

So this whole thing of being precise, weighing out ingredients, following instructions and recipes freaks me out. And top it off with an intense dislike for sugary tastes; I am definitely the wrong person to make these chocolate cupcakes.

Chocolate Cupcakes with Nutella Buttercream - the way to your children's heart - thespiceadventuress.com

 

But there are some things that you will do for love. And these chocolate cupcakes with nutella buttercream has love written all over it….a mother’s love.

Just like most 6 year olds, Adi is crazy about chocolate and Nutella is the answer to every problem in his world. I do a lot of nutella rationing at home, and he is only allowed to have it once in a week. But the school hols are here, and it is time to break all rules and let chaos descend. A fun sort of chaos…with flour and cream everywhere, a lot of bowl licking, giggles and me going crazy!

Chocolate Cupcakes with Nutella Buttercream - the way to your children's heart - thespiceadventuress.com

Chocolate Cupcakes with Nutella Buttercream - the way to your children's heart - thespiceadventuress.com

Nope…..I am not saying more. Let’s just bake some deliciously moist chocolate cupcakes and pile it up with Nutella buttercream frosting.

The chocolate cupcake recipe comes from Sugar et al…..and this is the blog that you must follow if you want a serious dose of sugarporn!

Ingredients:

For the chocolate cupcakes:

(Makes 16 cupcakes)

1. 50 gms Dutch processed cocoa powder
2. 240 ml boiling water
3. 175 gms all purpose flour
4. 2 tsp baking powder
5. ¼ tsp salt
6. 115 gms semisweet chocolate chips
7. 113 gms unsalted butter, room temperature
8. 200 gms granulated white sugar
9. 2 large eggs
10. 2 tsp pure vanilla extract

For the Nutella buttercream:

1. 170 gms butter (must be softened so keep out of the fridge much before starting)
2. 300 gms powdered/icing sugar
3. 2-3 tbsp milk
4. 1 tsp vanilla extract
5. 20-25 gms nutella

Method:

To make the chocolate cupcakes:

1. In a small bowl, stir the cocoa powder in hot water till completely mixed. Keep aside to cool.
2. In another bowl, whisk together the flour, chocolate chips, baking powder and salt.
3. Preheat the oven to 180°C.
4. Lightly butter the muffin tray or place paper liners in each.
5. Using an electric/hand mixer, beat the butter and the sugar together till light and fluffy. Then add the eggs one at a time and beat till smooth.
6. Add the vanilla extract and continue to beat till smooth.
7. Next, add the flour mixture and beat lightly till just incorporated.
8. Add the cooled cocoa mixture and stir lightly till smooth.
9. Pour the batter into the muffin cups, filling it upto two-thirds of each cup.
10. Bake for 15-20 minutes till the cakes have risen and springy; check after 15 minutes with a tooth pick and bake accordingly. (If cooked, the toothpick should come out clean). Do not overbake or you end up with dry cupcakes which is not good at all.
11. Leave on a wire rack to cool and then decorate with the buttercream.

To make Nutella buttercream:

1. Sift the sugar to ensure there are no lumps.
2. Using a hand/electric mixer, beat the butter till pale and fluffy. This will take at least 5-6 minutes by an electric mixer and more by a hand mixer so be patient and let the mixer do its work.
3. Add ½ cup sugar, first mix on low speed and then on high till the sugar is fully incorporated. Continue until all the sugar has been added and mixed thoroughly with the butter.
4. Then add the Nutella and vanilla extract; beat further till incorporated.
5. Add 1 tbsp of milk to fluff up the mixture. The texture of the cream is a personal choice so if you prefer a thick cream, then add just a tbsp but if you prefer a softer and more wet cream, then you can add more milk.

Note :

• You may increase the amount of Nutella to suit your personal preference. I made a lighter version since I was making chocolate cupcakes and didn’t want it to be too rich.
• If there is excess buttercream, store it in an airtight container in the refrigerator for upto 2 weeks and in the freezer for a couple of months. To use again, bring to room temperature and mix in the beater to fluff it up.
• If you wish, you could decorate the cupcakes with edible silver balls, grated chocolate or sprinkles.

Chocolate Cupcakes with Nutella Buttercream - the way to your children's heart - thespiceadventuress.com

 

Anything for this happy smile and the chocolatey kiss that followed…..

Chocolate Cupcakes with Nutella Buttercream - the way to your children's heart - thespiceadventuress.com

 

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