Friday, November 6, 2015

Diwali Mithai with an Italian Twist

A friend invited us over for a cozy Diwali dinner this week. I rashly offered to bring mithai and when the offer was taken up, was in a tizzy about what to make. I'd come down with a really bad cold and didn't have the energy or inclination to spend hours slaving over the stove. And a really busy phase at work again meant the need for a quick fix. At the same time I didn't want to just carry something bought from a store, especially the very conventional mithai. I had been contemplating doing a twist on western and Indian desserts anyway - a mysore-pak filling in a pie etc. But given the lack of desire for hard work, a Pannacotta seemed like an effortless choice.

2 cups heavy cream
2 cups fullcream milk
4-5 Motichoor Laddoos ( I like the kesar version), broken into crumbs
A few Rasbharis  - those tiny gulab jamuns that come in a warm caramel or chocolate brown colour - quartered
1/2-3/4 cup sugar
10-15 strands of saffron
1 teaspoon finely powdered cardamom
2 tablespoons water
3 teaspoons powdered gelatin - I use vegetarian gelatin

Heat the water to boiling point in a heat proof bowl. Add the powdered gelatin and stand the bowl in a pan of hot water, whisking about with a fork till it dissolves - I find it easier to prevent the gelatin balling up if you make it into a paste and slowly keep adding more water. Let it cool

Meanwhile mix the cream and milk, add the saffron and cardamom and heat on medium heat until it comes to a boil. Take off the heat, add the sugar and heat on low, stirring occasionally, until the sugar dissolves. Add the cooled down gelatin water and mix thoroughly. Set aside to cool briefly.

Take out the bowls in which you're planning to set the pannacotta - ramekins or whatever. Put in the crumbed motichoor laddoos at the bottom and put it into the refrigerator to set for about half hour. Take out, pour in the cooled pannacotta mixture and put away in the refrigerator to set for 2-3 hours. At some point halfway through, pull out the cups and top with the rasbhari.

Let set. To serve, either use the cups if feeling lazy, like I usually do. If you want to show off the perfect pannacotta wobble, run a sharp knife around the edges of the ramekins and tip the pannacotta out onto a plate. Serve with modest pride!

Monday, August 31, 2015

Burnt Butter Cake with Salted Caramel Sauce

I have been wanting to make a Burnt butter cake ever since I watched the last season of Masterchef Australia in which a contestant baked it. To me, burnt butter means only one thing - ghee - and as a true-blue Kannadiga, ghee is one of my favourite things to eat. Anything to eat can only improve if a dash of ghee is added, in my opinion.

Salted caramel is another flavour that I have begun loving, and during out vacation in Italy, we gorged on salted caramel gelato. At Diva a couple of weeks ago, I spied a new dessert with toffee and salted caramel and had to order it, so making salted caramel from scratch has been on my mind. Especially since I managed to create a Choco-ba-fee cake a couple of weeks ago which was a big hit - chocolate-banana-toffee, a new take on good old Banoffee. So I decided to experiment with it yesterday and let's just say the result far outdid my expectations. The cake is light and oh-so-moist, and the brown demerara sugar I used for the caramel topping was just mildly bitter, cutting through the sweetness of caramel. Yum and a must-repeat!

Ingredients (Cake):
2.5 cups plain flour
1 cup sugar
4 eggs
300 grams butter
4 tsp baking powder
2 tsp vanilla
1 cup milk

Heat the butter on a low flame until it melts, stirring occasionally, and then continue to heat till it turns golden brown. Take off the heat and put the entire thing, including the brown bits,
to cool in the fridge - it needs to be solidified but not hard.

Preheat the oven at 180 degrees C. Combine the flour and baking powder in a vessel and keep aside. Combine the vanilla and milk and keep aside.

When the burnt butter is solid but not hardened, take it out of the fridge and beat it together with the sugar until pale and creamy. Add the eggs one by one, continuing to beat at a medium speed.

Then alternately add flour and the milk mixture, while continuing to beat at a medium speed until both are used up - begin and end with flour.

Pour the cake mix into a 9 inch lined baking tin and bake for about 45-50 minutes. It's done when the knife comes out clean. Put aside to cool.

Salted Caramel Sauce:
1 cup brown demerara sugar
100 gms salted butter
1/3 cup cream
Sea salt to taste

While you're waiting for the burnt butter to cool, you can be getting on with the sauce-making.

Heat the brown sugar in a thick-bottomed pan or kadhai, whisking constantly, on a slow flame until the sugar is completely melted. It may clump a little but that's ok.

Once the sugar has melted, stop whisking and continue heating the sugar mix, swirling the pan occasionally, to ensure the sugar on the bottom doesn't burn up. When it starts turning a slightly darker brown, add the butter in and start whisking again until the butter and sugar are well mixed together. Then pour in the cream and whisk again until the mixture is completely smooth.

Take off the stove and wait for it to cool for a few minutes, then add sea salt to taste. Set aside in the fridge or otherwise to cool down.

To serve:
Take the cake out of the pan onto the serving dish. Ensure the salted caramel sauce is at room temperature and then pour over the cake. The sauce will drip down the sides of the cake, but that's part of its inherent gooey, indulgent charm. If you want to be stylish, you can add a dollop of whipped cream but it's unnecessary to the taste of this decadent dessert.

Recipe adapted from: