Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Cranberry Dessert Two Ways: White Chocolate Dipped Cranberries & Cranberry Cheesecake Pots

So I know I said my Gingerbread Linzertorte post was the last for this year, but I bought some cranberries for the first time ever a couple of days ago, and got inspired to make not only one, but two really easy Christmas desserts using cranberries - White Chocolate Dipped Cranberries, and Cranberry Cheesecake Pots! Both of these desserts scream Christmas.

The white chocolate dipped cranberries are the easy peasiest to make, they really just speak for themselves. I'm not going to even type the recipe out per se, as all it requires is melting white chocolate in a medium sized bowl (Hersheys White Chocolate Chips are great for this), dipping your washed and dried cranberries into the melted chocolate (or just dousing them all in like I did), removing them all carefully with a spoon one by one, and then placing them onto a parchment lined baking sheet. Place them in the fridge to harden, and ten minutes later you have the most addictive little chocolate covered berries!

If you have more time you could stick each cranberry onto the end of a toothpick for better ease of dipping, and sprinkle some edible gold sequins (mine were from Wilton) to make them look even more special.
What I love is how the white chocolate sweetened the effect of the sour tart cranberries as, if you have tried cranberries on their own, you will know how pretty sharp tasting they are! But dipped in chocolate they make a great snack to keep in a bowl on the coffee table, or just anywhere around the house if you have got guests over for the holidays. And really for a first timer like myself eating cranberries, I could not stop popping them into my mouth like popcorn! 
If you still have some cranberries to spare after making your cranberry turkey sauce (and dipping them in white chocolate!), why not try these cranberry cheesecake pots? This recipe is basically a re-working of my Blueberry Cheesecake Pots, but I increased the amount of sugar in the cranberry sauce (to combat the sourness!), as well as adding a little water. Otherwise the rest is all the same. And honestly, even this recipe took me all of half an hour to make. The cranberry sauce is delightfully sweet and jammy against the cool creamy mascarpone, and of course its a no-bake! As with the blueberry cheesecake pots, I just used whatever biscuits I had lying around - in this case golden oreos!
So there you have it. If you are looking for ways to sweeten your cranberries, without serving them with the Christmas turkey, I hope these two ideas inspire you to use them in a different way!
Cranberry Cheesecake Pots
Recipe adapted from BBC Good Food
Fills four glasses, or eight mini glasses
150g cranberries
4 tbsp caster sugar
2 tbsp water
6-8 digestive biscuits (depending on how much biscuit base you like)
2 tbsps melted butter
250g tub of mascarpone
4 tbsp heavy cream
4 tbsp icing sugar
1 lemon, zested and juiced.
1. Cook the cranberries with the caster sugar and water for about five to ten minutes, on low heat. Stir occasionally until a syrup has formed and the cranberries have popped. Leave to cool.
2. In a processor, blend the biscuits together with the melted butter till fine.
3. Line the bottom of your glasses with a layer of the biscuit mixture and chill for ten minutes.
4. Meanwhile, mix the mascarpone, cream, icing sugar, lemon zest and juice together in a bowl.
5. Alternate layers of cheesecake and blueberry mix in each glass and serve immediately or keep in the fridge till ready to serve.

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Gingerbread Linzertorte and Christmas Nostalgia!

Christmas is nearly here!

It might surprise some people reading this, knowing I'm a practicing Muslim, but Christmas is always going to be a memorable time of the year for me. I grew up believing in Santa Claus (Father Christmas), and our house always had a big decked out (plastic) Christmas tree every year with presents under it. We exchanged Christmas cards at school, and I absolutely miss singing carols! My mum would make a roast chicken with luscious gravy and veggies for Christmas day lunch, and one of my most favourite memories is my dad driving my sister and I every year to Harrods in London, at night, especially to see the beautiful window displays, all whilst munching on hot roasted chestnuts!
We never celebrated the religious aspect of it, and now that I am much older I can look back on those memories fondly, whilst being fully aware of who I am today and what I firmly believe in. Not to mention, Christmas is very different here in Dubai. Oh sure it is celebrated openly, and all the shops have been decorated just as spectacularly. But maybe it is exactly that - being older and wiser, and knowing that it gave joy in my youth, which makes it all the more special in my mind. Truth be told, I think Christmas will always hold its most special place in the heart of a child!
I guess what I'm trying to say is, even though there may be no more Christmas trees and presents, this time of the year can't go by for me without a little nostalgia and celebration. Apart from lots of store bought chocolate and mince pies, we never really baked anything for the holiday when I was growing up. So naturally when it came to baking another post for the blog I was inclined to try out a Christmas inspired recipe! And that's where this deliciously spiced gingerbread linzertorte comes in.
Traditionally the linzertorte finds its origins in Austria, and has become a firm holiday favourite in Hungary, Switzerland and Germany too. Most recipes involve lemon and almonds, but this gingerbread version has an abundance of spices to make it a lot more Christmas friendly.

The combination of ginger, cinnamon, cloves and pepper really gives this linzertorte a warmth and festive aroma. My husband even commented on the pleasant smell when he came home from work, as it basically makes the house smell like everything you would associate with December baking.  Filled with a raspberry jam layer, the sticky sweet tartness perfectly complemented the spice infused nutty crust, and was enjoyed greatly with vanilla ice-cream!
The dough is quite delicate though, so be gentle when rolling it out and definitely whilst handling too. You can probably tell from the pictures that I had a little trouble with my shell tops breaking! Be sure to take the tarts out just when they seem right, without over-baking, and I would also recommend a really generous layer of the jam.

I want to end this post by wishing all my readers seasons greetings, for Christmas and the New Year, as this will be my last post for 2013! And a question for nostalgias sake, I would love to know, do you celebrate Christmas differently now than you did in your youth?
Gingerbread Linzertorte
Slightly adapted from Martha Stewart
Makes 1 large, or 4 mini tarts
2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp ginger powder
1 tsp cinnamon powder
1/2 tsp ground cloves
1/4 tsp freshly ground pepper
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 cup packed brown sugar
1/2 cup unsalted butter, soft
1/2 cup unsulfured molasses
2 large egg yolks
1 large egg white
Raspberry jam
1. Preheat oven to 162 degrees C, with the rack in the lowest position, and grease tart pans.
2. Sift the flour, baking powder, spices and salt together in a large bowl. Add the brown sugar and using an electric whisk on low speed, mix until combined.
3. Add the butter and mix until well incorporated. Add the molasses and egg yolks, mixing until the dough comes together.
4. Roll out 2/3 of the dough on a lightly floured surface to about a 1/4 inch thickness. Whether  making small tarts or one large tart, use your tart pan as a template. Cut around the pan whilst placed lightly on the dough, using a small sharp knife, and adding an inch extra to the outside to form the sides of the linzertorte.
5. Fit the cut dough rounds into your pans. Spread a thick layer of jam all over, and refrigerate for about 20-30 minutes.
6. Roll out the remaining dough to fit the size of the tart pans exactly. Transfer rounds onto a parchment lined baking tray, and refrigerate for 20-30 minutes. Using cookie cutters, cut out desired shapes from the rounds. You can reserve the cut outs as mini cookies, baking for 10 minutes at 162 degrees C.
7. Remove shell bases from fridge, and brush rim with the egg white. Carefully slide the cut out rounds onto the top, pressing the edges to adhere. Refrigerate until firm for 20-30 minutes.
8. Bake about 25-30 minutes for mini tarts, until crust is golden brown and jam filling is bubbling, and 50-60 minutes for the large tart. Leave to cool on rack.

Thursday, December 12, 2013

Easy Christmas Dessert: Coconut Whipped Cream with Raspberries & Meringues

I've always been slightly baffled by people who love hosting dinner parties and entertaining.

Don't get me wrong, I absolutely love the idea of serving a group of close friends a lovely home-cooked three-course dinner, or watching people delight at being served imaginative canapés.
In fact I even often like to update an imaginary 'food-to-serve-at-a-party' menu in my head.
But truth be told, no matter how easy a recipe looks to me, or how much time I give myself to prepare, it always ends up taking me way more time and effort than I imagined!
Cringe. That's why the thought of hosting always has me shaking in my boots, rather than thinking up matching cutlery combos.
My mum used to host dinners a million times a year when I was growing up, bless her socks. But no, not me, I wasn't blessed with the 'soiree' genes.
I know this is something a lot of us struggle with at this time of the season. And that's where this dessert comes in. A coconut whipped cream, topped with raspberries and homemade peppermint meringues. Its a simple impressive dessert which says winter and Christmas all over it.  The best part is it takes no time to put together and you can keep it on hand in the fridge to take out and serve when needed.
There is just a hint of sweetness from the icing sugar in the cream, and the desiccated coconut lends some lovely added nutty texture. Top with raspberries, a sprinkling of toasted coconut, and a few peppermint meringues to enjoy a creamy, fruity dessert with a subtle mix of flavours and crunch.
Obviously you could buy the meringues, but what I like too is that making meringues themselves has to be one of the easiest dessert recipes ever. Plus one recipe makes you easily 100 little meringues, which means you'll have lots to serve in a pretty bowl on the coffee table, keeping guests and kiddies happy.

I guess what I'm trying to say is, if I was to be hosting a Christmas party, this dessert would be my serving savior!
Coconut whipped cream with raspberries and peppermint meringues
Inspired by Simones Kitchen
Serves 4-6

250ml whipping cream
4 tbsp icing sugar
4 tbsp desiccated coconut
1 tbsp coconut cream
Mini peppermint meringues
Toasted desiccated coconut, for garnish

1. Whip the cream with an electric whisk, until stiff peaks form. Add in the icing sugar, desiccated coconut and coconut cream, whisking only for a few seconds until incorporated.
2. Fill dessert bowls with the cream, then top with raspberries and the peppermint meringues, and sprinkle over the toasted desiccated coconut.
For the peppermint meringues
Adapted from Womans Day
2 large egg whites
1/4 cup caster sugar
1/4 tsp cream of tartar
1/4 tsp peppermint extract
Red gel colouring
1. Preheat oven to 90 degrees C, and line a baking tray with parchment paper.
2. In a large glass or metal bowl, whisk together the egg whites, caster sugar and cream of tartar, over a saucepan of simmering water. The bowl should not be touching the water. After 2 to 3 minutes the sugar will have dissolved and the egg whites should be warm to the touch.
3. Remove the bowl from the heat, and using an electric whisk, beat on a low speed. Gradually turn the speed up, beating for about five minutes until soft glossy peaks have formed.
5. Transfer a tablespoon of the mixture to a small bowl and tint with the red gel colouring. Using a skewer and the tinted mixture, draw vertical stripes in a piping bag fitted with a star piping nozzle.
4. Fill the piping bag with the egg white mixture, and pipe small onto the prepared baking tray. Bake for about 25-30 minutes until the meringues have just set on the outside, and leave to cool completely.
5. Keep meringues in a tightly sealed tin or contained, and store in a dry and cool place.

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Pistachio Layer Cake with Rose Mascarpone Frosting & 1 Year Blogiversary!

Beela Bakes is 1 today!

One year ago I tentatively wrote my first blog post entry in true cringe-worthy style (its ok, you don't have to see it, really!). This blog was supposed to serve as a small outlet, somewhere to show off and share my little culinary kitchen adventures in baking to family and friends, which had become a new found hobby post-marriage. It slowly and evidently turned into a mission to improve my skills, take up food photography and styling (obviously still learning!), and now I can't go a day without thinking up new ideas, or wanting to try out a recipe, or simply just thinking about FOOD!

And now a year has been and gone...! I have to admit I've been dying to use the word 'blogiversary' and it definitely feels good to be able to do so for the first time!
And what better way to celebrate than with a cake!
I've been thinking about this day for a few months now and envisioned a very grand, over the top, completely whimsical cake at first. But November is a completely birthday/celebration-laden month for me, and there is only soo much cake and frosting that even I can eat! So as the days drew nearer I knew I wanted something a lot more pared down but still 'pretty' enough to be deemed a birthday cake.

Thus the pistachio layer cake with rose mascarpone frosting was born! Four layers of soft, nutty, pistachio, pastel green cake, sandwiched together with a beautifully fragrant, light rose mascarpone frosting, and topped with pistachio kernels and dried roses for decoration. Infact in many ways I would also say this cake is very 'me' - cute and girly, but not in a fussy way, and with two of my favourite colours green and pink! Its a simple elegant cake not crying out for attention, but effortlessly pretty. 

If I'm perfectly honest though, pistachio and rose cakes are kind of everywhere here in the UAE right now. If you follow a number of home-made established baking businesses in Dubai, you would know the pistachio rose cakes tend to be the most popular sellers. Its definitely a cake flavour combination I've been wanting to try out for a while and quintessentially Middle Eastern in essence.

I did of course make this cake completely my own though. As I mentioned there has been far too much cake for me the past couple of weeks, and after a while buttercream frosting becomes a bit too richly sweet to handle!
....Bring in the mascarpone frosting. Its light, airy, with almost a fresh cream like taste to it, but still has a strong enough consistency that you can spread it easily.  Plus it only needs a little icing sugar added to sweeten it. Flavour it with rose water and a little pretty pink food colouring and you have a gorgeously delicate filling. Perfect! From now on I will always use mascarpone as a frosting base for when I'm looking for a less sugary way to cover my cakes!
As for the cake itself, its nutty in the best way and although it doesn't seem so from the amount of sugar in the recipe, is similarly not over-bearingly sweet. Its still moist enough to be considered a cake, but with a lot of pistachio flavor. You don't need to add any green colouring, as the brilliant green from the pistachios gives the cake its colour for you. Whats more, taste-wise I actually think this recipe would make the perfect tea-time cake as opposed to the usual rich decadent birthday cake!
I want to thank all of you who come by and visit my blog, and check out my recipes. Whether you are someone I know, or a mere traveller passing by in the blogosphere, I do hope you enjoyed what you have seen here and hopefully like to come back again. Thanks to all the people who follow my Facebook page, Twitter and Instagram too! And of course thanks to my family for being my constant taste-testers!! I have lots of recipes up my sleeve already for the coming new blog year and intend to carry on this blog for as long as I can!
But enough about that, go and try this cake, see how good it is for yourself, and remember Beela Bakes when you do :)

Pistachio Layer Cake with Rose Mascarpone Frosting

For the pistachio cake:
Makes 4 thin cake layers, or 2 thick

240g all-purpose flour
320g caster sugar
125g pistachios, finely ground
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt
6 egg yolks
3/4 cup water
Half cup melted butter
1 tsp vanilla extract
6 egg whites

1. Preheat oven to 180C, and line 4 small cake tins, or 2 medium ones.
2. Combine the flour, sugar, pistachios, baking powder and salt in a large bowl.
3. Whisk together the egg yolks, water, melted butter and vanilla, and then mix into the dry ingredients.
4. In a mixer or with a whisk, beat the egg whites until fluffy and soft peaks have formed. Mix in the baking soda with just a couple of folds of a spoon.
5. Fold in the egg whites to the cake mixture, and pour equally into cake tins. Bake for between 20-25 for thin layers, or 30 minutes for the thicker layers, until a toothpick inserted comes out clean.
6. Leave to cool before assembling with rose mascarpone frosting.
For the Rose Mascarpone Frosting:
500g mascarpone (2 x 250g tub)
1/2 cup icing sugar
4 tsp rose water
Pink food gel
Pistachio kernels and dried roses, for decoration
1. Combine together the mascarpone and icing sugar using an electric whisk, and then add the rose water until well mixed. Lastly add the pink food gel to tint to your desired shade.
2. Use a spatula to spread, or a piping bag to pipe the rose mascarpone onto each cake layer.  
3. Assemble the cake together, and frost the top with another layer of mascarpone. Leave the sides exposed or cover with more frosting if desired.
4. Sprinkle pistachio kernels over the top, and decorate with dried roses.
N.B. Keep cake stored in the fridge in an airtight container.

Sunday, November 24, 2013

Peppermint Cheesecake Fudgy Brownies

The past few weeks have been quite busy for me. I've been interning with the Dubai based food magazine Ahlan! Gourmet, and I'm back to working part-time at the art gallery I was with before I got married. In addition I also celebrated my 2nd wedding anniversary with a red velvet cake, my birthday with the most amazing cake, and was fortunate enough to be featured in the November issue of Ahlan! Gourmet. Follow me on Instagram to have a look!
Although I've been enjoying every single minute, I've also been itching to get back in the kitchen to bake something for the blog. I had done a lot of Thanksgiving and Christmas based food research for the magazine, so I knew I had to bake something a little bit festive. And well, since I've been craving brownies, or more specifically cheesecake brownies, I decided adding a little peppermint extract would do the trick!
If you love cheesecake brownies, or even just fudgy brownies, then you will definitely love these peppermint cheesecake fudgy brownies! My favourite brownies have always been the dense fudgy type (whos favourite aren't they?!), and paired with cheesecake they make a delightfully gooey sweet and tangy tart combination. So I was even more happy to discover that when I added peppermint extract, and a little minty green food colour, a wonderfully cool cheesy chocolatey brownie was born! Chocolate and peppermint make one of the best holiday flavours, so these really are the perfect treat for Christmas!

While the texture itself is rich, the flavour of the peppermint isn't. I've added just enough to the brownie mix so that all you get is a refreshing taste, and the peppermint in the cheesecake layer is even more subtle. I also love that this recipe makes only 9 squares. Just one bite of these densely rich brownies is all you need to satisfy! I decorated my brownies with chocolate chips and mini chocolate crispy balls for an even more festive appearance.
Me and the hubby honestly loved these brownies so much, that where as I would usually send a share of my baking to the family, we enjoyed these all to ourselves!! ;)
P.S. If you want you can simply omit the peppermint and food colour altogether to get some good old cheesecake fudgy brownies instead. But I didn't tell you that!
Peppermint Cheesecake Fudgy Brownies
Makes 9 squares
For the brownie:
75g semisweet chocolate chips
85g unsalted butter
60g unsweetened/dark chocolate, chopped
168g caster sugar
2 large eggs
52g all-purpose flour
3/4 tsp peppermint extract

For the cheesecake:
200g cream cheese (I used Philadelphia)
48g caster sugar
1 and half egg yolks
Touch of peppermint extract
Green food gel colour
Chocolate chips for decorating

1. Preheat your oven to 180 degrees C. Line and grease an 8x4''or 6x6'' baking dish/pan with foil.
2. In a large microwave-safe bowl, combine the chocolate chips, butter and chopped chocolate. Heat in the microwave for one minute, removing to stir. Place back in the microwave for 30 second bursts, removing to stir all the time, until mixture is completely melted and smooth. Be careful not to over heat. Leave to cool for a couple of minutes.
3. Add the sugar to the chocolate mixture, then the eggs one by one stirring till incorporated. Add the peppermint extract, then the flour, stirring until just combined.
4. Pour brownie batter into your prepared baking pan.
5. To make the cheesecake layer, mix together all the ingredients until smooth. Add the green gel colour a little at a time and stir well, keeping in mind that the colour intensifies during baking.
6. Spread the cheese mixture onto the brownie layer. Sprinkle chocolate chips on top, and bake for 45-55 minutes, checking for doneness at 45 minutes.
7. Leave to cool before slicing into squares. Press mini chocolate crispy balls onto the cheesecake if desired. Store brownies in the fridge.

Thursday, November 7, 2013

One Sugar Cookie. Four Ways!

The idea for this post really came about when I was looking to do some tea-time style photo set-ups. I wanted to include little biscuits as props, and started to think up different types of biscuits that one could make easily as a home treat and enjoy with a nice cup of tea. Maybe its a British thing?!
Well anyway this is a simple tried and tested sugar cookie (or biscuit) recipe which I have made many times, and thus so versatile. Its not too sweet, has the perfect crunch, but is slightly soft to the bite too. I used small little cutters for most of the shapes so I love how they are diddy and cutely bite-size!
So here you go, one biscuit made in four different ways! Recipe is at the bottom!
1. Sprinkle sugar cookies
Add coloured sprinkles to your ready made sugar cookie dough, and when rolling out, sprinkle more on top so that you have some exposed sprinkles. A great way of adding colour to your sugar cookies, and something the kids will like!
2. Decorate your cup or mug
I have seen this idea floating around via Pinterest and just love how cookies can jazz up the look of a drink! They would also be pretty festive looking if you cut them out into stars (or Christmas trees!), and added them to mugs of hot chocolate for fall/autumn or Christmas! Infact you could even add spices to your dough!
Once you have used your cutter to cut out your cookies, just use a knife carefully to slightly cut out a little piece where you can slip the cookie onto your chosen mug/cup once baked.
3.  Gold sprayed sugar cookies
Such a decadent way of  making your cookies have that extra special something to them! Simply spray paint your ready baked cookies with gold edible spray, and leave to dry for about half an hour or so. And ta-da! Sparkly gold biscuits. I think they would make lovely wedding favors!
4.  Dipped in chocolate
This is really just an excuse to make your sugar cookies a little chocolatey! Melt some good quality chocolate and then dip your cookies half way into it. Sprinkle with chocolate sugar strands and leave to set on a baking tray in the fridge till chocolate is hard. A lovely after dinner treat with coffee for when you have guests over!
And there you have it. Four easy ways to decorate your sugar cookie. And really the possibilities are endless  - sprinkle them with all kinds of sprinkly goodness, add edible glitter, or dip in white chocolate and add crushed nuts!
So tell me, do you have a favourite?
Sugar Cookies
Makes about 18-24 cookies depending on cutter-size
1 cup butter, softened
1 1/2 cups sugar
1 egg
1 1/2 tspns vanilla essence
2 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
2 tspns baking powder
1/2 tspn salt
Preheat oven to 180 degrees Celsius. In a bowl, cream the butter together with the sugar until light and fluffy. Beat in the egg and essence. In another bowl, mix the flour, baking powder and salt. Add to the egg mixture one cup at a time and form in a dough. The dough should be soft. Divide the dough into two, and carefully roll out on a floured surface. Cut out desired shapes using cookie cutters. Bake on a baking sheet lined tray for 7-10 minutes or until lightly browned. Leave to cool.  

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Butterscotch Peanut Butter Marshmallow Bars

So in the last post I introduced you guys to one of my favourite UAE based cooks Dalia Dogmoch and her fantastic blog D's Kitchen.
Well today I'm going to introduce you to my baking goddess, the very lovely Rosie at Sweetapolita. Her website is a must-visit for any cake or sweet treat lover! I could literally spend hours drooling over her gorgeous cakes and sugary delights, but haven't actually attempted any of her recipes before. That is until now...

These butterscotch peanut butter marshmallow hearts just looked too sweet and delightfully colourful to pass up. As a no-bake treat, I thought it would be the perfect first recipe of hers to have a go at making. They only require four ingredients - peanut butter, butter, butterscotch chips and marshmallows, so barely take minutes to make. Like she says though, they are really pretty sweet. But if you are a peanut butter fan like me then you'll love the added nuttiness from the peanut butter. And well, marshmallows always make anything better, right?
Still if I'm honest, I had never before even tasted a butterscotch chip, as they weren't around my life growing up, so I was extremely excited when I discovered them here, in Dubai, in a large supermarket chain. Knowing that Rosie's recipe for butterscotch peanut butter marshmallow bars was on my 'to-do' list, it made perfect sense to make these bars out of them.
And how cute and sweet do they look! They definitely call to be made at a children's birthday party, or even for a school bake-sale.
However you choose to enjoy them, don't forget the glass of cool milk!

Butterscotch Peanut Butter Marshmallow Bars
Adapted from Sweetapolita
Makes about 16 bars
2 cups butterscotch chips
1 cup unsalted butter
1 cup smooth peanut butter
6 cups mini coloured marshmallows
Line a small baking tin or oven dish, with parchment paper. Melt together the butter, peanut butter and butterscotch chips, in a glass or ceramic bowl, over a small pan off water, and on low heat till the water starts to simmer. Take off the heat and stir in the marshmallows. Mix together well till marshmallows are coated with the butterscotch peanut butter mixture. Pour the mixture into the dish, using a wooden spoon or spatula to help spread evenly. Press some loose marshmallows over the top, and chill in the fridge until firm. Using a sharp knife cut into bars.

Monday, October 14, 2013

Rose Cake with White Chocolate Frosting & the Gourmet Bake-Off

Its been a busy few weeks for Beela Bakes with a trip to London, where me and the hubby were so lucky to have good weather, and now as I type this I am on a weekend beach trip in the town of Fujairah (one of the seven emirates that makes up the UAE).
As great as this holiday has been, I have missed posting and am dying to tell you all about an exciting little event that happened recently.
A few weeks ago I entered a competition by Ahlan! Gourmet magazine, a UAE based food magazine, which asked readers to submit their favourite cake recipe with a chance of entering into the UAE's first ever bake-off style challenge. Like with most competitions I emailed them and didn't expect to hear back. However, (shock-horror) I did hear back from them, and was asked to bake my cake and bring it to their studios to be tasted and judged by a panel.
The cake I entered into the competition was my Rose Cake with White Chocolate Frosting. I'm proud of this cake and thought it would be a good alternative to the usual classic cake recipes. Incidently my Rose Cake with White Chocolate Frosting is the most viewed post on my blog.

So it turns out 70 entries were submitted, and out of these 23, including mine, were chosen to be tasted. Once the cakes had all been tasted and judged by the judges, it was our (the bakers') turn to taste all the creations too. There was a wonderful variety of cakes from a pistachio gateau, to a chocolate zucchini cake, a number of delicious carrot cakes, and a beautiful walnut cake took the winning prize!

Not only was it an honour to be chosen to participate, but I was doubly happy when I saw that my 'food guru' Dalia Dogmoch was there at the event as a judge! Let me tell you guys, I have been a huge fan of Dalia's ever since my family shifted to the UAE six years ago, and I discovered Kitsch cupcakes. Not only is she the 'cupcake queen'  but she has a fantastic blog called D's Kitchen, and recently came out with a cookbook called Food, Love and Life. What's also funny is that I had been planning a future post based on her blog recipes since after all I am now UAE-based and have to show some Emirati love!
Anyway in person, Dalia was so lovely and warm and it was definitely a huge highlight of the event to meet her. What was even more special is that she personally awarded my cake with the prize for 'Best Original Cake'.
All in all it was a great experience and I am so happy to have participated.

Though I re-used my recipe for the Rose Cake with White Chocolate Frosting, I did double the ingredients and increase a few measurements for the recipe here which I used in the competition. So if you are looking to make a small version of the cake, refer to my previous post, and for a more normal-sized cake look no further than here! I added some dried roses to this cake, and tinted the batter pink too for more visual appeal!

Come to think of it, although I am posting this a little late, this would actually be a lovely cake to make for Eid. And with that I end by saying a happy and blessed Eid ul Adha to all my Muslim readers and everyone else too!

Rose Cake with White Chocolate Frosting
Makes a two-tier, 10" diameter cake
2 cake tins
14 tblspns butter or margarine
2 cups cup caster sugar
5 eggs
3-4 tblspns rose water
3 cups self-raising flour
3 tspns baking powder
1/4 cup milk
Pink or red food gel for tinting
Preheat the oven to 180 degrees and line your mini cake tins with parchment paper. Cream together the butter and sugar till well combined. Add the two eggs and stir well to make a lump-free consistency. Add the rose water. Sieve the flour and baking powder into the mixture, and then add the milk. Mix really well to form a smooth batter and add the food gel to make a light pink in colour. Pour half the batter into one cake tin, the rest into the other tin. They should be about 2/3 full. Put into the oven and bake for about 30-40 minutes, checking with a toothpick to see if it is done. The cakes should be nice and springy when ready. Leave to cool  completely before assembling.
For the frosting
3 cups icing sugar
3/4 cup soft butter
5 tablespoons melted white chocolate
White chocolate, grated for decorating
Edible roses for decorating
Mix all the ingredients together, except for the grated white chocolate and roses, until well combined. If the consistency is too buttery add more icing sugar. Refrigerate for ten minutes if too soft before applying. Spread between your two cake layers and sandwich together, then spread and cover all around the cake with remaining frosting. Top with grated white chocolate and edible roses.

Friday, September 20, 2013

Classic Profiteroles (with Pastry Cream & Chocolate Sauce)

This recipe and these photos have been waiting a good few months to make it into the blog spotlight. It kinda got left behind the time I made about seven recipes for the blog in the space of a month (food bloggers will understand how chaotic making and photographing food for a blog can be!)
But anyway here it is at last. Classic profiteroles with pastry cream and chocolate sauce.

Now I know I say this about practically every recipe I post, but these profiteroles are out. of. this. world.
Its been, hmm at least four months since I actually made them, and yet I still clearly remember how good they were. I used to love coaxing my mum to buy eclairs, custard tarts and profiteroles from the baking section of the supermarket when I tagged along in my school days, and well these profiteroles actually trump all those supermarket French pastries.
The thing is making profiteroles is actually a lot of hard work.  Its the type of recipe I worry will turn out wrong. That's exactly the reason why you have to make these... Because after all the hard work it doesn't turn out wrong! And well who doesn't like French pastries with chocolate and custard?

Just remember to invite a friend around to share them with, and have fun calling them by their French name choux à la crème.

P.S. Apologies for the mixed metric measurements given, as I got my recipes from different sources. This shouldn't hamper your final result in any way though!

Classic Profiteroles with Pastry Cream and Chocolate Sauce

Makes about 20 filled and iced buns

For the pastry cream

Taken from Cooking Classy

1 and half cups whole milk
Half cup heavy cream
2/3 cup granulated sugar
2 large eggs
1/4 cup cornstarch
2 tblspn all-purpose flour
1/8 tspn salt
1 tspn vanilla extract
1 tblspn butter
In a saucepan over medium heat, bring milk and cream to a boil. In the meantime mix together the sugar, eggs, cornstarch, flour, and salt in a bowl until smooth. Take the saucepan off the heat and while whisking pour a little more than half of the milk mixture into the egg mixture. Now pour the egg mixture into the remaining milk mixture in the pan, still whisking. Return to the heat on low, and continually whisk the mixture to prevent curdling for about 4 minutes, until the mixture has thickened. Remove from the heat and stir in the butter and vanilla. Strain the mixture into a heat-proof bowl, and cover the bowl with plastic wrap so that it touches directly on the surface of the pastry cream to prevent a skin from forming. Chill for 2 hours or until the cream is cold.

For the choux buns

Taken from BBC Good Food

150g plain flour
1 tblspn caster sugar
75g unsalted butter, cubed
200ml water
3 eggs, beaten lightly
Pinch of salt

Prepare pastry cream as above, and leave to chill. Preheat oven to 180 degrees celsius. Mix together the flour, sugar and salt in a bowl. Put the butter in a saucepan with the water and bring to the boil, then remove from the heat and quickly tip the flour mixture in. Beat well with a wooden spoon until a dough forms and leave to cool for 20 minutes. Now add the beaten eggs bit by bit, beating hard until well combined. A spoonful of the mixture should drop down reluctantly when lifted from the bowl. Spoon small mounds of the dough onto a greased baking sheet, leaving enough space between them. You can use a wet finger to smooth down any rough bits and help shape them properly. Bake between 25-30 minutes until golden and puffed up, then prick each bun with a skewer before returning to the oven for a further 5 minutes. Remove again and leave to cool.

For the chocolate sauce

Half cup dark chocolate, chopped
Half cup single or double cream

Heat the cream gently in a small saucepan bringing just to the boil. Take off the heat and add the chocolate to the pan, stirring until melted and well combined.

Assembling the profiteroles
Once the buns have cooled, make a slit in each bun with a knife, as if cutting in half but stop before cutting all the way through. Fill with pastry cream, and then top each bun with chocolate sauce. Best served immediately.
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