Thumbprint Cookies – with Chocolate Ganache

Let the holiday baking begin!!! I love baking from the scratch and it really is very satisfying to see mixing ingredients coming together in the oven to form a tasty bite :). What I like most about thumbprint cookies is the extra step they call for where you indent with your thumb – how much more personal can you get? :). leaving an impression in the cookie and then filling it with your choice of preserve, chocolate or/and caramel etc…etc… These are really good for holiday gifting and the simple variations that they have are amazing. I “googled” and found a ton of recipes on the web – check out Martha Stewart’s website, she has at least a dozen of them on her site. I chose this one from her “Hazelnut Thumbprint” and went about with my own variation.

This is what you need:
1 stick unsalted softened butter (1/2 cup)
– 1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons sugar
– 1 large egg, separated, each part lightly beaten
– 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
– 1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
– 1/8 teaspoon coarse salt
– 1/2 cup toasted silvered almonds, ground
– 1/2 cup chocolate ganache for the filling

This is how you make:
Step 1: Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Put butter and 1/2 cup sugar in the bowl of an electric mixer ; mix on medium speed until light and fluffy, this should take about 2-3 mins. Now add egg yolk and vanilla, and mix well. Reduce speed to low and  add flour and salt, and mix until just combined.
Step 2: Refrigerate dough for 30 mins to 2 hours. ( you are basically doing this to bring the dough together if it is very soft – tip courtesy: http://www.joyofbaking.com/ThumbprintCookies.html)
Step 3: Stir together toasted almonds and remaining 2 tablespoons sugar in a small bowl.
Step 4: Roll dough into 1-inch balls; dip balls in egg white, then in almond-sugar mixture. Space 1 inch apart on baking sheets lined with parchment paper. Press down center of each ball with your thumb. Bake for 10 minutes. Remove from oven; press down centers again with the end of a wooden spoon. Return to oven. Bake cookies until golden brown, 8 to 10 minutes more. Let cool slightly on sheets on wire racks. Fill each center with chocolate ganache.

Ganache Recipe:
Step 1: Take a sauce pan on low heat and bring 1/2 cup of heavy whip cream to a boil and then stir in 2 tablespoons of milk chocolate (adjust sugar as needed).
Step 2: Add in coffee or coffee liquor (optional)
step 3: cool and use it as a filling for the thumbprint cookies

This recipe made 15 delicious cookies and we have just about 2 left 🙂 (My first cookies for the Holidays…)
Here is the link to Martha Stewart’s collection http://www.marthastewart.com/search/apachesolr_search/Thumbprint.

Carpe Diem!

I am sending this recipe for the holiday recipe exchange – Come join the fun at the My Baking Addiction and GoodLife Eats Holiday Recipe Swap sponsored by OXO.

AND also to Jingle all the way event at http://myedibles.blogspot.com/2011/11/jingle-all-way-event-announcement.html

AND at Let’s bake and be merry

Butter Paneer Masala

As long as or as far as my memory goes – this has been my forever favorite restaurant dish. My visits to Indian restaurants were well spent on ordering and eating this dish. A super creamy tomato based gravy prepared in butter with cubes of paneer (cottage cheese) – served with naan (Indian bread) or just plain rice. This gravy is very very versatile…once it is ready- it accommodates grilled chicken,lightly sautéed potatoes, or choice of your grilled veggies, tofu etc etc. I like to add a few more veggies to my dish in addition to paneer. Now that I have learnt how to make it at home, it’s a home favorite than a restaurant favorite 🙂

Recipe source: This is generously adapted recipe from Chef Harpal Singh. His tip on cooking tomatoes and then puree them eliminates the process of adding artificial orange color to give a rich color to this dish.

This is what you need:
5-6 medium tomatoes – roughly chopped
20 cubed of paneer -1/4inch cubes (cottage cheese – found in Indian grocery store)
1 medium bell pepper (cut into cubes)
1 medium onion (cut into cubes)
3 tablespoons of chopped garlic(roughly)
1/2 teaspoon cardamom powder
1 tablespoon garam masala
3 tablespoons oil
4 tablespoons of unsalted butter
salt to taste
1-2 tablespoon of red chilli powder
1 tablespoon kasoori methi (dry fenugreek leaves – found in Indian grocery store)
1/2 cup sour cream
1 tablespoon ginger paste
2 tablespoons honey (optional)
This is how you make:
– Heat a frying pan on medium heat – add 1 tablespoon of oil and saute onion and bell pepper for a minute and set aside.
– Now take a sauce pan on medium heat – add 1 tablespoon of oil and 2 tablespoons of butter – add garlic and saute it for about a minute and then add the tomatoes, cardamom powder and saute them on high heat for a minute or so and then bring them on medium heat and cover. occasionally stir it and then cover again till tomatoes become pulpy. This should take about 7-10 mins. Remove from the heat and let it cool. Now blend it to a fine puree. Strain this puree into a mixing bowl. This will separate the tomato skin leaving a silky puree in the mixing bowl.
– Now heat the sauce pan again on medium with 1 tablespoon oil and 2 tablespoons of butter – add ginger paste and saute for about a minute. Add the tomato puree and bring it to a boil.  At this point, add salt to taste, red chilli powder, garam masala powder and reduce the heat and let it simmer for about 5-10 mins – Now add the sour cream and let it cook for about 5 more mins. occasionally stirring it. Now bring it to a boil just once more and then add onions, bell pepper and Cottage cheese. Also crush the kasoori methi and it to the dish.
– Taste to check spices and salt and adjust accordingly. If you find it tart then add honey to balance the flavors. You can try adding sugar also to balance the flavors but honey brings the shine to the dish.
Switch off the heat and cover the sauce pan for about 10-15 mins. This lets everything come together and settle. Then it is ready to eat…
– Serve with any type of Indian bread or just plain white rice.


Try it – Enjoy!

Tip: Incase you are wondering why we are using oil and butter – as per chef Harpal, this avoids the butter from getting brown.

I am sending this recipe to http://foodandspice.blogspot.com/2011/11/celebration-of-indian-food-and-giveaway.html – let’s celebrate Indian food…

AND

I am sending this to recipe to My Baking Addiction and GoodLife Eats Holiday Recipe Swap sponsored by Kerrygold.

Almond and cream cheese pound cake…

Cream cheese in pound cake? yeah.. very very healthy 😉 (maybe not) – and very tasty. This september and October, we made a few trips to Wisconsin to meet our friends. It’s during one of these trips that I had a sugar high and bought this cake from a local gas station – it sure was tasty but way too sweet for me. I knew for sure that I had to make this at home and found a recipe on food.com. It’s a pound cake and I had to make it! I liked everything about this recipe – even the almonds that come in the way — 🙂

This is what you need:
1/2 cup of butter
4 oz cream cheese
1 and/2 cup of sugar
1 and 1/2 cup of all purpose flour
3 eggs
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 cup of almonds – divided


This is how you make: Steps: –
Preheat oven to 325* – Generously spray a loaf pan with non stick cooking spray – sprinkle the insides of the pan with a qtr cup of almonds.
In a mixing bowl cream butter and sugar until blended smooth. Add cream cheese and blend till smooth and fluffy, about 2-3 minutes. – Now add eggs one at a time, and keep beating till they incorporate in the batter. Add the flour, vanilla extract and a qtr cup of almonds and beat for about 2-3 mins. – Pour into the loaf pan. Bake at 325*F for 1 hour . Check for doneness at 1 hour. A toothpick inserted into center of cake will come out clean.


This was very light and tasty… the texture is super soft. I will make it again and maybe toast the almonds next time – hmmmmmm

I am sending this recipe for the Holiday exchange – if you happen to read this post… Come join the fun at the My Baking Addiction and GoodLife Eats Holiday Recipe Swap sponsored by Chicago Metallic

AND
Food of the Month – Contest hosted by Amy

Enjoy!

Lassi with Fresh Herbs – Spiced Yoghurt Drink

This drink is easy to make, refreshing to drink and has a lot of health benefits coming from it. It helps digestion, stabilizes the immune system and is a very good cooling agent. My mom makes this everyday during summer – and we have it before and after lunch. This drink is particularly good for Indian summer but for me it’s an all time drink… Here is my version of this drink.

This is what you need:
1/2 cup of plain yoghurt (Non-fat works too)
12-15 mint leaves
a small bunch of cilantro leaves
a small piece of ginger (like less than 1/4inch)
1/4 teaspoon roasted cumin powder
1/4 teaspoon black pepper powder salt to taste
1/4 teaspoon chat masala – found in indian grocery store (optional – if you are using this then omit using cumin powder and black pepper powder)
3/5th cup of water This is how you make: Take all the ingredients except water and blend it in a blender for about 1 minute. Now add water and blend it again for a few seconds. adjust salt as needed.
If you like drinking it as is – that is with a bit of ginger and some leaves coming in the way – then go for it.
If not then just filter it out and drink… (don’t forget to pour it in a glass before drinking ;))


I like it as is and drink it as often as possible.
Enjoy!
I am sending this spiced yoghurt drink at http://www.renbehan.com/2012/01/family-friendly-fridays-new-linky-up-on-fabulicious-food-january.html

AND

Aimee’s Breakfast Club – January Detox, originally started by Helen.

Coconut Berfee


This is one of my absolute favorite Indian sweets. Its coconut fudge called berfee (pronounced as Ber (as in Berlin) and fee = BerFee) in India. My Aunt has been making this at home since ages for all the festivals and occasions we celebrate back home. There are so many of us in the family that love this sweet – that she ends up making this for us on every occasion we meet (makes me nostalgic now). So when I thought of making this at home – I had all the lovely memories running through my mind. I made my own version with what was available at home and I am sure she would have been proud of me – had she been here to taste this 🙂

Recipe inspiration – My Aunt 🙂

This is what you need:
– 1 cup sugar
– 1 cup dry coconut powder
– 1 cup fresh homemade cottage cheese (you just need a sauce pan, 1 litre whole milk, 2-3 tablespoons of lime juice/lemon juice/vinegar and have fresh cottage cheese at home!)
– 1 teaspoon cardamom powder
– 4 tablespoons of milk powder
– 2 tablespoons silvered almonds

This is how you make homemade cottage cheese
Bring 1 litre of whole milk to a boil and add 2-3 tablespoons of lime juice – stir gently and let it curdle
– Drain it in a muslin cloth and wash the cheese – removing traces of lemon from it. Remove excess water and set it aside.

This is how you make Coconut Berfee
In a heavy bottomed shallow pan on medium heat – mix sugar and coconut for 5 mins. Now reduce the heat to low and stir every 2-3 mins for about 20 mins. Remove from heat and set it aside
– Now in a sauce pan on medium heat
– Add 2 tablespoons of clarified butter and add cottage cheese. Stir for about a minute and add the coconut and sugar mixture.
– Add cardamom powder and milk powder.
– Stir for about 3-4 minuted…till everything comes together.
– Grease a 8X8 brownie pan and transfer mixture in this pan. Press down the mixture evenly and garnish with silvered almonds.
– Let it set for about 2-3 hours.
– Cut in square or rectangle or triangle or any any shape you’d like and eat….

Sending an Indian recipe for a change to the holiday recipe exchange at My Baking Addiction and GoodLife Eats Holiday Recipe Swap sponsored by Spice Islands.” 

Stretch Bread with GMC filling

 baking bread at home is such an awesome feeling…the dough reacting with yeast and doubling itself and so soft to touch – the dough was behaving just as the recipe was asking it to do. Baking with yeast for some reason is scary – the temperature of water needs to be right and the yeast has to be whisked right (this really makes me nervous – this step has led to a couple of failures before! shhhhh). This recipe has been bookmarked since a year and now that I am baking more frequently than before – I thought lets give it a TRY and see where it goes. It’s a basic flatbread recipe with Garlic, Mayo and Cheese filling – I love love love garlic and used it as a filling inside the flatbread rather than applying it on top of the flatbread as the original recipe was calling for – just for fun :). Today was the day – all was happening as per the recipe – so let’s get started 🙂

Recipe source – A passion for baking (by Marcy Goldman)

This is what you need:
For the Dough
1 cup warm water (100*F to 110*F) – Very Very IMPORTANT! 🙂
3/4 teaspoon rapid rise yeast
2 teaspoons sugar
2 cups bread flour
1/4 teaspoon salt

For the Garlic Mayo and Cheese (GMC) filling
6 cloves of garlic – finely minced
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons mayonnaise
1/2 cup grated cheese (Parmesan or Mozzarella)
6-7 black peppercorns
12-15 basil leaves
1/2 teaspoon italian seasoning
2-3 tablespoons of olive oil
garlic powder (optional)

This is how you make
Line a large baking sheet with parchment paper and drizzle with olive oil.
– In a mixer bowl – whisk water and yeast together and leave it aside for 2-3 minutes. Briskly whisk in salt,sugar and most of the flour to form a soft dough. I kneaded with my hands for about 5-6 minutes adding more flour as necessary till the dough was resilient but not tough (alternatively – you use can knead with the dough hook using a stand mixer for about 5-6 minutes). knead it with some olive oil in and then cover the mixing bowl and let dough rise until double in size – this will take about 2-3 hours.
– Afte 2-3 hours, deflate the dough and knead it gently for less than a minute and cover it again.
– Now lets prepare the filling – (you can also use this as a topping – I was just being adventurous :))
      – Using a mortar and pestle, mash garlic,peppercorns,basil leaves, garlic powder to a fine paste. Remove to a bowl. Now fold in mayonnaise, grated cheese and seasoning and some oil.
– Deflate the dough on your workarea and stretch it a long oval (18X8 inches). Place on the prepared baking sheet and using a spoon, spread the filling over half of the dough – leaving about an inch of space from the edge (this will make it easy to fold the dough).
Now fold the other half of the dough on top of the filled part and press the edges – basically seal the filling.
 This is how it should look like. Drizzle olive oil – some grated cheese and italian seasoning.
– Preheat oven to 375* and bake bread for 30 minutes until golden brown and crisp on outside.

– Let cool slightly and slice into sticks – serve with marinara sauce or cream cheese or just as is.
I liked it and husband complimented saying “Good Job” – so I guess there will be a second time for this one soon – maybe with a different filling? 🙂 Yes – will follow the steps with the yeast – but will experiment with different variations to the filling.

On a different note – I am happy that I have started participating in the recipe exchange for this holiday – the different themes are making me experiment different aspects of baking 🙂 and so far its been fun fun fun…

Come join the fun at the My Baking Addiction and GoodLife Eats Holiday Recipe Swap sponsored by Red Star Yeast.

AND also sending it to Serve it baked-savory by Krithi, and Denny

Carpe diem.

Paneer Tikka

Chop – check
Marinate – check
Grill – check
Eat – check
Eat more??? check 🙂

That is how easy this appetizer is. It is not heavy…lightly flavored yoghurt based marination and mildly spicy with a touch of smoky flavor… yummmm!!! It really is dependent on the flavors that the marinade  is made of – I  tried quite a few paneer tikka recipies but will stick to this one as it is a chef’s recipe giving away tips that makes it restaurant style. This recipe has that smoky flavor to it – that makes me like it in first place and when this recipe promised it…I just had to try it and it did live up to its promise. I found this recipe on YouTube – it’s Chef Harpal Singh’s recipe.

This is what you need:
1/2 cup of yoghurt – whisked
Cottage cheese (Paneer) – about 20-25 (1/4 inch cubes)
1 Green Capsicum – cut into cubes 
1 Medium Onion – cut into cubes
1 teaspoon carom seeds
1 tablespoon gram flour
2 tablespoons Mustard oil
1 tablespoon ginger garlic paste
salt to taste
1/2 teaspoon garam masala powder
1/2 teaspoon chaat masala powder
1 teaspoon lime juice
butter for basting

This is how you make:
– Heat oil in a pan. add carom seeds and add gram flour – roast them till they emit a fragrant smoky aroma (this should be taking a minute or less on medium to low heat). remove from heat and let it cool. Transfer it to a mixing bowl. Add yoghurt and whisk till incorporated in yoghurt.
– Add ginger garlic paste, garam masala powder, lime juice and salt. whisk well to make a batter.
– Add paneer , capsicum and onion to the marinade and set aside for an hour.
– I grilled them over an open Panini griddle on 350* – for a total of 5 minutes .. till they turned light golden – occasionally basting them with butter.
– Once they were done – I arranged them on a fancy wooden picks and sprinkled chaat masala on them and some lime juice.
– Then I served them with a choice of ketchup and some salsa. This actually goes very well with mint chutney (I had no time that day).

My colleague – now one of my very good friends..came home for the first time and finished all of these!!! and went back with this recipe. I love this recipe for more than one reason – the same recipe becomes a main dish, when we prepare onion tomato gravy and add the grilled cottage cheese, capsicum and onion to it…. that will be in the next post… for now enjoy it as an appetizer!