Ria's Collection: September 2009

Wednesday, September 30, 2009


I just survived one of the 'busiest' & 'demanding' week ever! PHEW! Was out of touch with my beloved blog, my twitter family and even my ongoing project -- a crochet traycloth :P
We have been on a 'hosting' mode for guests since 2 weeks ( it still continues ! ) and I also managed for a quick 'n' short one day trip to Bangalore for our 'Hostel Re-union'.It was maddening!! I hardly spent 10 hours in B'lore but almost 23 hours in the bus! ACK! Never mind! Loved every minute of it though!! :)

When I returned home, I was greeted by my most favourite niece Navya (8 yrs) and nephew Neev (5 yrs) & Nial. They are the cutest beings on earth! Nial is just 8 months old and is like a soft cotton pillow :D
Navya is a hardcore cake fan and I wasn't suprised to see Neev sporting a ' #1 Chocoholic' slogan on his T-shirt that day! :) How I wish I had such cute T-shirts when I was growing up :P

I needed a break from the hectic schedule and that's when I asked Navya to help me bake a cake and relieve my stress! Yes, baking does wonders to me! :)

So inorder to keep it simple and also to keep her involved  she read  the recipe aloud for me . She was so surprised to find how  granulated sugar could turn out to be smooth & soft  when ground in a mixie :) Then came a lot of questions about 'why do we need to use baking powder? ' why do we need to add eggs one by one? ' why is Riammai's  cake mould flexible? ' ( I used my silicone mould)  etc.

The best part was when I made the ganache! They  lined up in queue to do the taste test ;) and also to  lick the bowl clean once I am done with the frosting :)

Recipe source: Roshini

Butter-1 cup
Sugar-2 cups, powdered
Flour-3 cups
Baking powder-2 tsp
Milk-5-6 tbsp or as needed
Nutmeg - 1/2 to 1 tsp, freshly ground


  • Sieve flour, nutmeg and baking powder together.
  • Beat butter and sugar till soft and fluffy.Add in the eggs one at a time. Beat well.
  • Fold in the flour . Add milk to loosen batter if necessary.
  • Pour into a prepared tin and bake for 40-45 mins or till done.


Chocolate-50 g
Fresh cream-50g
Instant coffee powder-1/2 to 1 tsp
Pistachio-5 nos.


  • Heat cream to a boil and pour over chopped chocolate. Set aside for 5 mins.
  • Add coffee powder and mix well till glossy.
  • Pour over the cake and decorate with grated pistachio.

 This cake is full of  flavour. For all those who dislike nutmeg kindly avoid it and continue baking.You can also substitute nutmeg for cinnamon/cardamom.If you like your cake to be nutty, throw in some walnuts or cashew nuts.This cake can be served with whipped cream or any ice cream of your choice...it will be a perfect dessert!

I am sending this post as an entry for Meeta's Monthly Mingle - High Tea Treats hosted by Aparna

Monday, September 21, 2009

♥ Tiramisu cake with Homemade Mascarpone Cheese♥ ~ A dream come true~

I always wanted to make a Tiramisu. But how on earth will I get Mascarpone cheese in Kerala!! I had made tons of requests to my cousins who come from abroad to get me atleast one pack of it...they all said the same thing...it wont survive :( So I literally gave up hope and that's when my friend Anjana told me that it's available in Bangalore BUT  I was in for a shock when I asked her the cost of it. It was Rs.450 for 250 g!! There's no way that I am going to spend so much...for a trial! ;0 

So Tiramisu used to star my dreams(very often, till last night)... a perfect cheesy dream! But I felt that it was something beyond my reach as long as I am in India. So was kinda happy that I will be going to the US soon and that I'll get to try all the different cheese available there! Wee! 

I still remember the conversation I had with Jobin,my fiance who lives in the USA.

Jobin: Beby, what  all do you want to do once you come here? 
Me: Hmmm... (serious thinking!) I want to go to a nice supermarket and buy lots of cheese!!
Jobin: (a pleasantly surprised laugh)

Little did my darling know what was in store for him! Or rather...what the store has in store to empty his pocket! :P

He had made friends with people who travel with him daily in the bus. So an elderly lady, his friend asked him recently

Lady: What does your fiance wants to do when she comes here?
Jobin: She wants to buy cheese!
Lady: Take her to Wisconsin then! 

Now, I have another reason to empty his pocket! I have already planned a trip to Wisconsin! :) Buhahahaha!

It was not long before that I saw a recipe for homemade mascarpone. Vera's looked beautiful and I guess that's how it the store-bought ones look like :) And Deeba had recently made it (over and over again! :D ) And she was very happy with the results! I must have been the most happiest person to see that post of hers! :D
I twittered out to her with all my doubts and she was a sweetheart to reply back to each one of them! Thanks a bunch Deeba

Homemade Mascarpone Cheese
Recipe adapted verbatim from Vera's blog Baking Obsession

Makes about 12 oz
Ingredients: (I made only half the quantity as it was my first-time,but regret now for not making the whole quantity! :P )
  • 500 ml whipping (36 %) pasteurized (not ultra-pasteurized), preferably organic cream ( I used 25% Amul Fresh Cream)
  • 1 tbsp fresh lemon juice
  • Bring 1 inch of water to a boil in a wide skillet. Reduce the heat to medium-low so the water is barely simmering. 
  • Pour the cream into a medium heat-resistant bowl, then place the bowl into the skillet. Heat the cream, stirring often, to 190 F. It will take about 15 minutes of delicate heating. 
  • Add the lemon juice and continue heating the mixture, stirring gently, until the cream curdles. Do not expect the same action as you see during ricotta cheese making. All that the whipping cream will do is become thicker, like a well-done crème anglaise. It will cover a back of your wooden spoon thickly. You will see just a few clear whey streaks when you stir. 
  • Remove the bowl from the water and let cool for about 20 minutes. Meanwhile, line a sieve with four layers of dampened cheesecloth and set it over a bowl. Transfer the mixture into the lined sieve. Do not squeeze the cheese in the cheesecloth or press on its surface (be patient, it will firm up after refrigeration time). 
  • Once cooled completely, cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate (in the sieve) overnight or up to 24 hours.

It was so smooth and creamy!! Perfect cheese for dessert and cake filling.

We had guests for dinner last night, and I had mascarpone ready at hand with me. So I searched for a Tiramisu recipe,again bad luck,no ladies finger!! And I was in no mood to pipe some out! So the search went on and it ended at a beautiful Tiramisu cake! My! I was bowled over by it! A very eye pleasing one! 

Tiramisu Cake
Baking:From My Home To Yours by Dorie Greenspan
Recipe adapted from Deb's Smitten Kitchen

For the cake layers:
2 cups cake flour
( I substituted using this proportion: 1 cup cake flour = 3/4 cup flour + 2 tbsp cornflour)
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/8 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 1/4 sticks (10 tablespoons) unsalted butter, room temperature
(I used salted butter)
1 cup sugar

3 large eggs
1 large egg yolk
1 1/2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
3/4 cup buttermilk

For the espresso extract:
2 tablespoons instant espresso powder
2 tablespoons boiling water

For the espresso syrup:
1/2 cup water
1/3 cup sugar
1 tablespoon amaretto, Kahlua, or brandy
(I used Rum)

For the filling and frosting:
1 8-ounce container mascarpone
1/2 cup confectioners’ sugar, sifted
( I added 1/4 cup more )
1 1/2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
1 tablespoon amaretto, Kahlua, or brandy
(I used Rum)
1 cup cold heavy cream
2 1/2 ounces bittersweet or semisweet chocolate, finely chopped, or about 1/2 cup store-bought mini chocolate chips

Chocolate-covered espresso beans, for decoration (optional)
Cocoa powder, for dusting

Getting ready:

  • Center a rack in the oven and preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Butter two 9×2 inch round cake pans, dust the insides with flour, tap out the excess, and line the bottoms of the pans with parchment or wax paper. Put the pans on a baking sheet.
To make the cake:

  • Sift together the cake flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt.
  • Working with a stand mixer, preferably fitted with a paddle attachment, or with a hand mixer in a large bowl, beat the butter on medium speed until soft and creamy. Add the sugar and beat for another 3 minutes. 
  • Add the eggs one by one, and then the yolk, beating for 1 minute after each addition. Beat in the vanilla; don’t be concerned if the mixture looks curdled. Reduce the mixer speed to low and add the dry ingredients alternately with the buttermilk, adding the dry ingredients in 3 additions and the milk in 2 (begin and end with the dry ingredients); scrape down the sides of the bowl as needed and mix only until the ingredients disappear into the batter. 
  • Divide the batter evenly between the two pans and smooth the tops with a rubber spatula.
  • Bake for 28 to 30 minutes, rotating the pans at the midway point. When fully baked, the cakes will be golden and springy to the touch and a thin knife inserted into the centers will come out clean. Transfer the cakes to a rack and cool for about 5 minutes, then run a knife around the sides of the cakes, unmold them, and peel off the paper liners. Invert and cool to room temperature right-side up.
To make the extract:

  • Stir the espresso powder and boiling water together in a small cup until blended. Set aside.
To make the syrup:

  • Stir the water and sugar together in a small saucepan and bring just to a boil. Pour the syrup into a small heatproof bowl and stir in 1 tablespoon of the espresso extract and the liqueur or brandy; set aside.
To make the filling and frosting:

  • Put the mascarpone, sugar, vanilla, and liqueur in a large bowl and whisk just until blended and smooth.
  • Working with the stand mixer with the whisk attachment or with a hand mixer, whip the heavy cream until it holds firm peaks. Switch to a rubber spatula and stir about one quarter of the whipped cream into the mascarpone. Fold in the rest of the whipped cream with a light touch
To assemble the cake:

  • If the tops of the cake layers have crowned, use a long serrated knife and a gentle sawing motion to even them. 
  • Place one layer right-side up on a cardboard round or a cake plate protected with strips of wax or parchment paper. Using a pastry brush or a small spoon, soak the layer with about one third of the espresso syrup. 
  • Smooth some of the mascarpone cream over the layer – user about 1 1/4 cups – and gently press the chopped chocolate into the filling. Put the second cake layer on the counter and soak the top of it with half the remaining espresso syrup, then turn the layer over and position it, soaked side down, over the filling. Soak the top of the cake with the remaining syrup.
  • For the frosting, whisk 1 to 1 1/2 tablespoons of the remaining espresso extract into the remaining mascarpone filling. Taste the frosting as you go to decide how much extract you want to add. If the frosting looks as if it might be a little too soft to spread over the cake, press a piece of plastic wrap against its surface and refrigerate it for 15 minutes or so. Refrigerate the cake too.
  • With a long metal icing spatula, smooth the frosting around the sides of the cake and over the top. If you want to decorate the cake with chocolate-covered espresso beans, press them into the filling, making concentric circles of beans or just putting some beans in the center of the cake.
  • Refrigerate the cake for at least 3 hours (or for up to 1 day) before serving – the elements need time to meld.

The recipe might sound lenghty but it is a breeze to make this cake! By the time your cake is baking , the filling & syrup can be done. Then the rest is easy!

It is one of the BEST dessert I ever had! The cake was splendid and the filling was smooth and lush! Got rave reviews from our guests. My Dad and Mom LOVED it! As I always say, if my mom likes a cake, then it will be delectable! She is super choosy when it comes to liking cakes! I left the cake in the fridge for almost 4 hours. So the flavours did meld well! It was moist,super soft and sinfully delicious!  I had 2 huge slices of it :)

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Sweet lil gifts from my cousins

Off late I have been showered with lot of gifts by mom & my lovely cousins and I thought I'd share them with y'all :)
My Uncle is the MD for a Vanilla Export company and last weekend we were staying with them. So when we were about to leave he gave me these goodies . And BOY! I was almost jumping with joy!!
They introduce new products almost every month. So this time it was Vanilla Cocoa powder. They smelt like heaven. Just incase you guys need some of the above mentioned vanilla goodies, drop in a mail or leave a comment and I will get back to you.

Have a good day!

Monday, September 14, 2009

Coffee Chicory Macarons & A MAC attack!

The twitter world was recently flooded with Mac attack SOS and whatnot! I had made Macs before and it was a tiny success( I got feet!! YAY! ;D ) and therefore when the MAC attack gang was formed, I was quite OK with it. Had lil confidence left in me from the previous attempt. So I went ahead with the MAC Queen Helen's recipe (again!! ;D).

It all began with Aparna and Deeba! Then many more joined in including myself ;)
I wanted to try some filling for it though but I somehow din't feel like doing it then. Since the round up was on 15 Sept, I thought I had plenty of time to make another batch with filling but ALAS my mom came up with the idea of starting my trousseau shopping due to which nothing happened on the MAC front as I had planned! Hmph! So here are the macs minus the filling :)

The recipe for the macaron can be found here. Helen, you are the BEST!! xoxo I din't have a proper nozzle to pipe it out so I used my nozzle holder instead. And so my Macs were slightly bigger in diameter than mentioned in the original recipe.

The macaron sans the filling was DELICIOUS to the last bite and I so badly regret for not filling it with even a plain ganache...they would have been a killer for sure!! Hmph! But there's always a next time! :D

A big thanks to Jamie who is doing the wonderful round-up for us. She has been a wall to all of us! xx Check out her blog on 15 Sept to see the work of the MAC attack gang! :)

Have a good day!

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

♥My Grand Aunt's Chocolate Cake♥

I love collecting tried,tested and trusted recipes. That's why I named my diary 'My Collections' and also my blog :) This is my granny's sister's recipe. I got it from my cuz Roshini and it happens to be her fave chocolate cake recipe.
Recently when my dad went to Trivandrum (that's where Roshini lives) she packed me a box full of these brown beauties. But he had a halt at my mom's house and we were supposed to join him the next day. And you all can easily guess what must have happened :P The box was half full when we reached there...

Nevertheless I made up my mind to try them out once I get home. And that's when I had my lil cousins Niki and Tashu visiting us. So I got another reason to bake something!! :D

Ultra Moist Chocolate Cake
Recipe sourced by Roshini from Ammini Aunty

Sugar-1 3/4 cup + 3/4 cup ,powdered
Flour-2 cups
Baking Powder-1 3/4 tsp
Cocoa powder-8 tbsp diluted in 1 cup milk
Vanilla -1 tsp

  • Beat butter until light and fluffy. Add 1 3/4 cup of sugar and beat it.
  • Add egg yolks and vanilla.
  • Beat egg whites + 3/4 cup sugar to stiff peaks.
  • Fold into the batter. Add cocoa dissolved in milk to it.
  • Fold in the flour and pour the batter into a prepared tin.
  • Bake at 180 deg. for 45-50 mins or till done.

This is THE best home made chocolate cake that I have ever tasted. Now it's not just Roshini's...but also our family favourite chocolate cake! My bro had 3 huge slices at one go! :)

Friday, September 4, 2009

♥Chocolate Marble Pudding ♥for my lovely lil cousins♥

As I have said before, I never let go of a chance of making a dessert/desserts. I just LOVE the whole process of planning what to make, how to decorate it et all. And finally when your guests relish it there is nothing beyond that :) I know you all know how it feels :)

I have my lil cousins Nikitha and Natasha visiting me with their mom. They are on their Onam vacation. But Natasha whom we fondly call as Tashu is allergic to eggs. A wee bit of egg in her food causes rashes, severe stomach ache,dizziness etc. So this time I was literally digging into my recipe diary for eggless recipes.

When we usually don't think of the limitations, we don't realise whether it has eggs or no eggs. But this time when I searched for recipes,I was indeed surprised to find many! I had quite a few eggless ones :)

And they LOVE chocolate! Especially Tashu, and since she is allergic, I thought of incorporating an egg free + something chocolate-y for them.

Chocolate Marble Pudding
Recipe source: My Mom


For the base:

Salted butter-100 g

Heat the above ingredients and for a thick custard on low fire.
Remove from fire and add the following:

Coconut- 1 cup,finely grated
Cashewnuts-1/2 cup ,broken
Marie biscuits-1/2 cup crushed

Mix it with the custard and line a pie dish with it and pack firmly.
Leave it in fridge to set while you make the filling.

For the filling:

China grass/Agar-10g
Water-1 1/2 cups
Condensed milk-1 tin
Milk-2 tins [condensed milk tin measure]
Vanilla-1/2 tsp
Sugar-5 tbsp

Cut china grass into tiny bits and soak in water for 1 hour.
Melt china grass(It must be very liquidy,no lumps pls! ).
Simulatneaously heat milk,condensed milk and sugar. Before it starts to boil,add the melted china grass. Stir continously.
Keep on fire till it starts to thicken. Take it off from fire.
Strain if lumps are seen.
Pour on top of the crust and let it set in a fridge.
For marbling:

Take 1/2 cup of condensed milk batter and mix 3-4 tbsp of chocolate syrup/sauce and drizzle them over the white layer.
Marble it using a toothpick/skewer.

This pudding has always been a hit and will continue to be so :) Every single bit of it was relished by our guests and they went back home with the recipe :)

P.S. This is an automated post as we are off to Goa on a vacation. See y'all as soon as I am back! :) Have a great weekend!!

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

♥Vermicelli & Sago Payasam♥ A peek into our Onam Celebration ♥

Onam is Kerala's own festival celebrated in the month of 'Chingam'. It is celebrated by people from all walks of life irrespective of caste, religion etc.
Making a flower carpet or 'pookalam' is a must for Onam.
It is said that Kerala was ruled by a very people-friendly and loving king 'Mahabali'. And Onam is a celebration where in you welcome him into our homes every year. :) So a big feast is prepared on the 'Thiru Onam' day.

Celebrations include snake boat races, 'thiruvathirakali' ( dance perfomed by the ladies), 'ujanlattam' ( swinging very high on swings made out of coir tied on the bark of trees) etc.

Must say this was one of the best Onam that I had...Our house was full and I had my cute lil cousins visiting us. I haven't seen them since 11 years! :) We all were busy in the morning putting the 'pookalam' ( flower carpet) while Amma was sweating in the kitchen making lunch. Yes, lunch and NO sadya :) We took an easy way out this time with our fave Chicken Biriyani :)
But we had our favourite Vermicelli & Sago Payasam to end our meal with :)

♥Vermicelli & Sago Payasam
Recipe by my mom

Vermicelli - 200g ,roasted
Milk-2 ltrs
Sugar-1 cup -1 1/2 cup
Sago-50 g
Water-2 cups
Cashewnuts-25 g
Raisins-25 g
Cardamom pods- 4,crushed
Ghee/Clarified butter-4 tbsp

  • Heat ghee and fry the nuts and raisins in it till golden brown. Reserve.
  • Soak sago in water for 30 mins.Boil for 10 mins or till it is cooked.
  • Mix and cook roasted vermicelli, sago and milk. Let it boil.
  • Add sugar and stir continously till the sugar dissolves.
  • Let it thicken. It will take approx 20-25 mins.
  • Add the cardamom powder and mix.
  • Garnish with nuts and raisins.
  • Serve hot /well chilled.

This payasam is my mom's favourite .It is milky and mildly sweet. We love it when it is eaten warm. I love biting into the sago ...somehow it fascinates me :)

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