Category Archives: Dessert

Muffin-sized Mango Cheesecakes

To my mind, the alphonso mango is the king of fruit. Available for only a few months of the year, the best ones come from an area in Maharashtra called Ratnagiri. As children, we would eagerly await the summer, for that was when the markets were flooded with this gorgeous golden bounty. Even now, the mere thought of it evokes memories; the smell of a ripe alphonso with hints of the straw it was packed in, slightly warm and with just that touch of give that indicates the perfect ripeness. All hinting towards the ecstacy of that first mouthful, that first bite just overflowing with gorgeous sweet juiciness.
Mango Cheescake

*ahem*

Sorry, got distraced there for a minute. As you may have noticed, I am a bit of a mango nut, and one of the drawbacks of not living in Mumbai anymore is the lack of ready availability of the really good alphonsos. This year was particularly harsh because of the EU ban on alphonsos. So watching the dozens and dozens of posts of mango recipes on my favourite facebook food group was particularly painful, and I found myself having to resort to the tinned version of the fruit. Not as good, but perfectly adequate for recipes like milkshakes and cheesecakes. So when we had some friends coming over for sunday lunch, and V asked for suggestions for dessert, the first thing that leapt to my mind was a mango cheesecake, like mum used to make back in the day. I’d also recently seen a few instances of people making individual portions of cheesecake, and both V and I were intrigued by the idea. So we thought we’d give that a try as well.

The results, as you can see from the photo, were fabulous and went way beyond our expectations. We had a few debates about whether a muffin-sized portion would be sufficient to be an individual serving, or was it too big. This debate has not yet been settled. Personally, I could eat two of the things, and would gladly skimp on the main meal to be able to do so.

So without further ado, here’s the recipe for the gorgeous, amazingly yummy muffin-sized mango cheesecakes whipped up by my darling wife

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Gibassier, a delightful french bread with orange and anise

This month, the ‘We Knead to Bake’ challenge set by Aparna was to make some Gibassier. This is a sweet bread, almost a pastry, from the Provence region of France. At first glance, the flavours of orange and anise seemed a delightful combo, and I wanted to make this straightaway. Then I read the recipe, and realises it was not as straightforward as the other breads I have made. In fact, this is the most complex bread recipe I have ever made so far. And that was daunting, but exciting at the same time.

Gibassier, a french bread with orange and anise

Gibassier, a french bread with orange and anise

The key challenge here was the soft, super enriched dough, and the use of a pre-fermented starter dough or ‘Biga’. So this called for some careful planning and preparation. And the recipe also introduced me to a new ingredient; orange blossom water. I’d never used it before, but was intrigued. I must admit, we had problems with the rise on the first proving. After two hours, there was no sign of any activity. So I left it overnight and by morning it had become a monster!

Don’t know if I will go through the whole hassle again, but in the end, it was a great experience (though the journey was trying) with an excellent end result. The house smelled divine, with aromas of orange and anise wafting through the kitchen as the bread baked. and the breads tasted perfect, slightly warm, with a hot cup of coffee.

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Komaj, a Persian bread with dates, turmeric and cumin

I recently joined a bread baking group on Facebook, called ‘We Knead to Bake’. This is run by Aparna from ‘My Diverse Kitchen‘ and it is essentially a group of like-minded bread enthusiasts, who get to do a common new bread recipe every month and share their results.

This month’s selection was Komaj. These are Persian buns, made with turmeric and cumin in an enriched dough and stuffed with chopped dates and cardamom. They’re a lovely combination of sweet and savoury, and despite my initial misgivings, actually turned out to be a wonderful treat. They are apparently meant to be served with tea, and I can imagine them making a perfect addition to any afternoon tea party.

Komaj; Persian bread with dates, turmeric, cardamom and cumin

Komaj, a Persian bread with dates, turmeric, cardamom and cumin

Komaj; Persian bread with dates, turmeric, cardamom and cumin

Komaj, a Persian bread with dates, turmeric, cardamom and cumin

The recipe that Aparna provided is is taken from Greg and Lucy Malouf’s  book, Saraban – A Chef’s Journey Through Persia. An unusual thing about this recipe is that it calls for three rounds of proving of the dough rather than the usual two. I did a few modifications when made this. I chose to go with a round cookie cutter to shape the buns, but a lot of people have used heart-shaped ones too. I reduced the sugar in the dough by a third and also avoided the final dusting of icing sugar. Instead, I opted to go for just a final dusting of toasted, crushed cumin.

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