Sunday, January 26, 2014

DIY : Homemade Granola Bars




Happy 2014!! While I’ve made just about zero resolutions because they never seem to last beyond a week, I do have very high hopes for this year! I’ve just joined the #100HappyDays bandwagon, hopefully I see this through. If you want to cheer me on, I’m doing it on Instagram, come say hi! A few encouraging should go a long way in pushing me to do it for THREE and a HALF months, probably the longest commitment I’ve ever made! If you’re doing it too, tell me & we’ll cheer each other on.

                             

Anyway, the first thing that’d make me happy is losing the 10 kilos I’ve gained in the past year and half that just don’t seem to go away. Began gymming last month, and had been living on granola bars for the hi-energy post workout snack. But the problem was, I’m way too picky and only ended up eating one flavour, over and over, out of the measly 3-4 that are available in this country.



Baking healthy food has always intimidated me, especially in Bombay, because of the weird ingredients you find in the recipes, like flax seed, brown rice syrup etc. So even if I DID want to try, the ingredients stopped me [flax seed is actually available very very easily in Bombay, it’s just called something else]. But since I was sick of eating the oats & chocolate flavour, I spent half of a Sunday browsing recipes and doing some research to find a manageable recipe. And I know everyone says this, but you’d be surprised at how easy it was, it took literally 10 minutes of prep, and that includes looking for the ingredients in all the cupboards of the kitchen.



I’ve made this recipe thrice in 2 weeks, and have learnt that a higher molasses:honey ratio is needed to make the bars sticky enough to not crumble. The ones pictured here are 1:1, but a 3:1 ratio I made before this was perfectly compact, stayed together, and was crunchy to perfection. A 2:1 ratio will also work and is the third combination I tried, which were my favourite. You get the flavour of the honey and the stickiness of the molasses for perfect gym/work/school snacks.
                            

Homemade Granola Bars
Adapted from The Kitchn, a LOT of Google, trials & some error

1 3/4 cups old-fashioned oats
1 cup crispy rice cereal, puffed millet, high-fiber cereal mix, crushed pretzel sticks, or any other crispy grain or cereal
1/2 cup chopped nuts (I love walnuts, peanuts & almonds)
3/4 cup dried fruits (I love dates, figs & raisins)
1/2 cup syrup (I love 2:1 molasses:honey ratio)
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 - 1 tsp spices, like cinnamon or pumpkin pie spice (optional)
3 tsp peanut butter or 1 tbsp cocoa powder (optional for firmer bars)

Instructions
  1.  Preheat your oven to 350 F [180 C]. Grease and line a baking pan with parchment, leaving some overhang on the sides so it's easy to pick up.
  2. Toast the nuts, oats and rice cereal on low until they become almost crispy, about 10 minutes. Optional is soaking the dried fruits in hot water for 10 minutes to make them softer, I chopped them small & don't feel the need. If you do choose to do this, make sure you dry them with a paper towel before using.
  3. In a small bowl, warm your syrups of choice for about 15 seconds till it becomes looser in consistency. Add the vanilla, salt and other spices, if using, and mix well.
  4. In a large bowl, pour out the nuts, oats, rice cereal and dried fruits. Pour the warmed syrup mixture, and the peanut butter / cocoa powder, if using. Mix well.
  5. Pour out this mixture onto the prepared sheet. Pack extremely tightly or else you will end up with crumbly bars. The greased bottom of a measuring cup works well for this. Pack them up to your desired height, it doesn't need to match the size of your pan, as you can see in the picture below, the mixture holds shape pretty well.
  6. Bake for 20-25 minutes for chewy bars, add another 5 minutes for crunchy bars (I love them just around the 25 minute mark)
  7. Let them cool completely, this is very important. Once completely cooled, cut into bars of desired size & store in an airtight container. Pack 2-3 of these into your boxes everyday and see your weight drop.

Sunday, December 8, 2013

Gooey Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough Bars

Gooey Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough Bars

These bars...

They're just pure sin!

And I polished off more than half a pan myself late one night *embarrassed smile*


So I'm never making them again... especially given that I've just realised I've gained 10 kilos over the last year & need to lose it by the end of January!

Gooey Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough Bars

But you totally should... Just make sure you have lots of people around that you can gift them to, they're not all that fattening if you eat 1-2 bars like any normal human being would, but unfortunately these are the sort that make you want to curl up in your favorite pyjamas, play your favorite movie and munch on till you forget you were ever trying to diet! They've got oats, so they're sorta healthy too!


http://yumsiliciousbakes.blogspot.com/2013/12/gooey-chocolate-chip-cookie-dough-bars.html


Gooey Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough Bars
Adapted from Recipe Girl
Makes one 9x13 pan, or 24 bars


For the Gooey Chocolate filling:
2 cups semi-sweet chocolate chips
One 14-ounce can sweetened condensed milk
2 tsp vanilla extract

For the cookies:
1 cup [2 sticks / 226 g] unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 cup light brown sugar
1/2 cup [100 g] granulated white sugar
1 large egg
1 large egg yolk
1 tbsp vanilla extract
2 cups [240 g] all-purpose flour
1 cup quick-cooking or old-fashioned rolled oats
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp salt - omit if using salted butter
2 cups semi-sweet chocolate chips

Instructions:
  1. Preheat oven to 350 F [180 C]. Grease and line a 9x13 pan with parchment paper or strong foil, leaving enough overhang to lift the bars out of the pan.
  2. For the gooey chocolate filling: In a small saucepan over extreme low heat, melt together the chocolate chips & condensed milk, stirring constantly, until the chocolate has melted. Take the pan off the heat, stir in the vanilla and set aside to cool.
  3. For the cookie: In the bowl of your mixer, beat the butter and sugars together until light and creamy. Beat in the egg, egg yolk & vanilla.
  4. In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, oats, baking powder, baking soda and salt (if using). Add this to the butter mixture, beating just until incorporated. Stir in the chocolate chips.
  5. Divide the dough into two halves. Use one half and press down lightly in the bottom of the pan until it's more or less an even layer. Now pour the cooled chocolate mixture on top, spreading to create an even layer.
  6. Add dollops of the remaining dough on top of the chocolate layer, it's ok if it doesn't cover it completely, I chose to have quite a bit of the chocolate layer peeking through.
  7. Bake 20-25 minutes until golden brown. Cool completely, then cut into bars (refrigerating these bars for half an hour just before cutting will give you neater bars, allow to come back to room temperature before serving)

Sunday, October 13, 2013

Chocolate Truffle Tart

Chocolate Truffle Tart

What do you when craving strikes? A craving so bad that a piece of your favorite chocolate bar, brownies that you love munching on day or night, or even the mud cake from your favorite restaurant in the city won't do? And even better, what do you do when this craving strikes at 2 am on a working night, with a persistence that you know won't subside?

If you're me, you make this tart that you'd bookmarked a while away but never gotten around to making. It's perfect because it's quick, and no weird ingredients, just the pantry basics. With a nice dollop of ice cream, in less than an hour you're golden, with the intense craving fulfilled and a euphoric feeling about you.

Chocolate Truffle Tart

The original recipe from Gourmet uses chocolate Nabisco wafers for the crust, which aren't available here. I've seen some variations of it with a normal pâte sucrée, but since I was trying to satisfy a mean craving, I went with a gorgeous chocolate tart dough by Johnny Iuzzini. And what a great decision that was...the biscuity tart base went perfectly with the rich, dense chocolate filling, highlighting the richness of the filling even more and yet standing out by itself as a great dessert. And the best bit? No pastry cutter, keeping the butter cold, oh so delicate touch needed, I made this in my KA!

Chocolate Truffle Tart

Chocolate Truffle Tart

For the Chocolate Tart Dough
Recipe from Dessert FourPlay by Johnny Iuzzini [India | USA | UK]

10 tbsp [114 g] cold unsalted butter, cut into pieces
3/4 cup sugar
1 tsp salt [omit if using salted butter]
1 large egg
1 large egg white
2 1/2 cups [300 g] all-purpose flour
1/2 cup [40 g] unsweetened cocoa powder
1 tsp baking powder

For the chocolate filling:
Adapted from Gourmet.com
1/2 lb [8 oz] fine-quality bittersweet chocolate (no more than 60% cacao if marked), coarsely chopped
3/4 stick [6 tbsp / 90 g] unsalted butter, cut into 1/2-inch cubes
2 large eggs, lightly beaten
1/3 cup heavy cream
1/4 cup [50 g] granulated sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 tsp vanilla extract

Equipment needed:
9 inch springform pan or an 8 inch tart pan & two 4 inch tart pans

Instructions-
  1.  For the chocolate tart dough: In a large bowl, cream together the butter and sugar until soft. Add the salt [if using], the egg and the egg white, beating between each addition.
  2. In a separate bowl, sift together the flour, cocoa powder and baking powder. Add this to the butter mixture, and beat till it comes together.
  3. Shape into a round disc, wrap in cling film and refrigerate for half hour.
  4. Preheat oven to 375 F [190 C], and roll dough out after refrigeration [I always roll out between sheets of parchment / cling film]. Line the tart pans of your choice, then put a layer of parchment, and fill with pie weights or coins. Bake for 20 minutes.
  5. For the chocolate truffle filling: Melt the chocolate and butter together over low heat. Cool to room temperature
  6. Add the eggs, the heavy cream, sugar, salt and vanilla extract. Pour into baked chocolate tart shells and bake for 20 minutes, until filling is just slightly jiggly in the center.
  7. Serve warm with a dollop of ice cream

Saturday, July 13, 2013

Chocolate Marble Bundt Cake

IMG_2024

4 months since the last post on this... 4 (or a little less) months since life has taken a full turn, and everything I knew to be normal changed.

No.. there's no death, there's no life-threatening illnesses that happened. Just a lot of drama, a lot of confusion, and a lot of re-thinking of life. Which is why I've been away from the blog so much.. I've just lost all motivation. I didn't even know Google Reader had shut down!

I logged on last week because I finally managed some time.. and saw that I couldn't read any of my blogs anymore. I've begun using Feedly for now, what are you guys using?

Anyway... on to the cake. Over a year ago, I'd excitedly ordered this bundt pan, and got a friend to lug it over for me, since finding one in India at that time was next to impossible. And then I used it once, it's been sitting on my table ever since.. I kept it there as a reminder to use it. After seeing it everyday and not using it, finally a day after my birthday, I picked it up and went in to the kitchen. Figured baking would be my birthday gift to myself.

And I realised.. I'd forgotten how much I absolutely love baking. What a stress buster it is. How calming the measuring and scooping out of ingredients could be.. how therapeutic watching the mixer turn regular ingredients into gorgeous batter could be, and how enjoyable the sense of letting go and relying on the oven was. The anticipation of watching the oven work its magic and turn regular batter into a thing of joy was the perfect birthday gift.

As was this cake. It's the perfect coffee cake, it's light yet rich, and not sickeningly sweet. I forgot to marble the cake, and instead just ended up layering it, but it was just an aesthical flaw. I found the recipe over at Food Librarian, whose I Like Big Bundts activity is the first thing that shows when you look for bundts. When I clicked over and saw that the recipe is from my favorite book, Baked , I was sold!

Make this cake now. It's a crowd pleaser! Also, please do tell me how you guys are managing without Reader, is Feedly really the best option?



IMG_2019

Marble Bundt Cake
Adapted from Baked: New Frontiers in Baking

Chocolate Swirl
6 ounces dark chocolate, coarsely chopped
1 tsp unsweetened dark cocoa powder

Sour Cream Cake
1 cup [2 sticks/226 g] unsalted butter, at room temperature
2 1/4 cups [450 g] sugar
4 large eggs
16 ounces sour cream - I used homemade sour cream, so the weight will vary
1 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
3 1/2 cups [420 g] all-purpose flour
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1 1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt - omit if using salted butter

Instructions -
  1. Preheat oven to 350 F (180 C). Grease and flour a 10 cup bundt pan (Mine's a 12 cup).
  2.  Chocolate Swirl - In a medium saucepan, melt together the chocolate and cocoa on extremely low heat, stirring constantly. Set aside to cool to room temperature.
  3. Sour Cream Cake - In the bowl of your mixer, cream together the butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Scrape down, then add the eggs one at a time, beating between each addition. Now stir in the sour cream and vanilla, and mix till incorporated
  4. In a large bowl, sift together the flour, baking powder, baking soda & salt (if using). Add this into the butter mixture in three additions, mixing just till incorporated between each addition, do not overmix.
  5. Scoop 1/3 of the ready batter (approximate is fine) into the chocolate mixture, and stir until evenly mixed.
  6. Pour half of the remaining batter into the bundt pan, and level with a spatula. Scoop the chocolate batter on top of this in dollops, it's ok if some of the white batter peeks through. Using a knife, swirl through the batter. Now pour the remaining batter on top, and swirl with a knife again.
  7. Bake for about 1 hour, or until a knife inserted comes out clean. You might need to tent the top with a foil if you feel it's getting too brown.
  8. Cool to room temperature and remove from pan. Serves 6-8.

Monday, February 18, 2013

Strawberry Lemon Curd

Strawberry Lemon Curd
Excuse the horrible picture, it's taken from my phone. Will try and update post later.

I feel like a broken record, each time I begin writing a post for this blog, the same words come to me 'sorry for being away for so long'! I don't know what it is or what to do, but somehow I just can't seem to find time to even bake, let alone blog. Must. Repair. Now. Hopefully you'll see a change soon.

Even when I do decide to make something, it doesn't go too well. It was time for this month's Secret Recipe Club post, and my assigned blog was A Teaspoon of Spice. This blog actually challenged me, since it's run by two dieticians! And everything I put on this blog is usually an indulgence, a dessert for when a person's down in the dumps, or just generally having a craving.

Strawberry Lemon Curd

It's strawberry season here in India, and I was looking for something to make with them. I've been meaning to bake these cupcakes, or a strawberry pie since forever, but as you can guess, never got around to doing it. I found the perfect recipe, that I knew would work for the new lack of time Avanika. It was shamefully easy, but I think the kitchen was annoyed at being ignored, I had quite a mishap with the blender, I ended up covered in burning hot strawberry sauce. Buttttt... You guys ought to be proud, instead of giving up, I sat down to chop all 3 cups of strawberries again and re-made the sauce. I'm hoping this means the laziness has finally gone away.

This sauce isn't as thick as a lemon curd, but is the perfect breakfast accompaniment, along with some toast, or drizzled over some sponge cake and cream. The lemon balances out the sweetness of the strawberries, and there's just a hint of puckeriness. But probably the sense that is tingled the most on eating a spoonful of this is the smell. It is just divine, it makes you want to jump into a pool of the curd and never come out!

Strawberry Lemon Curd
Adapted from Teaspoon of Spice
Yield : About 2.5 cups

3 cups [250 g] fresh chopped strawberries
1/2 cup + 1 tbsp [110 g] sugar - adjust depending on sweetness of strawberries
1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
2 tbsp cornstarch
2 egg yolks
1/8 tsp salt
1 tbsp butter

Instructions - 
  1. In a large saucepan over medium-high heat, combine the chopped strawberries, sugar and lemon juice. Bring to a boil, then reduce to simmer for about 7-8 minutes.
  2. Allow to cool for about 10 minutes [Important, in case you have a similar mishap]. Blend until smooth.
  3. Pour back into saucepan. In a small bowl, combine the cornstarch and the egg yolks. Pour into the strawberry mixture, and cook on medium-low for about 1 minute, till it thickens and a finger swiped across the spoon leaves a clear path.
  4. Add the salt and butter. Allow to cool in the refrigerator for at least an hour.  Enjoy :)
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