Nov 22, 2010

Black Forest Trifle

So many wonderful moments in life = So many opportunities to eat cake.

And I'm glad ..really glad to have three opportunities to eat this awesome cake here.

First, my friend's sister is getting engaged next week and of course, we had to have cake at our Ladies Sangeet party for her! And she loves chocolate I picked this just for her. Wishing you Sumi and your darling a Very Sweet and Happy Life together! God Bless the both of you and may you have many many opportunities to eat more cake together!

And then, I also promised our Madhuri of Cook Curry Nook that I'd send along something chocolatey to her 'The Chocolate Fest' event over at her blog. Maddy - first I thought, I'll bake cookies..they were too thin. Then I thought maybe brownies, there were too small. Then I thought just cake..that wasn't enough oomph. So, here you go - many many layers of chocolate cake and chocolatey goodness...all coming your way. Now, I just wish both of us could sit together and dig into this..maybe while getting a pedicure! LOL! So, here it is gal pal..for your special event! Hope its chocolatey enough for you.

And also - well, technically I ate the cake before the opportunity ever arised..but no one's checking. So, here's another reason for a sweet blog post today. The blog's Facebook fan page just got liked by its 400th fan! It is truly a joy for me and at the same time very humbling. Thank you to each and every one of you that ever stopped by here to look at pictures, read my lectures or leave me a kind comment. You all have touched my life in a wonderful way and I'm very grateful to you for that. Thank you.

Moving on to the trifle, this is a black forest trifle. Its basically all we do in a black forest cake - but done in layers in a pretty trifle bowl. The best thing is that you get to customize how pretty it could look - how many layers you need etc. Well, that's probably not the best thing....but its really getting to eat this after its done. But, you get my drift.

If you want a short cut method to make this but still make a grand entrance at your party - go ahead and use a cake mix. Or if you're like me..and would rather spend your saturday morning what I did. Bake a cake from scratch - the smell and the effort is just therapeutic. You'll find all the stress from the last 5 days of your working week just melt away in the smell of chocolate cake baking in the oven.

The cake I chose to bake for the trifle came from the Eagle Brand Condensed milk website, their Black forest Chocolate Cake. I tweaked it a little bit. And used fat free condensed milk to bake the cake. All the goodness of condensed milk minus a few calories my body would not miss.

Here's a pictorial mis en place. The recipe uses shortening which I swapped with regular unsalted butter - I was going to say substituted - but that word feels like you have to use for it for something that is not as rich. And since that was not the case - I just swapped.

Before you start the cake, get some chocolate pudding done. You could entirely skip this - but it does taste good so if you can, just add it in there.

I used good ol' Jello instant pudding. 3 cups of cold milk + Jello powder. Whisk well for 3 mins and let it sit. The pudding is set in about 6-8 mins. But, I just let it sit in the fridge until needed.

My little one was almost ready to start the party with just this!

Now for the cake part.

Sieve together all the dry ingredients and set aside.

13/4 cup All purpose flour - I used the Softasilk cake flour.
3/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
2 tsps baking powder
2 tsps baking soda
1/2 tsp salt

In a mixing bowl, add the wet ingredients -

2 stick unsalted butter (1/2 cup)
1 can fat-free condensed milk.
2 eggs
2/3 cup packed brown sugar

Whisk together in medium speed and when most of it looks combined well, add 1 tsp of vanilla extract.

Gently add the flour mixture to the wet ingredients and keep mixing in low speed.

 When all the flour mix is combined well, add 1/4 cup of hot water to the batter.

Remove the mixing bowl from the base if using an electric mixer. Add 1 cup of semi sweet chocolate chips to the cake batter. Stir in with the batter.

I used a 11-inch spring foam pan. You could use 2 8-inch pans for two individual cakes.

Butter and grease the pan well before adding the batter in. Bake in a pre heated oven at 350F for about 35-40 mins or until the cake passes the toothpick test.

This one here just passed the test.

With flying colors!

Once the cake has completely cooled down, using a serrated knife, cut the cake into two halves. Cut further and make small pieces out of each halves. Try to keep the curved edges, so its easier to fit into the trifle bowl.

Here's the cherry filling - just regular cherry pie filling.

And the pudding.

Start the base with a layer of the chocolate cake. Make sure you press it down so that its an even layer and there are no empty spaces in between. Once the cake layer is done, take little of the pudding and spread it around evenly. Make about a 1/4 inch layer of the pudding .

Here's the trick to a good looking trifle - as you keep adding layers, wipe down the sides so that the next layer sits on a clean rim. Especially because there's going to be white whipped cream involved, you don't want the white to be a little red or a little brown. You want it white, right? That's why this step helps. Just use a small bit of paper towel to wipe down.

Next layer would be the cherries. Dump a generous amount of cherries in the middle.

Then, gently with the spatula, arrange the cherries in a neat order along the walls of the bowl - so when you view from the outside you see a line of cherries. Pretty, right?

Here comes the extra kick. Chocolate shavings - of plain old hersheys! Just use a peeler - works great!

Fill up a little in the middle.

And then cover with a layer of whipped cream. I used Lite Cool Whip, the low fat version. Smoothen the layer and wipe down the sides again as before.

Followed by one other layer of chocolate cake.

And more cherries. This time I gave a double wall of cherries on the side. Just for more prettiness.

And since a double wall of cherries creates a perfect pit - dump in more chocolate cake in there.

Finally cover with whipped cream and smoothen it completely.

Top with more chocolate curls and garnish with pretty maraschino cherries.

Like this. Like it?

Well. Look once more.

Looks pretty on the other side too.

One trifle. Many reasons to enjoy it. Or sometime just no reason at all. Isn't this reason enough?

Enjoy. Peace Out.

Nov 15, 2010

Nameless Rice Recipe

So, here’s the deal.

I made this tonight for dinner. But I have no clue what to call this. So, you can make up your own name for it. And if you can think of anything creative – let me know. It kind of belongs to the Pulav family.

Whatever we decide to call it, I can tell you that it was a very hearty tasty meal for all of us. There’s rice in here, then veggies, then some beans and some nuts and a whole lot of flavor. And it’s a one pot dish – which I love!

I really liked this combination of veggies I used for this dish. But I’m sure you can customize this to your taste and add your favorite veggies in there too.

Starting off with onions, I decided to use the pearl onions instead of the chopped big onions. You can try and talk me out of it if you really want to – but these pearl onions do have a ton of flavor that’s sometimes missing from the big mamma ones. Yes – it’s a pain to peel them, agreed. But they do taste better.

On the veggies front, I used red bell peppers, zucchini and tender green beans. And then for some protein, I added some black chickpea / kala channa. And for an extra crunch – some chopped almonds. What can go wrong with all these wonderful ingredients?

In a wide pan, add about 1 tsp oil. When hot, add about ½ tsp Jeera (Cumin seeds) and ½ tsp Sombu (fennel seeds). When they start to turn brown, add finely chopped ginger and green chilli. Then, add the pearl onions to this and fry for a min.

When that is done, add the rest of the veggies in here. You don’t have to cook them for a long time. Almost immediately, season them well and mix the rice. They will get cooked along with the rice.

Then, add the boiled black channa. Boil it just enough so that they can be squished between your fingers when pressed.

Next comes the seasoning part. I kept the seasoning part simple. Some turmeric for a colorful rice.

Some red chilli – as much spice as you can take. Ours is not much considering my little one also eats from this.

Salt – to taste. I love that my salt container has a whole write up on how to eat salt correctly and not eat too much of it which might lead to unnecessary health conditions. They conclude their speech with these words of wisdom - ‘Salt Responsibly’. How true.

And then some biriyani masala or your favorite pulav masala. I always use Ethnic Kitchens Nawabi Biriyani Masala – like the flavor of that thing!

This is not a required addition but for me it was more of cleaning my fridge and trying to use as much as I have in there. I had some blanched and peeled almonds sitting for a couple of days and decided to add them in here for a crunch. It sure was a great crunch for our almond loving family!

Well..I forgot to tell you to wash and soak about 2 cups of basmati rice before you start all this. Soak the rice in water for about 30 mins or so. Rinse the rice well and drain all the water and add it to the veggies in the pan.

Instead of adding regular water to cook the rice, I decided to use some veggie broth. I think this made all the difference between a regular pulav and a really flavorful one. I mean the flavor that lingers on your tongue after you take a bite and eat it all. That flavor. So, if you can don't skip this. Use a good veggie broth.

For 2 cups of basmati rice and all the veggies, I added about 4 cups of veggie broth. More broth will be added a little later. But this is good for now. Mix everything well together once. Add a little bit more salt to taste for the rice.

Close the pan with a lid and let this boil and cook for about 5 mins or until you see the rice soaking up all the broth.

Like this - this is still partially done rice. There is a little bit of stock left in the pot. At this stage, switch off the stove and move all of this rice to a baking dish.

Now add another half a cup of broth all over the rice.

You can do this step while the rice is cooking. Wash, peel and cut 3-4 potatoes into rounds.

Blanch for about 4-5 mins in hot water. Make sure the potatoes are not completely cooked - you should be able to cut them with a knife but not crush them with a finger..get it?

Cover the rice in the baking dish with the blanched potatoes and some circle cut onions.

Cover with foil and bake in a pre heated oven at 350F for about 20 mins.

After that, increase the temp to 425F and turn on broil and remove the foil and let the potatoes and onions get  broiled for about 5 mins or until you see them turn golden.

Like this.

These potatoes and onions were absolutely awesome to eat along with the rice.

There's some piping hot nameless rice.

I served with some of of my favorite "Tomato-Cucumber-Green Bell Pepper Raitha". And some fresh grilled mango. Just for a twist. I just cut long strips of fresh mango and placed it on a cookie rack right over a medium flame. Like this -

So, have you come up with a name yet?

Enjoy. Peace out!