Dec 20, 2011

Fruit and Nut Ricotta Cheese Muffins

When you think baking is a cake is too much work, bake some muffins. Even though this is baker banter, the moral behind is that when something seems too big to accomplish, take baby steps. 

Muffins always make me happy. They're easy to make, easy to eat and always handy. You don't need a fork to eat them. You can eat them while driving..while on the phone...while feeding your baby (which takes eternity by the way!)..while putting up Christmas ornaments..or just about any time you feel like eating one. 

This muffin here is a "throw all you find in the batter" kind of muffin. My sister's left over dried jujubes, some dried sweet candy fruit, some coconut, almonds etc..all went in here. This recipe base is from Joy of Baking's chocolate ricotta cheese muffin. I used the flour, egg, sugar, butter measurements from there and then added the fruits and nuts sans the chocolate. (I know..I'm twisted). 

Here's the basic ingredients and measurements -

Ricotta Cheese - 1 cup
Eggs - 2 large
1 1/3 cup Milk
1 tbsp Vanilla extract
4 tbsps Unsalted Butter melted and cooled
2 cups All Purpose Flour
1 1/4 cup granulated white sugar
2 tsps baking powder
1/2 tsp salt

Dried fruits - Jujubes, dried cherries, etc - 1/4 cup each if using 2 ingredients - if more or less, adjust the quantity accordingly. Total should be about 1/2 cup
Sweetened dessicated coconut - 1/2 cup
Sliced or broken almonds - 1/2 cup

Here are the dried Jujubes...courtesy my sister and her visit to the farmers market. These are chewy with a subtle sweetness and my mind screams granola bars when I see them. I will have to calm my mind sometime soon..

Some dried sweet 'tutti-fruiti' - I bought a whole big packet a while back and had major plans of baking a lot of things with this. And then days passed..the pack shrunk in size. All I have to say they make a great quick dessert after a wonder the pack shrunk..

Chop up some almonds if you don't have the pricey sliced almonds at home. These are roasted almonds.

And of course sweetened dessicated coconut. My favorite. If you have some of this, mix them up with melted semi sweet chocolate chips and you have a pronto german chocolate cream.

Add all the fry ingredients and mix together. Add the flour, sugar, salt and baking powder and set aside.

In another bowl, add the ricotta cheese, eggs, melted butter and vanilla extract and mix everything together until the eggs are well incorporated.

Finally add the milk in here and whisk together well.

Slowly mix together the dry and wet ingredients in low speed.

Mix all the fruit and nut ingredients in a bowl.

Add the mixed fruit and nuts to the batter.

Pour spoonfuls 3/4 way in a lined muffin pan. Bake in a pre heated oven at 350F for about 20 mins until the muffins are well done.

Take them out when golden and you know what to do next.

Stare at them for a while and then gorge down on them.

And here's how they look inside packed with the fruits and nuts. Delicious biteable muffins.

Wishing you all a wonderful holiday season and a very Happy New Year!!

Enjoy. Peace Out!

Dec 8, 2011

Mocha Chocolate Shortbread

When there's happiness to be shared, it should always be accompanied by chocolate. Is that not true?

So, here I'am sharing happiness with all of you again. And that does come with chocolate too. There are many reasons to be thankful and happy - and my biggest reason now is that my little girl is here - she was born the first week in November. And yes, when the say a baby changes life, its all true. Now I have two little girls to spoil - and oh yes a lot more girly shopping that I can indulge in!

Another big reason to be thankful and happy is that my blog turns 3 today! My heartfelt thanks to all of you for being a part of the blog. Thanks for all your wonderful and supportive feedback even though I've not been very active the last couple of months.

Here's a super easy shortbread recipe - a favorite of mine from the Southern Living magazine archives. If you have an IPad - download the Southern Living My Recipes app - it provides a beautiful dessert recipe for every day of the year and some more. The app costs about 4 bucks but its all worth it if you enjoy baking or just looking at pretty pictures.

Here the link to the original recipe - Mocha Chocolate Shortbread from Southern Living 

Get all your ingredients in place.

1 1/4 cup of All purpose flour
1/2 cup of powdered sugar
2 tsps of Instant coffee granules ( I used taster's choice)
2/3 cup of softened butter
2 cups of semi - sweet chocolate chip morsels
2 tsps vanilla extract - the recipe calls for it - but I was all out and just skipped using it. Trust me, I did not miss it

The great thing about this recipe is that it is an eggless recipe as well and takes about 5 mins to prepare. You can make this as a quick dessert when you have friends over for an impromptu dinner.

To a mixing bowl, add the flour, sugar and instant coffee crystals.

Add the butter and vanilla extract and mix well in slow speed. It is very important that the butter is softened and not completely melted in order to get the crisp texture of the shortbread.

And this is how the dough looks once mixed well.

Now add 1 cup of the semi sweet chocolate chips to the dough and mix well using a spatula.

Spread out the dough in an ungreased 9 inch square pan.

Using a fork, poke in a few times to aerate the surface.

Bake in a pre heated oven at 325F for about 20 mins until the top gets a little brown.

Switch off the oven and immediately add the remaining 1 cup of semi sweet morsels. I added a few more of milk chocolate morsels ( because two little hands and a mouth ate some of my semi sweet chips in the pretext of helping me in the kitchen!)

In a couple of mins, the chocolate chips would be melted. Spread it around with a spatula and make an even coating of chocolate on top of the shortbread.

Can I just dive in here and swim??

Cut the shortbread into little pieces while its still warm. Then let it cool for about 30 mins to an hr. That's the hardest part of the whole process.

Obviously I could wait - who has 30 mins, right?? These were just oh so melt in your mouth good. Glad I did not wait...all the wet chocolate is worth the warm shortbread..if you know what I mean..just go ahead and indulge. 

Since the theme for A Sweet Punch Series this month was anything that we'd like to bake, I'm sending this across there as well. 

Enjoy. Peace Out!

And Thank You for making 3 years of blogging so much fun!