Monday, April 27, 2009

Daring Bakers - Cheesecake

Daring Bakers April 2009 - Cheesecake Centerpiece

Cheesecake cupcakes

After a very sweaty but delicious March challenge of Daring Bakers Lasagna, April challenge was very relaxing and cool..

The April 2009 challenge is hosted by Jenny from Jenny Bakes. She has chosen Abbey's Infamous Cheesecake as the challenge.

Cheesecake was very new to me as i had never baked a cheesecake before and had tasted it just once as one of my friend had forced me to try it as it was her favorite dessert. It was long time ago and i had almost forgot how it had tasted. I used to avoid buying cheesecake as just had in mind that, it would be full of cheese and would load me with calories.. And finally i ended up baking it for the Daring Bakers challenge and i had to bake it!
The challenge here was to bake not a usual cheesecake but we were given freedom to play with the flavours, the sauces and the topping. We had to make it look and taste unique and make it a showstopper of a dessert. Yes, it was another daring bakers creative challenge.

First thing i did was i stepped into a bakery and tasted a simple cheesecake. Just to get the taste of it so that i could think upon what kind of flavours i could use and with what i could decorate it with. Then i decided to pair it with cardamom, as somehow i felt it would taste more like our North Indian sweets where Indian cheese, Paneer is paired with cardamom and i loved that combination. For the topping i decided to use a vibrant colour which would go well with the light shade of the cheese filling. I then decided to use fruits, all kinds, berry's, banana, grapes.. I found this gelatine based strawberry glaze which i thought, i would use over the fruits. Finally i ended up with a rich, creamy and delicious dessert. I actually fell in love with it. I loved the combination of the base, the creamy cheese filling paired with cardamom and the stawberry glazed fruits topping. It was scrumptious.

The recipe would fit for a 9" springform pan but i had a 7" pan. So i used the recipe for one 7" pan and used up the extra with a muffin pan, where i got another 6 muffin shaped cheese cakes.

So here is the recipe..

Abbey's Infamous Cheesecake:

2 cups / 180 g graham cracker crumbs (I used zweiback)
1 stick / 4 oz butter, melted
2 tbsp. / 24 g sugar
1 tsp. vanilla extract

3 sticks of cream cheese, 8 oz each (total of 24 oz) room temperature
1 cup / 210 g sugar
3 large eggs
1 cup / 8 oz heavy cream
3 cardamon pods, with seeds removed
1 tbsp. fresh lemon juice
1 tbsp. vanilla extract (or the innards of a vanilla bean)


2 Cups fruits, Chopped ( Strawberry, raspberry, blueberry, banana, grapes)
250 ml Water, hot

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (Gas Mark 4 = 180C = Moderate heat). Begin to boil a large pot of water for the water bath.

2. Mix together the crust ingredients and press into your preferred pan. You can press the crust just into the bottom, or up the sides of the pan too - baker's choice. Set crust aside.

3. Combine cream cheese, cardamom seeds and sugar in the bowl of a stand-mixer (or in a large bowl if using a hand-mixer) and cream together until smooth. Add eggs, one at a time, fully incorporating each before adding the next. Make sure to scrape down the bowl in between each egg. Add heavy cream, vanilla, lemon juice, and alcohol and blend until smooth and creamy.

4. Pour batter into prepared crust and tap the pan on the counter a few times to bring all air bubbles to the surface. Place pan into a larger pan and pour boiling water into the larger pan until halfway up the side of the cheesecake pan. If cheesecake pan is not airtight, cover bottom securely with foil before adding water.

5. Bake 45 to 55 minutes, until it is almost done - this can be hard to judge, but you're looking for the cake to hold together, but still have a lot of jiggle to it in the center. You don't want it to be completely firm at this stage. Close the oven door, turn the heat off, and let rest in the cooling oven for one hour. This lets the cake finish cooking and cool down gently enough so that it won't crack on the top. After one hour, remove cheesecake from oven and lift carefully out of water bath. Let it finish cooling on the counter, and then cover and put in the fridge to chill. Once fully chilled, it is ready to serve.

6. For the topping, spread the chopped fruits over the chilled cake.

Stir in hot boiling water with tortenguss and leave it for a minute for the flavour to infuse. Just pour the tortenguss liquid over the fruits and chill.

7.Just before you serve just take some left over crust mixture and pat the sides of the cheesecake with your hands, just to cover the sides evenly.

Pan note: The creator of this recipe used to use a springform pan, but no matter how well she wrapped the thing in tin foil, water would always seep in and make the crust soggy. Now she uses one of those 1-use foil "casserole" shaped pans from the grocery store. They're 8 or 9 inches wide and really deep, and best of all, water-tight. When it comes time to serve, just cut the foil away.

Prep notes: While the actual making of this cheesecake is a minimal time commitment, it does need to bake for almost an hour, cool in the oven for an hour, and chill overnight before it is served. Please plan accordingly!

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Paneer Kheer (Indian Cottage Cheese Pudding)

A simple yet an elegent dessert. When one thinks of Kheer one automatically relates it to rice kheer or semolina kheer. Here is a brilliant innovation, the "paneer kheer". As the name suggests this kheer is made with grated paneer that is cooked in milk along with some sugar and flavoured with cardamom powder. The dry fruits provides the crunch and enhances the taste also adding to the richness of the dessert. Corn flour has been added to help thicken the milk faster so as to reduce cooking time. Since dairy products are plentiful in North India, this dessert is an apt end to North Indian meal. This dessert is a great made ahead option to opt for..

Preparation time:5 minutes
Cooking time: 15 minutes

Ingredients required:

3 Cups milk
2 tbsp cornflour dissolved in 5 tbsp water
1/2 cup sugar
1 1/4 cups grated paneer (cottage cheese)
2 tbsp chopped pistachios
2 tbsp chopped almonds
1/2 tsp cardamom powder

To decorate:
4 tbsp Sweetened Condensed milk
Few roasted and chopped nuts on top


Combine milk and sugar in a broad non-stick pan. Simmer on a medium flame, while stirring continously, till the sugar dissolves completely.

Add the cornflour mixture and stir continously till the mixture thickens.

Add the paneer, pistachios, almonds and cardamom powder and mix well. Thats it!

Refrigerate for atleast an hour.

Serve Chilled with a spoon of condensed milk on top and decorate with roasted and chopped nuts.


Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Sweet Ricotta Pie

This dessert uses pasta frolla, a sweet Italian pie dough for the base and lattice. The filling used here in this recipe can be made in minutes. It uses just 5 ingredients and Anisette, a licorice-flavoured liqueur, is the traditional flavouring for this type of cheese cake, but you can use anise extract or alter the flavour completely by substituting vanilla or almond extract, using brandy, or mixing in a little fruit-flavoured liqueur, such as Grand Marnier.

I made a mini version of this recipe as i had to serve just 2 people. I reduced the recipe into half (reduced all the ingredients for filling by half and used just 1 large egg) and used 4 mini tart molds instead of a large one. I loved this dessert as it has a light cheese filling and a crisp cookie feel base. I freezed half the recipe of pasta frolla and will be using it for other recipes.

Recipe adapted from "Baking With Julia"

Ingredients required;

1 pound, OR 450 gms whole milk ricotta
1/3 cup sugar, ( i added a little extra for the sweetness)
1 tbsp anisette or 1 tbsp vanilla extract
3 large eggs, beaten
1/2 tsp cinnamon

1 recipe Pasta Frolla


Stir in ricotta, sugar, anisette, and eggs together in a bowl until smooth; set aside.

Position a rack in the lower third of the oven and preheat the oven to 350 deg F. Butter a 9-inch glass pie plate. (If you dont have a glass pie plate, use metal, but increase the oven temperature to 375 deg F.) (I used mini tart molds)

Working with 2/3 rd of the dough, knead it into a disc and roll it on a lightly floured work surface into a 12 inch circle. Transfer the dough to the pie plate and press it gently against the bottom and up the sides of the plate. Dont worry if the dough tears-just press it back together. Use the dull side of the knife to trim the excess dough even with the rim. Srape the filling into the pie shell, smooth the top, and dust with cinnamon.

Forming the lattice
Knead and shape the remaining piece of dough into a block and roll it on a lightly floured surface into a 9-inch square. Using a pizza or pastry cutter ( a ruffle-edged pastry wheel is nice) or a thin sharp knife, cut the dough into 12 even strips. To form the lattice top, lay 6 of the strips across the pie at 1 1/4 inch intervals, then crisscross with the remaining strips, placing them diagonally across the first strips. Trim the ends of the lattice even with the edge of the pan.

Baking the Pie
Bake for 35 to 40 minutes, or until the crust is golden and the filling is firm and slightly puffed. Transfer the pie to a rack and cool completely before serving.

Storing ;
Leftovers can be kept, well covered in the refrigerator, for up to 3 days. Serve slightly chilled or at room temperature.

Pasta Frolla

Pasta frolla - pasta means "paste" or "dough" amd frolla means "tender" - is a sweet Italian pie dough. It is indeed tender, light and crumbly too, and a crust as commendable with savory fillings as with sweet such as Sweet Ricotta Pie. Its a made-in-the-food-processor dough thats's almost indestructable. And because of relatively large amount of sugar, you dont have to worry about overworking it, nor do you need to be concerned if it cracks as it goes into the pie plate - everything is fixable.

Makes enough for a 9-inch lattice -topped pie

You'll need the following Ingredients...

2 cups all-purpose flour
1/3 cup sugar
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
1 stick (4 ounces) cold unsalted butter or 4 ounces cold lard, cut into 8 pieces
2 large eggs, lightly beaten


Put the flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt into the work bowl of a food processor fitted with metal blade; pulse a few time just to mix the ingredients. Add the butter and pulse 15 to 20 minutes, or until the mixture resembles fine cornmeal. With the machine running, add the eggs and process until the dough forms a ball on the blade, about a minute or so. Remove the dough from the food processor and knead it, folding it over on itself, until it is smooth, 1 to 2 minutes. Wrap the dough in plastic and set aside for up to 30 minutes, or chill until needed.

The dough can be made up to 3 days ahead, wrapped well, and refrigerated, or frozen, tightly wrapped, for up to a month. Thaw , still wrapped, in the refrigerator.

Try this recipe with Sweet Ricotta Pie.

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Goanese Potato Curry

This delicious curry tastes great with parathas or preferably with steamed rice or pulao. Here is a lovely blend of spices and coconut which gives the curry an authentic taste.

Recipe adapted from Tarla Dalal's Curries and Kadhis


4 cups big chunks of potatoes
1 large tomato
2 tbsp oil (sunflower or vegetable)
1 tsp mustard seeds
Salt to taste

For the paste
2 whole onions
2 tsp poppy seeds (khus-khus)
2 sticks cinnamon (dalchini)
2 cloves (laung)
2 peppercorns
2 tsp coriander (dhania) seeds
3 whole dry red chillies, broken into pieces
3/4 cup freshly grated coconut or 1/2 cup dessicated coconut powder
5 cloves garlic
3 tsp oil

For the paste

Put 1 tsp of oil in a frying pan and fry the poppy seeds, cinnamon, cloves, peppercorns, corriander seeds and red chillies for a few minutes. Keep aside.

Fry the onions in a tsp of oil till they are soft and keep aside.

Put 2 tsp of oil in a frying pan and fry the coconut for 1 minute.

Mix all the above three ingredients along with garlic and blend to a smooth paste in the blender by adding a little water if required.

How to Proceed

Cut the tomatoes into big pieces, add two cups of water and cook. When soft, prepare a soup by passing through a sieve. Keep aside.

Heat the oil in a kadai, add mustard seeds. When the mustard seeds stop crackling add the potatoes, salt and a cup of water. Cover with a lid and cook till the potatoes are done.

Add the paste, tomato soup and salt (if required) and bring to a boil.

Serve hot. Its yumm!!

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