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BAKED INDULGENCES, SOME WITH A SOUTH ASIAN TWIST

Dec/20/2021 / by BINDU GOPAL RAO, ABHIJIT MASIH, BHARTI PANKAJ
christmas baked goodies

The Med has offered us a variety of delicate dishes, but their sweets daintily walk that line between  nuance and excess. Here, we asked some Indian chefs’ how they’d infuse the tiramisu with their own flavors, and channel more joy into those many-layered cheesecakes.

The Hidden Depths of the Tiramisu

By Bindu Gopal Rao

A coffee-flavored Italian dessert that uses ladyfingers (savoiardi), coffee, eggs, sugar, cocoa and mascarpone cheese, tiramisu is a much-loved dessert. 

A good tip for an easy tiramisu recipe is that, as an alternative, you can layer the tiramisu in a martini glass or ramekin. 

“Be gentle with the mascarpone cheese,” says Suvaranjan Banerjee, executive chef, Grand Mercure Bengaluru at Gopalan Mall. “The cheese needs to be folded into the dessert, not whipped rigorously. Ladyfingers should be dipped in the coffee and taken out timely. Leaving the biscuits to soak in the coffee might result in a very soggy dessert.” 

You can also make an eggless tiramisu recipe. 

Rajat Sachdeva, pastry chef, Sofitel Mumbai BKC, says, “for an eggless option, use milk and double cream in half-n-half proportions instead of eggs. In this case you do not need to make a sabayon or pâte à bombe. Always use mascarpone cheese at room temperature. If you want a set Tiramisu in the desired shape, use gelatin leaves. To avoid measurement while piping Savoiardi (ladyfinger cookies), use ladyfinger baking silpat that is available in the market from brands such as Pavoni or Silikomart, which will make your baking easy and consistent. You can use desired shaped glasses or jars to assemble the Tiramisu if you don’t want to cut it out or serve separately.” 

Always keep the tiramisu in the refrigerator at least for eight hours before serving. Remove the baking sheets from the oven and immediately slide the parchment paper (with the ladyfingers) from the baking sheet onto a wire rack. Let the ladyfingers cool for a minute and then remove the ladyfingers from the parchment paper, using a flat spatula or knife. 

Allow to cool completely on a wire rack (if you leave them to cool completely before removing them from the parchment, they tend to stick and are hard to remove without breaking). Always use mascarpone cheese at room temperature.

Sofitel Mumbai BKC - Tiramisu

In case your mixture gets split, then heat over a slow flame on a double boiler and keep it aside to rest for a while. Always remember to cook eggs not more than 750C–780C, otherwise eggs will get a crumbly texture. Do not overmix the mascarpone cheese with yolk and espresso mix for a neat tiramisu cake recipe. Just do it slowly with a cut and fold method for the best tiramisu recipe. 

Tiramisu (Courtesy Rajat Sachdeva, pastry chef, Sofitel Mumbai BKC)

Serves 8–10

To make savoiardi (ladyfinger biscuits)

Ingredients

  • 9 whole eggs
  • 11 oz caster sugar
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • ¾ lb refined flour

Method

  1. Preheat the oven to 390 degrees F and line baking sheets with parchment paper. Have ready a large pastry bag fitted with a ½ inch plain round nozzle. To make the piping of the cookies easier, use a pencil and ruler to divide the parchment paper into four 3-inch rows, spacing the rows about an inch apart.
  2. Use an electric beater to beat the egg yolks with caster sugar and vanilla extract until the mixture turns thick and shiny.
  3. Sieve the refined flour and fold in the yolk mixture by using the cut-and-fold method.
  4. Once the batter has attained a smooth consistency, pour into the piping bag.
  5. Transfer the batter to your pastry bag and hold the bag at about a 45-degree angle to the baking sheet, pipe the batter into 3-inch long ladyfingers, using the lines drawn on the parchment paper as your guide. Space the ladyfingers about an inch apart.
  6. When you have piped all the cookies, place the powdered sugar in a fine strainer and lightly sift the sugar over the tops of the cookies. Bake for about 8 minutes, or until the ladyfingers are firm but barely brown, and still soft and spongy when lightly pressed.
  7. Remove the baking sheets from the oven and immediately slide the parchment paper (with the ladyfingers) from the baking sheet onto a wire rack. Let the ladyfingers cool for a minute and then remove them from the parchment paper using a flat spatula or knife.
  8. Let everything cool on a wire rack (if you leave them completely cool before removing from the parchment they tend to stick and are hard to remove without breaking).
  9. Makes about 96 3-inch ladyfingers.

To make the tiramisu mixture

Ingredients

  • 10 egg yolks
  • 5 oz caster sugar
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 2 oz Kalua
  • 3 oz espresso
  • 1 ⅔ oz mascarpone cheese
  • 14 oz fresh heavy cream

Method

  1. Place the sugar and water in a pan or small pot and make it boil over medium-high heat. You want to see it really boiling. It should reach up to 2120 degrees F to 2160 degrees F.
  2. Once it is about to boil and reaches up to 1920 F, start beating the egg yolks at high speed. Add the syrup down the side of the bowl but remember to only add the syrup into eggs once it reaches 2120 degrees F. Keep beating on high speed until the mix has cooled down completely. It should look very thick and foamy. This technique is called a “pâté à bombe.”
  3. Keep the pâté à bombe in a bowl to one side, and put the cream and mascarpone in the whipping bowl.
  4. Whip up the cream with the mascarpone cheese until you have a thick and smooth mix. Start at low speed so that it doesn’t go everywhere, then speed it up slowly.
  5. Add half the pâté à bombe to the mascarpone mix and mix them together using a spatula and folding motions. Repeat with the other half.

To soak and assemble:

  • Dissolve the sugar and coffee in the boiling water and let it cool completely before soaking the ladyfingers.
  • Dip the ladyfingers in the coffee for a few seconds (we don’t want them to fall apart). Lay a base of the soaked ladyfingers on the base of the desired dish or pan. Pour in half the tiramisu mix into the pan and repeat the ladyfinger layer on top. Finish with the final layer of tiramisu mix on the ladyfinger layer and spread it out.
  • Refrigerate the tiramisu for at least 8 hours.
  • Dust cocoa powder over the tiramisu and serve using a sharp knife with a non-serrated blade and use a spatula to lift off the pieces.

Nutrition Facts

Serving size; 3 oz

  • 220 Kcal
  • 17g carbohydrates
  • 21g fat
  • 4g protein

The Layered Goodness of Cheesecakes

A cheesecake is all about having layers of ingredients that create a fantasy on your taste buds which adds to its infinite charm.

A layered cake that can be baked or unbaked, cheesecake is a dessert that can take many forms. Cheesecakes reputedly originated in ancient Greece, and were served to athletes at the first Olympic Games. The word ‘cheesecake’ was coined in the 15th century and the dish is believed to have evolved into its current form in the 18th century. 

An easy cheesecake recipe was about combining cream, condensed milk, and cheese over a biscuit butter base. There are many ways to make simple cheesecake recipes and traditional cheesecake recipes that you can find online. The ingredients which are used in cheesecake are cream cheese, icing sugar, caster sugar, corn flour, sour cream, flavors. 

So, as a flavor, we are using mango pulp and mango dicing. To make cheesecake healthier, you can use buckwheat flour and substitute corn flour with egg. For the best cheesecake, avoid whipped cream cheese and use cream cheese blocks instead. Do not poke in the center of the cheesecake to see if it is cooked, and do not open the oven while the cheesecake is being baked. Do not overbake the cheesecake as that will result in cracks, and spoil the texture of the cake. 

Chef Harish Kumar of Crowne Plaza New Delhi Okhla says, “all the ingredients be it cream cheese, eggs, sour cream or even sugar should always be at room temperature to ensure that cheesecake is not lumpy and that the ingredients blend in smoothly. Adding a little flour or cornstarch in the cheesecake also prevents eggs from over coagulating.

Every country has its own version of what they call a cheesecake. It is these myriad interpretations that make the dish much loved across the world. Unlike traditional cakes that are always baked, a cheesecake can be non-baked, which adds to its charm. It is also a great way for non-bakers to start making desserts. 

Sameer Khot, pastry chef,  Grand Hyatt Mumbai Hotel and Residences, shares some tips on how to make cheesecake: “When making cheesecake, don’t over mix the batter or mix on too high speed. Both overmixing and mixing at a high speed add more air to a batter. Too much air in a cheesecake can cause cracks in a few ways.” 

Durbar Basu Ray, pastry chef, Novotel ibis Bengaluru Outer Ring Road, says, “Do not mix the batter at high speed, or overmix. Use little corn starch. It will prevent cracks and give it a creamier texture. Cream cheese used for the recipe should always be used at room temperature to avoid lump formation, and it also helps in mixing evenly.” For an original cheesecake, make sure not to use any additions, such as fruits or chocolates, and using a combination of cream cheese, sugar, sour cream, eggs and vanilla essence you can create a decadent delight in your kitchen. 

Motichur crumble cheesecake (Courtesy Sumiet Raghuvanshi, corporate chef, White Castle Hospitality, which owns M Bar Kitchen, Ozora & Mozza in Kolkata)

Motichur-Crumble-Cheesecake-White-Castle-Hospitality

Ingredients

  • 3 oz Philadelphia cheese
  • 1 ¾ oz whipped cream
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 3 motichur ladoos (available on Amazon)
  • 1 tsp gelatin
  • 1 tablespoon pomegranate (according to taste)
  • Few mint leaves
  • 1 small packet of Oreos
  • 4 tbsp pancake batter
  • Salted caramel for garnish
  • ½ cup refined flour
  • Powdered sugar for garnish

Method

  1. First layer: Mix equal amounts of refined flour and butter together to make a dough of uneven texture, and leave it in the fridge for half an hour. Then, using a rolling pin and some flour, spread the dough to an even thickness and bake at 330 degrees F for 12 min. Let it cool. Then crush it evenly to make the crust of the cheesecake. Put it in the fridge to set.
  2. Second layer: Break the motichur ladoo in a bowl; prepare gelatin and mix it with the ladoo. Put the ladoo mixture on top of the already set layer of homemade cookie.
  3. Third layer: Mix Philadelphia cheese and whipped cream sugar into a uniform mixture. Add fresh pomegranate and mint leaves into the mixture. Mix everything gently and then pour the mixture on top of the motichur layer. Level it evenly and let it set for two hours.
  4. Oreo pakora: Freeze the Oreos for an hour, dip it in pancake batter, and fry it in medium hot oil. Cook evenly from both sides and take out on a tissue paper to soak the excess oil. Dip the hot pakora salted caramel and sprinkle powdered sugar.

Tip: you can use a Corning bowl to set the cheesecake if you don’t have a cake ring.

Garnish: use fresh pomegranate, mint leaves and Oreo pakora as a garnish.

Nutrition Facts

Serving Size: 122 grams

  • 400 kcal
  • 29g carbs
  • 29g fat
  • 7g protein

Yorkshire Pudding

By Abhijit Masih

yorkshire pudding

One of the English county’s most celebrated products since Ben Kingsley and, well, terriers!

Other than the famous personalities from Yorkshire like Jeremy Clarkson from the British motoring program “Top Gear,” and Geoffrey Boycott, the cricketing legend, the other highly popular culinary royalty from the county in northern England is the Yorkshire Pudding.

The traditional Yorkshire pudding is a simple side dish that is astonishingly easy to make. The easy Yorkshire pudding recipe has been popular across the world because it is made from a simple 4 ingredient batter. 

The British, with their piquant sense of humor, describe the perfect Yorkshire pudding as an ex-wife — fat and chubby at the bottom and full of hot air. As the somewhat offensive humor suggests, a perfect Yorkshire pudding batter should be light and airy. It should be puffed and crispy on the outside and tenderly soft on the inside. 

The history and origins of the traditional Yorkshire pudding recipe can be traced back to the early 18th century, when it appeared in an 1737 book titled “The Whole Duty of a Woman.” The popularity spread from the small county in 1747 when the recipe appeared in :The Art of Cookery, Made Plain and Easy” by Hannah Glasse, the most famous of food writers of the time. 

As the book suggests, the plain and easy Yorkshire pudding can be made in the comfort of your home by following the easy Yorkshire pudding recipe.

The Recipe

Ingredients

  • 1 ½ cups all-purpose flour 
  • 4 eggs, at room temperature (for the fluff in the batter and to add structure)
  • 1 ½ cups milk (room temperature (whole Milk – You could use whole milk or any.)
  • ½ tsp salt, to add flavor and slight seasoning. 
  • 6 tbsp oil (canola or vegetable is best)

Method

  1. Make the batter. The milk and eggs should be left to reach room temperature. Put the milk and eggs in a bowl and whisk them for a good 2 minutes. Sift the flour over the wet batter in the bowl and add salt. Continue to whisk to make sure that there are no lumps. Now put the batter into a measuring cup or a jar.
  2. Let the batter rest for at least 30 minutes. This is very important as it allows the milk to soften the flour.
  3. Prepare and preheat your oven. Add ½ tablespoon of canola or vegetable oil into each muffin tin cup. Place the muffin tin on a cookie sheet and put it into your cold oven. Preheat the oven to 450 degrees F. Once the oven has reached the desired temperature, let the pan stay inside for another 5 minutes. 
  4. Bake the Yorkshire pudding. Open the oven door and, working quickly (and safely), pour the batter into each muffin tin to ensure that each tin is 2/3rds full. Close the oven door and bake for 5 minutes at 450 degree F. Then without opening the door reduce the oven temperature to 375 degrees F and bake another 10-15 minutes. 
  5. Dig into the freshly baked Yorkshire pudding.

The traditional Yorkshire pudding continues to be popular not just in England and Europe but all over the world. The chief reason why this simple mixture of flour, eggs, milk, and salt gained tremendous popularity and worldwide reputation is simply because Yorkshire puddings are so easy to make and taste so damn good.

Nutrition facts:

  • Serving size – 1 small
  • Calories – 58
  • Carbs – 5.6 g  – 52%
  • Fat – 1.98 g – 39%
  • Protein – .99 g  – 9%

Gingerbread Cookies

By Bharti Pankaj

gingerbread cookies

The enchanting holiday season is right around the corner, which means it is time to bake Christmas cookies. Making them every year is a tradition. These adorable cookies are so delicious that you just cannot resist having one of them. 

Origin of the Cookie

Gingerbread cookies were first prepared in Greece in 2400 BC. Baking gingerbread cookies is a bonding experience for several families, because you get to decorate the cookies your own way. The best thing about them is that they come in various shapes and sizes. Moreover, the warm and spicy flavor is ideal for winters. 

Here is a recipe that will get your cookies crisp on the outside and soft on the inside. Read on to know about some tips and tricks, along with an authentic gingerbread cookie recipe.

Ingredients

Below are the ingredients you will require in a traditional gingerbread cookie recipe. 

  1. 1 cup molasses 
  2. One tsp baking soda 
  3. 3/4 cup brown sugar 
  4. 11 1/3 unsalted butter 
  5. 1 lb all-purpose flour 
  6. ½  tsp salt 
  7. 1 tbsp ground cinnamon 
  8. 1 egg
  9. ½ tsp ground allspice 
  10. 1 tsp vanilla extract 
  11. 1 tbsp ground ginger 
  12. ½ tsp ground cloves 

Before you move on, it is vital to know that this is the easiest gingerbread cookie recipe you will ever get. So, make sure to use the same ingredients in the mentioned quantity to make the ultimate cookies.

Method

  1. Take a large bowl and add unsalted butter to it. 
  2. Beat the butter with a hand mixer for around a minute on medium speed. Ensure that the butter becomes very soft as well as creamy. 
  3. Next, add brown sugar along with molasses to this bowl. Beat this mixture at a slightly high speed till the entire combination becomes creamy. 
  4. Stir the mixture nicely and scrape the bottom so it does not get stuck to the bowl. 
  5. Add the egg and vanilla extract and start blending them again at high speed. Remember that it is all right if the butter starts to separate from the mixture. Stir it well before moving to the next step. 
  6. In another large bowl, add flour, allspice, baking soda, ginger, salt, cinnamon and cloves. Whisk these ingredients together until they blend nicely. 
  7. Now, take the hand mixer and start whisking the first mixture at a low speed until the wet ingredients get mixed. At this point, the cookie dough will become thick and appear somewhat sticky. 
  8. Divide the dough into two parts and place each half on a plastic wrap. After wrapping the dough pieces properly, create a disc-like shape. You have to chill the dough for a minimum of three hours and a maximum of three days. Do not skip the freezing part as that is crucial. 
  9. Preheat the oven and set aside lined baking sheets with parchment paper.
  10. Now, take out the dough and put flour on the surface generously. Also, apply flour to your hands as well so the process goes on smoothly. Rolling the dough can be a bit tough, but you need to have patience. Keep rolling it out until the dough is 1/4 inch thick.
  11. The dough may crack at several points, so use your fingers to fix this. After re-rolling, the process will start to become easy. Give any shape to the dough and cut it out. Do the same to the rest of the dough by re-rolling.
  12. Place all these shapes on the parchment paper but ensure there is at least a 1-inch gap between them.
  13. It is finally time to bake the cookies. The baking time depends entirely on the size of the cookie cutters. Normally, you should bake them for around 9-10 minutes. Remember that the cookies will become crispier if you bake them for a longer time.
  14. Once baked, let the cookies cool for about 5-10 minutes.
  15. Now start decorating the cookies. From sprinkles to icing, you can do a lot of stuff to decorate them.

Notes

  • Use fingertips to seal the cracks in the dough.
  • Do not miss using lined baking sheets.
  • Bake cookies according to the size.
  • Make sure to refrigerate them to cool them properly.

Nutrition facts

  • Serving: 1 ounce (about 4 pieces)
  • Calories: 118 kcal
  • Fat: 2.8 grams 

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