Friday, January 31, 2014

Praline Almonds

Incorporating nuts in your diet is healthy and it's quite easy to roast and flavor them at home - be it spicy, salty or sweet.  Today's recipe is one that I made over the holidays and packed as a gift for a few of my husband's colleagues.... This also turned out to be a tasty snack that we enjoyed as well.
It's a really simple recipe and doesn't need a lot of ingredients. The cream and sugar caramelize together and give a tasty crunch to the almonds.

PRALINE ALMONDS



Ingredients:

Almonds - 2 cups, whole
Light brown sugar - half cup
Heavy Cream - 4 tbsp

Method:

1) Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Spread a baking sheet with some parchment paper and coat with a light spray of oil. 

2) In a bowl, toss together the almonds, brown sugar and heavy cream. 

3) Spread this almond mixture over the prepared baking sheet  and bake in oven for about 20 mins or so (until the coating is dry).. stirring once or twice in between...  

4) Remove from oven and allow to cool (it will get crispier as it cools) and store in an airtight container and Enjoy :)

Thursday, January 16, 2014

English Toffee Pudding

It's been ages since I updated this blog and though I've been cooking and clicking pictures fairly often, I've been unable to write them down here...  Last year was pretty hectic at work and I hope that the year ahead is just as rewarding & challenging but not quite so crazy. 

We celebrated my daughter turning 8 last October and she wanted a beach cake and was quite specific about it being a vanilla cake with a strawberry & cream filling... It was quite easy to work on this and it turned out quite delicious. As always my kids helped decorate the cake and were excited to sprinkle the "sand" (crushed marie biscuits and graham cracker combination). For the "beach mats", I put different colored tootsie rolls side by side and microwaved them for 10 secs to soften and then rolled it when warm and malleable... I also used the same method to cut out stars and weeds. The rest of the beach was decorated with different candies and some lego toys as the kiddos wished.



Next came Deepavali and since this was our first deepavali celebration with my inlaws, we had quite an elaborate preparation with many sweets and snacks (we stayed up late most nights to make these... but well worth the efforts and had fun making them together). We made 7 cups burfi, coconut burfi, chocolate fudge balls, Mango bars, Asoka Halwa, Chaklis, Ribbon Pakoda and Mixture.



For New Year, I made this English toffee pudding... just the word toffee is enough to entice me but since i had never tasted or seen this pudding/cake before, it was with much trepidation that I tried it out but boy it was a smashing hit! I followed a recipe from the food network and made a few tweaks. The painful part of the recipe would be the chopping of dates into tiny pieces but I outsourced that job to my husband so it came together fairly easily and painlessly (atleast for me :) )  I know the picture is not great... but trust me when I say that it will not disappoint (even date haters loved this).

ENGLISH TOFFEE PUDDING



Ingredients:
All purpose flour - 1 cup + 1 tbsp
Dates, pitted and chopped into tiny pieces - 3/4 to 1 cup
Butter - 1/4 cup, softened
Sugar - 3/4 cup

Boiling water - 1 1/4 cup
Instant Coffee powder - 1 tsp
Egg - 1
Baking powder - 1 tsp

Baking Soda - 1 tsp
Salt - 1/4 tsp

Vanilla - 1 tsp


Toffee Sauce:Butter - 1/4 cup
Heavy Cream - 1/2 cup
Brown Sugar - 1 cup, packed


Method:
1) Preheat oven to 350deg F. Butter a 9 to 10 inch baking dish and set aside. 2)  Dissolve the instant coffee in the boiling water, add baking soda and pour over the dates and set aside to soften, while you prepare the batter.
3) Sift/Whisk together flour, baking powder and salt in a small bowl. 
4) In a large bowl, beat together butter and sugar until fluffy. Then add the egg and vanilla and continue to beat. 
4) Gradually add in the flour mixture and continue to beat. 
5) Pour the date-coffee mixture at this point and fold until well blended. 
6) Pour the batter into the buttered baking dish and bake in oven for 35 mins or until pudding is set. Remove from oven when done and poke holes (I used a skewer) so it can absorb the toffee sauce.

7) Ten minutes before the cake is ready, make the toffee sauce:  combine butter, heavy cream and brown sugar in a small saucepan on medium. Once it begins to boil, reduce heat to med-low and allow to simmer until thickened slightly. 


8) Pour about half of this over the warm cake so it can absorb the sauce. The rest can be drizzled over the slices when serving. 

This can be served with whipped cream or vanilla icecream but everyone enjoyed it plain so I didn't add on the extra calories. Happy New Year everyone! :)