Perfect Egg-less Chocolate Cake

Have qualms about egg-less baking? This recipe for the Perfect Egg-less Chocolate Cake is the only one you’ll every need, I promise! 😀

Perfect Egg-less Chocolate Cake

 

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Choco-Strawberry Tart

There is something so elegant about tarts that takes my breath away. They are dainty and beautiful. In their pretty little way, they pack in so many different textures and flavours. And they are ALWAYS such a treat! ❤

Yeah, I’m talking about these Choco-Strawberry Tarts!

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Continue reading “Choco-Strawberry Tart”

Vanilla Yogurt Panna Cotta

A couple of days ago, when I was in conversation with my cousin about the tonnes of dessert pictures I upload to my Instagram handle (do follow me @thefoodscape!), she asked me, “Do you ever get anything wrong when you’re baking or making a dessert?” I didn’t need to think about my answer. “All the time,” I replied. 🙂

I have such crazy ideas for desserts, that more often than not they don’t work out. While some can be salvaged with go-to lifesavers like Nutella, Chocolate ganache or ice-cream, others turn out downright inedible. But hey, trial and error is everything! And sometimes if it doesn’t work out, well, that’s okay!

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This is exactly how I came about making this stunning Vanilla Yogurt Panna Cotta doused in Strawberry Compote. My brother was throwing a party for friends and dessert was my responsibility. I knew I wanted to do something with strawberries, and after giving it some thought, I decided to spin a dessert out of the wonderful combination of strawberries and Sunfeast’s Dark Fantasy Choco Fills. So I tried a couple variations of layered whipped cream, crushed cookies and strawberries. An adjustment here, some changes there; yet I just couldn’t get it right. Then I thought, with all that heavy cream lying in my kitchen, some Panna Cotta would be perfect! Out went the biscuits and into a pot on low heat to simmer went the cream… The rest is history. 😛

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Here’s what you need:

For the Vanilla Yogurt Panna Cotta:

  • Heavy Cream – 1 cup (if you’re in India, you can use 1 pack of Amul Whipping Cream)
  • Caster Sugar – 1/4 cup + more if you would prefer it sweeter
  • Vanilla Bean – 1 (alternatively, you could use 2-3 teaspoons of vanilla extract)
  • Yogurt – 1/4 cup
  • Powdered gelatin – 3/4 tsp
  • Milk – 1/4 cup

For the Strawberry Compote:

  • Fresh Strawberries – 500 g, hulled and cubed
  • Sugar – 2 to 3 tbsp
  • Juice of 1 lemon
  • A couple drops of red food colouring (optional)

Here’s how you put this beautiful dessert together:

  • In a pot on low heat, bring heavy cream, sugar and vanilla to a gentle simmer, stirring occasionally.
  • While the cream is cooking, pour gelatin into the milk and allow it to dissolve for about 10 minutes.
  • When the cream comes to a boil, take it off the heat, pull out the vanilla bean and preserve for another use. Gently mix in the milk and gelatin. Then fold in the yogurt, making sure not to incorporate too much air into the mixture.
  • Then pour the cream mixture into cups, dessert bowls or fancy glasses and refrigerate for about eight hours (or overnight) to set.
  • While the Panna Cotta is left to set, bring strawberries, sugar and lemon juice to a boil. When the sugar has dissolved and the strawberries turn mushy, take it off the heat and add some red food colouring. Leave to cool. Once cooled, you can either serve it as is, or run the compote through a fine sieve, and serve just the saucy bit while leaving out the strawberry chunks.
  • When the Panna Cotta has set, pour the compote over it and eat!
  • If you would like to serve your Panna Cotta free-standing (like in the pictures), dip the dessert bowl or ramekin into warm water for about 20 seconds or until the panna cotta pulls away from the mould, then carefully overturn it onto a plate. Pour strawberry compote over it and serve immediately.

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As you can tell, this is one super easy recipe. All it takes is a couple of minutes to put together. The ingredients are easily available, the technique involved is hassle free and it’s just the perfect recipe for when things don’t go your way in the kitchen. All you need is to spare a half-hour ahead of time, pop it into the fridge and then you can forget all about it until it’s time for dessert!

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All of my brother’s guests were blown away by this Vanilla Yogurt Panna Cotta. And when they called it a night and left, the brother, cousin, boyfriend and I went back for some seconds, thirds and fourths! 😉

I love how the sweetness in this dessert is subtle, the tang coming from the yogurt and berries is deliberate and yet it is all perfectly balanced out by the wonderful aroma of vanilla. It is light, packed with flavour and just stunning to look at; what more could you possibly want from dessert? Oh, and it’s the perfect snack too. (Don’t judge me!) 😛

Give this recipe a try right away, maybe as dessert for this Valentine’s Day? It is red and romantic after all! 😉

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Molten Chocolate Cake

First off, Happy New Year to all you wonderful foodies out there! I hope you brought in 2016 with your favourite food. If not, now’s the time. Wait! Errrr, after you read this blog post is the time, actually! 😉

So, Molten Chocolate Cake. This dessert needs no introduction. The past couple of years have been what we can call ‘The Rise of the Molten Chocolate Cake’. It’s everywhere; home-bakers are acing it, it’s on pretty much every restaurant menu and if you do a Google search, there are a million different recipes for this chocolicious delight. It also goes by many names – Chocolate Fondant, Lava Cake, Molten Chocolate Cake, Chocolate Lava Cake.

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Long before I began baking extensively, I wondered how this gorgeous pud was baked. After some research I learned that it had all to do with the baking technique. These little pots of pure chocolate indulgence are baked on high heat for a short time so as to have them firmed up on the outside while ooey-gooey and oozy on the inside; in which case, the egg yolks in the recipe help bring out that custard-y effect! But then I also came across a few recipes which suggested putting quick-melting cubes of chocolate in the centre of the mini-cake before baking to have a perfectly liquid centre. Personally, I prefer the former. And among the million recipes out there, here’s mine! 🙂

Here’s what you need:

  • Dark Chocolate – 250 g, cubed
  • Unsalted Butter – 113 g, plus extra for greasing ramekins
  • Confectioner’s sugar – 200 g
  • Eggs – 3 whole + 3 yolks
  • All Purpose Flour – 120 g
  • Vanilla Essence – 4 tsp

Here’s how you make this spectacular Molten Chocolate Cake:

Step 1: Preheat your oven to 200 degrees Celsius and grease glass or ceramic ramekins with butter. In a large bowl, mix cubes of chocolate and butter. Melt the butter and chocolate in the microwave at medium heat for two minutes. Take out and stir well until smooth.

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Step 2: Sift in the icing sugar and all-purpose flour and beat until the mixture becomes doughy.

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Step 3: Whisk in the whole eggs and egg yolks until the mixture is luscious and creamy. Add the vanilla essence and give it one final mix.

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IMG_4366Step 4: Pour the batter into the greased ramekins until they are filled to about two-third of their capacity. Place the filled ramekins on a baking tray, pop into the oven and bake for 13 minutes at 200 degrees Celsius. Take the cakes out of the oven and leave to cool for a few minutes. Carefully overturn the Molten Chocolate Cakes onto serving dishes and top with chopped strawberries. Serve Immediately.

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We all know what the hero of the perfect Molten Chocolate Cake really is. That moment of joy when you cut into the cake and the molten chocolate lava flows out from the centre is unmatched. And that’s exactly what you will get from this recipe!

This Molten Chocolate Cake is mouth-wateringly delicious, to say the least. With the perfect balance of sweetness from the chocolate and confectioner’s sugar, the tartness from the strawberries and the richness of the molten centre, it’s everything you need to take you to chocolatey paradise (very a la the chocolate river in ‘Charlie and the Chocolate Factory’)!

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If you’re a die-hard chocolate fan, this dessert is for you. But then, you already knew that! 😀 And for those of you who like a touch of chocolate in your lives every once in a while, make sure you don’t miss out on this classic dessert, made easy by The Foodscape!

Get in the kitchen and get baking! Those New Year’s resolutions can wait a bit! 😛

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Mango-Strawberry Tart

Summer. It’s the season most people around the world love. It’s that time of year when the blue waters of the sea beckon us; when we enjoy the refreshing flavours of summery delights; when the days are long and productive; and the world is off on holiday. Yes, that’s what summer should be; but where I live, it’s everything but.

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Out here in the Middle East, Summers are scorching, and while that may seem appealing to some, most of us living here can’t tolerate it. When the world seems to be getting some sun, we are busy hiding from it indoors with the air conditioner turned up full blast. No amount of summery refreshments can possibly quench our thirst for relief from the heat, and we are most certainly not chilling on the beach; well, not until later in the night at least.

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In my world, the summer’s only saving grace is the large array of beautiful, colourful fruits adorning supermarket racks; so fresh, you can barely resist gobbling them up right there right then! Don’t you just love when the greens, yellows, reds, purples, pinks and oranges all come together? I always feel like I’m shopping for little pieces of the rainbow! To me, summers are all about sipping on fresh fruit juice and milkshakes and gorging on berries, watermelon, chikoos, plums, oranges and of course, MANGOES! I love fruits. And fruity desserts, well, God knows I can live on those!

So the past weekend, I decided to bake something fruity after quite a while. The primary reason for this baking experiment was my not-so-little-anymore cousin who has been bugging me to bake him a tart non-stop ever since my post on the ridiculously delicious Strawberry Custard Tart. Also, I had a bunch of bright yellow, juicy mangoes and gorgeous blood-red strawberries lying around the house. So, I decided to bake a Shortbread Tart filled with Custard and topped with Mangoes and Strawberries! (At this point, I was already imagining those gorgeous flavours dancing a summery samba in my mouth!) *SLUUURPPP* 😛

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Tarts can be tricky. The consistency of the filling should be smooth and stiff, yet melt-in-the-mouth. The tart shell should be of even thickness all through and the sweetness and flavours of the shell, filling and topping need to be carefully balanced. But trust me, the precision involved and the care that is taken when baking a tart is all well worth the hassle when the tart ends up looking impeccably irresistible!

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Without further ado, here’s the recipe for The Foodscape’s awesome Mango-Strawberry Tart!

Here’s what you need: 

For the Shortbread Tart Shell:

  • All Purpose Flour – 1 and 1/2 cups
  • Salt – 1/2 tsp
  • Icing Sugar – 45 g
  • Unsalted Butter – 170 g, cold, cut into small chunks

For the Custard filling: 

  • Milk – 1 litre + 5 tbsp
  • Sugar – 4 tbsp
  • Custard Powder – 5 and 1/2 tbsp

For the topping:

  • Mangoes – 2, fresh, sliced or cubed
  • Strawberries – 500 g, washed and halved

This is how you make it:

  • Sift together the all purpose flour, salt and icing sugar until airy.
  • Using a hand mixer, or a food processor, blend together the the flour and icing sugar mixture with the cold butter until it forms clumps.
  • Knead the clumps by hand until it forms into a dough.
  • Press the dough into the tart tin and make sure it’s of even thickness throughout.
  • Prick the dough with a fork and cover it. Cover it with cling wrap and pop into the freezer for 15 minutes. The dough should be pricked so that it doesn’t puff up while baking.
  • In the meantime, preheat the oven at 220 degree Celsius for 10 minutes.
  • Pop the shortbread tart shell into the oven and bake for 13 minutes or until it is golden brown.
  • Take it out of the oven and leave to cool.
  • As the shell cools, make the custard. Boil 1 litre of milk along with the sugar. In a small bowl, mix the custard powder with the rest of the milk and pour slowly into the boiling milk while stirring continuously. Once it thicken, take it off the heat and leave the custard to set.
  • Once both the shell and custard are cooled through and set, pour the custard into the tart shell until it fills the tart. Refrigerate for 15 minutes.
  • Take the tart out of the fridge and decorate it with fresh mangoes and strawberries.

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If you love summer fruits as much as I do, I’m sure you’ll be able to imagine just what this dessert tastes like! The crisp crust, creamy, subtley flavoured custard, and the hits of fruityness and delicious coming from the mangoes and strawberries are just extremely refreshing and rejuvenating. Eat it cold, and it will be an experience you’ll cherish forever. And you’ll surely be coming back from more. You just can’t stop, and before you know it, the entire tart will be gone! Don’t believe me? Here’s what my cousin had to say… 😛

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So there you have it – the perfect summertime dessert to share with your loved ones! Oh, Happy Days! 😀

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P.S: It was during the course of making the shortbread dough that I decided I wanted to bake mini tarts as well. So all I did was put little rounds of dough into cupcake moulds and pressed them in to make a shell. Then I baked them till they were golden brown – about 10 minutes at 200 degrees Celsius. 🙂

Photography credits: Winola Peris

Strawberry Custard Tart

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The first time I tasted a Strawberry Custard Tart, I was sold! It was a late evening at Second Cup; the boyfriend and I were looking for something to tingle our sweet tooth, and we ended up there – sitting on a tiny table, him sipping on an Iced Mocha and I enjoying this glorious mini tart in front of me.

That day I truly fell completely in love with tarts. On three occasions thereafter, the two of us went to Second Cup just ’cause I wanted to have a tart – but I would end up eating a mixed fruit tart because the strawberry one wasn’t available; I loved the mixed fruit version just as much! (I have a huge soft corner for fruity desserts. HUGE!)

But then came the tart-less days! I was always pining for a fruity tart after a good dinner, but no matter how many times the boyfriend took me there, tarts just weren’t available. It was probably more than ten times; he would drive us there, only for us to come back empty handed. It was disheartening, to say the least. A dessert that I had come to love so much was nowhere to be found. (I know I sound like a drama queen, but I really wanted to eat a tart!)

Then I thought, ‘Ugh! What the hell?! I might as well make a tart myself!’ That is exactly what I did, and may I tell you, it turned out to be one of those days when I was incredibly pleased with my efforts. Without further ado, here’s how you make a perfectly delicious home-made Strawberry and Custard Tart.

IMG_2993Here’s what you’re going to need.

For the Shortbread Pastry Crust:

  • All Purpose Flour – 1 and 1/2 cups
  • Salt – 1/2 tsp
  • Icing Sugar – 45 g
  • Unsalted Butter – 170 g, cold, cut into small chunks

For the Custard:

  • Milk – 500 ml
  • Vanilla flavored Custard Powder – as per directions on the box

For the topping:

  • Nutella chocolate spread – as much as you wish to use
  • Strawberries – 500 g, chopped how you like it

This is how you make it.

  • Sift together the all purpose flour, salt and icing sugar until airy.
  • Using a hand mixer, or a food processor, blend together the the flour and icing sugar mixture with the cold butter until it forms clumps.
  • Knead the clumps by hand until it forms into a dough.
  • Press the dough into the tart tin and make sure it’s of even thickness throughout.
  • Prick the dough all over with a fork and cover it. Pop into the freezer for 15 minutes. The dough should be pricked so that it doesn’t puff up while baking.
  • In the meantime, preheat the oven at 220 degree Celsius for 10 minutes.
  • Pop the shortbread tart crust into the oven and bake for 13 minutes or until it is golden brown.
  • Take it out of the oven and leave to cool.
  • As the crust cools, make the custard as per the instructions on the box. Make sure it’s of a thick consistency. Leave to set.
  • Pour a nice big dollop of Nutella into the crust and spread it into a thin layer all over the crust.
  • Pour in the set custard until it fills the tart and put the tart into the fridge for about 30 minutes.
  • Take the tart out of the fridge and decorate it with fresh strawberries.

This recipe looks long, and it is really time consuming. But when you take your first bite, you will surely feel that every last bit of the hard work you put into it was completely worth it.

This tart is freaking delicious. The shortbread crust is buttery and crumbly – it is crunchy at first and then it just melts in your mouth. The custard is sweet and creamy, the chocolaty bit is the perfect surprise and the fresh strawberries just cut through the sweetness of the tart. The balance is just right. It is the perfect summer dessert and a fantastic end to any meal. You will have to taste it to believe me! (You can thank me later!)

A little tip: Make sure the custard is thick so that when cut, the slices come out perfectly. The custard I made was a little runny, so it wasn’t easy to get perfect slices. Also, if you are not fond of too much sweet, you can reduce the quantity of sugar in the pastry crust or omit the use of Nutella altogether. Tailor it to your liking and you will enjoy it to the fullest!

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Double-Strawberry Chocolate Cupcakes

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Strawberries are my absolute favorite fruit to use in a dessert. It is the perfect sidekick to anything chocolate (chocolate covered strawberries, anyone? I need to visit my fridge, give me a minute). I just cannot get over my obsession with the chocolate-strawberry combination; I’ve been experimenting with it quite a bit.

Being home alone most of the time gives me a lot of room to go a little crazy in the kitchen; I took the liberty and decided to do something out of my comfort zone. And Lo and Behold! I came up with these moist gooey chocolate cupcakes filled with fresh strawberry chunks, topped with vanilla butter-cream frosting and finished off with fresh strawberries. It sounds really exotic, but it’s really not so hard to put together, and let me tell you – it tastes FABULOUS!

Without further ado, I’m going to give you my secret to becoming the coolest home-baker your loved ones have ever known (you’re going to serve them cupcakes with fillings and they are going to think you are a genius!)

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So let’s get started!

For the chocolate cupcakes:

You can use your favorite go-to chocolate cupcakes recipe, it will work just as well with the strawberries. This is the recipe I normally use, and I absolutely love it. I never go wrong with this recipe, the cupcakes always come out perfectly risen, moist and not-too-sweet, just the way I like it.

Ingredients:

  • Sugar – 2 cups
  • All Purpose Flour – 1 and 3/4 cups
  • Baking Powder – 1 and 1/2 tsp
  • Salt -1 tsp
  • Milk – 1 cup
  • Vanilla Extract – 2 tsp
  • Cocoa Powder – 3/4 cup , sifted
  • Baking Soda – 1 and 1/2 tsp
  • Eggs – 2
  • Vegetable Oil – 1/2 cup
  • Boiling Water – 1 cup

Here’s how you make them:

  • Preheat your oven to 175 degree Celsius.
  • Stir together sugar, flour, cocoa, baking powder, baking soda, salt. Add eggs, milk oil and vanilla extract and blend until well-combined. Stir in boiling water . (Don’t be alarmed that this batter is too watery. That’s exactly how it’s supposed to be.)
  • Bake for about 12 minutes or until wooden pick inserted comes out clean.
  • Keep them on a wire rack until cooled completely.

Now, try not to eat all of them up before you fill them in with strawberries and finish them up with the frosting.

So next up – filling the cupcakes! Cut up a few strawberries into really tiny cubes and toss them with some granulated sugar. Then scoop out the top of your cupcakes in a cone. I know, it sounds very hard to do, but its not. Hold the cupcake in your hand, take a serrated knife and insert it into the cupcake and cut at an angle while you turn the cupcake in a circular motion. That way, a cone shaped piece of cake with come out. Now, of the cone you have, cut off the lower cone portion till you only get the top disc of cake.

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Then fill the hollow with some of the prepared strawberry filling and then recover the cupcake with the top disc of cake.

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Now that you’ve successfully filled the cupcake, frost on some vanilla buttercream icing and top it off with a fresh strawberry.

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For the Vanilla Buttercream Frosting:

  • Butter – 60g
  • Confectioner’s sugar – 80 to 100g (depending on how sweet you like it)
  • Vanilla Extract – 1 tsp

Blend all the ingredients till you get a smooth creamy delicious frosting.

And here’s how you eat them. Tear the wrapper apart, and take a big bite of the cupcake; all at once there will be the gooey chocolate laced with the sweet and sour strawberry center, the sweet creamy texture of the vanilla buttercream and the freshness of the strawberry-on-top dancing a tango on your tongue. Indulge and revel!

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A little tip: These cupcakes taste different as they age. On the first day they had bang-on distinct flavors, while after keeping them overnight the strawberry filling made the cupcake taste a little like a black-forest cupcake as it gave out the flavor of kirsch or strawberry liqueur that is used while making a black-forest cake. So according to me, they taste best right away, but if you’re a black-forest fan then you’re going to love it the day after too.