Thursday, February 26, 2009

Cranberry and Walnut Crostata

'Crostata' is an italian baked dessert very similar to a pie. It is generally prepared by folding the edges of the dough over the filling. Its not too sweet, and the walnuts give it a nice crunch. The recipe looks a bit complicated at first, but believe me, it is much simpler than it looks.


Walnut Crust Dough:

3/4 cup all purpose flour
1 tsp sugar + 1 tsp sugar(to sprinkle on crostata)
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 toasted walnuts, finely chopped
2 tbsp chilled unsalted butter, cut into cubes
1 egg yolk
egg white (to brush on the crostata)
1 1/2 tbsp ice water

Cranberry Walnut Filling:

1/2 cup heavy cream
1/4 cup sugar
1/2 cup dried cranberries
1/2 cup toasted walnuts
1/4 tsp cinnamon powder


Making the crust:
Mix the flour, sugar and salt in an electric mixer on low speed for 15 seconds. Add 3/4 of the roasted walnuts and mix for 15 seconds. Add the chilled butter and mix on low for 1 1/2 - 2 minutes until the mixture becomes coarse. In a small bowl, whisk the egg yolk with the ice water. Add to the flour mixture and blend for 1 minute until you get a loose dough. Form a smooth ball, wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate for atleast 2 hours.

Preparing the filling:
Heat the heavy cream, sugar over medium heat. Bring it to a boil, reduce the heat and simmer for 6 mins until slightly thickened. Switch off the heat, add the cranberries, walnuts and cinnamon and mix well. Refrigerate until ready to use.

Assembling and baking the crostata:
Preheat the oven to 375 deg F. Roll the dough into a circle about 1/8 inch thick. Place the rolled dough on a parchment paper on a baking sheet. Pour the cranberry walnut filling onto the center of the dough. Fold the edges of the dough towards the center. Refrigerate for 10 mins.

This is what it looks like before baking

In a small bowl, whisk the egg white. Brush the top of the crostata with the whisked egg. Sprinkle the reserved chopped walnuts over it. Sprinkle the remaining sugar. Bake for 30 minutes, until golden brown. Remove the crostata from the oven and allow to cool at room temperature. Serve warm with whipped cream or a scoop of ice cream!

Sorry about the poor quality of this picture:) I was so eager to taste it, I forgot to get a good picture of the slice.

Serves 3

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Blueberry Coffee Cake

I was skeptical when I first saw this recipe on food network, but decided to try it anyway. And I am glad I did! This is a lighter version of the traditional coffee cake. It uses very little butter, swaps sour cream for yogurt and uses a combination of whole wheat and all purpose flour.

I did not have whole wheat pastry flour so tried with regular whole wheat flour. It is a moist cake, has half the calories of a typical cake and tastes yummy!


1/2 cup all purpose flour
1/2 cup whole wheat flour/whole wheat pastry flour
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt
2 tbsp sugar
1/4 tsp ground cinnamon
1/4 cup chopped walnuts
1 tbsp butter(room temperature)
1/2 cup packed brown sugar
1 tbsp canola oil
1 egg
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 cup plain nonfat yogurt
1/2 cup fresh/frozen and thawed blueberries


Preheat oven to 350 deg F. Spray a cake pan with cooking spray. Whisk together the flours, baking powder and salt in a bowl. In a small bowl, combine the cinnamon, walnuts and sugar. In a large bowl, beat the brown sugar, butter and oil until fluffy. Add egg and beat well. Add the vanilla and yogurt and beat again. Add the flour mixture and mix until combined. The batter will be a little sticky.

Spread half of the batter into the cake pan. Sprinkle half of the nut mixture and add the blueberries and press gently. Spoon the rest of the batter, sprinkle the rest of the nut mixture pressing down. Bake for 30-35 mins. Insert a toothpick to check for doneness. When it comes out clean, the cake is done. Let it cool completely on a wire rack before cutting into pieces.

Makes about 6 servings.

NOTE: Cream the butter and sugar until it turns light in color. Make sure its mixed well before adding the egg. Add the flour mixture gradually and do not overmix. Once it comes together, use a spatula to combine everything. This way, the batter retains its air and you get a moist fluffy cake.

Sunday, February 15, 2009

Valentine's Day Special - Sandwich Cookies and Cheesecake Flan

Sandwich Cookies


1 refrigerated sugar cookie dough (I used the store-bought one)
1 1/2 ounces cream cheese (room temperature)
1 1/2 tbsp butter (room temperature)
4 tbsp confectioners sugar
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
3-4 tbsp milk
Red crystals for garnish
2 heart shaped cookie cutters(big and small)


Sprinkle some flour on the surface and roll the cookie dough to 1/8th inch thick. Using a big heart shaped cookie cutter, cut as many as you can from the dough. Place on a baking sheet. Cut smaller hearts from the big hearts and place the small hearts on the baking sheet. Sprinkle the red crystals on the small hearts. Follow the instructions on the packet and bake as directed. Cool on a wire rack.

Whisk the cream cheese, butter, sugar, vanilla and milk until smooth. It shouldnt be too watery. Spread a teaspoon of the filling onto the cooled big hearts and top it with the cutout heart cookie. Sprinkle red crytals onto the center of the filling. Use the rest of the filling to sandwich the small heart cookies.

Makes around 12 sandwich cookies.

Cheesecake Flan

'Flan' is a baked caramel custard typically made with eggs, cream or milk and vanilla. It is usually prepared in ramekins or moulds. It has a layer of caramelized sugar on the bottom and when these ramekins are inverted, the caramelized sugar is on the top. It is quite popular in spain and mexico.

I saw this recipe on food network a few months ago, and had to make them! The cream cheese gives it a rich taste and it literally melts in your mouth! One of my all time favorites!


1 cup sugar
3 tbsp water
6 ounces cream cheese(room temperature)
6 ounces evaporated milk
7 ounces sweetened condensed milk(1/2 tin)
1 egg
3/4 cup milk(room temperature)
1/2 tsp vanilla extract


You will need 10 ramekins/moulds or if you dont have one, you can use oven safe dessert bowls like I did. Since it was valentine's day, I decided to use a heart shaped cake pan for one and pyrex bowls for the rest of the flans.

Place the sugar and water in a pan on medium high heat. Allow the sugar to dissolve and swirl the pan every minute until it turns to a golden reddish brown color. This usually takes b/w 10-12 minutes. Switch off the heat and divide the caramel into 10 ramekins and set aside.

Preheat the oven to 325 deg F. Using an electric mixer, beat the cream cheese with egg on low speed. Increase the speed to medium and beat well. Add the condensed milk, evaporated milk, whole milk and vanilla extract and beat until everything is mixed well. Ladle the custard over the caramel into the ramekins. Place the ramekins on a deep baking dish in 2 rows. Pour hot water over the baking dish so it comes halfway up the sides of the ramekins. Cover the baking dish with foil and bake until set, about 30-35 mins. When you tap the ramekins, the custard should still wobble in the center.

Remove the baking dish from the oven and allow to cool for atleast 2 hours. When ready to serve, run a thin knife around the edges to loosen the flan, and then invert onto a plate. The flan can be refrigerated upto 3 days.

Here's another picture(side view) of the flan:

Monday, February 9, 2009

Gulpavate (wheat tambittu)


1 cup wheat flour
3/4 cup powdered/grated jaggery
1/4 cup kobri(dry coconut)
3-4 tbsp ghee
cardamom powder
cashews, raisins


Fry cashews and raisins and keep aside. Roast the wheat flour in a little ghee until the raw smell disappears and it turns to a golden brown. Keep aside. In a pan, melt the jaggery with little water and make a thin consistency sugar syrup. This takes about 4 mins. Switch off the heat. Add the wheat flour, cashews, raisins, ghee, coconut and cardamom powder and mix well. Allow to cool a bit, and then shape into balls. Serve warm!

Note: Roast the flour on medium heat and keep stirring so it doesnt burn. Dont let the sugar syrup get too thick or else the balls will get hard. Switch off the heat once you add the flour. It tastes great when served warm!

Hesarittu Unde (Moong Laddoo)


1 cup hesarubele(yellow moong dal)
1 cup powdered sugar
3-4 tbsp hot ghee
cardamom powder
1/4 cup kobri(dry coconut)
cashews and raisins


Roast the hesarubele with a little ghee until you get a good aroma. This takes about 10-12 mins. Roast the cashews and raisins and keep aside. Once the hesarubele cools, make a fine powder. Add the powdered sugar, cardamom powder, kobri, cashews and raisins and mix well. Now add the hot ghee little by little, and make balls out of it.

Note: Roast the hesarubele on medium heat so it doesnt turn brown fast. The key is to roast on a low flame so the raw smell disappears and it gets to a golden brown color gradually. If you roast too much, its gonna get bitter. When making balls, dont press too hard or else they will become hard.

Makes around 10 laddoos.

Gasgase Payasa


1/4 cup gasgase(khus-khus/poppy seeds)
1/4 cup fresh coconut
1/4 cup kobri(dry coconut)
2 tbsp milk
Saffron strands(optional)
Cardamom powder


Fry gasgase until the raw smell is gone(~3-4 mins). Grind fried gasgase, coconut, kobri and milk to a fine paste. Melt jaggery in a pan, add saffron strands and paste and boil for about 5 mins. Switch off the heat, add cardamom powder. When ready to serve, add milk.

Variation: You can also add 6-7(soaked and peeled)almonds along with gasgase,coconut and kobri and make a paste. The almonds give it a nice rich taste!

Sunday, February 8, 2009



2 cups 2% milk
3 cups Half and Half
1 cup sugar
saffron strands
cardamom powder
chopped nuts


Combine milk and half and half in a non stick pan. Boil until it reduces to half the quantity. When it starts to get thick, add sugar and mix well. Once the sugar dissolves, add the saffron and mix again. When the mixture becomes thick, switch off the heat and add cardamom powder. Garnish with chopped nuts. Serve warm or cold!

Note: The original recipe calls for whole milk, but I used a combination of 2% milk and Half and Half and it came out delicious! I noticed that by using half and half, the recipe comes together much faster and cuts the cooking time in half!

Kaju Barfi


2 cups cashews whole
3/4 cup powdered sugar
2 tsp ghee
cardamom powder
saffron strands(optional)
silver varq/foil(optional)


Dry grind cashews to a fine powder. Place the powdered cashews, sugar, saffron in a non stick pan on medium heat. Keep stirring until a soft ball is formed. Switch off the heat, add cardamom powder and pour onto a greased plate. Place the silver foil while still hot. Cut into pieces once cooled.

Note: It doesnt take long to get to a soft ball/dough like consistency. Mine took about 12 mins. Allow to cool completely before cutting into pieces.

Makes around 20 barfis.

Mysore Pak


1 cup besan
3 cups sugar
2 1/2 cups water
2 1/2 cups ghee
cardamom powder


Dry roast besan with 1 tbsp ghee until you get a good aroma. Keep aside. Make a thin consistency sugar syrup by boiling sugar and water. Add the besan, stirring continuously so there are no lumps. After a while, it will start to leave the sides of the pan. When its no longer sticking to the pan, you know its done. Switch off the heat, pour onto a greased plate. Let cool before cutting into pieces.

Makes around 30 big barfis.

Tip: The barfis taste much better if you use fresh hot homemade ghee.

Saturday, February 7, 2009

Kobbari Mithayi (Coconut Barfi)


2 cups shredded coconut (frozen/fresh)
1 3/4 cup sugar
1 cup milk
2 tbsp ghee
cardamom powder


Mix all of the above in a pan on medium high heat. Keep stirring continously for about 15 mins. When the mixture starts to leave the sides of the pan, switch off the heat. Add the cardamom powder and mix well. Pour onto a greased plate. Let cool for a while before cutting into pieces.

Makes around 20 barfis.

Friday, February 6, 2009



1/2 cup sooji (fine rava)
1/2 cup sugar
3-4 tbsp ghee
1 1/2 cup water
saffron strands


Roast rava until you get a good aroma (takes about 4-5 mins). Bring 1 1/2 cups of water to a boil. When the water starts to boil, lower the heat to medium/med-high. Add little ghee, saffron strands, fried rava and cook covered for 3-4 mins. Add sugar, rest of the ghee and cook until sugar is dissolved. Then add the nuts and cardamom and switch off the heat.


Thursday, February 5, 2009

Seven Cups Barfi

My kids are a huge fan of barfis/pedas. This is one of those barfis that I make often.


1 cup besan
1 cup coconut (frozen/fresh)
1 cup ghee
1 cup milk
3 cups sugar
Cardamom powder(optional)


Mix all of the above (except cardamom powder) in a pan and place it on medium high heat. Keep stirring to avoid any lumps, after about 15 minutes or so, the entire thing comes together without sticking to the sides of the pan. Add the cardamom powder, switch off the heat and immediately pour on to a greased plate. Let it cool a bit before cutting into pieces. Allow to cool completely before serving.

These barfis can be stored at room temperature for a week.