Friday, December 02, 2016

Candy Cane Twist Cookies
Candy Cane Twist Cookies

Candy Cane Twist Cookies:

I will not lie. I was pretty jittery about pulling these cookies off. Especially since most recipes asked for all shortening or shortening and butter in 1:1 ratio and I wanted to do all butter and there was not a single recipe with all butter and good ratings on the net. I scoured through many. I fretted a lot, got flustered, backed off and then just took the plunge.

The Candy Cane Twist Cookies did not turn out to be as perfect as I had initially envisioned but it did turn out way better than I later in my jittery stage expected it to be . And with each cookie I got better with the braiding/twisting part. The dough did not break on me, it wasn't too sticky too handle and the end results resembled candy canes - yeah I did a survey!! So either my friends love me too much and are too biased or these actually look like candy cane cookies!

Candy Cane Twist Cookies

Candy Cane Twist Cookies: Ingredients: Yield: 8 large cookies

  • 2 1/2 Cups of All Purpose Flour
  • 1 Cup of confectioners sugar
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 Cup or 2 sticks of butter at room temperature.
  • 1 large egg, at room temperature
  • 1 1/2 tsp of almond extract
  • Red food color
Candy Cane Twist Cookies

How to make Candy Cane Twist Cookies

Preheat oven to 350 F. Line cookie sheets with parchment paper and set aside.

In a medium sized bowl, whisk together the flour, salt and baking powder and keep aside. In another larger bowl, beat the butter and sugar using a electric mixture till soft and fluffy. Beat in the egg and almond extract.

Candy Cane Twist Cookies

Once the dough starts coming together, transfer to a floured surface and knead into a smooth ball of dough. Divide the dough into two parts and add red food color to one half. Use as much red food color you need to get the perfect shade of red. Personally, I am not a fan of using food colors, but I give in 2 to 3 times a year!

Candy Cane Twist Cookies

Pinch out balls of dough of each color and roll into strips. If the dough is sticky, refrigerate for 10 minutes. Braid the strips, press down a little to flatten and bend the top to look like a candy cane. Cut off at desired length. Repeat with the rest of the dough.

Chill in the fridge for about 20 minutes.

Candy Cane Twist Cookies

Arrange on the cookie sheets and bake for 8-10 minutes or till the cookies start turning golden brown on the edges. Take the cookies out of the oven and let the cookies cool down a little before transferring them to a wire cooling rack.

Candy Cane Twist Cookies

Let the Candy Cane Twist Cookies cool down completely before serving. Store leftovers in an airtight container for up to 4 days.

Candy Cane Twist Cookies

Thursday, December 01, 2016

Spicy Mutton Curry inspired by Mutton Ghee Roast (Slow Cooker)

Mutton Curry inspired by Mutton Ghee Roast

Mutton Curry inspired by Mutton Ghee Roast

Few weeks back I came across this video on Facebook for Mutton Ghee Roast, and on a whim, I jotted down the recipe. So last week, when we were helping a friend's husband throw a surprise party for his wife on their anniversary I found the perfect opportunity to try this out! And oh boy, it turned out sooo good! May be I should gloat a little, since cooking mutton isn't one of my strong suites and this was perhaps the fourth time (do not judge me) I was cooking mutton. I was totally thrilled with the way it turned out!

And since I do not have a big pressure cooker, I cooked it in my slow cooker.

Mutton Curry inspired by Mutton Ghee Roast

Mutton Ghee Roast inspired by Mutton Ghee Roast - Ingredients

  • Mutton - 2 lbs, cut into smallish pieces
  • 4 tbsp + 4 tbsp of ghee
  • 2 tbsp ginger garlic
  • 1 tsp of turmeric
  • Juice of half a lemon
  • 2 tbsp of yogurt
  • Handful of crushed curry leaves
For the masala/spice mix:
  • 5 to 6 red dried chilies
  • 2 tbsp of paprika
  • 1 tbsp of coriander seed
  • 1 tbsp of cumin
  • 1 tbsp of whole black pepper
  • 1 tsp of fennel seeds
  • 1 inch cinnamon stick
  • 4-5 cloves
  • 2 fat cloves of garlic
  • 1/2 inch of ginger
  • Enough water to make a paste

How to make Spicy Mutton Curry inspired by Mutton Ghee Roast (Slow Cooker method)

Prepare the Masala:
Roast the dried red chilies, coriander seeds, cumin, whole black pepper, fennel seeds, cinnamon stick, cloves in a skillet till the delicious aroma of the toasted spices hit you. Transfer to a blender, along with paprika, lemon juice 2 fat cloves of garlic, 1/2 inch of ginger and enough water to make a smooth paste. Keep aside.

Heat 4 tbsp of ghee in a big pan and fry the ginger garlic paste in it. Throw in the mutton pieces along with the turmeric and fry it well, turning and tossing as you go. Season with salt and cover and let it cook while you finish frying the masala.

In another pan, heat 4 tbsp of ghee and fry the masala mix in it. Cook till the raw smell is gone and whisk in the yogurt.

Now dump the cooked mutton, along with the cooked masala in the slow cooker (and little water if necessary) and cook it on high for 3 hours or till done. Throw in the curry leaves and keep it on warm till you are ready to serve.

Serve with pulao, naan or paratha.

Note: If you using a pressure cooker, then fry the masala in the pressure cooker till the raw smell goes away. Whisk in the yogurt and the add the cooked mutton pieces. Add water if necessary, check for seasoning and pressure cook for 4-6 whistles or till tender. Throw in the crushed curry leaves and take it off the heat.

Mutton Curry inspired by Mutton Ghee Roast - Cocoawind

Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Fruitcake Cookie (Eggless Tutti Frutti Cookie)

Fruitcake Cookie (Eggless Tutti Frutti Cookie)

The flavors of fruitcake in a cookie! Nom! Nom! Nom! Could it get any better? Oh yes, it can... just wait till I share the Cranberry Orange Shortbread cookie recipe with you all! Yo, you all... I went all out and  baked cookie after cookie after cookie! And there's going to be more!! There was just one tiny bump in the journey of cookie making when one of the cookies turned flat on me. But thankfully it was a easy fix!

So without much ado, let us embark on this cookielicious journey with Cookie No 1 - Fruitcake Cookie (Eggless Tutti Frutti Cookie)

Fruitcake Cookie (Eggless Tutti Frutti Cookie) - Cocoawind

Ingredients for Fruitcake Cookie (Eggless Tutti Frutti Cookie) - about 18 cookies

  • 1 Cup All Purpose Flour
  • 1 tsp of baking powder
  • 1/2 Cup granulated sugar
  • 1 stick or 1/2 Cup unsalted butter, chilled and cut into cubes
  • 1/4 Cup glazed cherries, chopped
  • 1/4 Cup chopped dried fruits - apricot, cranberries, figs
  • 3 tbsp chopped nuts (I used almonds)
  • 1/4 tsp of salt
  • Orange zest - 1 tsp
  • 1 tbsp of orange juice
Fruitcake Cookie (Eggless Tutti Frutti Cookie) - Cocoawind

How to make Fruitcake Cookie (Eggless Tutti Frutti Cookie)

Preheat oven to 325 F. Line 2 cookie sheets with parchment paper and set aside
Pulse the nuts 2 to 3 times in the food processor and transfer to a bowl. Repeat the process with the chopped dried fruits and transfer to a bowl.

Fruitcake Cookie (Eggless Tutti Frutti Cookie) - Cocoawind

Now add all the dry ingredients to the food processor - 1 Cup all purpose flour, 1 tsp baking powder, 1/2 Cup sugar, orange zest and 1/4 tsp of salt and give it a couple of pulses. Now throw in the chilled butter and give the food processor several pulses till it turns into a crumbly mixture. Now throw back the coarsely chopped nuts, dried fruits and glace cherries (or tutti frutti) along with the tablespoon of orange juice and give one final pulse. Take it out onto a floured surface and knead it into a dough.

Fruitcake Cookie (Eggless Tutti Frutti Cookie) - Cocoawind

Roll it out into a log, cling wrap it and let it chill in the fridge for about 30 minutes till it firms up a little.
Take out the chilled dough and cut it onto 1/4 inch discs and arrange them on the prepped cookie sheets. Bake for 14-16 minutes till the cookies are baked through and turns golden brown on the edges. 
Let the cookies cool down a little on the cookie sheets before transferring them to a wire rack to let the cookies cool down completely.  

Store leftovers in airtight container for up to a week.

Fruitcake Cookie (Eggless Tutti Frutti Cookie) - Cocoawind

Monday, November 28, 2016

Roasted Butternut Squash Soup

Roasted Butternut Squash Soup

Roasted Butternut Squash Soup

18th November 2016: The 7 yo has a Friday tradition - he bikes back home from the bus stop. His father works from home on Fridays, so he 'walks' the bike to the bus stop at school drop off time. He biked around for a good 45 minutes before he came home and we walked, taking in the smells and whatever remained of the fall colors. It was such a gorgeous day today. Perhaps the last good day before the wintry rain rolls in tomorrow. So tomorrow definitely calls for bowlfuls of hot soup - this Roasted Butternut Squash Soup, to be precise. 

I was thrilled when I saw Wholefoods selling butternut squash, already halved and the insides scooped out. I usually stayed away from butternut squash since it was a pain to cut it, given the strength of right arm (weakened by the combination of tennis elbow and shoulder spasm). I scooped up a half right away! It was the perfect size for my family. 

Roasted Butternut Squash Soup

Roasted Butternut Squash Soup - ingredients (can be doubled)

  • Butternut Squash - 1 half of a big one, seeds scooped out
  • Salt and freshly cracked black pepper 
  • Olive Oil for drizzling on the squash + 1 tsp
  • Melted butter
  • A fat pinch of garlic powder
  • 1 fat clove of garlic, minced
  • 2 Cups of chicken or vegetable broth
  • Roasted pumpkin seeds for garnishing (optional)
Roasted Butternut Squash Soup

Preheat oven to 400 F.  Place the butternut squash on a greased cookie sheet and season it with salt, freshly cracked black pepper and hit it with some garlic powder. Brush it with some melted butter and drizzle some olive oil for good measure. Bake for 40 to 45 minutes till tender.

Take it out of the oven and scoop out the flesh while it is still warm.

Heat 1 tsp oil and fry the garlic in it till fragrant. Add the butternut squash mush and cook it, while breaking it down with a wooden spoon. Add the chicken stock and check it for seasoning. Use a handheld blender or your regular blender to blend it into a soupy mush. Serve in bowls and garnish with toasted pumpkin seeds.

Options: Spice it up with cumin powder & paprika if you want to or use herbs like rosemary or sage t make it more flavorful.

Roasted Butternut Squash Soup

Thursday, November 17, 2016

Salted Caramel Sauce

Salted Caramel Sauce

Luscious Salted Caramel Sauce will tantalize your taste buds and leave you craving for more! A drizzle of this irresistible liquid will jazz up your cookies, hot chocolate, ice cream and may be, even your life! And I can eat it by the spoonfuls. Nothing else needed! The salt perfectly balances out the sweetness and kicks up the flavor a few notches!

Ingredients: (Yield - about a cup)

  • 1 Cup of granulated sugar
  • 1/2 Cup of heavy whipping cream
  • 6 tbsp of butter (salted or unsalted), cut into pieces
  • 1 tsp of salt (if using salted butter) or 2 tsp salt (if using unsalted butter)

Take the sugar in a heavy bottomed saucepan and heat it on medium low heat, while stirring continuously till the sugar melts. Add the knobs of butter to the melted sugar. There will be a lot of spluttering and bubbling action going on, so be careful. Once the butter has melted completely slowly pour in the heavy cream, while stirring. Once again the concoction will bubble and splatter vigorously, so do be careful. Bring it to a boil and take it off the heat. Let it cool down completely before you use it.
I stored my salted caramel sauce in cute little canning jars and stuck it in the fridge and it stayed good for almost 13 days and then it got over. I had forgotten to put one jar away in the fridge for over a day and a half after I was done photos and it was still good - but don't try that at home. I am sure the cooler temperatures helped.

Salted Caramel Sauce

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