Thursday, September 17, 2020

No Bake Nutella Cheese Cake




 

Last week we had 2 birthday's in my family and one was our first born's.  He is a chocolate lover, so I never have to think much what to bake for him.  He can literally eat Nutella sandwich everyday.  I guess all kids love that chocolate hazelnut goodness.  I accidentally picked up a family pack of oreos with double cream on my last visit to the grocery store and it was too sweet for our kids' palate.  So I was thinking a way to use them.  A cheesecake with Oreo crust and Nutella filling was the perfect fit for the occasion.



We celebrated the birthdays with a shrimp biriyani for lunch and everyone was waiting for the cake after that.  I had to make them wait till evening as I had to click some shots at the golden hour of the day.    My kids now know that they have to wait to taste till mom takes the pictures...lol.





At dinner time, my daughter decided to play this game of picking each person and all have to point out their positives and negatives.  It was really good to hear from your kids your negatives and positives.  We thoroughly enjoyed each moment going around the table and talking about each one.  It was good to hear your negatives from your family as they are the ones close to you and know you well.  There were definitely surprising positives which made me emotional too.  




This unprecedented time has definitely changed everyone's life in a positive way to some extend.   I am not ignoring the negative impacts it had made on our lives, but I am trying to focus on the bright side here. I get more time to spend with my family and chase my passion for cooking and photography.  What is that have changed positively for you?  

Yields - 8'' or 9'' cheesecake

Ingredients

Crust

20 - oreo cookies

5 tbsp - melted butter

Layer 1 filling

3/4 cup - unsweetened cold whipping/heavy cream 

2 tbsp - powdered sugar

1 (8 oz) - cream cheese at room temperature

6 tbsp - powdered sugar

5 tbsp - Nutella

1 tbsp - unsweetened cocoa powder

1/2 tbsp - unflavored gelatin powder

2 tbsp - water

Layer 2 filling

3/4 cup - unsweetened cold whipping/heavy cream

2 tbsp - powdered sugar

1 (8oz) - cream cheese at room temperature

6 tbsp - powdered sugar

1 tbsp - unsweetened cocoa powder

2 tbsp - Nutella

1/2 tbsp - unflavored gelatin powder

2 tbsp - water

Ganache Layer
1/2 cup - semi sweet/milk chocolate pieces
1/4 cup - unsweetened whipping/heavy cream
Ferrero Rocher candy for decoration
Roasted hazelnut/peanut pieces for garnish

Directions:

To make the crust
  • Line a 8'' or 9'' spring form pan with a parchment paper just at the bottom.  This is an optional step.  This helps you to transfer the cake to a cake stand easily.
  • Remove the cream from the oreo cookies and pulse them in the dry jar of a blender/coffee grinder/food processor to a fine powder.  Add melted butter into the powdered oreos and mix well.
  • Press this mixture into the bottom of the springform pan using the bottom of a measuring cup to form the crust.  Cover with a plastic wrap and keep it refrigerated.
Filling for first layer
  • Take 2 tbsp of water in a small bowl.  Add 1/2 tbsp of unflavored gelatin to it.  Let it sit for few minutes to bloom.  The gelatin should look wet and soaked up.
  • In a mixing bowl of stand mixer, whip the whipping/heavy cream with 2 tbsp of powdered sugar till soft peaks using the whipping attachment.  Alternatively you can use an electric hand mixer to whip the cream.  Transfer the whipped cream from the mixing bowl into a separate bowl and keep the whipped cream aside.
  • Add the softened cream cheese, 6 tbsp powdered sugar, 1 tbsp cocoa powder into a mixing bowl and mix well using the paddle attachment of the stand mixture till everything is folded well.  Now add 5 tbsps of Nutella to this and mix till the filling is smooth.
  • Boil some water in microwave in a bowl.  Place the bowl with bloomed gelatin over the hot water and mix well using a spoon.  The gelatin should melt completely.
  • Add this melted gelatin to the cream cheese Nutella filling and fold in well using a rubber spatula.
  • Fold in the whipped cream into the Nutella filling gently till everything is combined well.  Make sure not to deflate the whipped cream.
  • Pour this mix on top of the oreo crust layer into the spring form pan and level it using the rubber spatula.  Cover with plastic wrap and keep it in the fridge till the next layer is prepared.
Filling for second Layer
  • Repeat all the above steps mentioned in the preparation of layer 1 with the ingredients provided in the Layer 2 filling list.  Spread layer 2 filling on top of the first layer and smooth the top using a spatula.  This layer has less Nutella and the color of this layer should look lighter than the first layer.
  • Refrigerate the cake covered for overnight.
Top layer of Ganache
  • Carefully release the cake from spring form pan.  Transfer the cake to a cake stand using a wide spatula.  If you have lined a parchment paper at the bottom, it will help to transfer well.  This step is optional.
  • Boil some water in microwave in a bowl.  Take 1/4 cup of whipping cream and 1/2 cup of chocolate pieces in a bowl and place it over the hot water.  Mix the chocolate & whipping cream using a spoon till all the chocolate melts completely. Let it cool slightly.
  • Pour this melted chocolate over the second layer.  Use a frosting spatula to level it so that some oozes out through the sides to give that dripping effect.  Now decorate with Ferrero Rocher candy and Hazelnut/peanut pieces as you wish.
Notes:
  • The smaller the diameter of the spring form pan, better will be the visibility of the layers of the cake.  
  • Adjust the amount of Nutella per your taste.  The amount I used in each layer was good enough per my family's taste.
  • The left over cake cake can be refrigerated up to a week or can be stored in the freezer in a sealed container.  If frozen, make sure to thaw it in the fridge for at least couple of hours before serving.

Thursday, September 10, 2020

Apple Bran Muffins


Kids started their school online and everyone is busy here.  Monday thru Friday, the common scene in our house is like 'Everyone in front of a laptop/Chromebook'.  I like the fact that they now have a schedule just like a school day and have to stay connected online throughout the entire class except for recess and breaks.  I feel like my kids are home schooling now.


Everyone starts at different time and they have recess at different time.  Hence I have to plan ahead for their meals.  During summer vacation, they would make something simple for their lunch, if both of us were busy with work.  But now they don't have time for a quick meal preparation.  Make ahead breakfasts like orange blueberry muffins, Mediterranean Morning Glory Muffinswaffles etc are so handy in the morning for a quick breakfast.



Bran Apple muffins is one among them and I had been making this for years now.  I have tried several recipes and they are either over sweet or too greasy or dry like cardboard for our liking.  After many trails, I have settled on this recipe and have been using it for years now.  If you are looking for a breakfast muffin that is not over sweet and non greasy but moist enough and filling, this recipe is for you.  If you try this recipe, please do tag me on instagram at FlavzCorner.

Yields - 12 medium size muffins

US measurement standards are used in my recipes

Ingredients

1/2 cup - whole wheat flour

1/2 cup - all purpose flour

1.5 tsp - baking powder

1/2 tsp - baking soda

1/4 tsp - salt

1/2 tsp - cinnamon powder

1/2 tsp - nutmeg powder

1.5 cup - bran cereal flakes

1/2 cup - brown sugar

Wet Ingredients

1 - egg

1/2 cup - plain yogurt

1/2 cup - water

4 tbsp - oil

Additional ingredients

1 cup - peeled & chopped Granny Smith/ any apples

1/4 cup - pecans chopped

1/4 cup - raisins

Few pecans for toppings

Directions:

  • Preheat oven to 350°F/175°C.
  • In a mixing bowl, beat egg, yogurt, water and oil using a fork/whisk.
  • Add the bran cereal to the wet ingredients.  Mix well and let it sit for 5 minutes.
  • In the meantime, sift wheat flour, all purpose flour, salt, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon & nutmeg powders together into a separate bowl.
  • Fold in the dry ingredients into the wet ingredients gently using a rubber spatula till no lumps of dry flour is found.  The batter will be thick.  Don't over mix the batter.
  • Add the chopped apples, raisins and pecans to the batter.
  • Line a muffin tin with cupcake/muffin liners.
  • Scoop the batter using an ice cream/cookie dough scoop and fill the muffin tin up to 3/4th the volume.  Place a pecan on top of each muffin batter.
  • Bake the muffins for 25-30 minutes or till the center of one of the muffins is cooked well when tested with a skewer/tooth pick.
  • Let the muffins cool completely.  Enjoy them.
Notes:
  • I prefer granny smith apple in this recipe because it bakes well and does not make the muffins over sweet.
  • Left overs can be refrigerated in a sealed container for up to 2-3 days.  Before using, remove the muffin liner and microwave them for 10/15 seconds.
  • You can adjust the sugar per your taste.  These muffins are not over sweet.
  • You can substitute pecan with walnuts.

Thursday, September 3, 2020

Zucchini Daal Fry



This year I experimented with growing Zucchini and yellow squash in containers.  I planted the black hybrid beauty variety of zucchini in a 10 gallon container.  Many of you might have seen my video on instagram where I was harvesting from that plant.  The black beauty variety is a good variety and produces well.  The container gardening was a success.   But we got a week of low temperatures at night in Mid August and it killed my plant.  Luckily I had a back up zucchini on my vegetable bed on the ground and it survived the cold.  The nights are getting cooler now and slowly these plants are going to stop producing.  I liked container gardening because it gave me more room to plant more vegetables and it was easy to move them around per their growth.



I have been using the tender zucchinis from my garden in all possible ways I could.   I use them in Keralite dishes too.   Recently I have been adding them to daal fry and they came out delicious.  Hence sharing this recipe with you.  It pairs really well with plain basmati rice and roti.  You can adjust the amount of water per your desired consistency.  I like thick daal fry, so I have used only 2-3 cups of water all together.  Give this simple recipe a try and see if you like it.



Serves - 8

Ingredients

1/2 cup - Toor daal

1/2 cup - Masoor daal

2 cups - water

1/4 tsp - turmeric powder

salt to taste

Other Ingredients

1 cup - fresh zucchini cubed

1 cup - onion chopped

1 tsp - garlic chopped

1/2 tsp - ginger chopped

3 - green chili splits

1/2 cup - chopped ripe tomatoes (a small tomato)

1/2 tsp - chili powder

1 tsp - coriander powder

1/2 tsp - turmeric powder

1/2 tsp - cumin seeds

1/2 tsp - Kasoori Methi (dry fenugreek leaves) 

2 tbsp - oil

Tadka

1/2 tsp - garlic chopped

1/2 tsp - black mustard seeds

1/4 tsp - asafoetida powder

2 - dry red chili broken into pieces

1/4 cup - chopped Cilantro

2 tbsp - oil/ghee

Directions:

  • Wash the Toor and Masoor daals few times till the water is clear.
  • Add the daal, 2 cups of water, salt and turmeric powder into a pressure cooker and cook till 2 whistle blows.  Let the pressure subside completely.  Alternatively you can cook the daal in a saucepan for 20-30 minutes till the daal is soft.  
  • In a separate pan, splutter cumin seeds in 2 tbsp of oil.  Add the chopped garlic & ginger and cook till golden yellow color.  Add the chopped onions, turmeric powder, salt and green chili to it and cook on low to medium heat till its sauteed well.
  • Lower the flame; add chili powder & coriander powder and cook for a minute.
  • Add the cubed zucchini pieces and saute for a minute.  Cover the lid and cook for couple of minutes till zucchini is cooked and slightly soft.
  • Once the zucchini is cooked, add the chopped tomatoes and cook till its soft.
  • Add the cooked daal to this.  Mix well and add 1/2 - 1 cup of water as per your desired consistency.  Let the daal zucchini mix boil for good 2 minutes.  Adjust the salt.   Rub the kasoori methi between your palms and add it to the daal.  Cook it for 30 seconds and turn off the flame.
  • In a small pan prepare the tadka by spluttering mustard seeds in 2 tbsp oil/ghee.  Add the chopped garlic and cook till its golden brown.  Lower the flame; add dry chili pieces and asafoetida powder and cook for 30 seconds.  Turn off the flame and pour the tadka over the Zucchini daal   Garnish with fresh chopped Cilantro.
  • Serve the Zucchini Daal fry with plain white Basmati rice or Roti/Chapathi.

Notes

  • You can use either Masoor daal or Toor daal per the availability instead of taking half and half proportions.
  • You can get Asafoetida powder at Indian stores.
  • Don't miss to add the tadka (fried garnish) and Kasoori Methi (dry fenugreek leaves) to the daal fry.  This adds the extra flavor to the dish.


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