Here I was thinking I all but exhausted my list of goodies to be made for Diwali. I mean seriously how many goodies can one indulge in , Right? Wrong. Apparently there are a few more up my sleeve than what I had originally envisioned. ( I think I am channeling my mom here. )
My first-born sort of wheedled the concoction based on semolina out of me yesterday. ( that post is still sitting in the drafts. I do need to post it up). And my butterfly wanted to know if I would make Mysore -Pak. Seriously this child would eat anything crunchy. She enjoys cucumbers as much as she enjoys the crunchy spirals I would make. But this is the one sweet, she can seriously dig into. Traditional Mysore Pak, would call for the need to indulge in heavy ghee. No sir, no butter or flavorless oil would do. It calls for the simplest ingredients, Besan or Chickpea flour, sugar and ghee.But the last one simply cannot be compromised on.Wary of indulging in such heavy fattening matter , especially since they stick on rather fast and sort of love you so much that they refuse to come off ( Folks, I am referencing the pounds that appear on the scale here ) especially with array of mithai I have in store for the festive season. I already had walnuts in stock, and since I did not use it my dry fruit and nut fudge thought it would be nice to have some nutritional value in this dessert.
Here’s hoping this will appease her appetite for besan based sweets, this recipe is a marriage of Southern India’s Mysore Pak and Northen India’s Mohanthal and with a host of deliberate variables introduced by yours truly!
Prep time : 15 min Cook time : 20- 25 min or so.
Setting : 20-30 min Yield : 36 pieces
Chickpea Flour (Besan) – 2 cups, sifted
Cashew nut powdered – 1/2 cup ( optional). I used it because I had left overs from kaju burfi recipe.
Unsalted Butter – 10 oz ( 1.25 sticks)
Walnuts – 1 cup, chopped finely
Cardamom Powder – 1/2 tsp
Crushed Saffron strands
Non fat-sweetened Condensed Milk – 14 oz can
Chopped pistachios for garnishing – optional
In a heavy bottomed non-stick pan, heat the unsalted butter so it melts well and is even in tone and color.
Add in the besan or Chickpea Flour, mix well and roast on a low flame. This process will get rid of the raw smell of the chickpea flour. The aroma of this will significantly change in 15 minutes or so and it starts smelling heavenly. Please do not skimp on this step. Experience speaks folks ! You will have to deal with raw besan fudge if you hustle to the next step. Ensure that the besan is roasted to light brown color completely.
On low heat setting , go ahead and add in the Cashew nut powder if using, and then add in the chopped Walnuts and Cardamom Powder. Make sure this is mixed very well.
Now add in the condensed milk and mix until all ingredients are well incorporated.I would say in about 5 min or so, it should be done.
Immediately pour mixture onto a greased baking tray. Delay in this process will result in a mass of glop that will be hard to manage.
Using a sheet of parchment paper, place it over the fudge and flatten out using the bottom of a steel bowl or a flat ladle.
Now add in any garnishing you prefer, like chopped pistachios or halved cashews if desired.
Stick this mixture in the refrigerator and let it settle for about 20- 25 minutes
Using a greased knife, a pizza cutter or your laser beam ( just kidding !) cut the fudge or burfi into diamond or square pieces.
I believe this recipe can be fairly adapted to making it in the microwave. I would recommend this based on my previous experiment with besan ladoos.Just make sure you stir in-between in fairly short intervals and to use a microwave safe bowl.
I just powdered raw cashew nuts at room temperature using a high-speed blender in pulse mode. It was done in a matter of minutes. Feel free to omit this in your preparation.
Please Note : This is a low-sweet, chewy, crunchy fudge and equally delicious!!!
I simply cannot stress enough on the integral part to any outcome of any culinary experimental equation:
Good, fresh ingredients in = great food out from the hearth of the house.. aka the kitchen.
In this case though a bare bones pantry and an impending trip to the west coast actually brought about this culinary experiment. My darling MIL, a frail looking but with nerves of steel lady is a precious gem. She would be this burst of sunshine in an otherwise humdrum day. I am constantly amazed at this septuagenarian’s endless energy and unflailing enthusiasm about things.. everyday things, cooking cleaning, you- name -it- anything.
My otherwise tempestuous affair with cooking is completely complemented by her abounding stable, and infectious enthusiasm . I would seriously marvel at how she could be really ebullient about the cooking process …everyday. And she is one awesome cook!!! Seriously folks, it is lip smacking good food… every time. Traditional Indian food, vegetarian and no frills but prepared with abundant love would be her signature style. And everyone is welcomed with a smile. No one leaves hungry at her door 🙂
Cut to this day, since eggs are not a part of her repertoire, a bit of organic chemistry came to my rescue to yield this birthday cake for her . So dear MIL aka MOM, this one is for you 🙂
Eggless Sponge cake studded with walnuts and almonds- Seriously simple, seriously good!
Preheat the oven / 350 deg F
Grease and flour the pans of your choice. . I used one 10 inch round and one bread loaf pan.
Chop 1/2 cup of walnuts roughly along with 1/4 cup of slivered almonds.
The Ingredients : Dry
Self rising flour : 4 cups
Baking soda : 1.25 tsp
Baking powder : 1 tsp ( I approximated this as the flour I used already has some baking powder in it )
Salt a pinch
A generous tsp of ground cardamom powder
Dry whisk all these ingredients together and keep aside to be used later.
The Ingredients: Wet
Fat Free condensed milk : 14 oz cans, 2 tins . Use any brand. I used the Eagle one.
1/2 cup of butter melted ( told you – fat come in here !)
1/2 cup of olive oil ( sort of balancing the guilt here by not adding in more butter )
1 cup of milk – I used the fat free evaporated kind. Why? The evaporated kind will still provide the density in the medium anyway.
1/2cup of water. ( OK folks, this was seriously some rough calculation. I wanted to add in 1.5 cups of liquid based on my previous banana nut cake recipe and decided to split it amongst water and milk.
1 tsp of vanilla extract – optional. I just had it so added it in !
Mix all the wet ingredients along with a generous pinch of saffron.( Ahem ! Notice my mild obsession with saffron:-) )
Gently add in the flour mixture to the wet ingredients. I just added it in slowly with gentle mixing of the batter with my trusted electric whisk at low speed.
The gooey mass emanating the mild and wonderful flavor is going to turn even more better. How?
Add in the1/2 the chopped pieces of walnuts and almonds and fold in gently.
Distribute the gooey mass of goodness in the prepared baking pans of your choice.
Add in the remaining nuts ( walnuts and almonds) as a garnish.
Baking :350 deg F for 45- 52 min or until done. Mine took approximately 47 min to be done.
Ok the exam results are out! It smelled heavenly …the aroma of the toasted nuts mixed with saffron and cardamom to emit an – oh – you-so – cannot – resist- me – siren’s call.
Verdict. Slight more dense than the eggs added version, but still very light on the palate. One huge bonus was that it was very mild on the sweet scale. It would make a wonderful custard cake served with fruits and whipped cream or vanilla custard. Or a wonderful tea cake..
Serves : Well it could well serve an army but was polished off by a dozed people in under a day – flat!
Possible variations? orange cake? banana orange cake? spiced cake? chai cake? Well, my chemistry instinct is going on an overdrive 🙂 But you get the idea!
Versatile, simple and so divine. Go on try it out, you will not be disappointed !
Planning your day around possible thunderstorms is a bit like planning a scientific experiment with a ton of variables thrown in. An experiment, that is fun but the outcome is so unpredictable . To cut a long story short, it was the ” boy who cried wolf “.. while the huge thunderstorms didn’t show up, what did was a reminder from mother nature that she was the one in charge . And we were blessed with blistering temperatures hitting near ninety ..Lovely !!
And of course when temperatures hit that high, the stock of sorry looking bananas get even more sorrier. read natural organic progression .. more dark brown spots appear ( more like the pounds that magically appear on self ). 🙂 Well, I cannot just dump nearly half a dozen bananas out. They were just overripe and more sweet than the youthful ones. But no amount of cajoling could get my 3A’s to venture near them. And then inspiration stuck, or rather the thought in the back burner just jumped several hoops ahead to make itself shout ” Make banana bread / cake “. Sure, sounds easy, but here is the cinch, I have never baked this one. Yes, I have baked so many more kinds, but banana bread/cake, the easy peesy one, I have never attempted to do so. Well partially because , I had a good friend who would treat me to her delectable version quite often and partly because it’s banana bread. And well honestly a fruit smoothie would be so much easier. Just throw in the bananas, add a couple more fruits, a dash of honey and there you have it. But no, the itch to bake set in and I do need to scratch it. Call me stubborn, but my friend , let’s just call her D ( you know who you are , sweety), had this heavenly version and I just wanted to try it. After about half an hour of searching,I did manage to locate the one. Here is the version, that she primarily used. (http://allrecipes.com/recipe/a-number-1-banana-cake/)
This is the one I based this experiment upon, but of course my pantry ingredients decided the kind that went into the batter mix. Seriously, I was in no mood to go shopping to the grocery store in the sweltering heat, just because I did not have buttermilk. The ones’ marked in Asterix, are variations of the original recipe.
Alright , folks, this is my version of the ingredients that went in:
2.5 cups of self rising flour* ( notice it is self rising, why? cause I did not have the regular one ,and seriously a little bit of baking powder should technically make the cake more airy. In any case, my gripe about the run to the grocery store , well I stood my ground )
1/2 cup of unsalted butter .( You can substitute this with almond butter for a more nuttier taste I suppose )
2 large eggs
3/4 cup of milk* ( the original recipe called for butter milk. Well, I decided to use milk here 🙂 . Why.. well no buttermilk and seriously, thought milk would be an awesome choice. I used 1% milk of course.)
1 and 3/4 cup of sugar* – I used brown granulated sugar entirely
About 5 medium ripe bananas * mine were pretty spotty brown ( the original recipe calls for 4. But I suppose an additional banana would do no harm )
1 tablespoon baking soda
1 pinch salt
A generous pinch of saffron *( I know I am obsessed with saffron )
A generous pinch of caradamom powder *
1/2 cup of chopped walnuts
1/4 cup of skinned sliced almonds*
A pinch of cinnamon powder *
( Whew, don’t let the exhausting list fool you. I just emptied those nuts that were sitting in the pantry. And decided to add in a few flavors to enhance the mix. More like, once I get started, I just cannot get to stop myself from adding a dash of this and dash of that ).
Alright, now that the stage is set, lets get the gooey good stuff going.
Preheat the oven / 350 deg
Grease and flour the pans of your choice. the original recipe called for two 8 inch pans. I used one 8 inch round and one 9 inch square pan.
Let’s get the party started …
Sift the flour,baking soda and salt together and set aside.
Cream the butter,sugar and eggs.
Add in the pureed bananas,,cardamom powder ,cinnamon powder and saffron strands.
Add in the flour and whip up the gooey mixture.
Fold in the walnuts and almonds
Let’s cook them:
Stick those pans in the preheated oven and bake them at 350 deg for 30 min.
Holy mackerel ! Honest to goodness yummy light and fluffy and airy goodness in squares and circles. Beautiful brown goodness, perfectly baked and crunchy walnuts. The aroma filled the entire kitchen and brought the oldest scooting down to the kitchen.. all the way form the attic. 🙂
Texture : Very very soft ( possibly the baking powder in the self rising flour combined with the baking soda, did wonders) and porus.
Aroma : Fragrant cardamom and hint of cinnamon with saffron emanating creating the wonderful fusion with bananas.
Serve it up..the kids devoured it it warm with the cool combination of whipped cream. Yummy!
Verdict:Just awesome !.. And like I always believe, great cooking results is mostly achieved by right combination of ingredients and the freshness of your stock. And of course, the right chemistry !!!