Perad or Guava Cheese … made with Canned Guavas

** This post contains affiliate links.

Guava Cheese or Perad is a quintessential Goan sweet that makes an appearance at Christmas time. Its flavourful and lightly chewy like a Guava gummy candy.

It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas!!!

 
Christmas decorations have started going up all over the place, Christmas merchandise is in every store. And it’s probably just me, but when I see this, my mind starts to wander towards Christmas sweets (mind you that doesn’t take much). Yup, before we know it, Christmas will be upon us. I must admit, this is my absolute favorite time of the year. 
 
Let’s talk sweets now, shall we? What’s your favorite? Me, I love them all. Old school, traditional Kuswar, new age desserts and sweets, the whole lot. But of all of them I think that my favorite is the Goan Guava Cheese (almost like Guava gummies or candy, but better) known as Perad. I have previously posted a perad recipe using fresh guavas here. But here, in Sydney, I haven’t been able to get my hands on any fresh guavas, especially this time of the year. So imagine my joy when I came across this on one of my weekly grocery shops at my local Supermarket.
 
 
Ofcourse, I grabbed a couple of tins and knew that I had to try making Perad with them. (I have also used the “Koo” brand with the same great results.) I mean, I knew it wouldn’t be like using fresh guavas, but how different could it really be? So I tweaked the recipe a tiny bit and crossed my fingers while the perad cooked and set. To my delight, this was the best Perad I had ever made or eaten. So it’s safe to say from now on, while I can get my hands on these canned guavas, I’m going to stick to using it for my Perad.
 
 
 
 
Place some of the ghee on a large metal cookie sheet / baking pan and spread on the bottom and sides and keep this aside.

 

Drain the guava halves and reserve the syrup.

Scoop out the seeds and set aside.
 
Puree the halves till smooth and put the puree in a heavy bottomed vessel. Now Goan sweets are notorious for taking ages to cook, but I have found if you use a wider vessel, its cooks a lot faster because of the increased surface area. So I use a stainless steel 12″ Kitchenaid Skillet for all my sweets and it drastically reduces the cooking time.

 

Now place all the seeds, that were previously scooped out, in a strainer, add a couple of spoons of the reserved syrup from the cans and stir through the strainer to extract all the guava puree from the centres. You may need to do this a couple of times adding a tiny bit of syrup each time to extract all the guava. Add the extract to the pan and now discard the seeds.

I usually end up with about 370g pulp from the halves and about 250g from the centres. In all about 620g of guava pulp. Other recipes call for a lot more sugar, but since these are canned guavas in syrup they are sweeter than the fresh ones, so I’ve cut down on the amount of added sugar in the recipe.

Add the cloves and the sugar to the pan.

Place the pan on medium heat and stir continuously using a wooden spoon with a long handle. The guava mix tends to sputter and spit while cooking and the long handle will prevent the mix splashing on your arms. Make sure that when you stir, the spoon gets to the edges of the pan to prevent it sticking to the bottom of the pan and burning. If the mix sputters too much, lower the the heat and continue cooking.

When the mix thickens, extract the cloves carefully and discard. Continue cooking till it leaves the sides of the pan. Keep stirring.

Test to see if done. (Use water test – Place some icy cold water in a small bowl and drop a teaspoon of the sweet on it. If it firms up on cooling it is done. If it is still very soft or too sticky, it needs more cooking). 

When done, pour the mix into the greased pan. Using the back of a large spoon that has been greased with some ghee spread the mix to form an even slab and set aside to cool.

When it has cooled down a bit, using a knife that has been greased with some ghee, cut into cubes. You may need to grease the knife a couple of times while cutting to prevent it sticking.

When it has completely cooled, store in an air tight container. If you are making this ahead of time, or if it summer like in our part of the world, refrigerate till you are ready to use.

Enjoy!!!

 

Instant Kesar Peda – Saffron Infused Milk Fudge

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So it’s almost Diwali. Even though we don’t celebrate it, we enjoy the food that comes with it. After trying out a few sweet and savory recipes for Diwali over the last five years, I’ve come to realize that a lot of recipes are fairly quick and easy to make, compared to most of the traditional Goan sweets. That makes me happy because I know I can whip up so many treats in a jiffy. However, there are a few recipes that are time consuming and tedious when made from scratch, like a good peda. A peda, for those of you who aren’t familiar with the term, is a hand shaped piece of fudge made and enjoyed all over India. Now, I have made fudge before but had never tried making Pedas at home. That is, until I recently came across a recipe for an Instant version. Yup, you heard me, there is an instant version of the good old peda.

This Instant Kesar Peda requires a few basic ingredients and about half an hour of your time. That’s how easy and simple it is to make. A lot of the commercially sold pedas use food coloring and artificial flavoring, but I decided to keep mine simple. I have used actual Saffron strands in this recipe for flavor and a mild coloring too. If you want your pedas to have the ‘oh-so-popular’ color, use some yellow food color. You can choose to imprint a design on the top of the peda or use a mould to shape it and you have the option to garnish the shaped pedas with some finely slivered nuts as well. So if you still haven’t whipped up anything for Diwali, don’t let that get you down. You can still make a bunch of homemade sweets and savories for your Diwali platter in no time at all. Besides this peda recipe, I have a few fantastic recipes to help you out. You can find them at the end of the post here.
So here’s to another Indian delicacy, even though its a cheat version. I can tick this one of the my ever-growing list of recipes I want to try. 
Wish you and your family a Happy and Prosperous Diwali!!!
Instant Kesar Pedas
Recipe from: Sandhya’s Kitchen
Yields: 25 pieces

1 cup condensed milk
1 cup + 2 tsp milk powder
1/2 tsp green cardamom seeds, crushed/powdered
2 tsp ghee
A generous pinch of saffron strands
2 tsp warm milk
Extra ghee, to grease your palms while shaping the pedas
Add the saffron strands to the warm milk and set aside to infuse.
Grease a large plate with a tiny bit of ghee and set aside. 
In a wide, preferably heavy bottomed pan, heat the ghee on a medium flame till it melts.
Add the condensed milk and the milk powder to the pan and stir well, making sure you dissolve any lumps that form. Any lumps left will not give you a smooth finish.
Continue cooking the mix, stirring frequently (with a wooden or a silicon spoon) for about 8-10 minutes. You will find the mix coming together at this stage.
Add the saffron infused milk and strands and the crushed cardamom to the pan and stir well. This will cause the mix to loosen in consistency a little and that’s exactly what we want.
 Continue cooking for a few more minutes, stirring continuously and the mix will start pulling away from the sides of the pan.
At this stage carefully check to see if the mix is still sticky. I picked a tiny portion with the spoon and touched it lightly to see if it is sticky. My hands can tolerate a fair amount of heat, please exercise caution when doing this. You want to make very little contact with the mix and not dip your finger in it too deep because it is super hot at this stage. If it still feels too sticky, continue cooking for a couple minutes more. 
Once it is not sticky, take off the heat. 
Immediately turn the mix onto the greased plate and leave it to cool a little.
When it is cool enough to handle, grease your palms with a little ghee, pinch of a small portion of the mix and roll into a ball and flatten slightly. Place on a platter and leave to set. If you choose to garnish the pedas, do it at this stage just after you shape it and then set aside in a single layer to set.
Serve up and enjoy!!!
Pin now and try later –

Pumpkin Pie – baked from scratch

Almost everyone around the globe appears to be embracing the approach of fall. Falling leaves, cooler days, soups and sweaters and all things pumpkin. In my part of the world though, we are well on our way to Summer. But, since we’re so blessed with great weather and an abundance of fruit and veg all the year round, we are still getting a fair bit of pumpkin. But I think it is nearing the end of pumpkin season. I realized I had never made or tasted pumpkin pie. I know right! That, I am glad to report, has officially changed.

Over the weekend, I bought some pumpkin, made my own pumpkin puree, the filling and the pastry from scratch. Hang on, don’t run away. It sounds like a lot of work, but it really wasn’t. I roasted the pumpkin late one evening and the next day I made the pie. The pastry and the filling comes together in the food processor. The food processor was used mainly out of necessity. I’d sprained my wrist a few days ago and there was no way I could have knead the dough or mashed the pumpkin by hand. I was amazed at how easy it was. I may never go back to making shortcrust pastry any other way. I do hope you try baking a pumpkin pie from scratch this year, especially if you haven’t done so before. It is so satisfying, you’ll be glad you did.
I left the pie just as it was baked and didn’t even cover the little knife test mark, because I didn’t want to over sweeten it by adding any icing sugar on top. You could dust it with some icing sugar if you’d like. If you want to make it more indulgent, top it with some whipped cream or serve it with some ice cream if you’d like. We tried that, but loved how it tasted by itself. And trust me, it tasted even better the next day. So make it a day or two before you need it (think Thanksgiving dinner), and once it has completely cooled down, refrigerate till you are ready to serve. The pie is beautiful – the pastry is perfectly flaky and the filling spiked with warm spices is silky smooth.

How to make Pumpkin Puree at home – 

1 – 1 1/2 kilo pumpkin

You can either use small pumpkins or a wedge of a larger one, whatever you can get your hands on. I used about 1/3 of a Kent Pumpkin.

Preheat the oven to 180ºC.

Cut into equal sized wedges. Leave the skin on. Scoop out the insides – the seeds and the membrane.

Place the pumpkin skin side down on a roasting tray and bake for 45 minutes to an hour or till a knife pierced through the flesh of the pumpkin goes through without any resistance. (I did this while we were having dinner)

Let the pumpkin cool. (I left it to cool overnight and made the puree the next day.) Peel the pumpkin or scoop out the flesh, whatever you find easier, and place the pumpkin in a food processor and blitz till done. If it looks too dry, add a couple of spoons of water and blitz again.

What you are left with is a glorious bowl of fresh pumpkin puree.

Once you have your pumpkin puree, you can use it to make anything pumpkin you’d like – Pumpkin pie, pumpkin doughnuts, pumpkin cake / cookies, pumpkin rolls and the list goes on.

Now, let’s get on to making the Pumpkin Pie.

Pumpkin Pie 
Recipe from: Tabler Party of Two

For the pie crust
250g all purpose flour
125g cold butter, cubed
A couple of tablespoons of cold milk
(If you’re using unsalted butter, add a pinch of salt. If you’re using salted butter, leave out the salt.)

Place the flour and butter in the food processor.

Pulse a few times till the butter has broken down and you’re left with a mix that looks like this.

Add a couple of spoons of cold milk to help bind the pastry and pulse a couple of times till you are left a mix that looks like this. Start with a spoon or two and add more if needed.

Place some clingfilm on your work surface (lesser clean up this way) and tip this mix on top.

Press together to form a dough. Don’t knead or overwork the dough.

Wrap it up in the same cling film and refrigerate for about half an hour.

While the dough is chilling, make the pie filling.

For the pie filling

2 cups fresh pumpkin puree
1 can evaporated milk (a 12 ounce can)
3 eggs
3/4 cup sugar
1/2 tsp salt
1 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
1 tsp ground ginger
1/2 tsp ground nutmeg
1/2 tsp ground cloves

Place all the ingredients in the food processor and blitz till everything is well incorporated and smooth.

 
Preheat the oven to 180ºC.

Take the dough out of the refrigerator and roll to a disc large enough to cover a 9 inch pie dish. Line the pie dish with the dough and pour in the filling.

Cover just the edges of the pie crust loosely with foil to keep it from burning.

Bake for 50-60 minutes or till a knife pierced through the center comes out clean. Take the foil off in about the last ten minutes to let it evenly brown.

Cool and cut into wedges and serve.

Enjoy!!!

Pin now and try later.

Banana Fritters – another great way to use up over-ripe bananas

If you’re like me, you always have bananas on the kitchen counter. I personally love bananas and we always have bananas in the house. This means that every once in a while, I find myself left with a couple of bananas that are a little too ripe to eat as is. Do you? If you do, don’t fret and definitely don’t throw those bananas away. There are the perfect ingredient for these banana fritters.

I remember my mum and Nana (maternal grandmother) making us some of these fritters just in time for an after school snack. To tell you the truth, I had kind of forgotten about these fritters till my husband whipped up a batch more recently. And I absolutely loved them. They come together in minutes with literally 3 ingredients and no sugar. Now we make these fritters quite often. Sometimes, I leave a couple of bananas to get over ripe just so I can make these fritters.

In the past, we’ve made these fritters using either whole wheat flour (atta) or all purpose flour (maida). They turn out really well using either of the two. So feel free to use what you have on hand. I don’t like my sweets too sweet, so I just use the bananas to sweeten these fritters. Since they are over-ripe, they tend to be sweeter. However, if you don’t find them sweet enough, you can drizzle them with some honey or some maple syrup. You could also add some sugar/honey/maple syrup to the batter. The recipe below is the one I use without any sweetener. I think these fritters would work very well in place of pancakes for breakfast too.

Banana Fritters


2 over ripe bananas
1 egg
2-3 heaped tablespoons whole wheat flour / all purpose flour
1-2 tsp oil, for pan frying (I use olive oil. You could use any oil that you use for cooking.)

Mash the bananas till no big lumps remain.

Whisk in an egg. Whisk till the egg has incorporated with the mashed bananas well.

Lastly add 2 tablespoons of either whole wheat flour or all purpose flour.

Whisk till the flour has just about mixed in. Do not over mix. You will end up with a batter that looks like this.

Heat 1 tsp of oil in a pan over medium heat.

Pour a heaped tablespoon of batter onto the pan. Depending on the size of the pan, you can fry more than one fritter at a time.

After a minute or so, or when the bottom is golden brown (use a spatula and slightly lift one edge of the fritter to check for doneness), flip them over and cook on the other side.

At this stage if you find the batter is too delicate and hard to turn, add a spoon more of flour to the batter and whisk through. This should make it easier to flip over.

When it is golden brown on the other side too, remove from the pan.

Repeat till the rest of the batter is over, adding a little more oil to the pan between batches, as required.

Serve hot with a hot cup of tea.

Enjoy!!!
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Banana Fritters
A delicious tea-time snack and a great way to use up over ripe bananas.
Ingredients
  • 2 Over ripe bananas
  • 1 Egg
  • 2-3 heaped tbsp Whole wheat flour / all purpose flour
  • 1-2 tsp oil, for pan frying
Instructions
Mash the bananas till no big lumps remain.Whisk in an egg. Whisk till the egg has incorporated with the mashed bananas well.Lastly add 2 tablespoons of either whole wheat flour or all purpose flour.Whisk till the flour has just about mixed in. Do not over mix.Heat 1 tsp of oil in a pan over medium heat. I use olive oil. You can use whatever oil you use for cooking.Pour a heaped tablespoon of batter onto the pan. Depending on the size of the pan, you can fry more than one fritter at a time.After a minute or so, or when the bottom is golden brown (use a spatula and slightly lift one edge of the fritter to check for doneness), flip them over and cook on the other side.

At this stage if you find the batter is too delicate and hard to turn, add a spoon more of flour to the batter and whisk through. This should make it easier to flip over.When it is golden brown on the other side too, remove from the pan.Repeat till the rest of the batter is over, adding a little more oil to the pan between batches, as required.

Details

Prep time: 5 mins Cook time: 10 mins Total time: 15 mins Yield:

Rice Pudding (Kheer) with a hint of Saffron – #MyWarOnWaste

Hello! It’s me. I’m so glad you are still here. I’ve been missing on the blog recently as we’ve just moved house. But I’m happy to report that after a couple of insane weeks of packing, cleaning and unpacking, we are mostly settled in and I’m back to my regular routine. While this was happening, winter seems to have well and truly set it. You won’t find me complaining, because I LOVE winter. Its the season for soups, stews, warm puddings and lots of baking – all my favorite kind of things.

Speaking of warm puddings, I have a list of them I want to make this winter and hope the next few weeks will give me an opportunity to share them with you here. I have always wanted to try making some rice pudding (known as kheer in India) at home. Each time I walk by the frozen dessert section at Coles, I’m tempted to pick up a pot of rice pudding. But I don’t, because surely it couldn’t be too hard to make some at home. The problem is, I just never got around to doing it. Until now.

Usually rice pudding is made using uncooked rice. I recently found myself with some leftover plain Basmati rice from lunch and I didn’t want it to go to waste. Waste not, want not, right? So I decided that I was going to try and use it to make some rice pudding instead. After a little searching, I found just the recipe I was looking for. A no-nonsense approach to a rice pudding that used leftover rice. You’ve probably ended up with some extra rice from an Indian takeout lunch / dinner on occasion. Don’t throw that stuff out. Transform it into this glorious, rich and creamy rice pudding in no time with a few pantry staples.

 BTW has anyone seen the latest mini series on ABC called War on Waste. Such an eye opener. It is shocking how much food is wasted regularly in households, among other wastage. This is a great way of reducing household food wastage. I love finding ways to reduce wastage. Do you have any recipes that use leftovers and cut down on food wastage? Tag them on Instagram using #MyWarOnWaste and lets help inspire people to reduce waste.

So go ahead and try it out. You can serve it as a beautiful tea time treat or as dessert. Any leftovers can be refrigerated. You can enjoy your rice pudding both warm or cold. Personally, I prefer mine warm, which works really well on colder days. I’m really glad I tried making this pudding at home. Who knew that something this tasty and satisfying could be this simple to make.

My rice pudding has a yellowish tint because I added a few strands of saffron to the pot while cooking it. You can leave it out and it will look like regular rice pudding.

Rice Pudding
Adapted from: Fatima Cooks


1 cup cooked rice (I used leftover Basmati rice)
2 cups milk
1/4 cup sugar, or to taste
1/4 tsp cardamom powder
A few strands (4-6) saffron (optional)
A few raisins
A few almonds, roughly sliced / chopped

Place the rice, milk, sugar, cardamom powder and saffron strands in a pot.

Cook on medium heat, stirring continuously but gently. Scrape down the sides and the bottom of the pan regularly. Cook till the milk has reduced and has become a thick, cream like consistency. It is okay if some of the rice grains break down. It helps thickening the pudding. But don’t mash the rice completely. You want a little texture in there.

How thick you want the pudding to be, is upto you. Just before it is done, add the raisins. Turn it off the heat when it has thickened to your liking. I find that heating the raisins through the pudding plumps them up a bit and makes them extra yummy, rather than just placing the raisins on top.

Serve in bowls and top with some sliced / chopped almonds.

Enjoy!!!

If you want more ideas like this to help reduce food wastage and save money, follow me on Pinterest here.

Christmas Broken Glass Jello

What do you do for dessert if you’re from the southern hemisphere and Christmas happens to be in the middle of the summer? I have been trying to find a few options that can be used for your next Christmas / Holiday party. Something that can be made ahead, is easy to make and can feed a crowd. This is one of those types of recipes. I have been a big fan of Mary’s blog “The Food Librarian” for years now. She is a big fan of Jello and has made some amazing creations with it. I first wanted to make some Broken Glass Jello back when we were in Mumbai. However, it was close to impossible to find a range of Jelly flavors easily. So I gave up on the idea after a lot of searching.

Then last week, I was trying to come up with some easy summer dessert options that I could make more Christmassy, and I thought of Jello. This is my first attempt at making Broken Glass Jello. I am very happy with the outcome given all that happened. Well into the process of making this, my flavorless gelatine powder ended up being a big hard rock of a block and I couldn’t cut into it or shatter it with a meat mallet either. I ended up getting just a spoonful or so of the powder. So I had to add some gelatine leaves as well. This caused my condensed milk portion of the jello to not set as firm as I’d have liked. I’m hoping to have better luck next time around. That being said, this recipe was so easy to make. It just takes a little planning ahead, because it needs time to set in the fridge. It was so much fun working with the Jello. I felt a very childlike amusement and eagerness while I was chopping it up. The end result was really tasty. You don’t even have to switch the stovetop or the oven on, if you have an electric kettle. If not, you’ll need to boil some water and that’s all the cooking this recipe calls for. That makes me very happy, because we seem to be having some very hot days at the moment. I can’t wait to try some more versions of Jello out soon. You can switch out flavors and colors to suit the occasion. I used Aeroplane Jelly from Coles for this recipe. Feel free to use whatever you have at hand. I hope you enjoy this treat. 
Christmas Broken Glass Jello

1 box Strawberry flavored Jelly (I used Aeroplane Jelly – 85g box)
1 box Lime flavored Jelly (This too is Aeroplane Jelly – 85g box)
3 gelatin leaves (This is unflavored. If you are using unflavored Jelly crystals, use 1 tbsp)
1/2 tin condensed milk (I used a Nestle 395g tin.)
First we’re going to make the red and green portion of the Jelly because that has to set firm, so that we can cut it up into cubes. Please note, we are going to use just one cup of water for each packet. We’re not following the recipe on the box, because it has to set firm enough to be able to cut into tiny cubes. 
Mix the Strawberry flavored Jelly with 1 cup of boiling water and stir till it has all dissolved. Let this cool down to room temperature. Line a small container with cling film / Glad wrap. You need to keep some overhang so that you can pick the set Jelly out of the container using this as handles. This helps to unmould the Jelly later. I used a Sistema sandwich box for this and it was perfect. Try and use a square container, if possible, that way you can cut all of it into cubes. A round container will leave you with some off cuts at the edges. Ofcourse, if you don’t have square containers, use whatever you have at hand. Trim off the edges of the Jelly later. Cover and place the container in the fridge to set. It will need a few hours to set firm. I made this the previous day and left it overnight to set.
Repeat the entire process for the Lime flavored Jelly.
The next morning, make the last bit of the recipe.
Dissolve the unflavored gelatin (crystals or leaves) in 1 cup boiling water. Add the condensed milk and stir till everything has dissolved and mixed well. Let this come to room temperature. 
While the condensed milk Jelly is cooling, line an 8 inch square cake pan with cling film. Again keep some extra on the edges as overhand to help you unmould the Jelly, just like you did before.
Pick the Strawberry and Lime Jelly out of the containers, using the extra cling film on the sides.
Peel back all the cling film and chop them up into small cubes. 
Gently mix the cubes and place them in the lined cake tray. 
At this stage, if your condensed milk Jelly hasn’t cooled completely, put the tray with the cubes back in the fridge. If you use the condensed milk Jelly while it is still warm, you will end up melting the red and green jelly cubes. 
Once, the condensed milk jelly has cooled completely, pour it into the lined cake tray over the cubed jelly. 

Leave to set in the refrigerator till firm. I left mine about 8 hours. You may be able to cut into this sooner, but make sure that the Jelly has set firm before you cut it up. This dish can be made ahead of time. So plan for about 8 hours to set at this stage.

Carefully, pick the set jelly out of the cake pan when it has set firm and cut into cubes. 
Serve up and watch everyone enjoy this with childlike glee.
*Disclaimer: This is NOT a sponsored post. I have simply shared the brands I used for this recipe. 

Rocky Road Crunch Bars

A quick look at my blog posts for this year revealed something fascinating. I haven’t had too many dessert / candy kind of recipes make an appearance this year. I owe that to what used to be a very demanding job. Now that I’m taking some time off, I actually have the time to breathe, to stop and smell the roses, so to say. And one of the first orders of business is to rectify that. I decided that the 2-ingredient Almond Rocks was a good way to start and I needed another rocking recipe. And out of nowhere, I realized I hadn’t make any Rocky Road bars in ages. Turns out, I had all the ingredients needed to make some Rocky Road. So with a few minutes of prep and some time to set in the fridge, I now have a delicious batch of Rocky Road.

The beauty of this recipe is that you can switch it up so many different ways. You prefer a sweeter chocolate, use milk chocolate. If like me, you prefer a dark chocolate, use a darker variant. I used a 70% dark chocolate. I know to many of you, it may seem like it is a little too dark, but considering the recipe also uses marshmallows, biscuits and glace cherries, it balances out nicely. If however you need something in between, use 2 parts dark to 1 part milk chocolate of half of each, to suit your taste. This time around I used almonds but I have also made them with cashew nuts in the past and they work well. I think peanuts would be really nice too. So feel free to switch things up. 
Just before serving these bars, lightly dust them with some icing sugar. I put about a spoonful of icing sugar into a small sieve and lightly tap it over the bars. This gives it a lovely snow-like effect. These bars would be perfect to serve up as dessert for your Christmas or Holiday Parties or it could just as well hit the spot as a little treat as well. They would look really good on your Christmas platter too. 
Rocky Road Crunch Bars
Yields: 16 pieces

200g chocolate (I used dark chocolate. Feel free to use milk or part dark and part milk chocolate)
85g butter, at room temperature
2 tbsp golden syrup
100g Maria biscuits (Marie biscuits or any other Tea biscuits)
75g almonds
75g glace cherries
60g mini marshmallows
1 tsp icing sugar
Roughly chop the chocolate up into little pieces. The smaller the pieces, the quicker it will melt.
Place it in a heavy bottomed saucepan with the butter and golden syrup and place it on a low heat. Stir it every now and then to make sure it isn’t sticking to the bottom of the pan. 
When it has mostly melted, stir well and turn off the heat. You will get a silky syrupy consistency like this.
Roughly chop up the almonds and biscuits and set aside. It doesn’t need to be uniform in size.
Tip in all the add ins like the marshmallows, biscuits, almonds and cherries into a large mixing bowl.
Pour the molten chocolate over the ingredients.
Stir well to make sure everything is coated with the chocolate.
Line an 8 inch square cake tin with foil.
Pour the mix into the lined tin and flatten it out as best as you can using the back of a spoon.
Refrigerate for about 2 hours. 
When you are ready to cut, carefully peel of the foil. It is easier to do this now rather than after you cut it up.
Cut into pieces. I got 16 squares of about 2 inches each.
Just before serving, lightly dust with some icing sugar passed through a sieve. 
Enjoy!!!

Almond Rocks

My first Christmas post … is this really possible? It’s not yet December but I already have my Christmas on, and it makes me insanely happy. I happen to be someone that loves Christmas. Turns out this is the first Christmas that I have to myself in about 8-10 years. For more than the first half of the last decade, I made Christmas sweets to order back in Mumbai. So as you can imagine around mid November, things would kick into higher gear with the prep, graphic work, shopping and planning of the month ahead and come December I’d be buried to my ears in work. It was exhausting but I loved every second of it and I can’t wait to do this all over again here in Sydney. Not this year though. After spending the last few years in Retail, which at this time of the year has you running off your feet, I have decided to take a little time off. Time to step back, re-prioritize and take some time off. We going to spend Christmas with the family in Bombay this year and I’m really excited. So you should see a little more of me on the blog at this time of the year.

For my first Christmas treat, I’m going to share with you a little chocolate creation that will knock your socks off. If you aren’t wearing any socks at the moment, I’ll wait for you. Put them on and come back to check the rest of the post and prepare to have them knocked off. Almond Rocks are so simple to make and need just 2 ingredients. You can make as big or small a batch as you’d like to. But I must warn you, these are so addictive, do yourself a favor and make a bigger batch than you need. You can also adjust the chocolate to be as intensely dark or sweet as you want it. We personally love dark chocolate, so I use a 70% dark chocolate straight up. If you like a sweeter chocolate, you simple use milk chocolate. If you’re in a Goldilocks kinda situation, use half semisweet / dark and half milk chocolate. So you see what I mean, you could have your chocolate just the way you like it. So that’s about your first ingredient. Now onto your second, the almonds. I use just the regular natural almonds and I roast them myself. I find the flavor much better this way. But you could use store bought roasted almonds too. Those are the ingredients for you. Now let’s put these together, shall we.
Almond Rocks
Yield: 16 pcs

100g dark chocolate (I used 70%, but you can use whatever you like)
A handful of almonds (I use 3 per chocolate, and always roast some extras, in case you have chocolate left over. The almonds taste great for snacking too.)
Preheat the oven to 170°C.
Place the almonds on a baking tray and roast in the oven for 5 minutes.
Toss the almonds and place back in the oven for another 4-5 minutes. Check at the 3 minute mark this time. You may not need as long as 5 minutes, depending on the size of your almonds and your oven. You want the almonds to slightly change color and you will distinctly be able to smell the nuttiness. You need to watch the almonds as you don’t want them to char or burn.
Once you’re happy with how roasted the almonds are, take them out of the oven and let them cool completely. They will crisp up and be a whole lot yummier one it has cooled down. (If you are using store bought almonds that are roasted, you can skip this whole step.)
While this is happening, roughly chop the chocolate into small pieces. Remember, the smaller the pieces, the faster it will melt, which is a good thing. If you haven’t worked with chocolate before, please ensure that all surfaces, bowls/plates, knives that you use to work with the chocolate are comepletely dry. Water and chocolate don’t get along. Any moisture will cause the chocolate to seize and that is NOT a good thing.
Place the chopped up chocolate in a microwave suitable bowl and pop it in the microwave for 30 seconds. Stir and return to the microwave for another 15 seconds. Stir again. As you stir, you will see the chocolate starting to melt. It took me a further 15 seconds (1 minute in all) to get my chocolate melted. Stir well and as you stir, the chocolate continues to melt and gets silky like this.
Tip the completely cool roasted almonds in the chocolate. At this stage, you may feel like there isn’t enough chocolate, but trust me, there is. If you want to, you can add the almonds in two stages. 
Stir the almonds into the chocolate to make sure every nut is well coated in the chocolate. 
Line a plate or platter or tray with parchment paper. 
Spoon out one cluster at a time. I scoop up 3 almonds at a time and drop them on the parchment lined tray. (If you want smaller clusters, you could use just 2 almonds for each cluster. I like the portion size that 3 almonds yield.)
Repeat with the rest of the almonds and chocolate. I love the irregular shapes of candy you get. I think its what gives these almond rocks a lot of character. 
Pop the tray in the refrigerator for around 20 minutes to set. This is what it will look after it has set.
Keep refrigerated till you are ready to serve or store in an airtight container in the fridge. If you want to wrap them in colored candy wrapping foil you can do so at this stage. You could also pop them in little festive bags and use them as edible gifts or host / hostess gifts this holiday season. I am going to leave them uncovered. 
Enjoy!!!
Note: If you are making a massive batch, melt your chocolate in batches that way it is easy to work with. However if you find the chocolate getting too thick to work it, microwave it for about 10 seconds and you should be good to go.
If you don’t have a microwave, you could use the double boiler method to melt the chocolate. Simply place a bowl with the chocolate over a pot of simmering water, making sure the water doesn’t touch the bottom of the bowl and no moisture or vapor gets to the chocolate while you are melting it.

Sweet Potato Brownies (Gluten Free)

I have finally gotten around to writing this post. For some reason these pictures have been lurking somewhere in the deep, dark recesses of my computer and kinda got forgotten there. Today, when I was looking for something else, I came across them and realized I hadn’t yet shared it with you. So it just had to be done.

We’ve been trying to be more conscious of what we eat now. No fad diets or deprivation, but we’re trying to focus on making better choices. Let me be very clear here, there will still be baked goodies. And lots of regular ones too. All I’m saying is that I’m going to be more open to the slightly healthier variants too. For example, these brownies. I came across this recipe when I was looking for ways to use up a massive box of sweet potatoes I picked up at the growers market at Flemington. The only sweetener in it is maple syrup. The rest of the sweetness comes from the sweet potato and the dates. And that make me happy. I can enjoy a piece because I know whats in it. There are also no eggs in the recipe, so that will make my vegetarian friends from India (the ones that don’t eat eggs) very happy. This recipe also uses raw cacao powder instead of cocoa powder or chocolate. Though I’m pretty sure you’d be able to substitute them if you so wished. I hear raw cacao is purer and healthier. A quick blitz of ingredients in the food processor, a quick stir in of the dry ingredients and you’re ready to bake. That’s how easy it is to make these brownies.

Now, the verdict – These are nothing like the typical chocolate brownies you buy at the store or even make at home. They are equally delicious and have a nice gooey texture. They have a slightly different flavor from the sweet potatoes and kinda reminded me of a typical Goan sweet “Dodol” with minimal effort. So if you’re up for trying out something a little different, give these sweet potato brownies a go. You won’t be disappointed.

Sweet Potato Brownies
Recipe from: Deliciously Ella

2 medium to large sweet potatoes (approx 600g)
2/3 cup ground almonds (I used almond meal)
1/2 cup rice flour (You could also use buckwheat flour)
14 dates
4 tbsp raw cacao
3 tbsp pure maple syrup
A pinch of salt


Preheat the oven to 180ºC.

You need to use cooked sweet potato for the recipe. You could either roast, boil or stem them till they are nice and soft. I wrapped them in foil and baked them while I had the oven on the previous night.

Peel the sweet potato and cut them into chunks and add them to a food processor along with the pitted dates. Process this you are left with a nice creamy mixture.

Place all the dry ingredients in a bowl and stir together.

Add the sweet potato and date paste and mix this thoroughly combined.

Pour the batter in a lined baking dish and bake for about 20 minutes or till a skewer pierced in the center comes out dry.

Take the pan out of the oven and let the brownies cool in the dish itself for about 10-20 minutes to set.

Take it out of the pan and let it cool down some more before cutting into pieces.

Enjoy!!!

Oreo Truffles

I have a little confession. A few years ago, I used to not like Oreo biscuits very much. There!!! I said it. But wait, I must also say this. A few months ago, I sorta flipped a switch. I happened to try one again, and I must say, I didn’t mind it at all. Don’t ask me what happened or how it did, but I can now say I actually like Oreo biscuits. So it was time that I reworked what was originally a recipe that used Oreos, which, when I first made, I actually substituted with another biscuit. But recently, I made them again using the real thing.

Sometime in August, we were celebrating a couple of birthdays at work and I decided I was going to bring a batch of these to the celebration. I was a little skeptical of how they would be received, but I shouldn’t have been. They disappeared. Not everyone had an opportunity to grab one, but some clever ones managed to get seconds, maybe thirds 😉 Those that had a chance to try them out, absolutely loved them. So turns out I didn’t have to worry about these at all. I’ve had a few people ask me for the recipe more than once. So I’m actually doing another post for it.

This is one of the easier treats I’ve made and if you have to take something sweet to a potluck, may I recommend making these. They will be an instant hit. Be warned, they are really moreish. You wont be able to stop at one.

Oreo Truffles
(Makes 1 dozen)

200g Oreo cookies (each packet is 137g, I just used 2 packets)
60g cream cheese
200g chocolate (I used 100g milk chocolate and 100g dark chocolate but you could use all milk or all dark or any ratio you prefer)
1/4 cup Candy melts (I used Yellow melts)

Blitz the cookies in a food processor till it reaches a fine crumb state. (If you don’t have a food processor, place the cookies in a ziplock bag and pound on them using a rolling pin.)

Stir in the cream cheese and mix thoroughly.

Roll them into balls. Refrigerate them for an hour so that the firm up.

Chop the chocolate into small pieces. Melt the chocolate in a microwave safe bowl for 30 seconds and stir. Then as needed microwave in 30 second increments stirring inbetween till the chocolate melts. The stirring helps the chocolate melt.

Line a cookie sheet tray with parchment paper.

Dip the cookie balls in the melted chocolate. Using a fork, let the excess chocolate drip off and leave them to set on the parchment lined tray. You can serve them up as they are or decorate them with sprinkles or chocolate then do that at this stage and leave it to set.

If you want to use sprinkles to decorate them, sprinkle them on the truffles just after you dip them in chocolate.

If you want to drizzle some chocolate or candy melts over, microwave them in a microwave safe bowl according to the package instructions. Pour it into an icing bag or a small ziplock bag, snip off the tip of the bag and drizzle the chocolate over the truffles. Leave to set.

Enjoy!!!