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.

Mawa Cake … with a recipe for Instant Mawa

** This post contains affiliate links.

So last week I shared with you a lesser known, but extremely yummy recipe for a biscuit found in the Pune-Mumbai region – Shrewsbury Biscuits. If you haven’t seen that yet, go check it out, I’ll still be here when you get back.

Okay, so you’re back. Today, is the turn for another lesser known recipe, this time for a cake called Mawa Cake. Again, as far as I know this cake is found in the Pune-Mumbai region. Kayani Bakery in Pune and Merwan’s Cake shop in Mumbai are popular for their Mawa cake, though you will find quite a few other shops selling this cake. They are usually sold in packs of 6 – 6 muffin sized pieces. This simple cake is so very special. It is not much to look at, but what it lacks in looks, it makes up for in taste. If you’ve never heard about this cake before, you should put it on your list of recipes to try out. Mawa is nothing but milk solids and this is widely used in a lot of Indian sweets.

A lot of people cringe at the thought of making their own mawa and just buy it from the local Dairy shop in India. This is because, while it is a simple process of reducing milk, working with about a litre of milk could take you about an hour to process. In the past, I have made Mawa the traditional way a couple of times. But for this cake, I decided to try out a cheat’s version of Mawa. This method takes literally 2 minutes at the most, and you would never be able to tell that it is an instant version.  I’m so happy that I found this method. I have a whole bunch of recipes for Indian sweets that I’ve been ignoring, simply because it calls for Mawa. But that has changed, so you can expect to see some more Indian sweets / Mithai recipes, just before the Indian festival season starts.

Back to the cake. If you have your Mawa sorted out, the rest of the recipe is like a simple pound cake one but with a serious flavor profile. The Mawa adds a richness to the cake and it is mildly flavored with cardamom powder, resulting in a very exotic tasting cake. This time around my husband made the cake, which I guess made it even tastier (lol). He chose to bake this in an 8″ round cake tin, but you could bake it in a cupcake tray too. I do hope you try it out.

Mawa Cake
Yields: an 8 inch cake or 15-16 cupcakes

1 portion of homemade mawa (recipe below) or 200g unsweetened mawa
200g all purpose flour
300g sugar
200g butter
4 eggs
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp cardamom powder (Seeds of about 10-12 green cardamom pods, powdered)

Preheat the oven to 160ºC.

Grease and line an 8-Inch Round Cake Pan with parchment paper / baking paper. Alternatively, if you are baking them in cupcake sizes, line a Cupcake tray with paper liners.

Separate the egg yolks from the whites. Beat the whites to a stiff froth and keep aside.

In another bowl, cream the butter, sugar and egg yolks till light and creamy.

Add the mawa, cardamom powder, baking powder and flour and mix till well incorporated. (If the mawa in store bought or is a firm block, grate it before adding into the batter)

Fold in the beaten egg whites gently till just evenly incorporated in the batter.

Pour the batter in the prepared cake pan and bake for about 40-50 minutes (if using a cupcake tray, bake for 15-20 minutes) or till a bamboo skewer inserted near the middle of the cake come out clean.

Cool completely, cut and serve. Don’t get fooled by the look of the cake. It tastes a whole lot better than it looks. And don’t forget, if my husband (who has probably not baked more than a handful of times so far), can whip this up, so can you.

Enjoy!!!

How to make Instant Mawa?


1 tbsp ghee / clarified butter
1/4 cup milk
1 cup full fat milk powder

Warm the ghee and the milk together. You just want this mixture warm, not hot.

Add the milk powder and stir and cook till it comes apart from the pan and starts forming a ball.

Use to make mawa cake.

Notes: If you are baking the cake in a  regular cake tin and not a cupcake tray, in some cases, the milk solids may cause the cake to brown quickly. This is normal, but if you think it is browning too fast and may burn, cover the tin loosely with aluminium foil and continue baking till the cake is done. 




Shrewsbury Biscuits

Shrewbury biscuits are the best biscuits ever. EVER. They are buttery, sweet and melt in your mouth. Once you’ve had a taste of these, you won’t be able to stop at one. 

It has been ages since I enjoyed one of these biscuits. If you haven’t heard of these, I don’t really blame you. I haven’t seen these at all in Australia. In India, if you are from Pune or the surrounding areas, Kayani’s Bakery was where you’d get your fix of these. And if you were really lucky, a random store in Mumbai would stock them.

But today, I come bearing good news, no, Great News. You can now make Shrewsbury biscuits at home with 4 basic pantry staples – butter, sugar, flour and vanilla extract. Yup, that’s how simple it is. Now the trick to getting these biscuits right, is to bake them on a low temperature for a slightly longer period. But keep an eye on them. You want to take them out just when they start getting a little color on them maybe even a tiny bit earlier than I did this batch. 
The store bought Shrewsbury biscuits have a distinct look. They are stamped. These may not look like the store bought one, but they taste just like them, if not better. And I’m not just saying that, the store bought ones contain margarine and who knows what kind of stuff is in it. These are made using butter. And it is a well known fact that everything is better with butter. 🙂 These biscuits are smaller than the store bought ones but they look daintier this way. Serve them up with a hot cup of tea when you’re expecting company over and get ready to be the most popular biscuit maker around.
Shrewsbury Biscuits
Yields: 24 small biscuits
200g all purpose flour
100g superfine sugar (or powdered granulated sugar)
150g butter, at room temperature (If you’re using unsalted butter, add a pinch of salt to the dough)
1/2 – 1 tsp vanilla extract
Preheat the oven to 150ºC. 
Line a baking tray with some baking paper and lightly grease it and set aside.
In a large bowl, whisk the butter and sugar till light and creamy. 
Add the vanilla extract and mix well.
Add the flour and stir through. Gently knead till it just about forms a soft dough.
Divide the dough into 24 portions. 
Roll them out into balls and flatten to a disc and place on the prepared baking tray.
Bake for 30-40 minutes or till they are just starting to develop some color. 
Cool completely and store in an air tight container. 

This recipe has been shared with –
Full Plate Thursday @ Miz Helen’s Country Cottage

Date and Walnut Cake …. keeping it real !!!

Updated with a new picture and the video recipe. 


Have you tried a date and walnut cake before? A lot of people haven’t. If you’ve spent some time in Bombay and been a part of celebrations there, every now and then you will find a Date & Walnut Cake pop up. This cake is a beautiful tea cake. It has a lovely flavor from the dates, a crunch from the walnuts and a rich, dark color that the dates lend to it. It has the most beautiful, luscious crumb. I can’t praise this cake enough. You have to try it to believe it. Its a shame I don’t make this cake more often.

As for keeping it real, I know a lot of food blogs are perfect. Not just picture perfect, but flawless in so many ways. My little blog is far from that. I like that it is human in that way. Even in my kitchen, there are times where I make some boo boos, I have brain farts and sometimes, I just could’ve planned better. This is one of those times where my brain was on a trip of its own. Maybe I was just over excited about this cake. While this cake batter is really easy to put together, I forgot to put the walnuts in it. I only realized this after pouring the batter into my parchment lined loaf pan. So what did I do? I just poured the walnuts on top and tried to stir it through the batter. That is why, you’ll notice the walnuts are mostly near the top of the cake. If you add them to the batter when you are supposed to, it will be better distributed. Now I could’ve waited till I baked this cake again to post this recipe. But in the true spirit of keeping it real and not wanting to keep this recipe from you any longer, I decided to post it with its tiny imperfection. I cannot tell you how amazing this cake is and I do hope you try it out.

Here’s the video recipe, to help you through the process –





Date & Walnut Cake
200g walnuts, chopped
100g dates, pitted and chopped
1 cup boiling water
1 1/2 cup all purpose flour
100g butter
1 cup sugar
3 eggs
1 tsp soda bi carb
1 tsp vanilla essence
Place the chopped dates in a large mixing bowl, sprinkle soda bi carb over the dates. 
Place the sugar and butter in the bowl with the dates and pour the boiling water over. 
Stir gently and set aside to cool.
In the meanwhile line a loaf tin with parchment paper and grease the base and sides.
Preheat the oven to 180ºC.
When the mix has cooled down, beat the eggs and vanilla in a separate bowl.
Add the eggs and flour in three batches alternating between the two. (Add 1/3 of the eggs and whisk, add 1/3 of the flour and whisk until just combined and continue like this working in thirds.)
Add the walnuts and stir through the batter. 
Pour into the prepared baking tray and bake immediately.
Bake for about 30-40 minutes or till a skewer pierced through the centre of the cake comes out clean.
Let it cool down. Slice and enjoy with a steaming hot cup of tea.

Chocolate Chip Banana Bread

Bananas – probably one of my favorite fruits around. Any of you out there as crazy about your Nanas as I am. I have them in the house almost every week. That being said, every once in a while, I end up with bananas getting a little over ripe. Have you had that happen to you? Stop! Don’t throw it away. I always try and find ways to use up over ripe bananas too. Waste not, want not, right?

I’m always on the look out for new ways to use up these over ripe bananas. You may have noticed I have more than a few recipes on the blog that you can try out, if you need to use up some bananas. But this time, I wanted something a little more indulgent. On my recent trip to Costco, I bought a bag (a fairly large one) of bittersweet chocolate chips, so I thought why not use some chocolate chips in a good banana bread recipe. After a little looking around, I found one I knew was going to be great.

A little mashing, a few whisks and a very short while later, I was ready to pop this Chocolate Chip Banana Bread in the oven. Just one large mixing bowl needed. You don’t even need to break out the heavy duty equipment to whip up this batter. After baking and probably doing the hardest part of this recipe – waiting for it to cool down, I ended up with a pillowy soft loaf of Banana bread studded with chocolate chips, some still a little melted from the baking, lending a beautiful, but not too sweet, chocolatey (Wait! is that even a word?) element to this bread. I know this recipe is a keeper. Try it out for yourself and see,

Chocolate Chip Banana Bread
Yields: 1 Loaf
Recipe from: Something Swanky

4 medium over ripe bananas
1 egg
3/4 cup sugar
1 tsp vanilla
1/4 cup vegetable oil
1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
1 1/4 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp cinnamon powder
1/8 tsp salt
1/2 cup bittersweet chocolate chips (plus extra to sprinkle on top)

Preheat your oven to 180ºC.

Line a loaf tray with greaseproof paper and spray with cooking spray. I used my olive oil spray.

In a large mixing bowl, mash the bananas till they are mostly smooth.

Add the egg, sugar, vanilla and oil and whisk to mix well.

Next, add the flour, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon powder and salt and mix till a batter forms. Do not over mix.

Fold in the chocolate chips using a rubber / silicone spatula.

Pour the batter into the prepared loaf tin.

Sprinkle a few more chocolate chips on top if you like. At this stage, I would recommend slightly pressing these chocolate chips into the batter. It will look better this way. I didn’t do that but will definitely do it the next time.

Bake for about 40-45 minutes or till a skewer pierced though the centre comes out clean. Try and avoid piercing any of the chocolate chips. If you hit a chocolate chip, wipe the skewer down and check again.

When it is done, take it out of the oven and leave to cool for about 10-15 minutes.

Slice and enjoy with a hot cuppa tea of coffee or even some milk.

Here’s what the inside looks like. Yummmm!

Need more ideas to use up some over ripe bananas? Try these  —
1) Banana Bread
2) Mini Eggless Banana Walnut Muffins
3) Chocolate Chip Banana Bread Scones
4) Banana Oat Blueberry Pancakes
5) Mango Smoothie Bowl (Peel the over ripe bananas, put in freezer friendly zip lock bags and use anytime to make this smoothie bowl)
6) Blueberry Smoothie Bowl (Again, peel the over ripe bananas, put in freezer friendly zip lock bags and use anytime to make this smoothie bowl)

Basbousa

It’s been nice to settle in to my regular routine over the last few days. Truth be told, I do miss being on Holiday and being around family and friends. But there is something deeply pacifying about being back home doing my thing.

I haven’t baked in ages. Furthermore, its been about three months since I last shared a baked recipe here. I was tossing between cookies, brownies and tea cakes. And while I was looking, I realized that I had this exotic little gem saved in my massive ‘must-try’ list. And with a name as exotic sounding as Basbousa, I had to. So as soon as the temperature dipped a tiny bit, I decided to turn the oven on. Basbousa is an Egyptian semolina cake drenched in sugar syrup.

This batter comes together really quick and easily. There’s no need to break out the heavy equipment, I just used a whisk. So basically you bake the cake, make a sugar syrup and drizzle it over the cake and top with some sliced / slivered (flaked) almonds and coconut chips and that’s it. This is a dense tea cake, so don’t expect a light sponge. It has a very different flavor profile compared to a basic sponge too. It has a subtle tang from the yogurt and the lemon in the syrup. Dare I say, it is very deliciously different. My husband really liked this cake. And he is someone who loves a good chocolate cake and the occasional sponge cake. This one though, he has asked me to keep track of, so that we can make it again. Imagine my surprise. But then again, it wasn’t overly surprising considering how good this cake is. Try it out for yourself.

Basbousa
Recipe from: The Mediterranean Dish

For the cake
1/2 cup butter
1 cup sugar
1 cup natural, unflavored yogurt
2 cups coarse semolina
1/2 cup milk
1 tsp baking powder
1/4 cup sliced / flaked almonds
1/4 cup sweetened coconut chips or sweetened shredded coconut

For the syrup
1 1/2 cup sugar
1 3/4 cup water
2″ cinnamon
1/4 tsp lemon juice

Preheat the oven to 170ºC and grease a 9 inch cake tin and keep aside.

Melt the butter and set aside. You can do this in a little saucepan on the stovetop on in a little microwave safe bowl in the microwave. Set this aside.

In a large mixing bowl, whisk together the yogurt and sugar.

Now add the semolina, milk and baking powder and mix thoroughly.

Next, stir in the melted butter and whisk well. Let the batter rest for a while (about 5-10 minutes or so) for the semolina to absorb some of the moisture.

Pour the batter into the greased cake tin and bake for about 40-45 minutes.

While the cake is baking, make the sugar syrup. Place the sugar water and cinnamon in a saucepan. Bring to a boil on high heat stirring occasionally, but only till the sugar dissolves. Turn the heat down to low and continue to cook for a few minutes till the syrup thickens. Then take off the heat and stir in the lemon juice.

Set aside to cool and then remove the cinnamon.

When the cake is ready, take it out of the oven and immediately pour the cool syrup on the hot cake.

Leave the cake to cool off completely and let the cake absorb the syrup, at least for an hour.

Just before serving, top the cake with the almond and coconut chips.

Serve.

  

Kulkuls – Step by step recipe

UPDATE: I’ve finally had an opportunity to take new pictures. The recipe used is still the exact same one. You can watch the entire Kulkul making process in the video at the end of this post. Enjoy!
(I will still keep the old pictures on the post as it shows you the step by step process.)
 
 

Kulkuls

As Christmas comes closer, I see so very many posts of Christmas cookies and treats pop up all over the place. A lot of the treats that you now see have evolved over the years. In the last couple of years, I have seen and tried out a few that are brand new to me and I wouldn’t have known of if it wasn’t for the internet. These were so much easier and quicker to make than the kind of Christmas sweets I am used to making, not to mention absolutely delicious. Today, however, I’m going to share with you a Christmas treat that I’ve grown up with, these gorgeous Kulkuls. This is a traditional Goan sweet and if you haven’t had them before these are little deep-fried, sweet, pastry bites. 

This sweet called Kulkuls (cuhl-cuhls), is something I’ve grown up with. Every year, at around this time the family would gather to make these little treats. And yes, it is a family affair. This little bites of fried, sweetened pastry take a while to make. Since, many hands make for light work, my Grandma, my Mum, my Father (whenever he was on leave from work), my brother and I would sit down to make these sweets. We’d make a massive batch of this every year and it would take a whole evening from start to finish. That being as it is, we’d make Kulkuls every single year. These little fried dumplings can be sweetened to your liking and they have a long shelf life. The batch that we used to make around this time, would last till the end of Jan. In all honesty, they’d probably keep much longer, but they are so tasty and addictive, they’ll be finished long before that.

Most of my family recipes, the old Goan ones have been handed down from one generation to another. The weird part is almost all of these recipes, never had fixed quantities of ingredients mentioned. The recipe is very forgiving and I’ve managed to chart down some quantities for reference. This quantity is a much more manageable batch size than what I’m used to, but you could cut it down further, if you need to. The process should take a couple of hours but I think its all worth it. While I did manage to get step by step pictures of the process, I didn’t manage to take a picture of the batch after it was done frying. So for the time being, I am putting up a picture of our platter of traditional Goan Christmas sweets from last year which has some kulkuls on it. I”ll try and get a better one this year.

L-R: Date Rolls, Nankatais, Kulkuls, Chonya Doce, Perad, Milk Cream 

Kulkuls


1/4 kg Semolina (rava)
1/4 kg All purpose flour (maida)
1 egg
A splash of milk
3 tbsp clarified butter (ghee)
1/3 can coconut cream (400ml can) (You could also use about 150 ml freshly extracted coconut juice)
2 fat pinches of salt, or to taste
Superfine (or powdered) sugar, to taste (Start with a couple of heaped tablespoons and add more as needed)
Oil, for deep frying

Knead all the ingredients to a dough using milk as needed.

Kneading the dough once its done, should leave a slight trace of ghee on your hand, but only just. If your dough is on the dry side, add a little more ghee and knead again. This ensures that the dough doesn’t stick to the forms we’re using to shape the kulkuls.

Taste a little pinch of the dough for sweetness. I tend to not make these too sweet so that it cuts through all the other sweetness on the plate. If you think you want the kulkuls sweeter, add some more sugar and knead into the dough.

Cover the dough with a damp cloth and let it rest for about half and hour.

To shape the kulkuls, you can use a variety of things. We now use these paddles that are specifically used for kulkuls. If you don’t have these paddles, you can use the back of a fork or a new, clean haircomb.

Work with a small portion of the dough at a time. Keep the unused dough covered with a damp cloth while you work with the rest. Roll into a long sausage shape and cut into pieces.

Working with one piece at a time, place the piece of dough on the paddle.

Using your thumb, flatten the dough into a rectangular piece as shown in the pictures below.

Starting with the end closest to you, gently life the dough and roll away from you, keeping the roll fairly tight.

Lightly press the edge of the roll to seal it up so that it doesn’t open up while frying.

Adjust the size of the pieces of dough to suit the size of the kulkuls you need.

Repeat with the rest of the dough. As you shape the kulkuls, keep them on a flat tray. I turn a cookie sheet upside down and use the back of the tray.

When they are all done, heat some oil for deep frying.

Test that the oil is hot enough by gently dropping a small bead of dough into the oil. If it bubbles in the oil, instantly and comes to the top, the oil is hot enough.

Keep the oil on medium heat.

Gently tip the kulkuls into the oil. Don’t overcrowd the pan. Fry them in small batches as the oil may froth a little and bubble up and spill over. Start with the ones that were shaped first.

When the kulkuls are golden brown, drain using a slotted spoon and place on some kitchen paper to drain off any excess oil.

Repeat with the rest of the kulkuls until they are all fried up.

When the kulkuls have completely cooled down, store in an airtight container.

Enjoy this lovely addition to your Kuswar platter.

** I’m hoping to get more pictures this year and will add them to this post.

If you’re looking for other Kuswar recipes, you can find them here –

1) Marzipan
2) Date Rolls
3) Nankatais
4) Chaklis
5) Baath / Badca
6) Peraad
7) Coconut Toffee
8) Milk Cream
9) Jujups
10) Coconut Ladoos / Coconut Snowballs

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.