Wednesday, 10 February 2010

Chocolate - The Life of the Party!!!

Since blogging about the Chinese chocolate expo a little while ago I've begun to notice more and more 'chocolate-centric' events happening around the world - it seems that wherever you go people are drawn to chocolate and always associate it with having a good time!

One of the best examples I've come across is happening this weekend - the 7th annual Chocolate Fantasy Ball in Arkansas, USA. This event occurs on Valentine's weekend every year to raise money for the Ronald McDonald House Charities that provide accommodation and support for families who have to commit themselves to looking after children in hospital. Not only does it play on chocolate to bring people together and experience an indulgent, chocolatey Valentine's day it's for a really good cause.

The night starts with a chocolate themed cocktail reception - heaven! Those of you who have managed to get a taste of the Godiva Liqueurs will agree with me there! Dinner will comprise of chocolate themed dishes and there will be auctions and dancing throughout the night all accompanied by lots of delicious chocolate creations to nibble on. Now that's a party!!!!

Monday, 8 February 2010

Sweet Video Tutorials

Its finally arrived!! My very fancy new HD camcorder that I'm going to use to film a series of video tutorials on Indian sweets =) As soon as I've figured out how to use it I'll be filming short, easy to follow recipe guides in an attempt to bring Indian sweet making to the masses!

From simple barfi to the slightly more complex rasmali I'll hopefully be able to show that making these dishes really isn't as daunting as it may seem. If there's anything in particular you'd like to see leave a comment and I'll see what I can do. For now, I'm gonna figure out how to use this thing...!

Thursday, 4 February 2010

Indian sweets from everywhere!!!!

These last few days I have been researching the many varieties of Indian sweets and desserts and have been amazed to see how so many dishes give or take influence from other types of cuisine. Mostly, although I was aware of the impact Middle Eastern food on Indian during the Mughal regime, I was surprised by the the huge relationship between their sweet dishes.

Having already looked into the varieties of Gulab Jamun found across the Middle East I was surprised to find Greek versions of Halwa that are identical in name and nature to the Indian version. Ful Khaja are also a popular Indian sweet, very similar to the Turkish Baklava, layers of thin pastry sheets baked with a pistachio stuffing and drizzled with a sweetened syrup.

Jalebi had to be the big surprise though! One of my favourite sweets when I was growing up, I was intrigued to see all the variations across Persia, Egypt, Lebanon, Syria, Morocco, Algeria and Tunisia to name a few! All with slightly different takes on the name, recipe and presentation but all essentially the same.

Heading Eastwards from India it is even more incredible to see Far Eastern takes on some 'Indian' sweets. The Vietnamese version of Gulab Jamun is Che Xoi Nuoc and the Chinese is Tangyuan in fact these are almost a cross between Gulab Jamun and Rasgulla.

Monday, 1 February 2010

Recipe of the Week 2 - Red Velvet Cupcakes - Finally!!!

As promised, after much trial and error(!), the recipe for some of the most delicious red velvet cupcakes I have ever tasted! Even if I do say so myself!!!

For the cupcakes:

240 ml Milk
1 tblsp White Vinegar
250 g Self Raising Flour
1/2 tsp Salt
2 tblsp Cocoa Powder
113 g Unsalted Butter
300 g Caster Sugar
2 Eggs
1 tsp Vanilla Extract
2 tblsp Red Food Colour
1 tsp White Vinegar
1 tsp Bicarbonate of Soda

  • Pre heat oven to gas mark 4 and line 2 12 cavity cupcake pans with cases
  • Whisk together the milk and 1 tblsp white vinegar. Set aside for 10 mins to curdle
  • Sift flour, salt and cocoa powder into a large mixing bowl and set aside
  • Place butter in a large mixing bowl and beat with an electric mixer until soft
  • Add in all of the sugar and beat until fluffy
  • Scrape down the sides of the bowl and beat in the eggs one at a time
  • Add the vanilla and beat again until all of the ingredients are combined
  • Stir the food colouring into the curdled milk mixture
  • Fold about a third of the flour mixture into the butter mixture followed by half of the milk mixture, another third of the flour, the rest of the milk and lastly the flour
  • Combine the bicarbonate of soda and remaining teaspoon of vinegar in a small bowl, it will start to fizz and should be immediately added to the cake mixture
  • Divide the batter between the cupcake cases (about 1 heaped teaspoon per case, this cake mix will rise a lot!)
  • Bake for about 25 minutes or until a skewer inserted into the cakes comes out clean.

For the icing:

400 g Unsalted Butter

200g Cream Cheese

800 g Icing Sugar (sifted)

1 tsp Vanilla Extract

  • Beat the butter with an electric mixer until soft
  • Fold in the cream cheese
  • Gradually beat in the icing sugar uand lastly the vanilla
  • Beat well until smooth
  • Spread generously onto cupcakes and enjoy! :)