Nov 25, 2012

Pumpkin Trifle.....with Gingerbread Cake, Pudding and Whipped cream !

Hello everyone. Hope you all had a wonderful holiday weekend surrounded by family and friends , ate lots of yummy food and did a hell lot of shopping :-) It snowed here in Minneapolis exactly on Thanksgiving day, it was so lovely. Can you imagine, I was actually photographing these mini trifles out in my patio and it started snowing just then and became 2X times colder :-) That's the reason why those trifle cups looks like a frosted cup ;-P  but I managed to get few snaps for you all!

We were invited to a lovely Thanksgiving dinner on 22nd for which I made these simple and delicious individual trifle dessert. I wanted to make something with Pumpkin ever since Fall started, but never got a chance. So when I was asked to make dessert for the Thanksgiving dinner, I felt it was an opportunity I shouldn't miss. Again, wanting to make it a quick and easy dessert, I made it semi-homemade , by using canned pumpkin puree, a boxed Ginger cake mix and Jello Cheesecake flavored instant Pudding. I love making mini desserts, everyone can enjoy their own individual pretty looking dessert and also enjoy the entire dessert without feeling too guilty, afterall its a mini dessert :-)

The trifle was put together in less than 30 minutes (excluding the cake baking and cooling time). I had all the ingredients on hand, even the Gingerbread cake mix, which I had bought from Trader's Joe few months back :-)
The Trifle had a nice warm flavor imparted by the Gingerbread cake and the lovely pumpkin spice ending with a cool sweetness from the whipped cream. Everyone loved the dessert!

Pumpkin Trifle Recipe
Recipe Source: Adapted from Taste of Home

You'll need
For Cake Crumbs
Gingerbread Cake mix - 1 box (I used 14oz box)
Egg - 1
Water - 3/4 cup
Oil - 1 cup
For Pumpkin Pudding
Instant Pudding -  3 boxes (I used Jello brand , Cheesecake flavor)
Cold Milk - 2 cups for each pudding box (so total of 6 cups)
Canned Pumpkin Puree -1 can (15oz)
Pumpkin spice mix - 1 tsp Cinnamon powder + 1/4 tsp each Dry Ginger powder + Nutmeg + Allspice
For Whipped Cream topping
Heavy Whipping cream - 2 cups
Powdered Sugar - 1/4 cup
Vanilla extract - 1 tsp

For Cake
Bake the Gingerbread Cake mix as per box instructions- mix together the egg, water, oil and Gingerbread cake mix and bake for 30-35mins at 350F. Allow it to cool and crumble the cake.
For Pumpkin Pudding
a. Prepare the pudding as per package instructions - Add 2 cups of cold milk to 1 pack Jello instant pudding and allow it to set for 5 mins. Repeat the same for the other pudding boxes.
b. Once pudding is set, mix the canned pumpkin puree and pumpkin spice mix into the pudding and combine it until smooth.
For Whipped Cream
Prepare the whipped cream by beating together cold heavy whipping cream, powdered sugar and vanilla extract on high until the cream is smooth forming soft peaks.

Assembling the mini Pumpkin Trifle
I have used mini 5oz cups.
Layer with 1 tblsp crumbled Gingerbread Cake. Next add 2 tblsp Pumpkin pudding, then add 2 tblsp Gingerbread Cake crumbs and top with 2 tblsp whipped cream. Garnish with Chocolate sprinkles or some gingerbread cake crumbs.
Suggestions and Tips:
1. You can use Vanilla / Butterscotch flavored instant pudding if you'd like. I wasn't very fond of the cheesecake flavor, but Manish loved it. So I guess its just personal preference.
2. Add more or less pumpkin spice as per taste preference. I added a pinch more than the above recipe for a stronger flavor.
3. If you don't have gingerbread cake mix, feel free to use Chocolate cake, I bet it would taste exceptional. And anything with a sweet whipped cream topping always tastes heavenly!
4. You can use frozen whipped cream if you have that or if it makes your life easier :-)

I did ask my lovely facebook friends for some simple and easy Thanksgiving dessert ideas and I'm so thankful to them for giving me plenty of ideas. I'll be putting them to use each time I have a potluck invite :-) Thank you so much you all.

Next on MED, I'll be sharing details on a gorgeous two tiered cake I made for an Engagement don't want to miss it. Check out my facebook page for a snap of the cake or better yet, hit 'Like' and never miss another update :-).So stay tuned!!


Nov 13, 2012

Kaju Burfi or Kaju Katli...something sweet and simple for Diwali !

Happy Diwali to all my dear readers and friends. Today we celebrate the Festival of Lights, the triumph of good over evil . We burst firecrackers which actually signifies driving away evil spirits , wear new clothes, eat and share lots of delicious sweets and food with friends and family.

What I really love about Diwali the most is bursting firecrackers...nothing beats it!! And I was so happy that we were actually able to play with some crackers and watch the fireworks tonight here in Minneapolis and we totally enjoyed each minute of it.
Preparing or buying sweets and snacks to share with your friends and family is another reason I love Diwali so much :-) For my very first Diwali after my wedding, I was very much in an experimenting mood, so I made Karanji, Chakli and Besan Laddoo, all for the very first time and they came out great!  I will definitely post about them soon. We had cleaned up the whole house and decorated everywhere with beautiful diyas(candles). And bursted lots of crackers...Oh! we had soooo much fun.
This year also I prepared few sweets, but most of them got over before I could photograph them :-P But I made these Kaju Katli specially for my office friends, so I was able to keep them safe and take few quick snaps :-) Its really easy to prepare them and I don't know why I never made them before. I found a simple recipe here and it came out really well. 

I made about 10-15 small sized Kaju katli with this recipe. You can make this Kaju Katli in less than 30minutes (if done correctly), I'll guarantee you that!!

Kaju Katli Recipe
You'll need
Cashewnuts - 1 cup (at room temperature)
Sugar - 1/2 cup (heaped)
Water - 1/4 cup
Milk - 1-2 tblsp (use as required)
Ghee - to grease the hands and plate

1. Grind the cashewnuts into fine powder. It may stick while grinding, thats ok, just scoop it around with a spatula and keep grinding until its a fine dust like powder. Take out a heaping 1 cup from this.
2. Boil the sugar with water until you reach a consistency where, if you add a drop of sugar syrup into a bowl with water, the sugar syrup should not dissolve and appears like a fine thread or drop.
3. At this point add in the cashew powder and on medium-low flame keep stirring until a smooth dough like consistency is obtained. About 3-5mins.
4. Grease a plate with little ghee and transfer this dough like mixture onto the plate
5. Allow to cool down for 10mins and then grease your palms with ghee and start kneading the dough. Add little milk, only if the dough appears hard and dry. Do not add too much milk.
6. Slowly keep kneading the dough until it becomes smooth and easily pliable.
7. Roll the dough into a 1/4 inch thick circle or square, and cut them diagonally to get the diamond shape. (First make a soft line with your knife on the rolled dough before cutting and then cut over that line)

Silver Decoration
I wanted the silver foil appearance on top of the kaju katli, which is how we usually get it back home in India. Since I din't have any silver foil, I used edible Silver Dust that's commonly used for Cake decoration :-)
I cut out a diamond shape in a small parchment paper and placed it on top of each Kaju Katli and applied the Silver dust with a brush...Simple!! :-)
1. Its very important that the cashews should be at room temperature , or else it may get all sticky while grinding
2. The correct sugar syrup consistency is very important again in getting this burfi/katli right.
3. Milk is only required if the dough appears dry or hard. Adding milk will reduce the shelf life if kept out, so keep them refrigerated.

So try out these simple, beautiful and yummy Kaju burfi and let me know how they turned out :-) And once again wishing you all a very Happy Diwali !!


Nov 6, 2012

Piña Colada Cake - a heavenly Tropical experience!

Piña Colada is a sweet Rum based Cocktail drink which is a mixture of Rum, Pineapple Juice and Cream of Coconut , usally served blended with Ice. Piña Colada (pronounced as Peenya Colada) is Spanish for piña-pineapple + colada-strained (from Wikipedia)

I have had this drink twice and its an absolute delight on your tastebuds. Its sweet, fruity, coconutty and has a slight hint of Rum and the cocktail is usually served with a slice/wedge of ripe Pineapple and/or Marachino cherrries, so you get to enjoy that as well.

So when my friend asked me to bake her a birthday cake (for another friend) , her specifics was that she wanted a layer cake with a different cake flavor , which wasn't chocolate or vanilla. And luckily enough I had a nice ripe pineapple at home, so I suggested a tropical themed cake and immedieately thought of a Piña Colada flavored cake !
For the cake filling, she wanted something creamy, so I decided to go with a creamy Coconut Vanilla Pudding and Pineapple Compote cooked with Rum. And the cake was frosted with creamy whipped cream and garnished with sweet coconut flakes and slices of pineapple and Marachino cherries. 'Tropical Heaven' my friends , that's what this cake is!!
Now whats Cream of coconut - its not coconut milk for sure. Cream of coconut is a smooth, thick liquid made from fresh coconuts. It is thick and very sweet. It gives a stronger coconut flavor and aroma and is commonly used for mixing drinks. I bought mine from the Drinks and mixes section in Target store. Its usually found where they keep all kinds of beverage drinks and instant cocktail/mocktail mixes etc. And its definitely worth using it to get the actual flavor of the drink in this cake.

As my friend's friend does not drink alcoholic drinks, I used Imitation Rum extract for the Rum flavor, but you go ahead and use the real thing if you prefer that.
The house smelled heavenly while baking and honestly I couldn't stop eating the crumbs...I just couldn't :-)
The cake is a simple White butter cake largely adapted from here, the fillings and frosting were my own .
Piña Colada Cake Recipe
You'll need
For Cake:
Eggs (White and Yolk separated) - 2 large
Cake Flour - 1 3/4 cups (175 grams)
Baking Powder - 2 tsp
Salt - a pinch
Unsalted Butter at Room temperature - 1/2 cup (113 grams)
Granulated white sugar - 1 cup (200 grams)
Vanilla Extract - 1/2 tsp
Coconut Extract - 1/2 tsp
Rum - 1 tblsp (I used Imitation Rum extract)
Cream of Coconut - 1/2 cup (120 ml)
Finely crushed or grinded pineapple with pulp - 1/4 cup (60ml)
For Coconut Vanilla Pudding:
Vanilla instant pudding mix - 1 pack ( you can make you own pudding too)
Coconut extract - 1tsp
For Pineapple Compote:
Ripe Pineapple cut into tiny cubes - 2 cups ( you can use crushed pineapple from a can too)
Pineapple juice - 2 tblsp
Rum - 1 tblsp (I used Imitation Rum extract)
Sugar - 2 tsp (adjust to the sweetness level you want)
For Frosting :
Heavy Whipping cream - 2 cups
Powdered (confectioners) sugar - 1/4 cup
Pure Vanilla extract - 1 tsp
For Garnishing:
Coconut flakes - 1 cup or more (I used sweetened coconut flakes)
Pineapple wedges - almost 3 round slices of fresh Pineapple quartered
Marachino Cherries - as desired (optional)

For Cake
1. Preheat Oven to 350F. Butter and flour two 8 inch round cake pans. Line bottoms of pans with parchment paper and grease and flour parchment paper**.
2. Separate the eggs into separate bowls and keep them covered for about 30minutes to allow them to come to room temperature.
3. Whisk together all dry ingredients - cake flour, baking powder and salt
4. Using an electric hand mixer, beat the butter until soft and then add 3/4 cup of sugar and beat on high until creamy. Add the egg yolks (one at a time while beating constantly), vanilla extract, coconut extract and Rum (or rum extract) and beat until well incorporated.
5. Slowly add the dry ingredients, Cream of Coconut and Pineapple pulp ,alternaltely ,starting and ending with flour and beat on slow until the batter is smooth.
6. In a separate clean bowl , start beating the egg whites slowly at first until soft peaks form and add the 1/4 cup sugar and beat on high until stiff peaks form.
7. With a rubber spatula gently fold a little of the whites into the batter to lighten it, and then fold in the remaining whites until combined. Do not over mix the batter or it will deflate.
8. Gently pour the batter into each greased baking pan and bake for 20-25 minutes.
(If using a single 8inch cake pan, bake for 45-50 minutes until a toothpick inserted in centre comes out clean)
9. Once baked, allow to cool in pan for 15mins and then invert onto a wire rack and let it sit until it cools down completely before lifting the pan to release the cake.
10. Place the cool cakes in the freezer or fridge until assembling time.
**Placing the parchment paper cut-out in the baking pan is a MUST as the cake is very soft and moist, so it easier to get the cake out without sticking to the bottom even if the cake pan is greased.
For Coconut Vanilla pudding
Prepare the pudding as per packet instructions with 1 tsp Coconut extract, stir well and let it set .
For Pineapple Compote
In a saucepan, add the pineapple juice, sugar, Rum (or rum extract) and the pineapple chunks and cook on medium heat until the juice slowly starts to evaporate and pineapple gets soft.
[Optional- if you want a thicker compote, add little cornstarch while cooking]

For Frosting
1. Chill the bowl and whisk attachments in the fridge atleast 30minutes before preparing the whipped cream
2. Add the whipping cream into the bowl and start beating slowly.
3. Add the Powdered sugar and vanilla extract and beat on high until soft peaks begin to form and the whipped cream comes to your desired consistency.
Assembling the cake
1. Level your cake and slice or torte the cake into deisred no. of layers (If you have baked two separate 8inch cakes, then just use those, and torte as desired)
2. Place a small dollop pf whipped cream on your cake board or cake stand and place the topmost cake layer on the cake board/stand.
3. Add desired amount of Coconut vanilla pudding and top that with the Pineapple compote. Place the next cake layer on top and repeat for the diferent layers (if any), ending with the bottom layer on top for a neat finish.
4. Frost the outside of the whole cake with whipped cream frosting.
5. Garnish with Coconut flakes around the sides and add some Pineapple slices and marachino cherries on top.

My friend said she and her friends really enjoyed the cake so much that they totally forgot to take a snap of the cake cutting and the cake was over in minutes! :-) Infact she said they couldn't even believe that it was a homemade cake...awww!! So did you like it?


Nov 5, 2012

Our Halloween 2012...BOO!

Hello everyone , how are you all? How was Halloween? As usual I'm always late at posting any festival or 'important day' related posts. Blame my laziness and the rather crazy hectic office work schedule we've been having lately and my weekends just get over in a blink.
But I still see carved pumpkins and Halloween decorations outside and inside of several homes , so I guess I'm  not too late to share my halloween evening with you all! It was extra special for us as it was the first time we all went trick-or-treating :-)

To be honest, all of October I kept thinking and planning to cook or bake something which screams Autumn or something Halloweeny , but trust me, I really have no idea when October started and when it ended. The days literally flew by and although dishes made with Pumpkins and Apples need not just be restricted to Autumn / Halloween day specials, I missed my chance when all the other blogs out there were displaying their Autumn delicacies...Well I won't be disheartened, and I shall come up with lots of recipes which you can hopefully try next year for your Fall get-together or Halloween party :-)

On Halloween day Oct 31st, at my office we had a lovely potluck and costume contest. The potluck was also a competition for the most eerie/scary looking yet yummy food . I never ended up buying a costume but I did make an  eerie Halloween punch, I made a slightly concentrated Rose Lemonade with some Lychee juice and filled up some Lychee fruit with blueberries for an eyeball effect and called the drink 'Eyeballs in Blood' !!!
I din't win (if anyone is wondering) but people liked the idea of my punch (Here's a snap taken on Iphone) , it tasted really good by the way.
[ I really love creating anything Eyeball related for Halloween, last year I made these Scary Eyeball Pumpkin Cupcakes :-) ]
And in the evening though we came late from office , we were immediately greeted by several trick-or-treaters come over in large groups to collect their share of treats (the little ones came with their parents) and I saw the my little guy was getting super excited.
We were almost on the verge of dropping our plans of taking him for trick or treating (bcoz he just wouldn't get into his costume) when I got this weird idea to make him wear his own clothes and draw him a moustache with my black kajal and call him 'Little Man with a mustache' , but then I realized he had a  military print sweatshirt combo, so he was quickly transformed  into 'Army guy with a Moustache'.
And off goes my 'Moocho-wala-Sipayi'  for his first trick-or-treat hunt ;-)
(For those who follow me on facebook already know this as I had posted a pic of his attire , but here are more pics) 
Though we just went around our apartment building , my little guy had lots of fun , and I was literally running behind to catch up with him to get a good shot of him trick-or-treating with his dad.
And to my surprise even now, when others in the building see him , they remember him as the little army guy! Well I'm so happy that his 'instant' costume was so liked and remembered by all!

And all the trick-or-treating made my big boy Manish all hungry and he said he smelt aromatic Chicken curry smells from the other homes (roll-my-eyes) , and I had to instantly make chicken curry for dinner :-) I guess I'll post the recipe some other time. So all in all, we had a great night and a Happy Halloween and I thank God for all these beautiful memories! :-)


Nov 2, 2012

WINNER - Wilton's Checkerboard Cake pan set Giveaway

Hi folks,

I'm so happy to announce the winner of my very first giveaway to celebrate my first Blog Anniversary.
I had baked a Citrus Checkerboard Cake for celebrating and had announced my first giveaway - a Checkerboard Cake pan Set. (Please click the hyperlinks to read the respective posts)

And now , Drumrolls please :-) The winner issssssssss..............


Congratulations and I'm so happy for you :-) . And a big Thank You to all the rest who participated and left lovely comments and Likes on my facebook page!

Message to the winner:
I have sent you a message on facebook .
Please send me a valid email address and a home address to manjuseatingdelighst[at]gmail[dot]com on or before Nov 5th, 2012.
(If you fail to do so, I'll be forced to select another lucky winner)

Hope you all had a wonderful Halloween and are all geared up to celebrate Diwali (for Indians), Thanksgiving and Christmas ...oh so many festivals to look up for :-)

Image source : Google images