Dec 31, 2013

Happy New Year 2014 from my family to yours!!

The New Year is upon us waiting for us to fill it with memorable moments, so lets grab it with a happy heart and start making memories....
Wishing all my family, friends and trusted blog readers a very Happy, Prosperous, Healthy and Memorable New Year...Happy 2014 from my family with our very first snowman!! (infact we made two :-) )

See you all in the New Year now!!! 


Dec 12, 2013

Giveaway....Home-baked goodies!!!

*** This Giveaway is CLOSED and we have a winner***

With Xmas and New Year round the corner everyone is in a festive mood. Shops are brimming with cheerful people all doing their last minute shopping, buying gifts and goodies for near and dear ones and getting all ready to celebrate a lovely Snowy Christmas (atleast here in Minneapolis) and a wonderful New Year.

As this year wraps up, I wanted to share my love to all my treasured readers by keeping a very homely giveaway….A yummy Goodie Bag!!
I'm going to share with one lucky winner my absolutely yumm Rich and Moist X’mas Fruit Cake using dry fruits soaked in Rum (6" round cake). Its simply the best and you’ll know why once you taste it…. 
Wait! that’s not it, I’ll also be baking up a batch of my favorite melt-in-your-mouth Vanilla Shortbread cookies especially for you and it will be beautifully decorated and Oh so fancy!!

This Giveaway is only for US residents, but feel free to enter if you have a friend or relative or sweetheart ;-) living in US for whom you’d like to win this goodie bag. I can guarantee you it’ll definitely make his/her day!

All you have to do is 'Like' my Facebook Page and share your comments on a question I've asked in the widget. So go ahead, I hope you win :-)

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Terms to note:
Only 1 entry per person. Giveaway is open to US residents for ONE Week hurry up :-)
The Giveaway closes on 18th Dec 2013 at Midnight (CST) and 1 winner will be selected.

So c'mon, don't miss this opportunity to enjoy some fresh baked homemade goodies.
Feel free to share this post with friends and family and increase their chance to enter and win as well.

I wish all of you a very Merry X'mas and a Happy New Year in advance!!


Dec 4, 2013

Cars themed Birthday Cake and Cupcakes

Hello all…sometimes when you almost temporarily stop doing something that you’ve been doing for long time it takes a while to get into the ‘Start’ mode again :-) I guess that what’s happening these days with blogging as well…though I miss my regular postings, I kinda like it to not having to sit in front of my lappy both at day (in office) and at night (at home) and for time being I have the excuse that my laptop is too slow and won’t type well. My new laptop is on its way, but I’m still gonna share something today, again it’s something that I haven’t done for a looooooong time now and was initially scared if I could pull it off.  Yes, a fondant cake and a theme cake at that.  It’s a long post, I hope you will read till the end and enjoy the pics along the way :-)

Well, the last Fondant cake I made was in March and it was this pretty Carousel cake. After that we got all busy with moving to our new house, getting settled, made a simple buttercream cake for my lil’Appu’s 2nd b’day  and though I did make several cakes over the summer, most of them were cakes without any frosting, that’s how my family prefers it unless it’s a special occasion.

So anyway when my friend invited us for her son’s 2nd b’day party I was more than happy to jump in and offer to do the cake. You can say I was just itching to do one ;-) When I asked her the theme , she said Arjun loves Disney Cars and apparently he does have a lot of Cars themed toys as well. And she was very nice and said you can do whatever you want, any flavor, size etc. We decided on making a cake and some cupcakes considering the number of guests, Oh and her only request was to write Happy Birthday on the cake…isn’t she sweet :-)

Now Me being Me, I din’t want to do a simple themed cake. I wanted the theme to be in and out. Confused? Let’s continue reading….
First let me begin with the cupcakes. I just kept them simple, used my all time favorite Red-Velvet Cupcakes with Cream Cheesefrosting recipe and used race cars themed cupcake liners and race flag toppers. My friend got the Cars themed cupcake stand and they were all neatly placed on the stand.

Next, the Cake. For a Cars theme the race-flag black n white checks combo seemed to be quite a highlight, so I decided to include that in the cake deco.

I also wanted some sort of a cake topper. Now, I’m horrible at modelling any figurines and the last time I tried that were to make Clowns for my lil’Appu’s first b’day cake and I decided I won’t try it again unless really needed. So I went the easy route and just bought a toy McQueen and toy Mater, atleast lil’Arjun could play with them.  

Then came the final touches like the flags, stars, name board and the orange traffic cones, which was a last minute addition just for some burst of color. Oh! And of course the race track was shaped like the number 2 to mark the age and my lil’toys were on the track vroom vrooming away…. ;-) 

The Cake was 10” wide and 4” tall. And with frosting in between it gets a bit more taller. The biggest challenge was to drape this gigantic cake in fondant (it may not be gigantic for cake decorating experts, but for me this was huge).  I have always stepped away from draping such tall cakes , for instance : Appu’s 1st b’day cake which was same size (bottom tier), I did a pleated pattern 'coz the when I tried to put fondant over the tall cake, it literally slipped and created a huge mess. For his 2nd b’day (again same cake size) I decided to do buttercream (much easier ;-))

For a cake this tall and wide, you need to roll out fondant to atleast 16-17 inches round…heck I can’t roll out a small chapathi also properly, then imagine rolling out to such dimensions. But for the deco I had in mind, no simple work around was there but to fully drape the cake in fondant. 
I made two batches of my homemade Marshmallow fondant (white color) and rolled it out nice and steady until it was approx 17” round, took a deep breath and carefully placed it over the cake and phew, it stayed, it din’t tear or slip or anything… Thank God! I did not want to make black fondant so I just bought it from the store. With remaining marshmallow fondant I colored some orange for the traffic cones and some red and blue for the stars, name board etc. 
(Btw, Wilton’s Christmas Red gel color is horrible, it gives a pinkish hue than a red) At that moment I wish I had bought red fondant also from the store.

Just a note: The cupcake race flag toppers, the flags on the cake and McQueen/Mater are non-edible 

Now to another fun part where I wanted the theme to also be inside the cake. I decided to make a Chocolate and Vanilla Checkerboard Cake (made from scratch and shaped out) with Chocolate buttercream frosting to match the race flag's black n white pattern and this is what a slice looked like :-)

And it definitely added a wow factor and all the guests at the party loved it. Some of my friend’s guests, who said they never eat cakes at birthday parties actually went for second and third servings and said that the aroma of the homemade cake itself was simply divine. **BIG WIDE SMILE** :-D

Psst:  I should also add that I made this cake half asleep as I had to stay up two whole nights which wasn't planned btw (one night black friday shopping, the next night cake decorating) with no naps in between...Phew!! 

Thanks to Manish for always helping me clean up and keeping lil'Appu away all night, who apparently has a thing for Cakes and gets super excited about it (I wonder where he gets that from) ;-) 

So there you go my dear friends, my version of a Disney Cars themed Cake and Cupcakes.  I hope you enjoyed it and I really enjoyed writing all the details. 


Nov 26, 2013

Happy Thanksgiving to you all and justsomethis&that.... :-)

Hello people... If anyone’s been wondering why I’m not so active on the blog lately or why haven’t I been posting any seasonal recipes etc , then here’s the reason : my 6 year old Laptop has decided todie on's not loading the pages as fast as I want it to, keeps restarting whenever I don’t want it to, is missing the L, M and V keys (thanks to lil’Appu), my space bar doesn’t work at all leavingstatementstolooklikethis (as how i left in my title as well) and by the time I’m done with a post literally banging on my space bar for it to work I am this-close to going mad and crazy which is not what my family needs anytime at all…Lol! So pls bear with me folks until I can get these minor yet annoying issues rectified and hopefully the Black Friday deals will save my day and my blog ;-)

So how many of you are celebrating or cooking for Thanksgiving this year?  I’m celebrating alright, 'by eating' and not gonna do any cooking at all for a change. We along with some of our close friends have decided to just eat out and go straight into Black Friday shopping and shop all night ;-) Not that I have a huge shopping list or anything, but I love the energy and excitement that you see on Black Friday nights and the Malls look so fancy and glamorous, and it’s crazy cold outside, which makes you laugh even if you don’t want to…so its fun!! Hopefully lil’Appu will find it fun too and help by sleeping through it all…keeping my fingers crossed on that…

I'm not sharing any new recipe here today, but just re-sharing a yummy dessert I made last year for a Thanksgiving dinner potluck and it was enjoyed by all....A gorgeous Pumpkin Trifle (click link for more pics). Do give it a try if you are still deciding on what to make for dessert.

I'm just copy-pasting my recipe from last year...enjoy!

Pumpkin Trifle Recipe

You'll need
For Gingerbread Cake
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.
(This made around 20 or 24 mini dessert trifles)

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 and ready-to-use whipped cream if you prefer :-)

Have a gorgeous Thanksgiving if you are celebrating and let'sallenjoysomeshopping...oh,well there goes my space bar... :-) See you soon!!


Nov 17, 2013

Spiced Mango Fudge | Mango Burfi

Mango has and will always be my most favorite fruit. Gorgeously yellow, ripe, juicy and sweet! 
I still remember my joy at coming to know in 3rd grade that Mango was also known as ‘The King of fruits’, I almost felt like I got an A+ for liking a fruit that was also considered a King…well u know how kids think ;-) Another fond memory that i recollect is being allowed to eat an entire Mango all by myself while vacationing in Kerala. Simple things sure does bring a lot of happiness and pleasure doesn't it?

I absolutely love making desserts or drinks with our King of fruits when it's in season or enjoy them just as it is. But if mangoes aren’t in season and you feel like making a mango treat, canned mango pulp always comes to the rescue. I wouldn’t say I’m a fan of it and it does taste rather artificial and overly sweet, but then who’s complaining. I get to make my mango treat and eat them too…that’s all that matters right? Oh and share it with friends as well…

I had already made Mango Coconut laddoos once before using mango pulp and they had received quite a lot of good reviews and has been tried by several of my friends. So I wanted to try something different this time. As my mind was brimming up with fusion Indian dessert ideas for Diwali, I thought of trying out an Indian flavored fudge and this mango fudge spiced with cardamom and dried ginger and garnished with pistachios and saffron was just the perfect treat.

I used Oats powder as the binder in this recipe, so you can say, it’s a healthy dessert of sorts too…mayb we can have these fudge bars for breakfast, hmm…wishful thinking …Lol! 
But they are delicious and sweet and we loved it. The mild spice , crunchy pistachios on top and the sweet sweet fudge, its a perfect dessert bite.

Spiced Mango Fudge

You'll need
Sweetened Mango Pulp – 2 cups
Paneer**, grated – 3 cups 
Sugar – 1 cup or ¾ cup (adjust as preferred)
Instant or Quick quicking Oats, powdered – 2 or 2 ½ cups (use as needed)
Cardamom powder – 1 tsp
Dry Ginger Powder – ¼ tsp
Butter or Ghee – to grease your tray
For Garnish
Roasted unsalted Pistachios, coarsely chopped/slivered – around 2-3  tblsp
Saffron strands – a pinch (optional)
** I did not make homemade Paneer and used Frozen paneer instead, but homemade is highly recommended

1. In a non-stick kadai or deep bottomed vessel heat the mango pulp, sugar and paneer until it becomes thick (approx 3-5 mins).
2. Add the cardamom powder and dried ginger powder and mix well.
3. Finally add the powdered oats and combine it all until it becomes thick and sticky yet comes together  like a sticky dough.
4. Immediately transfer into a greased tray, garnish on top with chopped pistachios and saffron and allow the fudge to rest and cool down. Once cooled, cut into squares and enjoy!

--These can be refrigerated for about 3-4 days and still taste great!

1. If you substitute the powdered oats in this recipe with Milk powder, the recipe would almost be exactly similar to that of a Mango Kalakhand.
2. Add Khoya/Khowa instead of Paneer for a richer fudge.
3. If using fresh mangoes instead of sweetened mango pulp, please add more sugar as per taste preference.
4. Fresh homemade paneer is best for this dessert, but I used frozen store-bought paneer and I noticed it became slightly chewy after getting cooked, but tasted great nevertheless.

The day I made this, I shared a snap on my facebook page and asked people to guess what it was, and I got such a huge response. Almost the same kinda response I get whenever I post cakes ;-) Some thought it was Gajar ka Halwa, others thought it was a Pumpkin halwa, but some guessed it as Mango Kalakhand and I thought, its almost close to a Kalakhand recipe, so you can call it that as well I guess :-)

So try it out and enjoy these golden'll love them!

Also today is my parents 30th wedding anniversary, making this fudge doubly special for sharing today. Here's wishing you plenty more years of togetherness dear Mummy & Daddy...Muah! :-)


Nov 7, 2013

Carrot Halwa Chocolates and Laddoos - my fusion Indian sweets

So it snowed here, like two days ago....non-stop and all night and my lil’Appu kept staring out the patio door saying ‘my shoe’. I was confused, I went over to him  trying to stop him from opening the patio door and he kept saying softly, ‘Appu shoe… cold’ and then I saw, his tiny lil’blue Crocs all getting slowly covered in the snow on our patio deck. I scooped up my little bundle, gave him a tight hug and kiss and told him we’ll get his shoes out in the morning and he happily obliged. They are so forgiving and for some reason I just felt a huge flashwave of love towards my lil’innocent bundle who thought his shoes would get too cold in the snow. Just felt like sharing the moment here :-)

Anyways, Thanksgiving and Christmas preps are going around in full swing all around me. Before I loose track let me share the Gajar Halwa Chocolates and some Carrot Halwa Coconut Laddoos that I made for Diwali this year. 

I already shared the Carrot Halwa or Gajar Ka Halwa recipe and since I had planned on making fusion sweets, I planned to use my gajar halwa as fillings inside chocolates and I used White chocolate and Milk Chocolate flavored Candy Melts for the same.
(Candy Melts almost behave like tempered chocolates and retain their shape and form even at room temp. If you do not have Candy Melts, use tempered and good quality chocolate)

I used my silicone heart and flower shaped ice-cube trays. I started with the White chocolates in the heart shaped tray and everything worked fine with the filling and shaping, however while un-molding some of my chocolates cracked up as the outer layer was too thin :-( 

my first batch
I was almost tempted to drop the whole plan and you can also see that the finish of the chocolates weren't too neat. But after few hours I was feeling more clam and I thought I'd give it one more try and went ahead and made few of the flower shaped chocolates with Milk Chocolate and they worked out fine. Thank goodness! 

I only made around 10 White chocolate Gajar Halwa Hearts and 8 Chocolate Gajar Halwa Flowers (not counting the broken pieces) 

For the remaining Gajar Halwa I just went ahead and scooped it out into mini bite sized balls using my melon baller and coated them in some dried coconut and placed them in mini liner cups for a fancy look and got a total of 14 Carrot halwa Coconut Laddoos ;-) 

And this was what it all finally looked like….Ta-Daaah!! ;-D  
(Here I haven't shown all the sweets I made, just the amount that would fit on the pate)

In my opinion White Chocolate paired really well with the Gajar Halwa, with its milky creaminess yet retaining the pronounced taste of the sweet carrot pudding. But I’m biased and prefer milk chocolate to white choc anyday, so I kinda liked that more.  

As I was simply experimenting here, I do not have a perfect count on how many chocolates this might yield or how many laddoos etc.  So my humble opinion is to just go with your instincts and the amount of gajar halwa you have  ;-)

Carrot Halwa Hearts
You’ll need
Wilton candy Melts (Vanilla Flavor) – ½ cup 
Carrot Halwa – ½ cup or as needed
Heart shaped Silicone mold

1. Melt the candy melts in microwave or using a double boiler making sure the vessel does not touch the water until creamy and smooth.
2. Use a teaspoon or pointed pastry brush to coat some chocolate all around the inside cavity of your molds. Make sure the centre is empty and free for the filling. Use a dough scraper or backside of a knife to scrape out any excess chocolate from the top of the molds and refrigerate for 5 minutes.
3. Fill the inside with gajar halwa (carrot pudding) leaving some space for the chocolate layer that will form the bottom of your chocolate and again refrigerate for 5 mins to firm up.
4. Make sure the candy melts are still melted and smooth, else microwave again. Add chocolate over the top of the carrot halwa and make sure it fills the entire top portion in the shape of your mold. Before the chocolate hardens, scrape out any excess chocolate making a smooth base. If too much chocolate comes off disclosing the carrot halwa , again apply some chocolate and scrape away any excess gently. Again refrigerate for 5 mins.
5. Once the chocolate hardens, gently press it out of the mold onto a serving plate and continue to refrigerate. 

Carrot Halwa Flowers

You’ll need
Wilton candy Melts (Light Cocoa or Dark Cocoa) – ½ cup 
Carrot Halwa – ½ cup or as needed
Flower shaped Silicone mold

Repeat the same steps as done above for the White Chocolate Carrot Halwa Hearts, but using Wilton’s Light Cocoa or Dark Cocoa flavors for a Chocolaty flavor.

Carrot Halwa Coconut Laddoos

You'll Need
Dried Coconut flakes - as needed 
Mini cupcake liners or decorative liners 
Ghee- to grease palms

1. Grease your palm with some ghee. Use a melon baller / small icecream scoop /teaspoon to scoop out Gajar Halwa and roll them into balls.
2. Drop them into a bowl filled with coconut flakes and roll them over until the flakes are coated all over the Gajar Halwa.
3. Shake off any excess coconut flakes and place them onto mini cupcake liners before serving.

They looked really attractive and no one guessed the chocolates had gajar halwa inside them or that it was homemade unless I told them and everyone enjoyed it. Some of my friends really loved the Carrot Halwa Laddoos more and loved the way it was made.  It’s a fun and different way to serve our traditional Indian sweets don’t you think?

Try making some for your next friend’s gathering and surprise your guests. Even kids can help in making these, it’s so easy and ofcourse they might help in eating them all too…so watch out!! ;-)


Nov 4, 2013

Gajar ka Halwa (Indian Carrot Pudding) - pressure cooker version using condensed milk

Let me begin by wishing you all a very Happy Diwali. I hope you all had tons of fun with lighting up your homes with beautifully decorated diyas, bursting lots of firecrackers and of course eating plenty of sweets and savories and got a chance to spend some quality chance with your friends and family. Diwali is the most celebrated Indian festival and its known as the Festival of Lights!

I grew up abroad, just like how my son is growing up now (and by abroad I mean ‘not in India’), so the only reason I know a lot about Indian food, Indian festivals, cultures and rituals is because of my parents influence on us. Not just my parents, but our Indian neighbors, school friends, the indian shops etc. So apart from authentic Keralite festivals, we used to celebrate all possible Indian festivals at home, atleast by making some special food or calling friends home etc.  So I want my son to also grow up and know all about Indian food and festivals through us.

As always I din't plan anything until the last moment and ended up making all the sweets and few savory snacks at the last moment. My plan for Diwali was mainly the dishes I wanted to take for a potluck our friends were organizing and ofcourse burst firecrackers. Anyway, I just had to take 1 item, but I felt a potluck was a good opportunity to make few more dishes and share with friends...afterall a food blogger needs taste testers ;-) 
I did not want to make just traditional Diwali sweets and wanted to try some fusion varieties and decided to make stuffed chocolates with Indian sweets as fillings. I wanted a good thick filling for the chocolates and Gajar ka Halwa was my instant choice. Afterall who does not love a good Indian Carrot Pudding.

As my main focus was on the chocolates I wanted to make a quick and instant Carrot Halwa and decided to put my pressure cooker to use and made use of sweetened condensed milk because I realized I had no sugar in the house after I finished laboriously grating 3 cups of carrots...sheesh! But it worked like a charm and tasted perfect with the creamy carrots infused with cardamom and saffron and the right balance of sweetness. 

Carrot Halwa  (Pressure cooker version using Sweetened Condensed Milk)
Recipe Source: Adapted from Edible Garden
Serves : 3 - 4 people

You’ll Need
Grated Carrots – 3 cups (packed)
Full Fat Milk – 1 ½ cups
Water – ½ cup
Sweetened Condensed Milk – 1/3 cup + 2 tblsp
Cardamom powder – ¼ tsp
Saffron strands soaked in milk – a pinch
For Garnish:
Pistachio/Broken Cashew Nuts/Slivered Almonds – 2 tblsp
Raisins – 1 tblsp
Ghee – 1 tblsp

1.  If using saffron strands, soak it in 1 tblsp milk before you start making the halwa.
2. Add the grated carrots, milk and water into a pressure cooker. Stir it well and put on the whistle and let it cook on high until you hear 2 -3 whistles. Then turn off the heat and allow the pressure go off by itself.
3. Open the lid and you’ll still see plenty of milk soaking up the carrots. Turn on the heat and cook again until the milk dries up and the carrots look grainy.
4. When the carrot mixture looks dry, add the condensed milk, saffron (with the milk it was soaked in) and cardamom powder and cook again until it reaches the consistency you prefer. (I wanted the halwa to be creamy yet dry so continued to cook until it reached a dry yet smooth texture)
5. In a separate pan, heat the ghee and fry the nuts until they brown slightly and fry the raisins until they bloom and add it to the carrot halwa. ( I added the ghee too into my halwa for more flavor)

1. I grated my carrots very thinly, but if you like bigger pieces of grated carrots use the cheese grating portion of the grater (with bigger holes)
2. If you do not prefer to fry the nuts/raisins in ghee, use oil or butter instead.
3. Saffron adds a lot of flavor , but if you do not have it, don’t worry…your halwa will still taste nice :-) But its recommended.

The Gajar ka Halwa was amazingly good and we loved it. For lil’Appu I rolled it out into balls as he loves anything that’s in a laddoo shape and he ate 2 or 3 (which is a big deal for me).

And as for the chocolates this is what is coming up next, so stay tuned and keep reading…


Oct 16, 2013

Tres Leches Cake to celebrate MED's 2nd b'day :-)

Two years and I’m still here sticking on to a hobby that I just started for fun. It’s been two full years now and my blog is as old as my baby boy and has been a part of my family through thick and thin. I feel so proud today as I write this post for having successfully completed two years into blogging and still continuing. Happy Birthday MED!! 
( Oct 15th was the actual date, but what's in a date or mayb I forgot... oops! :-P)

Last year I was so excited about celebrating the First Anniversary of my blog baby and I made my first ever buttercream decorated CheckerboardCake incorporating the colors of fall and I even shared my story on how this blog was born! 
And since then this baby has grown and grown, from having close to 2,97,000+ total blog visits (as of today), receiving an average of 11,000 page views per month, more than 100 recipes, 900+ followers on my Facebook Page and several Twitter, Instagram and Pinterest followers. The stats may not sound too great when compared with other blogs that achieve more than this within a single year, but for me its precious beyond words. I cherish each and every feedback, comment and suggestion from my readers. My family has supported me and helped me in so many ways to help me continue with my passion on the blog and I enjoy every minute I spend on this virtual space of mine and the friendships I have made through this forum is priceless and I hope it grows and lasts. 

I know I’m not a very regular blogger and there are dry stretches when I hardly blog or update anything here and I've had my share of writers block or blogger's blues as they call it, but the moment I share a new post I have seen how my stats go up and I know there are people waiting for my posts. I love you all for this constant encouragement and I hope to continue it. I know as a person and as a blogger I have definitely grown up a lot and I want to continue to share snippets from my kitchen, home and life to you all. There's still lots to learn, lots to share and lots to improve upon and I want you all to come join me through all this fun and excitement. Your feedback is my fuel and that’s what’s most important to me, so lets continue to keep in touch!

This year also I wanted to plan an elaborate blog anniversary worthy treat, however life got in my way in the form of busy schedules, sick baby, early bed times and more Appu time, so I had to use up a treat from my drafts ;-) I had made this simple Tres Leches cake last week for a casual dinner get-together with some good friends and I thought it was quite elegant in its own way to be a part of my blog’s second anniversary! 

Tres Leches is Spanish for Tres = Three and Leches = Milk, so it’s a three milk cake and its super gooey and yummy with all the goodness of milk in the form of Sweetened Condensed Milk, Heavy Cream and Evaporated Milk. OOH ya!  The cake itself is a fatless sponge cake with lots of air bubbles which helps in soaking up the three milks syrup, which is simply poured on top of the cake and allowed to rest overnight. The final result is a very moist, sweet and not at all soggy cake.

You could just eat this cake as it is without any fancy frosting or anything, but some cool whipped cream and some bites of fruit adds to the elegance of the cake and brightens up the flavors. I used canned peaches (peaches and cream is a match made in heaven you all) and also used some glazed cherries for some color. I had no plans of how to decorate the cake and as I kept swishing the whipped cream up and down the cake, it sort of resembled the shape of a flower and I left it at that…a rustic flower pattern!

The recipe for the Tres Leches cake was taken from the Daring Baker’s challenge which was hosted by Imma of La Galletika and the feedback from the various bakers who used this recipe and baked their tres leches cake's were immense and I did not have to think twice.

Tres leches Cake or Classic Three Milks Cake

You’ll need
For the Vanilla sponge cake
Eggs - 5 large (Yolk and Egg whites separated)
Sugar - ½ cup (120 ml / 4 oz / 125 gm)
Vanilla Extract - 2 tsp (10 ml)
All-Purpose flour (sifted) - 1 cup (240 ml / 5 oz / 140gm)
For Three Milks syrup
Sweetened Condensed Milk - 1 can (14 oz / 400 gm)
Evaporated Milk - 1 can (12 oz / 340 gm)
Heavy cream (about 35% fat) – 1 cup [or 1 cup of half & half / 1 cup milk (240 ml) ]
1 cinnamon stick
Rum or other flavoring (optional) - 2 tsp (10 ml) (I just added vanilla extract)
For Frosting and Filling
Whipping cream or heavy Cream - 2 cups (500 ml)
Confectioners’ Sugar or Powdered Sugar – ¼ cup  
Canned or fresh fruit (to fill and decorate the cake)

1.  Preheat oven to moderate 180°C/350°F/gas mark 4. Grease a square 9”x9” (23cmx23 cm) pan or 9”(23 cm) round cake pan.
2.  Separate the egg whites from the yolks. 

3.  Beat the egg whites on medium speed, 3 – 5 minutes. When soft peaks form slowly add the sugar in small batches. Whip until stiff peaks form about 5 minutes and set aside.
4.  In a medium bowl beat egg yolks at medium-high speed for about 5 to 6 minutes, or until the egg yolks become pale colored, creamy and puffy. Stir in vanilla extract.
5.  Pour the egg yolks over the egg whites, gently fold until just combined trying not to lose any volume from the mixture.
6.  Fold in the flour little by little in the form of rain. Mix until just combined (over-beating will result in a denser, flatter cake).
7.  Pour the batter into the prepared 9”x9” (23cmx23 cm) square cake pan or 9” (23 cm) round cake pan.
8.  Bake in the preheated oven for 25 minutes or until the toothpick comes out clean and allow it to cool to room temperature completely
9.  Once cool, split/torte the cake in half, flip the top of the cake and place it on a base. Poke using a fork holes all over the cake to better absorb the three milk soaking liquid. 

Prepare Three milks syrup
1. In a saucepan add the sweetened condensed milk, evaporated milk, heavy cream and cinnamon stick,
bring to a boil, reduce the heat and continue boiling for 5 minutes. Remove it and let it cool.
2. Once it is cool, add the rum or any other flavoring you are using
3. Gradually brush all the milk soaking liquid into all sides of the cake (including the cut surfaces), slowly until all absorbed. Best to rest the cake in the fridge overnight to complete the soaking process.

Frosting and Filling
1. Whip the cream, when soft peaks form add the sugar little by little, continue whipping until stiff peaks form (about 2 mins).
2. Layer some whipped cream on the bottom layer and cover with canned or fresh fruit and decorate the top layer with whipped cream and the fresh or canned fruit.

My friend's, who have eaten several tres leches cakes from bakeries, found the homemade one really delicious. I felt my sponge was a bit dense (need to improve my sponge cake skills) but it soaked up the three milks very nicely. My lil’Appu happily gobbled up a huge slice both at my friend’s place and also the slices we brought back home for him…yes, just gobbled it up I say! He poses for me while chomping away ;-)

So do try out this awesome treat of a cake, which is so easy to put together and tastes so rich and delicious…and I will keep blogging and hopefully will have several more blog anniversaries to celebrate. Have a fun day ahead you guys…

Thank you Winnie for inspiring me to make this cake :-)