Profiteroles

A couple of months ago, I went on a quest to find an Eclair, or its younger, stubbier siblings – profiteroles on Zomato as our choice of dessert that evening. I don’t know if it was the diet that I was on, or if I just wasn’t interested in eating an Eclair that night, but I couldn’t find a single place delivering this cream filled dessert, so instead, we settled for tiny squares of Pineapple Pastry and Banana Bread.

I grew up with an unlimited sugar supply from the bakery of India International Center. There’s something about old school bakeries, the unapologetic thick layer of egg wash on every single thing – from bread sticks to hot cross buns accompanied by the intoxicating smell of fresh breads. I remember waiting outside the lounge and drooling at the sight of every single baked good on display by the stairs that led up to the Main Dining Room. The manager always recognised me (I am still the weirdo who asks for cheeni on the side with Indian food. More on this later, if at all :)) and helped me to my order of Eclairs. Many many years later, they did turn all posh and started offering Profiteroles with the most legendary vanilla ice cream in the Main Dining Hall – but it was the Eclairs, which were a cult classic.

I tried recreating that Eclair craving from a few months ago. Perhaps I tried recreating a childhood memory of comfort; when you didn’t have a watch reminding you that you’re behind on your workout today or when you didn’t have to back calculate every single calorie. Who am I?

The choux pasty recipe has been adapted from Dominique Ansel’s version. He’s one of my favourite pastry chefs and has recently released a book called ‘Everyone can bake’. Although the book is very informative about baking basics and techniques, I found it a little too simple for someone who bakes over the weekend not only to eat but also to improve her skill set. The choux pastry, once cooled completely, was filled with a lightly sweetened mascarpone cream and topped with a smear of dark chocolate.

For the uninitiated, Choux pastry is an enriched egg-based dough which is baked into, pardon my French, Golgappa like hollow rounds, and can be filled with anything from pastry cream to lemon curd. The next time I make this, I’m going to try making a lemon and coconut profiterole or raspberry cream cheese or tiramisu or maybe even a savoury one with ghee roast chicken.

This recipe is pretty foolproof, but read it thoroughly and don’t miss the important tips. The pastry was hollow from the inside and airy. Crisp on the outside with a good bite to it, if you know what I mean? The mascarpone cream is what my British dream of clotted cream is made of. The dark chocolate well, is classic. I wouldn’t recommend Milk because it’s too sweet and also because man you want dark chocolate. Milk chocolate is for Lays Magic Masala (yes).

To make the Profiteroles, here’s what you need:

Choux Pastry (Makes 25)

75g Water

70g Whole Milk

75g Butter (I use salted)

2gm Salt (About 1/2 Teaspoon, add this only if you’re using unsalted butter, else leave it out)

3gm Sugar (Heaped 1/2 Teaspoon will work)

100g Flour

3-4 Eggs (about 150g, whisked)

1 Egg + 1 Tbsp Cream for an Egg Wash

Mascarpone Cream

200g Mascarpone Cheese

200g Heavy Whipping Cream (chilled thoroughly)

2 Tbsp Icing Sugar

Dark Chocolate Ganache

75g Dark Chocolate (chopped)

50g Heavy Cream

You’ll also need a piping bag to pipe the dough rounds. You’ll need a whisk and a large bowl to combine the eggs with the dough. You’ll also need a lot of arm strength if you don’t have a hand / stand mixer (But hey, if Gordon Ramsay can do it, you can do it!). Yeah I think that’s about it. Easy right? Whisk you’ll have, and you can literally make a piping bag out of Ziplock. No excuses.

Here’s what you need to do:

For the Choux Pastry

Preheat the oven to 180 degrees, top and bottom heating on. Line a baking tray with parchment. You want to pipe the choux pastry in 4cm wide rounds and about 3 cm apart. Draw circles if you’re OCD about these things.

In a saucepan, place water, milk, butter, sugar and salt (again, only if you’re using unsalted butter) and bring to a light simmer over medium heat. Once the mix begins to boil, tumble in the flour and stir with a spatula. The idea here is to cook out the flour and some of the moisture from the dough. As you stir, you’ll notice theres a film of dough beginning to form at the bottom of the pan. That’s a good thing. You want to stir until there is an even film at the bottom of the pan (Not burnt!, keep the heat on medium low). This entire process should take 5 minutes. The step by step pictures are on my Instagram highlights (@ananyagee). Take it off the heat.

Now dump your dough in a bowl (of your stand mixer if you have it). Whisk on low speed for 5 mins till some of the steam escapes for the hot mass of cooked out flour. Begin to add the eggs, one at a time. You want to make sure the eggs are fully incorporated after every addition. So only add the next egg once you’re ready.

You’ll add 150 grams of eggs (3 to 4 eggs). The outside of the bowl should be hot to the touch, but bearable. Once the dough comes together fully (if you lift a blob of dough with your whisk, it should fall down slowly in ribbons) transfer to a piping bag.

Holding the piping bag at a 90-degree angle about 1.25 cm above the prepared baking sheet, pipe rounds of choux dough about 4 cm in diameter, spacing them about 3 cm apart. Smooth/flatten the pointed tips of the rounds with your fingers.

Brush with egg wash and bake for 20-25 minutes. The top should be golden brown.

Let the Choux out and cool completely at room temperature.

For the Mascarpone Cream

In a bowl, whisk and soften the cheese for a few minutes. Add the icing sugar and stir until it’s well incorporated. Lastly, add in the heavy whipping cream, which should be super cold. If necessary, pop this entire bowl in the freezer for a couple of minutes before whisking it. Once cold, whisky it with a hand mixer till it comes together in a pipe-able mass which can hold its shape. Fill in a piping bag.

Chocolate Ganache

Place the chopped chocolate chunks in a bowl. Heat the cream on medium heat until it’s lightly simmering. Take it off the heat and pour over the chocolate. Let it sit for a minute and stir till all the chocolate melts in the residual heat of the cream – you should have a spreadable ganache. If the consistency is too thin / thick add more chocolate / cream to fix it.

Assembly

Take a choux bun and with the help of a pointy object, like a knitting needle or even a sharp knife, make a hole / slit wide enough for your piping tip to fit through to fill the bun. Pipe the cream in till it Profiterole almost bursts 🙂

Once all the buns are filled, place them in the freezer for 15 mins, so that they become easier to handle. After 15 minutes, spread the chocolate ganache on the Profiteroles with the back of a spoon. Place it back in the fridge and eat cold 😀

Two Ingredient Chocolate Mousse

This recipe defied everything that I thought I knew about chocolate. I’m a food snob, having watched and re-watched every single episode of every single season of Masterchef Australia, I am a self proclaimed food encyclopaedia. I was under the impression that chocolate and water are enemies – especially while melting chocolate – I thought that if even a single droplet of water falls into melted chocolate – it will seize. Apparently not, well at least not in this science defying recipe.

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Two ingredients, that’s all its going to take for you to whip up a delicious tasting mousse , which you can top with flakey sea salt and any fresh berries – if you have them at the bottom of your fridge somewhere.

I saw this recipe first in New York Times Cooking – and thats when I knew I had to try it. It’s super simple and a brilliant lockdown recipe – because assuming you have water and are surviving – its actually a one ingredient mousse!

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Here’s what you need:

  • 250gm of chocolate – chopped
  • 225ml of water
  • Flakey sea salt

Here’s what you need to do:

Prepare an ice bath – Fill a large bowl with ice cubes and chilled water. On top of the cold water, place another bowl (for you to make your mousse in).

On a medium flame, place a heavy bottomed pan and transfer the chopped chocolate in. Pour in the 225ml of water and begin stirring with a whisk. You don’t need to whisk furiously – just until everything is melted and comes together, 3 to 5 minutes.

Once both the ingredients have come together, transfer to the bowl floating in the ice bath and WHISK like you mean it. You’ll have to whisk for about 5 to 8 minutes. You want to quickly bring down the temperature of the chocolate mix and incorporate air into the soon to be chocolate cloud. When the chocolate begins to look mousse-like, transfer to a bowl and top with flakey salt. Simple. Now you may eat.

Intervention: In case your ice melts, and the bowl isn’t cold anymore and therefore, the chocolate is not becoming fluffy. Pop the chocolate bowl in the freezer for five minutes, refresh the ice bath with chilled water and more ice cubes and give it another go – it’s going to come together I promise.

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Dalgona Iced Coffee #달고나커피

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I have almost completed a week in self-isolation which wasn’t so bad considering on two days I had to rush to the office to use the Bloomberg Terminal. Pandemics imply market corrections which means growth stocks might be available for cheap in the short term.

So on Day 5 today, while mindlessly scrolling on Instagram, I came across Dalgona Coffee (trending on social media, FYI), which is nothing but a cold coffee- an unstirred version- of our phaeti hui coffee.

People stuck in quarantine in South Korea are now connecting with each other by making their versions of the Dalgona Iced Coffee and posting about it online.

2020 has been a tough TOUGH year for everybody. It’s been especially volatile for Delhiites. So, when I see people in the world coming together in times of uncertainty you can 110% count me in on participating in that viral trend, fad or not.


 

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From the quintessential ‘pick-me-up’ to the brewing of something romantic, coffee has played an extremely important role in all our lives. My love affair with coffee started out of necessity when I would make my not-so-accommodative sister drive me to the nearest coffeeshop for a double shot espresso during exam time. Eventually, when I started working, coffee came to my rescue every morning – if you can call it coffee that is, or maybe the poison extracted from earsplitting steam exhaling machines is a better description of what I have been drinking all these years.

At my new workplace, there’s no sign of a coffee machine, what there is though, is a kettle. So my lovely office boy comes up to me every morning and asks me “Aaj kaunsi coffee?”. He has seen me through my phases of keto, intermittent fasting and substituting coffee for dessert, so I really can’t blame him if he needs to know whether he’ll need to add milk powder in the boiled water and instant coffee mix, which he calls a cup of coffee or not.


This coffee is delicious though! It’s almost a dessert-like indulgence. The beaten coffee makes it feel much denser and richer than it actually is. This is the perfect drink for the coming blistering summer.

Its super easy to make and needs only four ingredients – Instant Coffee, Sugar, Water and Milk! (Well, ice too).



Here’s what you need:

  • 2 tbsp – Instant Coffee Powder
  • 2 tbsp – Caster Sugar
  • 2 tbsp – Boiling Water
  • 1/2 Glass of Milk
  • 3-4 Ice Cubes

Here’s what you need to do:

Set about half a cup of water on the stove to boil (you can scoop out two tablespoons of water from there).

To beat the coffee, I used a stand mixer (Dont @ me). When we Indian’s make beaten coffee, we usually just do it by hand in a cup – knock yourself out! But I was lazy and had a Power Point to get back to.

In a cup or a bowl, place the coffee power, sugar and hot water and start beating. You can use a stand mixer, a frother or even a spoon (arranged in ascending order for time taken 🙂 )

While the mix is beating, hum your favorite song, pile the ice cubes in a nice long glass and top it with milk.

Once the coffee mix resembles a thick meringue-like consistency and basically holds its shape – use a spoon to place the whipped – better than clouds – coffee goodness on top of the milk in a very hat like fashion, putting even the most accomplished Baristas to shame :D.

Do not stir. Be patient, pick a side of the glass and sip sip sip. The cold milk suddenly rushes through the coffee cloud and balances the whole thing out. You can thank me for this later. Stay home and Stay safe ♥

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Fudgey Brownies

All you need is love and a brownie ♥

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I never thought I’d be emotionally and mentally equipped to handle protests, riots, crashing stock indices and a pandemic – all at the same time. Growing up with an elder sibling meant watching movies not meant for a child of my age. So, I grew up scared of zombies, murderers, riots, and basically any kind of violence. I’m the kind of person that likes to avoid awkward confrontation and would run different arguments in my head before even asking for something. And now, here I am in 2020, picking fights with friends and family on the topics of NRC, CAA, nationalism, public healthcare, liberalism and capitalism.

I’m not a socialist. But I do try to be a responsible citizen and a decent human being. An empathetic human being. I can imagine your confusion – where do brownies fit into all of this?

Well, I’m on day 2 of my social isolation today and couldn’t get myself to binge watch junk on Netflix. So instead, I brought out my paint box (filled with dust bunnies),  unscrewed jammed acrylic paint tubes and began painting after what felt like years. But as with most creative things, you can’t rush the process so eventually after a couple of hours I had to stop, and focus on my next creative outlet – which is why I am here.

If you’re at home (which I am hoping most of you are), let’s make the most of this terrible confusing time and do something which makes us – all in all, better, happier people.

I don’t know about being better people, but whats going to make you happier? These fuuuuudgey brownies, which according to my boss,  who in between meetings paused to say were ‘F**KING BETTER THAN THEOBROMA!“.


I’m just a girl, sitting on her recliner, asking strangers on the internet to just add a little more sweetness to their lives and bake these brownies. Please?

 

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Here’s what you need:

  • 120g semi-sweet chocolate (melted) – 20 second intervals in the microwave
  • 100g semi-sweet chocolate – chopped into one inch sized chunks
  • 220g butter (also, melted) – 20 second intervals in the microwave
  • 175g white caster sugar
  • 75g brown sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 95g flour
  • 30g cocoa powder
  • 1 tsp flakey salt

Here’s what you need to do:

I highly recommend a hand mixer for this recipe. But since most gyms are closed, feel free to take out a hand whisk and get a workout in 🙂

Prepare a 9″ pan – line with parchment paper and grease with butter. Preheat the oven at 180 degrees.

Sift together the flour, cocoa powder and salt.

In a large mixing bowl, pour the melted butter and top with the two sugars. Mix until light and pale, till you can’t see individual granules of sugar. Crack in the eggs, one at a time. Now, this is the time to really get that workout in, show off those arm muscles. You want to mix this till everything is glossy, very light in color and you can see an increase in volume. Why? Because want to mix the eggs till they almost double in  volume for that beautiful cracked top on brownies which make them look oh so attractive. Trickle in the vanilla extract and stir.

Pour in the melted chocolate in a single stream. Gently, using a whisk, stir the chocolate and mix until everything resembles something so chocolately and sweet that you want to put your face in it 😀

Topple the sifted dry mix on top of the eggy-melted chocolate goodness and mix until you don’t see any dry lumps of flour. You don’t want to over work the flour – it will activate the gluten and make the brownies cakey  – and we don’t want that. We want these to be gloriously fudgey and gooey.

Top the batter with the chopped chocolate chunks, mix just until folded through and transfer the batter to the prepared pan.

Bake for 25-30 mins until the top of the brownies is glossy and wrinkly, and you can’t see any uncooked batter from the top.

Wait for the brownies to cool before cutting them – I didn’t. But that’s also cause I have zero patience in life and I’m all about instant gratification. :/


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Brown Butter & Salted Caramel Cake

I’ve been told birthday calories don’t count, especially since this was my 25th and I can sense an imminent quarter life crisis. And, since this was my birthday week, I decided to go all out and make the most decadent (and laborious) cake for myself :).

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This cake is  very close to my heart. I have wanted to make this amber delight for a really long time.

I was inspired by a similar version of this cake (except with a butterscotch sauce rather than the salted caramel) from Elma’s a very long time ago. Making it now, reminded me of very fond memories.

I must admit, when I was deciding on which cake to make, I was facing a lot of competition from a Yellow Cake with Milk Chocolate Frosting. Eventually, I gave in and settled for what I didn’t know at the time, would be the best cake I have ever made, hands down.

Without further ado, I did my research and found recipes online that I felt comfortable with.

So this cake, this very special milestone cake for a milestone birthday is a Brown Butter Sponge and a Salted Caramel Cream Cheese Frosting with a rather generous Salted Caramel Drizzle.

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Brown Butter Salted Caramel Cake
The ingredients listed below are for a multi-layer 9 inch cake. I made a 2 layer 6 inch cake, so all I did was halve the ingredient below. And somehow everything worked out.

What you will need:

For the brown butter sponge

  • 12 ounces salted butter
  • 2 1/4 cups of all purpose flour
  • 2 1/4 tsps of baking powder
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 2/3 cups of sugar
  • 1 vanilla bean; split it down the centre and scrape the seeds
  • 3 egg yolks
  • 2 whole eggs
  • 1 1/4 cups of milk

For the salted caramel sauce

  • 2 cups of granulated sugar
  • 180 grams butter
  • 1 cup of heavy cream
  • 1 teaspoon fleur de sel
  • 1/2 cup water

For the salted caramel frosting

  • 12 ounces cream cheese; at room temperature
  • 3/4 cup softened butter
  • 1/2 cup salted caramel sauce
  • 1 1/2 tsps of vanilla extract
  • 2 cups of icing sugar

Method:

Brown Butter Cake

First thing’s first, you need to make the brown butter. If you are making the 9inch recipe, please make sure you have a heavy bottom, large pot for melting the butter. When I found this recipe, the author did not issue a very important disclaimer about how much the butter foams up before it turns brown – imagine over boiled milk. So once you have placed the butter in the pot, and turned on the stove, get an ice bath with a bowl ready to go. You will be needing the ice bath to cool down the brown butter once its done, but it is also very handy in case the foaming gets slightly out of hand and you need it pour the hot butter out.

IMG_5198Okay, now, for the brown butter – place the butter in the pot and turn the stove on. You don’t have to keep stirring, but you have to keep an eye on it for a. the foaming (be cautious) and b. to smell the nutty aroma once the brown butter is ready. The whole process lasts about 10 minutes. The milk solids in the butter will start to turn brown and solidify at the bottom of the pan. The minute it starts releasing a butterscotchy aroma, you need to take it off the heat and pour the butter into the bowl in the ice bath.
Preheat the oven to 160 degrees and line two 9inch (6inch) pans with parchment paper and grease the sides generously.

IMG_5206Sift together the flour, baking powder and salt in a medium bowl.

Turn back to the brown butter, once it has cooled around the edges, place the butter and sugar in a large bowl and whisk them together until creamy and fluffy.

Add in the vanilla seeds, followed by the egg yolks, one at a time. Beat well after each addition. Beat in the whole eggs one by one until you the whole mix comes together and is well mixed with significant volume.

Fold in the flour dry mixture, and alternate with the milk, about three rounds of this process.

Once the mixture is folded in and there are no flour lumps, pour the batter into the prepared cake pans and bake for about 25-30 minutes, or until the centre is cooked.

Salted Caramel Sauce

IMG_5210So about the caramel, I absolutely loathe dry caramel. Not only does it have a horrible bitter after taste, its tricky to make, there is a high chance of the sugar crystalizing AND its far more temperamental than a wet caramel.

Note: Use a heavy bottom deep pot; the caramel will spit and foam.

Place the sugar and water in a pan. You don’t need to stir it, just swirl the pan once in a while, if needed. Keep an eye on the caramel. Now, many people have different preferences when it comes to the desired level of color/ burntness/ bitterness. I was very fortunate to get to the perfect color on my first attempt.

Keep the cream, butter and salt handy. Note: All the ingredients should be at room temperature; DO NOT add cold cream to hot caramel. IMG_5211

Once you get the perfect colour on the caramel, tip in the butter and stir till its melted through. Remove the pot from the flame and pour in the cream. Be delicate, you don’t want to splash hot caramel around. The mixture will foam and bubble furiously when you add both, the butter and the cream so be cautious.

Once the cream is mixed through, pour the caramel in a separate bowl and leave to cool.

 

Salted Caramel Cream Cheese Frosting

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For the frosting, all the ingredients must be at room temperature.
Start with whisking the cream cheese in a large bowl with the softened room temperature butter  and vanilla until smooth and creamy.

Whisk in the salted caramel sauce.

One everything is well combined, sift in the icing sugar, small tablespoons at a time. It isn’t necessary for you to use all the icing sugar, you can adjust the viscosity and the sweetness of the frosting with the sugar, and that’s that.

Whip it up until nice and stiff.

Assembly

Place Cake 1 on a cake board and lather the cream cheese frosting rather generously in the centre. Once its evenly spread, drizzle some salted caramel on top.

Place Cake 2 on top of Cake 1, and spread the frosting all over the cake. At this point, you may want to chill the cake in the fridge for an hour or so.

Decorate the cake with leftover salted caramel and some popcorn 🙂

Belt the cake with a nice cup of Ristretto Nespresso coffee. 🎂☕️

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