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 😀

Dan Dan Noodles

On today’s episode of Corona Cucina, we’re going to make Dan Dan Noodles.

It’s a family favorite, we had it in Chengdu (no surprises there), and is a dish that I have been craving ever since we got back home. I thought the process will be chaotic and I’ll never get it right, but when I got down actually making it, the dish came out really really well.

They’re so well rounded and yummy its unbelievable!

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All the Sichuan cooking I have been doing has been pretty close to the real thing – and this is without adding any MSG. I am a huge David Chang fan, and if he says MSG is okay to eat and the whole hate around MSG is western propaganda, and is in fact, filled with xenophobia – then I’ll buy it. So would I add a sprinkle of MSG if I had it handy? Absolutely!

These are the pictures of the OG Dan Dan Noodles I had in Chengdu at a hole-in-the-wall restaurant recommended by The Food Ranger in his Chengdu Food Guide Book – which is a life saver considering (in all honesty) it’s difficult for non-mandarin speaking tourists to navigate through must-eat spots and food menus in Chengdu. If and when you ever visit Chengdu, I highly recommend purchasing this book which totals to about INR 700.

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So, I began channeling my inner Po, used peanut butter instead of Tahini in this recipe, and, I think it tasted better than the original because of the added sesame oil which doesn’t make you miss that rounded sesame flavour.

I made a chicken version, but if you’re vegetarian you can make a mushroom / soya mince version. Just follow the same steps – make sure the mushrooms are diced finely to crisp them up faster, and please prepare the soya mince as per packet instructions – cause I have no clue how to do that. The chicken mince needs to get crispy in the wok – its more like this crispy topping (delicious, right?) than this filling protein.

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Here’s what you need: (for a portion of two)

  • 100g egg noodles
  • 1 – 2 teaspoon Chilli oil (depends on how hot you like your food)
  • 2-3 Scallions (green part only)
  • 4 Tbsp Crushed Peanuts
    • I personally didn’t think this needed any vegetables added and wanted to keep this as authentic and street style as possible. But if you’re OCD about having vegetables then you want to blanch your greens (in salted water) and add them to the bowl during assembly

For the chicken:

  • 250g chicken mince
  • 6 garlic cloves – chopped finely
  • 1/2 inch ginger – chopped finely
  • 1 teaspoon dark soy
  • 1 tablespoon light soy
  • White pepper
  • Salt
  • 1 teaspoon chilli oil
  • 3 tablespoons of oil – for cooking

Dressing:

  • 1 heaped tablespoon of Peanut Butter
  • 1 tablespoon light soy
  • 1 teaspoon sesame oil
  • 1 teaspoon black vinegar
  • Salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon sugar
  • 1 teaspoon minced garlic

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Here’s what you need to do:

The chicken came first.

Place the oil in a wok and add the garlic to cold oil. Bring the wok up to heat and let the garlic bubble away. Once the oil is sufficiently hot and the garlic is sizzling, add the ginger and cook it out for 30 seconds. Add the chicken mince – you want to cook this out till the water and juices evaporate – again, to reiterate, this is going to get crispy. Add salt and pepper to the chicken mince.

Keep breaking up any chunks which keep coming together while stirring ever so often. Once the chicken begins to dry, season with the sauces and continue to cook until the chicken and the oil begin to separate and the chicken is crispy. Simple.

Cook the noodles as per packet instructions (heavily salted), save the noodle water.

Mix all the dressing ingredients in a small bowl. It might begin to coagulate, which is absolutely normal. At this point you spoon in two tablespoons of the hot noodle water and stir till you have a nice, smooth dressing which will easily coat the noodles and hold on like a clingy partner.

Spoon the dressing in the serving bowl, followed my the hot noodles, chicken mince, scallion greens and crushed peanuts! Drizzle the bowl with chilli oil. If you make it and you like it, you may reach out to me, bend in gratitude and repeat after me – “There is no secret ingredient” 😀

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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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The Best Sichuan Chilli Oil

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The red hot love affair with Sichuan food began in Singapore. In China town. At the Old Chengdu Restaurant. It’s been a steady relationship since the last four years, and there’s no looking back now.

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We’re so committed in this relationship that last year in October, we found ourselves in Chengdu for our annual holiday. Let me repeat and clarify, a 10 day long holiday in Chengdu and Lijiang. A food trip, involving the spiciest hot pots, wantons, dan dan noodles, and my favorite – Guo Kui. We already had our tickets booked for April 2020, but as we all know, it’s going to take a long long time before we’ll be able to take that food trip 2.0.

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The last couple of weeks have been extremely stressful, so to keep myself busy and preoccupied – I tried learning how to make Sichuan food, which by the way is extremely easy to make once you have all the essential ingredients and sauces handy.

This sichuan chilli oil is yum! Extremely potent and blow-your-socks-off spicy! It’s also an essential for sichuan cooking and just lifts the flavor profile 10x.

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I promise this is the only recipe for Sichuan Chilli Oil you’re ever going to need. It’s spicy, nutty, and numbing! I used Sichuan Peppercorns for this recipe which I had brought back from Chengdu – but once all this is over – you can easily find them on Amazon and gourmet grocery stores.

So without further ado –

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Here’s what you need:

  • 100g of Whole Dried Chilli – a typical mirchi packet from the store weighs 100g – so this works – the weight will reduce considerably when you deseed the chilli and throw out the stems – The chilli need to be halves and deseeded – you want to remove all the seeds – this oil is spicy as it is
  • 1 1/2 Tbsp Sichuan Peppercorns
  • 1 1/2 Tbsp Sesame Seeds
  • 2 Cups Refined Oil
  • 2 Green Onions – only the white part – chopped in one inch pieces
  • 2-3 Garlic Cloves – bruised
  • One Inch Ginger – slices
  • 2 Star Anise
  • 2 Bay Leaves
  • 1 Inch Piece of Cinnamon 

Here’s what you need to do:

Prepare the dried chillies – Deseed and cut into half – I used a scissor – Wear gloves while removing seeds – DO NOT touch your eyes or basically any body part, you’ll pay for it later and not in a fun way.

In a frying pan – Add all the dried red chillies and dry roast them on a medium flame until they darken in colour and there is a roasted chilli aroma (You want to keep an exhaust fan on)

Once the all the dried chilli are roasted – transfer to a mixer and blitz till coarsely ground. I went the macho way with a mortar and pestle and eventually cried after 45 mins – but I made it. Using a mortar and pestle really gave the chilli a lot of character in terms of a coarse and flattened grind which is difficult to get otherwise.

Once the chilli is prepped, transfer to a large bowl followed by the sesame seeds and peppercorns. Place a pair of chopsticks next to the bowl – they’re going to come handy later.

In a heavy bottomed pan – add the oil. In cold oil – add the aromatics – Green onions, garlic cloves and ginger slices. Turn on the heat on low – let them simmer and bubble until they begin to turn brown around the edges.

Once the vegetables begin to brown, add the spices – all at once. You want to fry this till the aromatics are browned – 5-6 mins.

Using a strainer/ meshed scooper, remove the spices and the aromatics from the hot oil.

Continue heating the oil, until very hot – you can also dip the tip of wooden chopsticks and see if bubbles form around it to decide if the oil is hot enough. You don’t want the oil to burn and start smoking. Needless to say, you have to be super careful when dealing with hot oil.

Pour half the oil on top of the chilli and stir. Wait for half a minute and pour the remaining oil till they singe and dance! You want to stir well at this point to make sure the chilli, peppercorns and sesame seeds are submerged in oil.

Let it rest and cool down (also develop in flavour). Once the contents of the bowl are cool enough to handle – transfer to an airtight jar. Let it sit for a day or two for the colour and flavour to seep into the oil.

And now, you have the best condiment ever! I drizzle chilli oil on everything from Maggi, Pizza, Cheese Sandwich, Crackers and even Daal Chawal!

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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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