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Mango Biscuit Float

For me summer means mango. So there is no way I could let this season pass without at least one mango dessert!

A few weeks ago I saw this on Food Network and really wanted to give it a try. Mango Float is a sweet, light, cold, incredibly delicious Filipino dessert made with layers of digestive biscuit crumbs, whipped cream and of course Mangoes. It is super easy to make, requires no cooking or baking and takes only a handful of ingredients.

I definitely put my own twist in it so this is by no means the authentic – or only – way to make it. This is just how I like it! And I have also seen it being called Graham Cake, Fruit Cocktail Float and a few other names on the internet. Call whatever you want to, it will still taste good.

Ingredients

2 460 ml packets of Foster Clarke’s whipped topping (makes about 4 cups)
1/2 can of 397 gm condensed milk
160 g Nestle original cream
4 medium mangoes (about 3 cups diced)
3-4 teaspoons lemon juice
A heavy pinch of salt
2 125 g packets Digestive Biscuits (about 32)

Instructions

• Follow packet instructions for Foster Clarke’s whipped cream.
• When the whipped cream has some body and forms semi-stiff peaks, add condensed milk and cream. Whisk until combined.
• In a bowl take diced mangoes, add lemon juice and salt. Mix well.
• Crumble biscuits in a Ziploc bag by beating with a ladle or in a food processor.
• Sprinkle half of the crumbled biscuits in the dish you are serving (I used an 8×5″ dish) and then pat the surface lightly with the back of a spoon. Add half of the mango mixture on top as evenly as possible. Spread half of the cream-condensed milk mixture over it. Repeat this process with the remaining ingredients. I made 2 layers, you can do 3 thinner ones if you want.
• Cover the dish well and refrigerate for 4 hours or until chilled and set.

My tips:
When spreading the cream over loose biscuit crumbs, use patting motions and very small spreading motions. Don’t drag too much or else the dry and wet layers may form clumps. Use fingers when necessary!

Best consumed within 12 hours.

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Banoffee Pie

Banoffee Pie is an English dessert made with layers of buttery biscuit crumbs, bananas, Dulce de Leche and topped with whipped cream. Apparently once upon a time this dessert was made with bananas and coffee, but not anymore (thank God). I’m not sure what coffee and bananas would taste like together. Even though I use coffee to garnish the top, you can barely taste it.

It’s a very delicious dessert, though super sweet, the flavour combination is bomb! And it’s super easy to put together too.

The only time consuming part is making the toffee (Dulce de Leche, pronounced doolse de le-che). But you can make it days ahead in bulk and have enough toffee to make this wonderful pie whenever you want!

Ingredients
125g Digestive biscuits (roughly 16)
5-6 tablespoons melted butter
1 can condensed milk (we will only use 6 tablespoons)
10 walnuts
5 small bananas
1 460 ml packet whipped topping mix

For decoration:
Walnuts
Almonds
Coffee granules

Instruction
• Unwrap one or more cans of condensed milk and place the unopened cans in a deep saucepan. Fill the saucepan with water until there is at least two inches of water covering the top of the cans.
• Bring the water to a boil, then reduce heat to medium high and hold water to a simmer. Cover saucepan and let the condensed milk sit in simmering water for three hours. Every twenty minutes, or whenever water level comes close to the top of the can, add more boiling water. Make sure water doesn’t reduce so much that the top of the can is exposed.
• After three hours, remove condensed milk from saucepan with tongs and let it cool completely before opening.
• Crumble biscuits in a food processor or put them in a ziplock bag and hit with something hard until they resemble sand. Add melted butter until the mixture comes together when pinched. Press it into a prepared 8 inch pan. Refrigerate for 20 minutes.
• Spread six tablespoons Dulce de leche over crust. Sprinkle chopped walnuts. Add sliced bananas. Cover with whipped cream.
• Garnish top with walnuts, almonds and instant coffee granules.

Refrigerate for 2-3 hours for the flavours to really come together.

My tips:
– Since making the Dulce de Leche takes most time, make two to three cans of it days ahead so that you can have Banoffee pie anytime you feel like it!
– Adjust the amounts of banana and toffee according to your taste. However, keep in mind that Dulce de Leche is extremely sweet (and it is coming from someone who eats and breathes sweets). So add more with caution and I’d encourage reducing the amount if you are using a smaller pan.

Caution:
It’s crucial that the top of the can of condensed milk is covered at all times when making Dulce de Leche. If the top of the can is exposed to air, there is a chance of it exploding! So keep a pan of boiling hot water nearby, whenever you see the water level coming close to the top of the can, add more water immediately.

Also, make sure the can of condensed milk is cooled completely before you open it, or else there is a chance of getting hot sprayed in the face with hot toffee!

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Double Chocolate Cookies

Today I would be sharing an easy, yet really delicious, cookie recipe. It produces thick, fudgy, chocolate-y cookies, and requires only a handful of ingredients.

I made half of the cookies plain and the rest half with chocolate chunks just to show you guys you have the option of making it both ways. You can even add nuts, dark chocolate, semi sweet chocolate and use chocolate chips instead of real chocolate like I did. It really is up to you.

I think I should warn you guys that the final product has a slightly grainy texture from the sugar. However, it really doesn’t bother me and it doesn’t affect the taste so it shouldn’t be a problem.

If you need a brown sugar substitute click here –>Brown Sugar substitute

Ingredients
Makes 12 cookies
1/2 cup vegetable oil
2 teaspoons ghee
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1 egg
1 teaspoon coffee granules
1/3 cup cocoa powder
1 cup flour
1/2 tsp baking soda
1 cup chocolate chunks

Instructions
• Preheat oven to 125 C.
• Mix together oil, ghee, sugars and egg. Add coffee and cocoa powder. Mix until well combined.
• Add flour and baking powder, switch to a spoon at this point.
• Fold in chocolates.
• Take about a tablespoon size of batter in your hand and flatten it into a thin disc. Place disc into a prepared pan. Bake cookies for 8 minutes or until done.

My tips:
– Don’t over mix the batter after you add flour, because if you do then gluten would develop and result in tough cookies. So just mix flour until combined.
– Cookies will be very soft when they come out of the oven, and will harden as they cool.
– They really taste better the next day, for whatever reason.

And as I always say, every oven is different so baking time and temperature will vary. Use your knowledge of your oven and set time and temp accordingly.

Recipe adapted from https://www.ambitiouskitchen.com/

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Strawberry Cheesecake Bars

Given my love for cheese and sweet things, people always assume my favourite dessert must be cheesecake. Well, it’s not. Not only is it not my favourite dessert, it’s not even one of my top twenty favourite desserts. I used to think it’s because cheesecakes are just one of those over hyped things that sounds better than they actually are, but I recently realized my dislike for it comes mostly from the fact that most places just doesn’t make it right.

So I’ve finally managed to find a recipe that produces one of the few cheesecakes that I actually don’t mind. It may not be the best thing you ever eat, but it’ll probably be one of the best cheesecakes you ever eat.

If you’re wondering why I’m calling them cheesecake bars instead of cheesecake, well it’s just because they’re shaped more like bars than cake.
By the way, do you guys like the pretentious, trying-so-hard-to-be-fancy, super complicated looking picture I put on top? It took me hours to take it.

Ingredients

For the crust:
12 Digestive biscuits
6 tablespoons butter
2 teaspoons sugar
For the filling:
6 tablespoons milk
1 teaspoon lemon juice
1/2 teaspoon vinegar
12 ounces (around 1.5 cups) cream cheese
1.5 tablespoons butter
1 cup sugar
3 eggs
For the topping:
1 cup diced strawberries
4 tablespoons sugar
1 teaspoon lemon juice

Instructions
For the cheesecake:
Preheat oven to 150 C.
• Crumble the cookies either in a food processor or put them in a zip lock bag and smack with a rolling pin until it resembles sand. Drip butter and mix until well combined. Press into prepared 10 x 7″ pan and bake for 4-5 minutes. Set aside.
• To the milk add the lemon juice and vinegar and give it a good stir. Let it sit until milk curdles and becomes buttermilk. Set aside.
-In a bowl, mix cream cheese and butter until smooth. Add sugar until incorporated.
• Add one egg at a time, and beat well after each addition. Scrape the sides and bottom of the bowl occasionally.
• Pour in the buttermilk mixture and beat until you have a smooth, lump free batter.
• Pour filling on prepared crust and bake in preheated oven for 30-40 minutes or until the top is set, but there is still a slight wobble in the middle. Refrigerate for 4-24 hours.
For the strawberry syrup:
• Cook strawberries and sugar in a saucepan over medium low heat. Keep stirring it occasionally and let it simmer until berries reduce in size and the mixture gets a slight syrup like consistency. Turn off heat and add lemon juice. It will thicken as it cools down.

My tips:
for best results, refrigerate overnight.
cover the top of the pan well before putting it in the fridge to prevent weird flavors from the fridge to get mixed with it.
don’t over beat the batter. cheesecakes are meant to be dense, so incorporate as less air into it as possible.

Best eaten within 24 hours. If you leave it in the fridge for too long, it will completely lose its flavor,trust me. And Baking time and temperature will vary from oven to oven. So you use appropriate temperature and timing according to your knowledge of your oven.

Recipe adapted from https://www.browneyedbaker.com/

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I tried experimenting with different kinds of sugar (gur vs brown sugar vs white sugar)

A few terms you need to be familiar with in order to get a better understanding of what I’m going to be talking about in this post.
Molasses – Also known as treacle, is a dark brown liquid extracted from raw sugar during refining process.
Jaggery (also known as gur) – It is a raw sugar, often made from sugar canes or dates, from which the molasses and crystals has not been separated.
Brown sugar – a sugar from which molasses has not been extracted.

When I first started exploring the world of cooking and baking, I was baffled by how many different kinds of sugar there is. Growing up in a small country, I was only familiar with good old white granulated sugar. All these several new varieties confused me, and I didn’t even have access to most of them. So even after learning about all the different kinds of sugar I never really bothered about it too much. I mean, sugar is sugar right? How different could they be?

Apparently, a lot. After the first time I managed to get hold of a packet of brown sugar in my local grocery store, my perspective towards this matter changed completely. You could swap some of the white sugar called in a recipe for brown, and not only change the taste of the food, but texture and appearance as well.

So I decided to conduct a little fun home experiment to see how different sugar worked in baked goods. I used one cookie recipe, and made three different versions of it using three different kinds of sugars. I mainly worked with brown sugar, white sugar and jaggery (gur). I know a lot of you may not be that familiar with jaggery, but they are very much available where I live. And since I grew up eating it and loved it, I was curious to see if it can be incorporated into cakes and such.

I actually first decided to do this experiment in an attempt to find a good substitute for brown sugar (as it can be quite expensive and hard to find where I live), so if you too are always looking for a good substitute for brown sugar, this could help you as well.

By the way, I followed Gemma Stafford’s recipe for homemade brown sugar as a guide for this. I’ll provide a link to her video on the youtube video for this post. Anyway, Gemma uses 1 teaspoon of molasses to a cup of white granulated sugar and says that it can be used as a brown sugar substitute. Now here’s the thing, I always thought molasses and jaggery are the same thing, so I used jaggery instead of molasses.

For the first cookie (left) I used all plain granulated sugar and a little bit of jaggery syrup, and for the right one I used one part white sugar and three parts brown sugar (store brought).

I’m going to be honest, I was so excited when my cookies came out of the oven looking like that. I mean I used the exact same recipe (almost), but they were still so different in appearance. And it was obviously because of the sugar!

As you can see the left one spread a lot more than the right. It was thinner (obviously), lighter in colour and also crispier. I’m assuming since I used such little quantity of jaggery syrup in this, it barely made a difference and the white sugar kind of took over. In terms of taste, it was very sweet, like sugary sweet. But still kind of delicious. In fact, one of my cousins liked this version better.

The right one, which had a higher quantity of brown sugar, spread a lot less. It was thicker and had a rich caramel-y depth.

But since I was looking for a brown sugar substitute, and this obviously didn’t work out, I decided to try out something else. I went back to Gemma’s video. And that’s when it occured to me that molasses and gur (jaggery) might not be the same thing. So I did my research and turned out I was right. But below in the comments I saw Gemma mention that jaggery can be used as a brown sugar substitute as well.

So I did some further research, and follwing my instinct I decided to add some minced jaggery to the cookie recipe this time. I literally broke off a small of piece of my mom’s huge block of jaggery that was lying in our fridge and chopped it as finely as I could (was my chopping uneven? Yes it was. But we’ll let it slide for the sake of this experiment.)

Excuse the blinding glare, I suck at taking photos.

Don’t know if you guys can tell, but this version was somewhere in between the white and brown sugar versions in terms of size. It tasted kind of a mixture of the two as well. It was sweet, sweeter than the brown sugar version, but at the same time had a slight caramel, brown sugar-y note to it. And it looked closer to the brown sugar one in terms of appearance as well. But what I really found interesting about this was the texture. It was the most chewy among the three cookies.

For years I’ve been trying to find a recipe for the best, chewy chocolate chip cookies, which apparently can be achieved using a higher quantity of brown sugar. But the store brought brown sugar always made my cookies kind of cakey. So I was pleasantly surprised when I discovered how chewy it was. However, I did feel like chopped jaggery provided a bit more moisture to the cookie than the other two kinds.

I think in order to get better results, you should use grams instead of cups and tablespoons. The size of brown sugar granules and chopped jaggery granules are not the same, so if you were to measure it with measuring spoons or cups, you would not get the same amount. It would be far more accurate to use the same amount of product in terms of weight (for example, if a recipe asks for 10 grams of brown sugar, replace it by 10 grams of chopped jaggery). However, since I don’t own a kitchen scale, I used measuring cups.

To sum it up, in my personal and unprofessional opinion I think jaggery works quite well as a substitute for brown sugar. It’s not exactly the same, but it does the job some what. Plus, it’s cheaper (in some countries at least), your mom probably has it in her pantry already if you come from a desi household, and it’s a lot healthier! So hurry up and run to the kitchen and chop up some jaggery and store it in the fridge for later use whenever you need it.

By the way, I think for the sake of fairness I should mention that there was some unevenness in the baking of the cookies. I accidentally under baked the first batch. However, I have made this exact cookie several times using store brought brown sugar at various temperatures. Every time the cookie and the texture remained the same, what varied with temperature was how soft or hard the cookie turned out to be. So I’m assuming the ingredients is what gives cookies its texture, but the structure of it depends on how long it had been baked (say yes to learning curves)!
I could, however, be completely wrong.

Anyway, if you guys want me to do another experiment solely with jaggery syrup, let me know. And if you’re interested in the giant, single chocolate chip recipe, click here: Giant Chocolate Chip Cookie

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Single Giant Chocolate Chip Cookie

Ever eat an entire batch of cookies fresh out of the oven all by yourself and then spend the next two days hating yourself?

I know I have. I’m a binge eater. I eat entire batches of cookies, cupcakes, meringues, muffins, you name it. Which is awful because I’m trying to lose weight and consuming large amounts of sugar at a time makes me break out.

2018-03-13 19.05.39

So if you’re like me and are looking for a handy recipe for a single cookie, you’ve come to the right place. This cookie is delicious, it will satiate you’re late night cravings, it’s easy to make and requires only a handful of ingredients.
And if you’re naive enough to believe this recipe will somehow help you cut down on sugar, joke’s on you girl. I ended up making this at least six times in a row.

Ingredients

1 1/2 tablespoons butter
1 1/2 tablespoons brown sugar
1/2 tablespoon white sugar
1 tablespoon milk
Pinch of baking soda
4 tablespoons flour
1 1/2 tablespoons of frozen chocolate chips

Instructions

Preheat oven at 180 C. Combine both kinds of sugar with butter and cream until there are no lumps. Add milk and baking soda. Add flour and chocolate chips and mix until you have a smooth batter. Bake for 8 mins or until the cookie looks golden and the edges are brown.

My tips
• I use frozen chocolate chips because they hold their shape better under heat. You can use room temperature chocolate chips if you want (even though I don’t understand why you would) but you’re chocolate chips in the final product won’t be as gooey.
• Baking time will vary from oven to oven. So you use appropriate temperature and timing according to your knowledge of your oven.
• If your’re measuring cups and spoons set comes with just a pinch, use it. Since baking soda is a leavening agent, you want to be as accurate as possible.

Recipe adapted from http://www.wikihow.com

Make ahead · No bake

No Bake Nescafe Cake

The first dessert I ever made was a biscuit cake. I layered a few Marie biscuits in a plate, doused the pile with condensed milk, then sprinkled some M&M’s on top and called it a biscuit cake. At that time it actually became quite famous among my cousins. So it only makes sense that the first recipe I share here is sort of an adult version of a biscuit cake.

This dessert is very popular in the Middle Eastern countries (according to my research, at least). It is delicioius and indulgent with rich, creamy coffee filling in between layers of Marie biscuit, dusted with cocoa powder on top.

My sister, who is not a dessert lover, has been nagging me to recreate this dish. So if you are even slightly fond of desserts, I have a feeling you’ll love this. And it’s not even that hard to make. You can make this ahead of time, shove it into the fridge, and forget about it until you need it. Very convenient if you have guests coming over and you don’t want to lose your sanity over what to serve.

First, add 2 packets of Foster Clark’s whipped topping mix, pour a cup of chilled milk on top and then beat until soft peaks form.

If you can’t find Foster Clark’s whipped topping mix where you live, you can substitute Cool Whip or try whipping up some heavy cream. However, I haven’t tried out those ingredients myself, I’m just suggesting based on the variations of this recipes I have seen on the internet.

Anyway, in another bowl add half a can of condensed milk, an entire can of cream and a teaspoon of instant coffee granules. Mix until most of the coffee granules have dissolved.

Now add a little bit of the whipped cream into the coffee-cream mixture and beat it in. This is done just to loosen up the coffee mixture a bit so that we can fold in rest of the whipped cream easily.

Add about 1/2 of the whipped cream into the coffee mixture and gently fold it in. In case you don’t know what ‘folding’ in is, basically push your spatula beneath the batter and then bring it up, while scooping up some of the batter and folding it in. If I’m making absolutely no sense to you, then I hope the video will make it more clear.

Also, use the widest spoon/spatula you can find. As you can see I could barely fold with the ridiculously small spatula I was using.

Add in the rest half of the whipped cream into the coffee-cream mixture and fold it in again. Be gentle, you want to keep some of the air you whipped up and keep the mixture somewhat light and fluffy.

Then in a small bowl add 1/4 cup of warm water and half of a tablespoon of coffee granules. Dip each Marie biscuit into the mixture and then lay them down on the dish you will be serving this in. I only dip each side of the biscuit once, I’ve found it gets soggy otherwise. I think I should mention that I’ve tried making this dish using different kinds biscuits and have found that this particular kind gets the least soggy (I really don’t like soggy biscuits).

After the entire bottom surface is covered in Marie biscuit, spread out about 1/3 of the coffee-cream mixture on top of it. After that, just repeat the whole process two times until you have the coffee-cream layer on top. I did 3 layers of biscuit and cream, you can do however many or less as you want.

Cover the top of the dish with some plastic wrap properly (this step is very crucial, I forgot to cover it once and for whatever reason the entire dish tasted bland) and pop it into the fridge for at least 4 hours. The longer you keep it in the fridge, the stronger the coffee flavour will get, and the better all the flavours will merge together. However, I recommend consuming it within 24 hours.

Dust it with some cocoa powder (I’ve progressed from M&M’s) and serve.


Ingredients

Makes 8-9 servings

2 460ml packets of Foster Clark’s whipped topping (makes about 4 cups)*
1 cup cold milk
1/2 can of 397 gm condensed milk
160g Nestle original cream*
1 teaspoon instant coffee granules

For layering:
32-36 Marie biscuits*
1/4 cup warm water
1/2 tablespoon instant coffee granules
1-2 teaspoons of cocoa powder for dusting

Instructions

• In a bowl, add 2 packets of the whipped topping mix and milk and follow package instructions.
• In a seperate bowl, add condensed milk, 1 tsp coffee and cream. Mix until the coffee granules.
• Add a little bit of the whipped cream into the coffee-cream mixture and beat it in.
• Add 1/2 of the whipped cream into the cofee-cream mixture and fold it in. Add the rest half and repeat the process.
• In a small bowl add the water and coffee. *Dip each biscuit into the water and coffee mixture and then place it on the dish you’ll be serving it in. After the bottom surface of the dish is covered, spread 1/3 of the coffee-cream-whipped cream mixture on top. Repeat the steps twice until the cream mixture is on top. There will be three layers in total.
• Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 4 hours. The longer it stays in the fridge, the stronger the coffee flavour will be. Before serving dust some cocoa powder on top.

Best eaten within 24 hours.

Recipe Notes
*Foster Clark’s whipped topping mix can be substituted with Cool Whip, fresh whipped cream, or any other brand of whipped topping mix. However, I personally haven’t tried it, I’m suggesting based on other variations of the recipe I’ve seen.
*Only use plain instant coffee. Not the kind that already has milk and sugar added to it.
*You can also use Dano sterilized cream in place of Nestle cream.