Battenburg Cake- DB Challenge

Jun 28, 2012
I can't believe I am doing my first daring bakers challenge..its funny how things grow into you, I have started to find baking almost therapeutic in a way or may be i little more patience now..For this month's challenge, Mandy from Whats the Fruitcake? wanted us to make a traditional, whimsical English Tea cake- Battenburg Cake- which I have never eaten, seen, or heard of. Oh well, whats internet for right?

Here is a little history :
The first Battenberg cake was made to celebrate the marriage of Queen Victoria’s granddaughter, Princess Victoria, to husband Prince Louis of Battenberg. It’s traditionally flavored with almond and has the signature Battenberg markings, that is, the yellow and pink squares (said to represent the four princes of Battenberg).

Mandy had provided us two recipes- one with traditional battenberg or coffee & walnut kind. On my first attempt I tried with coffee & walnut kind but something was not right about my batter & had to toss the whole thing.. oh well, I tell you again- baking is not my thing..

but on my second attempt, I did the traditional battenburg which turned out little better

¾ cup (1½ sticks) Unsalted Butter, softened & cut in cubes
¾ cup Sugar
1¼ cups self raising flour ( make your own at home)
3 Large Eggs, room temp
½ cup Ground Almonds (I substituted with ground rice)
3/4 tsp Baking Powder
½ tsp Vanilla Extract
1/4 tsp Almond Extract ( I skipped it)
Blue & Green food coloring gel (may choose any other color)

To Finish
~1/2 honey
1 cup chocolate plastic (home-made recipe)

 -Preheat oven to 350°F.
-Grease an 8 square baking tin lined with parchment paper creating a divide in the middle with the parchment (or foil)
- Whisk together the dry ingredients then combine with the wet ingredients in a large bowl and beat together just until the ingredients are combined and the batter is smooth
-Spoon half the mixture into the another bowl and add few drops of green food color, mix them well and pour it one side of the prepared baking tin
-Add a few drops of blue food color to the remaining batter, stir until well combined. and pour into the other half of the tin. Smooth the surface of the batter with a spatula, making sure batter is in each corner
-Bake for 25-30mins until the cake is well risen, springs back when lightly touched and a toothpick comes out clean (it should shrink away from the sides of the pan)
-Leave to cool in the tin for a few minutes before turning out to cool thoroughly on a wire rack
-Once completely cool, trim the edges of the cake with a long serrated knife
-Cut each colored sponge in half lengthways so that you are left with four long strips of sponge
-Neaten the strips and trim as necessary so that your checkered pattern is as neat and even as possible
-Using a pastry brush, gently rub honey on the sponge cake so it sticks together
-Dust a large flat surface with cocoa powder then roll the chocolate plastic in an oblong shape that is wide enough to cover the length of the cake and long enough to completely wrap the cake
-Brush the top of the cake with honey
-Place the cake on chocolate plastic with jam side down
-Brush the remaining three sides with jam
-Press the chocolate plastic around the cake, making sure the join is either neatly in the one corner, or will be underneath the cake once turned over
-Carefully flip the cake over so that the seam is under the cake and score the top of the cake with a knife
-Neaten the ends of the cake and remove excess chocolate plastic by trimming off a small bit of cake on both ends to reveal the pattern was a very detailed oriented task but the end result was very pretty. I had difficulty putting the chocolate plastic around the sponge cake (you can notice the gaps in between). Also, I may have over trimmed the cake resulting in a shorter cake :(

...but the sad part- I did not taste batty, that is actually a  lie..I had leftover from trimmings and pieces of chocolate plastic but not the cake as a whole. I took batty for my director's wedding anniversary at our office but he demanded to take it home for the party later & he told me everyone loved it :)

Guilt-Free Truffles

Jun 25, 2012
.. if I had to choose between a gigantic brownie OR a platter of mini desserts- definitely going for the platter because this way I get variety of mini-treats without feeling very guilty.. (i.e if i don't eat the whole platter..oh trust me it happens).

It's now a trend anywhere you go from restaurants to parties or bridal showers,  you see a lot of chic, mini-dessert that are very decadent and attractive to an eye. Talking about mini-desserts, I am a big sucker for chocolate truffles, one that is not too sweet & melt-in-your-mouth type. Eagle Brand's Condensed Milk has one of the easiest recipe that never fails, but that's not the main point here. Because guess what- after few tweaks & twists I have put a healthy-ish spin on chocolate truffles, good enough to call them 'guilt-free'..umm did I say there is no butter or cream? yes, yes, yes.

Makes 7-9 balls + enough to lick your hands
  • 1/2 cup pitted dates (if dry, soak them in water)
  • 2 oz craisins
  • 1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1/4 cup chopped nuts of your choice ( i used walnuts)
  • 1-2 tablespoon of milk or water (add if the dough has dry consistency)
Using a food processor, blend all ingredients except the nuts until you get it into a smooth, dough like consistency. Fold in the chopped walnuts then roll them into dough balls and put in the refrigerator for 30 minutes or until stiff. Roll them into cocoa powder or coconut flakes or eat them by itself- either way its divine.

but let me tell you this, it is not your typical melt-in-your-mouth chocolate truffles, however, it is a great treat that will satisfy your sweet cravings. It has pretty smooth texture. The combination of dates, cranberries & chocolate work really well together to create a unique chocolate-fruitish flavor. Covering them with coconut or cocoa powder adds another depth of flavor which I enjoyed. I had some of my picky eaters try it and they liked it- so that says something right?

This was a post originally for Recipe Redux for June but I posted it late.oh well still enjoy and dont forget to check out other awesome dessert bites below.

Potato Salad- Nepali Style

Jun 22, 2012
Potatoes are the king of vegetables- at least I like to think that way. Because you can do anything everything with them- mash, boil, roast, curry, fry, bake; its perfect for breakfast, lunch, dinner, appetizer, snacks- you  name it- potatoes will do it

United States Potato Board hosted "The Healthy Summer Potato Salad Challenge" and without a second thought I knew what I was going to make- Potato Salad-Aloo Achar ( In Nepali language, Aloo- Potato and  Achar- literally a chutney but for our purpose here we will call it salad). And in case you are wondering- where is Nepal- it is a landlocked country in Southeast Asia,  I will allow wikipedia  to share more information if you are really interested.

The recipe for Potato Salad (Nepali style) varies from person to person because you can intensify certain flavors that you like or go easy on something you are not a big fan of. I am using basic recipe with a little healthy spin on it.. Traditionally, the salad is finalized with tempered mustard oil but since the oil is little too pungent for my taste- I skipped it. and saved myself some calories and I added some veggies too..But really to begin with- Potatoes are packed with great nutrients- One medium sized (5.3-ounce) potato, eaten with the skin on has just 110 calories and is packed with more potassium than a banana and half your daily value of vitamin C.

 .. sadly potatoes get a lot of bad rep- mainly because often time we over do the potatoes with lots of butter, sour cream, bacon bits, cheese, and of course the infamous frying. I will showcase you- how, when done right potato salad both flavorful & healthy can win everybody's heart at your next bbq, picnics & potlucks.

Makes about 4 ramekins cups
5-6 small, red potatoes (boiled, peeled, & diced)
1 small carrot, peeled & diced
1/2 medium red onion, chopped
1/4 medium cucumber, seeded, & diced
1-2 red or green chili, finely chopped (use more or less depending upon your taste bud)
about 1/4 cup roasted, sesame (roasting brings out more flavor and may grind if desired)
1-2 teaspoon cumin powder
1/2 teaspoon turmeric powder
1-2 teaspoon chaat masala, optional ( it adds little sweetness and sourness)
1 freshly squeezed lemon juice
few cilantro leaves , roughly chopped (for garnish)
water (only if the final product is too dry, add few tsp)
salt, to taste

-As the potatoes are boiling, dice & chop onions, carrots, cucumber, chilies and put them in a medium bowl, then add the boiled, diced potatoes to the bowl.
-Add all the spices, sesame seeds & lemon juice and stir until well combined. Add few drops of water if necessary.
-Cover it and refrigerate for 1-2 hours so that all the flavors come together.
-Garnish with cilantro before serving.

-the type of potato and how long you boil it potatoes will make difference in the final product. I use small, red potatoes for the potato salad because they hold shape really well. Also, make sure it is not too soft or mushy.
- If making ahead, add onions, cucumber and cilantro leaves couple hours before serving so that they do not become soggy.

When all the ingredients are mixed together   
Each cup is packed with tons vitamins & minerals from potatoes, onions, carrots, cucumbers and unsaturated or good fats from sesame seeds.

This is my all time favorite potato salad for any occasions- parties, bbqs or potluck because its very flavorful and light. It is different than the usual mayonnaisey- potato salad we are used it.  The salad has little nutty flavor from the sesame seed & crunchiness from onions, cucumbers, & carrots add a lot of texture to this salad.  And most importantly it is very healthy & fresh! 

Did you know? 
Potatoes can be part of our everyday balanced diet because it is a great source of many vitamins of minerals such as potassium, vitamin C, vitamin B6, folate, manganese and so on. There is virtually no sodium and fats. That is why it is an ideal choice for anyone following a healthy diet, or trying to lose weight, on a low-sodium/heart healthy diet, or even diabetics if they plan their meal to fit potatoes into their meal plan. Remember, 1 medium potato has about 37 grams of carbohydrate or 2 CHO servings! However, if you have kidney/renal problems- talk to your dietitian or doctor and use caution because of the potassium content in potatoes, it might not be an ideal choice. Potatoes are also gluten-free in their natural form!

Once again- prepare potatoes in a way to get best of its nutrients by baking, roasting, boiling, steam instead of frying or overloading with unhealthy add-ons.  

“By posting this recipe I am entering a recipe contest sponsored by the United States Potato Board and am eligible to win prizes associated with the contest. I was not compensated for my time.”

Baked Donut Fiesta

Jun 19, 2012

...Whoops,  I think I have a slight obsession with the word baked..but as long as its a positive one its okay right? right? Someone please tell me it is okay..I was all over town looking for donut pan & whole wheat pastry flour like it was the end of donut-hood or something.. the funny thing I don't even care that much for donuts.. the only thing I was attracted to was the word baked (donut), I felt like I had to try it..

I chose Caroline's from Chocolate & Carrots recipe and made two different glaze- chocolate & strawberry and topped the chocolate ones with some coconut flakes.

...donuts came out too adorable & its more of a cake donut than the traditional deep fries can't get enough off these for only 180 calories, 30 grams of carb, & 6 grams of fats (glaze not included)- thank you, sincerely your heart & love handles :) 

Talking about baked obsession, I am off to experiment with some baked falafel.. 

I am sending this recipe over to Cooking With Wholefoods where the chosen ingredient is whole wheat flour. For other delicious recipes from fellow bloggers, click here:

 and dont forget to visit Kirans blog for further information on this event.

Chilled Swiss Oatmeal

Jun 14, 2012
I woke up happy...

like really happy...

no, I am not moving to New York, then I would have been really really happy..

Actually, I had one of my favorite breakfast already waiting for me!! Chilled Swiss Oatmeal- similar to one at the Corner Bakery.

If you like oatmeal, it would be wrong not to try these.

Even if you don't, you should just try it anyways..This is everything you want on a hot summer morning.  Its chilled, no bake and what I love the most is I can make it night before and all I do is wake up with a big smile & enjoy my delicious breakfast full of fiber, protein, all the goodness from fruits & nuts.

For individual breakfast serving
1/2 cup old-fashioned oatmeal (may use steel cut but not the instant kind)
6 oz low-fat vanilla yogurt (if using plain yogurt, add honey for sweetness)
1/3 cup milk of your choice
1 small apple, chopped
1 small banana, chopped
2-3 tablespoon dried cranberry or raisins
1 tablespoon nuts of your choice ( i use walnuts, almonds or peanuts)

-In a small bowl, add oatmeal, yogurt, milk and combine. Let it sit for few minutes or several hours in the refrigerator.  Then add apples, banana, dried fruits and stir until well combined. Top with nuts before serving.

Note: it tastes best when allowed to sit overnight. Add fruits right before serving to prevent browning and being mushy.

Parents, Children & Popsicles

Jun 5, 2012 today at the park- I stopped running and watched little kiddos jump with joy as the super pimped out  ice cream truck entered the park, blaring same good old ice cream truck song.  Then I noticed some parents who seemed more excited than the little ones for ice cream while few others were diverging away from the truck and repeating  "I said-no ice cream today" & then the rest I did not really pay attention was over all a chaos but beautiful chaos, very nostalgic..then it got me thinking- what type my parents were (quite possibly the "rest" type) or the type of parent I will become (if ever) because parenthood is the hardest job in the world and probably the most difficult thing is to make kids understand that "parents are always thinking in their best interest & not otherwise"- oh well, that still continues to be a challenge between this twenty-some year old child & her parents..who am i blame the little ones right?

Okay, challenges & parenthood aside for now.. 

I came home and made some peaches and cream popsicles. It was not creamy as I had originally intended it to be- yet very refreshing, little tart and great snack for the hot weather..

1 cup yogurt, plain low-fat
1.5 cup fresh or frozen peach slices, no sugar added if using frozen
2-3 tablespoon sugar
1 cup crushed ice

-In a blender, put all the ingredients together until smooth and put them in a ice cream mold and freeze them completely.

Home-made popsicles are the best:
# I have control over the ingredients (there are no hard to pronounce ingredients)
# only 3 ingredients 
# fun way of getting fruits & dairy
# both adult & kid friendly

 its super cool (no-pun intended) and you just want to grab one right now, don't you?

...and is it weird that I am still wondering what kind of parent I will be?

Smooth(ie) Love

Jun 1, 2012
Most weekday morning is a blur, half-awake, and taming my hair is whole different story- sound familiar? yes, thats how my mornings are (usually) and I hardly get any time for sit and eat breakfast- therefore I rely on  granola bars and muffins  but lately its been a lot of smoothies - my favorite kitchen appliance right now has to be my blender that I got at Target two years ago :)

Usually, my smoothies consist of frozen fruits (berries & peaches), bananas, low fat vanilla yogurt, soy milk & spinach! yes, spinach- don't roll your eyes now, trust me you cannot really taste the spinach.

yogurt, milk, frozen berry blend, spinach, & oatmeal

Very Berry Smoothie is my breakfast on most morning basically because I can throw in anything I want and if I am hungry- oatmeals works really well in here !  Mushy bananas won't hurt either :)

If you are into avocado- the next one could be your ultimate smoothie- its just so creamy and light, you literally can sip this all day long.  Its little thick so maybe a spoon could help!

Avocado, yogurt, milk

And I saved the best one for the last-this is my latest addiction...
Each and every ingredient in this smoothie works together perfectly to create one magical drink!

Frozen banana, soymilk, peanut butter & cocoa powder

Smoothies are great way to start off your day - you get your dairy, proteins, fruits, even vegetables that are packed with vitamins & minerals but remember:

-using low-fat yogurt & low-fat milk saves extra calories from fats
-fresh or frozen fruits both works equally good with the smoothie- just make sure theres no added sugar in  frozen ones
-don't be afraid to add a handful of spinach to your smoothie
-add ice cubes as desired for chilled glass of deliciousness  &  most importantly be creative

Happy Smoothing & Have a Great Weekend