Monday, August 24, 2015

Mango kulfi- Indian ice cream

I literally bake through this last quarter of scorch blasting season, plastered in sweat,  where my armskin  gets brandironed by seatbelt each and every day. And since I practically live in my car, I'm seriously thinking to acquire a patent for belt/car accessory/steering wheel refrigerant before anyone else gets to it- maybe my new gig, FIY.

So, here in the throes of high summer, we find it imperative to have that incessant supply of iced creamy treats filling all five shelves of the icebox; it's either that or climb into the freezer yourself, which may or may not have happened in this kitchen more than a few times. And even if I do have a good arsenal of  quality store-bought variety packs hanging around, I like to get creative and do DIY frozen love whenever craving strikes. And so a few days prior, I aimed for that popsicle of exotic dimension, luxe, with accessible ingredients that brings on broad smiles from all the sidekicks I share house with, even four legged, furry types.

Kulfi is the Indian's equivalent to ice cream, albeit a richer, more indulgent one. Unlike it's Westernized more popular counterpart, there is no churning or whipping of air involved in creating its lush, cream body. Instead it's form is credited to a slow heat- induced milk evaporation, resulting in downright fantastic results.

Regal through it's roots, kulfi was believed to have once been served in Persian kitchens. I cannot think of any greater reason to usher it into yours since we all aspire to be Masterlords of our culinary domain. Wishful thinking maybe, but it doesn't hurt to dream.

These days, iced treats are carted and sold in street corners by vendors throughout the Indian subcontinent. Why, there are even fancy contraptions to roller your kulfi cream straight to a bowl. Citizens of all strata harken to the kulfi caller's beckon, stand on public roads, kulfilicking like it's nobody's business. That was encouragement for the awkward 12 year old who was visiting an aunt, standing on a busy street in the Nation's capital consuming not one, but two rapidly melting stick-kulfis. Yes, that would be me and I believe all was fine with the world that day.

A mention should be made that you can build on to this milk+sugar classic with many flattering flavor agents. Today we've paired it with bits of saffron and a fair amount of pulped mango, a move that creates altogether interesting dimensions of floral-tart settling into the caramelized malt-ey notes. Still, it all boils down to the milk (pun intended) which if flamed, stirred and reduced properly furnishes in a base that brings plush velvet, distinctly smooth cream-ice quality.

And is it me, or does holding a cylindrical confection on stick make you feel kidlike several times over?  

Need I go further? This may just be your new rave popsicle, a pleasure your few/maybe one remaining week(s) of summer is screaming for.

Since I seem to have misplaced the pack of 500 p-sticks I had on hand, halved plastic straws did the trick. However, they didn't hold well towards end and left us slurping half melted chunks from plates. No one's complaining.
Store leftover popsicles covered with foil or plastic wrap in freezer.
Sometimes, the things that go in deserve a spotlight of their own.
Can you see? Stir, stir and we're almost there! 

(Riffed from this here video-prepare to be entertained:))
(yields approximately 15-20 pops)
  • 2 cups milk (whole is ideal)
  • 3-5 saffron threads 
  • ½ cup sugar
  • 2 tbsp heavy whipping cream
  • 1 ½ c canned mango pulp
  • 3 tbsp crushed nuts, either pistachios, almonds or both 
  • Heat milk and saffron in a heavy set wide pan over medium high. While stirring, bring contents to a boil.
  • Reduce to a low medium and allow to simmer, all the while stirring the milk for about 20 minutes until the mixture reduces to half its original volume and it becomes relatively thick.
  • Keeping flame to medium, add the sugar to this and stir to dissolve granules over heat. Continue to cook for approximately another 10 minutes.
  • Add cream and cook further for 2-3 minutes.
  • Allow the milk to cool completely, then stir in the mango pulp and combine well.
  • Add nuts. Stir well.
  • Pour mixture into popsicle molds.
  • Freeze until molds are firm.
 No molds? No worries! Pour contents into disposable plastic cups, cover tightly with foil and poke centers of filled cups with sticks.
Colorful kulfi. Far exceeds any popsicle expectation you've in any way had.

August flashback 
2 years ago~
3 years ago~
"A cheerful look brings joy to the heart, and good news gives health to the bones." Proverbs 15:30

Wednesday, July 22, 2015

Sponge cake with Nutella, strawberries and cream

Trying to spark blogger coils after long hiatuses is truly hard task, although I offer myself credit of doing it way better than anyone else. Of course, Season of Inferno discourages beyond measure these four-five-feels like forever- months when I put together cooking instructions/ ingredient lists and I'd rather be at the beach. Not that my overzealous kitchen experimenting has come to a halt. Nor is the motivation lost. It's just the disappointment in seeing pictures taken, edited, ready to link in what would be a perfect representation of summer, and realizing that the same summer is ready to be up and gone. Almost. I suppose, again, the resourcefulness that springs from being that errant recipe writer, often brings sporadic bouts of awesomeness, such as these, to fellow mankind. Thus, I believe I do my part and that belief is what gasses a post forward. So, this is somewhat of a midsummer's miracle. 

Turning through past dessert sequences, there seem to be more than a few pages dedicated to multi componented constructions, particularly a few layered, fruited treats. These conversations of cakeplusmanyoddities are utter, but simple refinement and convey much to the networking of complex flavor. These be the prototypes which owe a lot to a foundation built from flour, eggs, sugar, electric mixer.  Aand, in case you haven't come across the BFMK recipe index that I so proactively (seriously, your requests were hounding my dreams, ridding me of much sleep) spent a day, night and half of another tabling together, you can easily thumb through and find whatever I've highlighted and much more. 

Today we're aligning to this dynamic class of cake tiering a pound of fragraria, succulent bursts of red, that really do make for the best lipbalm flavor, ever. A genus of berry so accessible and affordable during these few months, where the harvest of our West coast alone would circle the globe more than 15 times. Yah, really! Then is it any surprise that my- probably yours too- refrigerator smells like strawberrypatchcentral?

Sponge cake is probably one of the most popular cakes ever, with a painless gatherable six ingredients that you're definite exist somewhere in your pantry/kitchen/closet right at this moment. Even when you're pressed for time, this is that cake you'd take to a potluck(yes, and several times), whip up for sweetdeprived(not really) kids, maybe dog as well. And if you follow through close to point, there's no room for unsuccess. 

Further, it's a deceptively easy assembly where each remarkable blanket of flavor helps build up to a blissful completion. Orange kissed drench over moist crumb. A luscious layover of creamy Nutella. Billowing clouds of puff cream. Ripe strawberries readying on to transcendence. Yes. We've just about reached.

The biggest plus? It is that one template from a rare few that doesn't need to be followed verbatim. This dynamic blueprint can be changed up/over/around to wherever the Tastebud Fairies transport you.

Shall we envisage a few prospects? How about clove-infused syrup in conjunction with poached pears and vanilla cream to drape on halved sponge? Dreamy pineapplejuice-rum soaked slices, topped and tucked with caramel, nuts and/or diced pineapple. These variant formats with the constant being today's cake are just wee bits from endlessly astounding possibilities which may or may not be sparking your hyperactive imaginations as we speak. Rest assured, it's all good.

I do believe keeping this from you any further is tantamount to serious crime. 

Besides it's way too pretty to be confined to a single screen.

And I'm thankful you stayed here for so long.

Do I hear you singing?

Or it could just be the angels.

This was a split-into-two presentation, one taken to a potluck, the other kept for the two junior beings I house, who finished it off in a day and vouch almost everytime they get a chance that this is the. Best. Dessert. Ever.

For the cake~
(Cake recipe adapted from CakeBoss sponge cake)
  • 4 eggs
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 tsp orange zest
  • 1 cup whole milk
  • ¼ cup salted butter
  • 2 cups all purpose flour
  • 2 tsp baking powder
For the syrup and topping~
  • ½ cup water
  • ½ cup sugar
  • 3 tbsp orange juice
  • 2 tsp orange zest
  • 1 jar Nutella
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • 2 tbsp sugar
  • 1 pound strawberries, hulled and halved
  • mint sprigs(optional)
  • Preheat oven to 350°
  • Beat eggs in stand mixer bowl on medium-high for 4 minutes. Do time this, it is crucial to get enough air beaten in so that it becomes light and airy.
  • Slowly add sugar to the eggs, and beat for another 3-4 minutes until light and fluffy.  
  • Beat in vanilla and zest.
  • In a saucepan on medium heat, melt milk and butter until butter is melted and both are blended.  Allow to cool a bit.
  • In a separate bowl, sift together flour and baking powder. Add to eggs and beat/mix gently until combined. 
  • Carefully stir milk/butter mixture this into the batter. Mix until just combined.
  • Pour evenly into two greased/floured 8" round cake pans.
  • Bake at 350°F for 15 minutes. After that reduce oven heat to 325°F for an additional 10 minutes or until the middle springs back when touched, or a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. 
  • In the meantime, make a syrup by heating water and sugar in saucepan on stovetop. Take off heat. Stir in orange juice and zest.
  • Allow this syrup to cool slightly.
  • Take out cakes from oven and let stand in pans for 10 minutes. Turnover cakes onto wire racks to cool completely.
  • Gently spoon/spritz  orange spiked sugar syrup over cakes until cakes absorb and are somewhat dampened.
  • Let cakes set for a while or pop them into refrigerator for thirty minutes.
  • Meanwhile whip cream stiff, about 5 minutes. Add sugar and beat till amalgamated. Chill until cakes are ready.
  • Take cakes out and spread half the nutella over one cake. Spoon half the whipped cream over Nutella.
  • Arrange half the strawberries over the cream layer.
  • Set the second cake over the topped layer.
  • Repeat with the remaining Nutella, cream and strawberries.
  • Add mint to garnish. Keep chilled in refrigerator until serving.
  • Keep leftover cake covered and chilled.
Fabulous at room temp, yet chilled it becomes unbearably fantastic.
"As iron sharpens iron, so a friend sharpens a friend." Proverbs 27:17

 Thank you to all my buddies. You sharpen, encourage, uplift.  That goes to the fellow gourmands and recipewriting/interblog kin that springboard you, reiterating that yes, you can blog on. Those that actually aren't repulsed, but smile and offer small talk when your sweating face is barely making it through two reps at the gym. The one who brings you strawberries and bumper crops from her own backyard, for nefarious recipes such as these. Or load your schedule with playdates /activities and always include your kids when you never have the foresight to do so. Even them who reach out after a 20+ year gap and start conversation like it had never been dropped off. Most of all, thanks for just being nice when nice is all you need. God bless.