Christmas Pop Tarts

Remember when we were young, living in India, watching English TV shows, watching kids put fancy rectangle shaped sweet tarts frosted with icing & sprinkles and think where can I get this? I used to fantasize about Pop Tarts and Twizzlers (yeah fat kid problem), when I used to spot their ads in Archie’s Comics. After about a decade of drooling, I finally found them in Mumbai at an exorbitant price. Now that I look at Pop Tarts and see how easy it is to make them, I contemplate whether it is a good thing I started baking late or not (fat kid can turn obese anytime).

Hence better late than never, I present to you Christmas Pop Tarts. The idea of Christmas Pop Tarts came because I bought these Christmas Sprinkles and I had to use them before Christmas or else what was the point. Then once again I came across Pop Tarts ad, and told myself, it is a tart filled with jam or chocolate. I can totally do this! So I decided I had to make them. The best part about Pop Tarts is you can customize it any way you like. I stuck to my Christmas-y theme and created a festive version of it. To see how you can customize it check the notes section in the end.

Ingredients –

Tart –

  • 1 1/3 cup all purpose flour
  • 1 1/2 tablespoon cocoa powder
  • 2 tablespoon sugar
  • 75 grams cold butter, cut into cubes
  • 1/3 cup cold water

Filling –

  • 200 grams dark chocolate
  • 100 grams cream
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/4 cup chopped roasted almonds
  • 1/4 cup cranberries

Toppings –

  • Christmas theme sprinkles

Directions –

  • In a food processor, add flour, cocoa, cinnamon and pulse.
  • Add the cold butter and pulse till the mixture reaches a sandy consistency.
  • Remove in a separate bowl and add ice cold water one tablespoon at a time and knead to form a dough. Once the dough is formed, wrap it with cling film and refrigerate for 30 minutes.
  • Heat the cream till its scalding – not boiling and add to the chocolate. Mix till all the chocolate is melted. If the chocolate is not melting after a few minutes. Melt it in with a microwave by giving it 10 seconds bursts.
  • Once the ganache mixture is formed. Refrigerate till it sets.
  • Preheat the oven to 200 C.
  • Roll the tart dough and cut into 3 x 4 inches rectangles. This recipe is for 6 pop tarts. So you should have 12 rectangle sheets.
  • Take a sheet, spread some ganache. You can microwave the ganache for 10 seconds if it is too stiff. Sprinkle almonds and cranberries and cover with another sheet.
  • Take a fork, press down all four sides and punch in some holes on the top sheet with the fork.
  • Bake for 20 minutes. Let them cool completely.
  • Frost the top with the remainder of the ganache and sprinkle the Christmas themed sprinkles.
  • Store in a refrigerator for up to 5 days. Heat it in the microwave before serving, so the ganache melts and it is soft in the center.

Notes –

  • You can add whatever you want for the filling. Any type of jam, more chocolate, or even chocolate chips in the center.
  • You can vary in the dry fruits department by adding walnuts, cashew, raisins, whichever you fruit you like.
  • You can make ahead the tart dough and keep. I would suggest make a bigger batch store it in the freezer and enjoy the Pop Tarts whenever you want. You can also store the ganache in the freezer for up to 2 weeks. The dough can stay for 1 month.

 

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Tempering Chocolate – The Easy Way

Chocolate is one of the best things in the world. I don’t know anyone who hates chocolate or simply dislikes it. People love different types of chocolate or chocolate in different forms. Chocolate gives us happiness, gives us satisfaction, gives us a happy high. I can keep raving about chocolate but what I really want to tell today – that is on the World Chocolate Day that chocolate is something that helps us through thick and thin like literally when you are upset you eat chocolate, when you are happy you eat chocolate. At least that is with me because I am an emotional eater. Leaving my disorders aside and coming back to chocolate. Chocolate is great to eat but complicated to work with. It is such a versatile ingredient but Chocolate in its pure form is very moody. Or rather it easily gets affected by things like temperature, humidity, water and more. So even if this is a widely written topic, I would like to share my experience on it, because I will be writing on how to temper chocolate in hot and humid weather and most importantly at HOME.

Storage: Firstly depending on what part of India you are in, it is going be hot and worse it is going to be humid. Mumbai is both – hot and humid. So if you want to work with chocolate at home, it is a bit challenging. I will stress on the fact that you will need an air conditioner. You do, there is no option. Mainly because when you see international websites and videos, they mention “keep chocolate at room temperature” their room temperature is 22 C and our room temperature is 30 C. So hence the complication begins. But I would strongly advise not to keep the chocolate in the refrigerator. NO. The reason simply being temperature change especially massive temperature change is not good for chocolate. And condensation after removing the chocolate from the fridge is going to make things worse. My suggestion: After opening the packet of the chocolate, wrap it with plastic wrap and store it in a cool place at (our) room temperature.

Types of Chocolate: There are two types of Chocolate – Couverture and Compound. Couverture is high quality chocolate which contains cocoa butter as its fat content. This is the chocolate to use if making chocolates, truffles or rather anything. I absolutely recommend couverture because of the quality, taste and finish. The result tempered couverture chocolate gives is this shiny chocolate with the perfect crack in it. Compound is a cheaper quality of chocolate, the fat used in the chocolate is vegetable oil and not cocoa butter. It is definitely easier to work with. But lacks the quality, taste and finish. If you are buying your chocolate for a cheap price it is probably because it is compound. I really want to stress on the fact that if you are making chocolates or using chocolate for baked goods, please buy good quality chocolate. You will realize the difference in taste, texture and quality once you start using a good quality chocolate. The brand I prefer and probably the best pastry chefs in the world swear by and which is available in India is Callebaut. I will say that the price is probably a little on the higher side but if like me and many others you prefer quality over quantity then you know Callebaut is the right choice. Always check the ingredients list on back of the packet to see what type of chocolate you are buying. If the fat content says cocoa butter it is couverture and if it says vegetable oil or any other type of fat it is compound.

Tempering:  If you see Wikipedia on tempering chocolate, ” Chocolate tempering, a method of increasing the shine and durability of chocolate couverture” Tempering chocolate is one of the vitally important things to do if you are making chocolates, truffles, bonbon, chocolate decorations or more. It is also one of the complicated techniques to do. Chocolate when made, it is made in the ideal temperature. Every type of molecule is perfectly aligned and chocolate is in its perfect form. But then comes the transporting, the storing, the buying and the getting it home part. All these changes, changes the look of the chocolate. So to get back the perfect form we need to temper it. Tempering is melting the fat crystals in the chocolate, and then rearranging it back by adding stabilized fat crystals into it. Hence stabilizing it altogether, which gets us the chocolate back in its perfect form.

Basic idea is – melt your chocolate hence melting the fat crystals, lower the temperature, add stabilized fat crystals and set it – and it is done. Now there are various ways to do it – machine, seeding, tabling, adding cocoa butter and probably more. Machine does the traditional way of melting the chocolate max at 45 C, lowering the temperature till 22 C and then increasing it till 31 C by doing so it forms the stabilized fat crystals. Machine is obviously not the choice here, nor is  seeding and tabling. Seeding and tabling is when you melt chocolate and then add already tempered chocolate which can either be from your packet or if you have a tempered chocolate because it will contain the stabilized fat crystals which will stabilize the remaining one. But as I mentioned before because of the different temperature changes that chocolate goes through from various stages from packaging and buying, even though its tempered it doesn’t remain the same. Especially in India where temperature varies from region to region. So the fool proof method of tempering is adding cocoa butter.

I use Callebaut Mycyro Butter. It is simple, it is easy and it WORKS!

Adding Cocoa Butter: Melt your chocolate by not exceeding more than 45 C for dark and 42 C for milk and white. I use the microwave by giving it 10 seconds bursts. After every ten seconds I keep giving it a good stir. Please don’t go beyond 45 C or else you will burn your chocolate. After your chocolate is melted, go to your room where air conditioner is switched on at 21 C. Keep slowly stirring the chocolate till it reaches 31 C. Do not over stir or you will crystallize the chocolate. Once the chocolate hits 31 C. Add 1% of cocoa butter of your total chocolate weight. For example if you are melting 1 kg of chocolate use 10 grams of Mycryo. Stir till it melts and is incorporated.

Do the test: Take a parchment paper or back of a spoon and dip it in the chocolate. If it sets in 5 minutes with a sheen on it. You have done it! The chocolate is tempered. Now use the chocolate as desired.

Remember always set your chocolates in an air conditioned room between 21 – 22 C. Do not set it in the refrigerator as it when stored in (our) room temperature it will soften and form condensation. When set in an air conditioned room it will stay normal when stored in (our) room temperature.

If you want to see a video tutorial: http://www.callebaut.com/en-US/chocolate-video/technique/tempering

If it works for you, then join the club. If not, don’t loose hope. Keep trying, till you get it right. I have tried all the techniques numerous times till I finally found the right one. I suggest you do the same.

Sunday Brunch at JW Sahar, Mumbai

I was invited by JW Sahar, Mumbai, for the celebration of their 1st anniversary Sunday Brunch. As sunday brunches are to be enjoyed with friends and family. We organized a small bloggers table as the #FTBBloggersMeet FTB being Fat Toxic Bawarchi, our as in me, Mohit Chotrani and Roshan Shetty‘s Youtube venture. JW Sahar’s buffet are known to be lavish. I think they are one of those very few 5-stars which have Sushi on their buffet. Obviously I was excited. I thought it is the anniversary brunch so the expectations were high. Were the expectations met? Definitely.

As soon you enter the Cafe, first thing you see is that there are three tables filled with intricately crafted artisan desserts. Well lets just say they had me at the entry. The dessert spread is huge, but the exciting part is the innovative desserts. You will see different theme desserts on each table. One theme was based on circus, bright color chocolates, cupcakes and a huge 3 tier cake. Another one was travel theme. Where a chocolate plane is plain amazing. Third one chocolates in the shape of lips, lipsticks and gold bars. Oh wait, there was a fourth! A modern electronics theme like tablets, computers shaped desserts. As you are mesmerized by the desserts and you literally drag yourself towards your table. You move ahead and on your left you find a big tub of Alaskan Crab. And you know you are going to stuff your face with it. Somehow I moved to my table while eyeing a brushetta counter with the different toppings and breads.

After all the hi and hellos, I got to work. Now I obviously couldn’t eat everything there, cause apart from desserts, 2 seafood counters, there was a Japanese sushi and soup counter, a whole section of Italian, Thai, Mexican, Indian, add a bit of British touch with pot pies, a whole roasted chicken and pork belly. Probably a few more other things that I missed. Oh! Waffle counter and Ice cream counter. And obviously a cocktail counter. Lets just say there is something for everyone.

I am going to keep this post short and sweet, and tell you exactly what I loved. Alaskan Crab. One thing you have to eat is the Alaskan Crab. The crab was extremely tasty. Soft and silky with the melt in your mouth feel. Next was sushi. Do I need to write more after Sushi. I think not. Coming to the Pot Pie, I kind of liked the pot pie in a weird way. As you break the crust on top. You realize it is hollow from inside. The filling was very little. On the first bite. It may seem okay. But as you keep eating it, which weirdly I did. You kind of start liking it. The flavors are subtle. Though the ramekin is big and filling less. But seemed apt for a buffet.

Next we head to quail eggs. Tasted quail eggs for the first time and I must say I liked them. Different yet same than regular eggs. These tiny half fried eggs were a tasty treat. My friend aka blogger Jagurti Punjabi got this amazing tiny fish delicacy from the Thai counter. Which was so good! I have no idea what exactly it was. But it was fish in a cupcake wrapper type leaf and cooked with the same leaf. Topped with a delicious sauce.

Now comes the dessert. I feel the chocolates were the best part of the buffet. Most of them were truffles made with dark chocolate. So a bite of those heavenly chocolate with the perfect dark chocolate ganache inside is a pure treat. I liked the berry dessert and a bit of drama that was added to it. The cheesecake and berry cake were splendid.

Why would I recommend this buffet. Well firstly it has a huge spread and upon asking the manager said, that the spread is like this every Sunday, just the theme keeps changing. Secondly, the food is amazing. It is not just the variety but you have to see the type of variety that is offered. Seafood like crab, prawns, fish, mussels. Chicken, pork, and a good variety of vegetarian options also. Food is everywhere here. And you can eat as much as you want. I am already planning for my next brunch there, I advise you do the same.

Basic Fillings, Frostings & Icings – Chocolate Buttercream

So I hope you guys liked the Vanilla Buttercream recipe. Now it is time for Chocolate Buttercream.

Chocolate Buttercream needs to have the perfect balance of sugar and cocoa. I like the chocolate buttercream to have that perfect chocolate bang when you eat it. Not too bitter but no too sweet either.

This recipe here is the perfect blend of sugar and chocolate, and obviously butter!

Recipe –

Clicked by Yogi G.

Enough to pipe swirls for 10 cupcakes.

Ingredients –

  • 2 1/3 cup Icing Sugar, sifted
  • 100 grams butter, room temperature
  • 1/3 cup cocoa powder, sifted
  • 4 – 5 tablespoon milk
  • 1/4 teaspoon vanilla

Method –

  • In a mixing bowl, cream together sifted icing sugar and butter with a hand/stand mixer.
  • Add 1/4 cup sifted cocoa powder, 2 tablespoon of milk, and vanilla. Mix for 3 minutes.
  • Taste the buttercream. If you feel it is sweet and lacks the chocolate taste. Add the remaining cocoa powder and mix.
  • Keep adding little milk at a time, to get the consistency of Buttercream right. It should not be too stiff, or it wont pipe neatly.
  • Mix it for 3 – 4 minutes till completely blended.
  • Perfect consistency is soft but still will hold stiff peaks.

Tips –

  • The quantity of cocoa is varied cause it will depend on the quality of the cocoa powder. And also each of us likes the buttercream taste in certain way, so it is better to improvise.
  • Milk, gets the perfect consistency of the buttercream. So add how much ever needed BUT add little at a time.
  • If the buttercream gets bitter because of excess cocoa. Just add some sifted icing sugar.
  • Tastes great with vanilla/chocolate cupcakes.

If you try the recipe and like it. Please do leave a comment below.

Coming up next – Cream Cheese Frosting.

Basic Fillings, Frosting and Icings – Vanilla Buttercream

So after being MIA since ever! I am back. I actually do get these fits, where I suddenly leave what I am doing and after a while I am back at it. But lots and lots happening with my YouTube channel Fat Toxic Bawarchi gaining momentum, you should definitely check it out for fun reviews and recipes. I started it with my two besties Mohit Chotrani aka Hungry Bawarchi and Roshan Shetty aka The Big Fat Shetty.

Anyways I figured I will make a comeback with recipes. I am starting a segment of everything basic. But I want to start it with fillings, frosting and icings. I feel these things are most simplest but people are still scared or unaware of their simplicity. We all may have that perfect cake recipe but we strive for that perfect frosting recipe.

So I am going to begin with the simple Vanilla Buttercream.

Now this is a very basic Vanilla Buttercream recipe, aim is to make it tasty and make it tasty fast.

20130728_071018_20130729213147041

Recipe –

Makes enough to pipe swirls on 10 cupcakes.

Ingredients –

  • 2 cups icing sugar, sifted
  • 80 grams butter, room temperature
  • 1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2-4 tablespoon of milk

Method –

  • In a large mixing bowl, add the sifted sugar and butter. Mix with a hand mixer/stand mixer on low speed till incorporated.
  • Add vanilla extract and 2 tablespoon of milk. Mix on high for 3 – 4 minutes till it is perfectly creamed together.
  • If the cream is too stiff, keep adding more milk little at a time till its soft but still holds peaks.

Tip –

  • In case you add more milk, you can always add more sifted sugar and balance it out.
  • You can pipe them on cakes and cupcakes. Sprinkle some colorful sprinkles on top or some chocolate chips.
  • Vanilla buttercream is the perfect cream to color, so if you want to go bright and colorful. You can add a few drops of gel color after adding the milk.

So if you happen to try it. Please do comment and let me know.

Till then wait for my Chocolate Buttercream Recipe.

Dim Sum, Dim Sum and more Dim Sum

That is probably the mantra of Spices, JW Marriott, Juhu, Mumbai, for their Dimsum Festival. I was one of the lucky people to be a part of their grand blogger’s table hosted by JW Marriott and FBAI. Now who doesn’t love Dimsum. Dim sum traditionally is served with tea as a light snack. But, the love for Dim Sum we have is so great, that we want to eat it in every meal. And we wont stop till we haven’t stuffed ourselves with as much as Dim Sum we can get. So here I was ready to hog on as much Dim Sum as I can.

JW Marriott has groped in a new Dim Sum chef, Chef Tenzin Khechok (who by the way is one more addition to their band of good looking young chefs) unwanted information there but just saying.

Now coming back to the food. Obviously the food was great. Obviously we stuffed our selves with as much as Dim Sum as we could. Even we though we felt the quantity could have been more because of the sheer amount of bloggers that were called. But still we got to taste a lot of delicious Dim Sum and most importantly I started eating Prawns. So lets see how that went –

Prawn Har Gow –

Prawn Har Gow

Prawn Har Gow

Har Gow is basically known as the Shrimp Dumpling. According to Wikipedia, this is the dumpling, where the skill of a Dim Sum Chef is judged on. Well then according to me, Chef Khechok nailed it. The dough was soft, translucent, and prawn inside was perfect. Well what can I say he converted me to start eating prawns again.

Chef Tenzin’s Specialty – Edamame and Truffle –

Chef Tenzin's Specialty - Edamame and Truffle

Chef Tenzin’s Specialty – Edamame and Truffle

This is one of the vegetarian option. But this is a Chef’s special which is a must must try! I will not say how wonderful it tastes. You seriously have to go and try that yourself.

Chicken Shanghai “Pan Fried” –

Chicken Shanghai "Pan Fried"

Chicken Shanghai “Pan Fried”

Chicken Shangai is also one of those dishes that keeps you wanting more. These perfectly cooked pan fried stuffed Chicken Dim Sum is also one of the heroes of the night.

Vegetable Chive –

Vegetable Chive

Vegetable Chive

Chive infused vegetable dumpling was really nice. I ll just say its filled with vegetables which in fact are so perfectly mixed, you don’t care it whether they are ones you eat or don’t, because it is that delicious.

Vegetable Shanghai “Pan Fried” –

Vegetable Shanghai "Pan Fried"

Vegetable Shanghai “Pan Fried”

The vegetable version of the pan fried Shanghai is decent, but if you can please opt for the chicken one.

Vegetable Crystal Dumpling –

Vegetable Crystal Dumpling

Vegetable Crystal Dumpling

Crystal clear vegetable dumpling is also a winner. Filled with delicious vegetables, you will almost not miss the meat for once. Dough as you can see apart from being crystal clear is also light and nice.

Sticky Rice with Prawn and Chicken in Lotus Leaf –

Sticky Rice with Prawn and Chicken in Lotus Leaf

Sticky Rice with Prawn and Chicken in Lotus Leaf

This is the dish, I feel you can totally avoid. It is very mediocre compared to other delicious delicacies.

For all those of you who love desserts –

Hot Chocolate Bun –

Hot Chocolate Bun

Hot Chocolate Bun

Sweet and Chocolate dough filled melted chocolate ganache. Is a very basic and simple twist to a dessert Dim Sum. If you like melted chocolate then this is the dessert for you. Unfortunately I am very picky when it comes to desserts also. So I will pass this one.

All in all the JW Dim Sum Week is an absolute go for people who love Dim Sum. And for a nice price for 1999 plus taxes for unlimited dim sum at Marriott, it is definitely a deal. Best part the number of vegetarian and non vegetarian options are almost the same, which makes it perfect for everyone.

Kheer, Chocolate and Cheesecake Cream Cheese Truffles

Truffles are the most easiest dessert to make. You can keep upgrading and changing them according to your likes. And you will never fail. They are little treasures of deliciousness. But I feel cream and chocolate truffles are too done with. So as I was in search of a new ingredient, I realized obviously I cant change the chocolate. Its chocolate! But cream, cream can be changed and something other than the cream can be incorporated. While thinking about the next best fat to use in truffles, I came across the next best fat used in desserts and the answer is obviously Cream Cheese.

So I tried three different types of truffles one the evergreen flavor Chocolate, second I went with Cheesecake, and third I wanted to Indian-ize a dessert since a long time. And one of my favorite Indian dessert is the Kheer. Kheer has been a staple dessert in my house since ever. So to create a fusion of Kheer and Truffles just seemed apt. So here it is –

Kheer Cream cheese Truffles –

Kheer Truffles 1

Kheer Truffles 2

Approximately 20 pieces.

Ingredients –

For Filling –

4 ounces soft cream cheese

260 grams white chocolate

¼ teaspoon of saffron

½ teaspoon cinnamon powder

¼ teaspoon of cardamom powder

¼ teaspoon vanilla extract

For Coating –

1 cup crushed dry fruits consisting almonds, pistachios and cashews.

Method –

Melt the white chocolate in a double boiler. While the chocolate is melting slowly add the spices one by one. Add the vanilla extract in the end and keep mixing.

When the chocolate is close to room temperature, add the cream cheese and incorporate fully. You may feel the chocolate has curdled, and notice fat separating, but that is how it is supposed to be.

Put the bowl in the refrigerator for 20 minutes. After 20 minutes remove the mixture from the refrigerator and roll into small balls. Refrigerate for 2 hours.

After 2 hours, coat the ball with the crushed nuts. You can serve straightaway or place it in the refrigerator and remove 10 minutes before serving.

Cheesecake Truffles –

Cheese Cake truffles 2

Approximately 20 pieces.

Ingredients –

For Filling –

4 ounces soft cream cheese

260 grams white chocolate

¼ teaspoon vanilla extract

For Coating –

1 cup crushed Digestive Biscuits

Method –

Melt the white chocolate in a double boiler. Add the vanilla extract in the end and keep mixing.

When the chocolate is close to room temperature add the cream cheese and incorporate fully. You may feel the chocolate has curdled, and notice fat separating, but that is how it is supposed to be.

Put the bowl in the refrigerator for 20 minutes. After 20 minutes remove the mixture from the refrigerator and roll into small balls. Refrigerate for 2 hours.

After 2 hours, coat the ball with the crushed biscuits. You can serve straightaway or place it in the refrigerator and remove 10 minutes before serving.

Chocolate Cream cheese Truffles –

Chocolate Cream Cheese Truffles 2

Approximately 20 pieces

Filling –

280 grams Milk Chocolate

5 ounces soft cream cheese

¼ teaspoon vanilla extract

Coating –

3 tablespoon cocoa powder

3 tablespoon icing sugar

Method –

Melt the milk chocolate in a double boiler. Add the vanilla extract in the end and keep mixing.

When the chocolate is close to room temperature add the cream cheese and incorporate fully. You may feel the chocolate has curdled, and notice fat separating, but that is how it is supposed to be.

Put the bowl in the refrigerator for 20 minutes. After 20 minutes remove the mixture from the refrigerator and roll into small balls. Refrigerate for 2 hours.

In a bowl mix the cocoa powder and icing sugar. After 2 hours remove the truffles and coat them with the cocoa powder and icing sugar mixture. You can serve straightaway or place it in the refrigerator and remove 10 minutes before serving.