Choco Chip Mini Muffins – EggFree

School re-opens. A brand new year. New teacher. Fresh clean books. Sharpened pencils. And amongst all this – new classmates. Her class gets shuffled every year, and this grade none of her friends are with her. She returns home dejected and sullen.

Mini Muffins

Mini Muffins

Slow at makin friends and adapting to new people, the little girl takes her own sweet time in settling down and getting companionable. Once she does though is another story altogether! But for now, she is bitter. Full of complaints on the first day – that girl pushed me, this boy pulled my hair, teacher was rude… the list is endless. It takes mammoth patience and understanding to explain that the whole world is not there to bite her. They have other work too. A task really. But her stubborn mind is not so yielding.

Choco chips in butter vanilla

Choco chips in butter vanilla

When the hostile mind slowly dies down, out rises the receptiveness. Her desires for amity make way for innumerable possibilities. Topping the list was Food 🙂

One smart girl I have. Food brings people closer, breaks barriers, warms the heart.
Someone so rightly said “If you really want to make a friend, go to someone’s house, EAT with Him….. the people who give you their food, will give you their heart”

So I bake for her camaraderie. And I bake for her zest and spirit.

chocolate muffin

chocolate muffin

For the Vanilla Butter Cupcakes

Ingredients

  • 1 cup maida/all purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup powdered sugar
  • Baking powder 1 tsp
  • Baking soda 1/4 tsp
  • Warm Milk 1/3 cup
  • Curd 1/2 cup, whisk it before using
  • melted butter, 1/4 cup
  • Vanilla essence 1/4 tsp
  • 1/2 tsp apple cider vinegar
  • 1/4 cup chocolate chips, white or dark or a bit of both

Method

Preheat oven to 150 C.
In a big mixing bowl, combine all the dry ingredients except the chocolate chips. Mix well. Now, make a well in the center of the dry mixture. Add the curd, vanilla, vinegar and butter.
Using a hand whisk, gently mix the ingredients until well combined. Make sure the wet ingredients are incorporated into the dry ingredients. Don’t over mix. Gently fold in the choco chips.

Now line your cupcake tray with liners or grease them of required. Spoon the batter till the moulds are 3/4th full. If you like, you can top the cupcakes with more chocolate chips.
Bake the little muffins at 150 C for about 8-10 minutes or until they are done. Remove. Cool.

For the chocolate cupcakes, follow the above method and add 1/4 cup of unsweetened cocoa to the dry ingredients and add a bit of milk accordingly.

Box full

Box full

Note: Chopped nuts or any dried fruit can also be added in place of chocolate chips.

Note: Do not over bake the cupcake, around 8-10 minutes should be apt, else they turn hard and chewy.

Little Treats

Little Treats

She wanted the entire box, which is SO not allowed in school. Gently coaxing her to take a few to share with her immediate neighbors was met with instant disapproval.
Friendship takes time, I cajoled.
Yes, but I need some for my old friends too…. left me with no more words.

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Red Velvet Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting and Cherries!

Melting Moments

Melting Moments

I am not a baker. Many baking expeditions of mine end up in a dump. Baking is scary and cumbersome and tricky for me.
But ironically I am dessert person… with a such a big sweet tooth, that I am surprised I don’t end up baking and playing with chocolates more than I do.

Tiny Treats

Tiny Treats

Cakes, cupcakes, chocolate, fruits.. make the bestest photographs. The look menacingly inviting, decadent and SINFUL! Without trying hard, they offer beautiful pictures which turns even a sour-grim-faced-hardly-surviving non human to human! I’m sorry non sweet lovers. Don’t mean to offend… just magnifying the magic of chocolates/desserts.

Drool Worthy?

Drool Worthy?

Red Velvet Cake. It wasn’t much around when we were growing up. We had black forest, pineapple, plum cake, Japanese cake(Ooh!), Traditional decadent moist chocolate cake and even the world famous(In Bangalore) Honey Cake. No sign of Red Velvet there.

Beaten with beets

Beaten with beets

I had my first bite when we were living in the US, some 7 years back. Blissfully pregnant with Milee, my sweet cravings took double triple leaps. I would feast on treats from Cheese Cake Factory n Haagen Daz n Ben n Jerry’s n countless more.
Red Velvet is a cake with either a dark red, bright red or red-brown color. It’s traditionally prepared as a layer cake topped with cream cheese or cooked roux icing. The reddish color is achieved by adding beetroot or red food coloring – Courtesy, Wiki.

The Goodie Box

The Goodie Box

I could not imagine plaguing my food with coloring agents. So Beetroot it was. But trust me I was very very skeptical. Although umpteen number of recipes promised me that the Beet wouldn’t taste in my cake, I had serious doubts. Still bitten by the baking bug that day, I decided to be brave.
Well, I went all out in courage.

  • I went eggless.
  • I made the cream cheese frosting with hung curd and cottage cheese(Yea, I know… sounds BIZARRE).
  • and I put Beets in my cake.

Phew! You must be dying to hear the verdict.

Red Velvet Cake, sans the frosting

Red Velvet Cake, sans the frosting

The Recipe:

Ingredients

  • 1 1/4 cups all purpose flour/maida
  • 1 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1 1/2 tbsp dark cocoa powder, they say not to use dutch processed.
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 3/4 cup fresh pureed beets
  • 1/3 cup butter, I used salted butter.
  • 2 tbsp lemon juice
  • 1 1/2 tsp vanilla extract

Method

Wash the beets, peel and slice. Cook them till they’re well done – important, else your batter will stink of beets. Cool and purée the cooked beets along with about 3 or 4 tbsps of water, in a blender till smooth. Keep aside.

To make the cupcakes, first whisk together the flour, sugar, cocoa and baking powderin a bowl till well mixed. Keep aside.
Put the puréed beets, butter, lemon juice and vanilla extract into another bowl and lightly whisk together till mixed well.
Pour this into the bowl with the dry ingredients and mix just enough to combine. Pour into cupcake moulds or a cake tin and
bake them at 175C for about 20 to 25 minutes. A skewer/ toothpick inserted into the centre should come out clean once they’re done.
Cool completely and decorate with frosting of your choice. The usual choices are butter roux (boiled) frosting or cream cheese frosting.

Recipe adapted from here.

See Red

See Red

Now for the Frosting:
You could frost the cake with your usual favorites like butter cream or whipped cream.
But I was going BOLD remember. So tried the cream cheese one. But Cream cheese is difficult to lay your hands on here in India, and if you happen to get some, they are insanely expensive.. a small container costs 400 bucks(20US$).

Hence, your truly decides to whip up some of her own:

Cream Cheese Frosting:

  • 1/2 cup hung yoghurt
  • 1/2 fresh crumbled paneer
  • 1/2 cup powdered sugar
  • 1/4 cup whipped cream
  • 1 drop vanilla essence

Method –

Blend yoghurt and paneer to fine smooth paste. Fold in whipped cream, vanilla and sugar. Beat till soft peaks form. Use as required.

Now if you see the pictures here, the frosting is a bit runny. I did not have any whipping cream, so I used normal cream(Amul’s) which refused to add any body to the frosting. Hence the drooly look.

If you are lucky to get some real cream cheese itself, use 3/4 cup of it with 1/2 cup sugar and 1/4 cup whipping cream in it.

Okay. So I dolloped my little red cupcakes with this awesome frosting. And since I was being playful, I added cherries to beautify it. But I had also baked the extra batter into a small cake. So I got naughty again. Chopped up a cup full of cherries, I layered them with the mock cream cheese and some sugar-water syrup.. to make a layered Red Velvet Cake with cream cheese and cherries!
Sounds Fancy? I was just going with the flow of how things had turned out.

Life as you see it.

Life as you see it.

The Verdict:

Well…I have many varied reviews for this one:

1. My take – a little different from our conventional cakes, there was a hint of bitterness in the cake itself. But the frosting was creamy, sweet and tangy and along with it, it tasted pretty good. The cake was yummier than the cupcakes, since it had that little extra sugar water syrup added to it, along with a bite of cherries.
2. Husband’s View – He did not like it. He likes his desserts just as they should be “SWEET”. He is not a fan of bitter and dark stuff.(I am the EVIL one here…hahaha)
3. Milee’s Take – with a slightly bizarre palette, she kinds of diggs food with different flavors. She gave me a big Thumbs Up.
4. My friends – Most did not like it much. Except for one, who said, it tastes marvelous like wine!..
5. Friend’s Husbands – Most Liked it. They enjoyed the alcohol flavor it imparted. super pleased that I had made a rum-wine cake of some sort.. no one could ever imagine I put BEETS in it.

Final Verdict: The frosting was a big hit, no matter what. But the cake itself, had slightly different opposing views.

So you’re call basically. If you are in for an alcohol like cake, sans the stuff, then this might just be the one for you.

Saying it with flowers

Saying it with flowers

Note:
1. The redness of the cake is enhanced by lime juice, baking powder and chocolate mixed. It does some chemical reaction inside and produces the vibrant redness that we see.
2. If you want to try it out, bake a very small batch without the frosting. See how it tastes, then decide to invest time and effort on the icing.

Plain Red Velvet in all its glory.

Plain Red Velvet in all its glory.