Say Cheese for Cheesecake!!

It's time again for another scrumptious Daring Bakers Challenge.

The April 2009 challenge is hosted by Jenny from Jenny Bakes. She has chosen Abbey's Infamous Cheesecake as the challenge.

The first time I made cheesecake was for the Daring Bakers Challenge – Cheesecake Pops. This time all we had to do was make a basic Cheesecake. We were allowed for flavour modifications within the basic recipe. I chose to make a Mango Cheesecake and instead of topping the cheesecake with a Mango puree, I added it to the cheesecake batter itself. That made the whole cheesecake mango-ey and it had a wonderful colour.

Abbey's Infamous Cheesecake:

(I made Mango Cheesecake)

2 cups / 180 g graham cracker crumbs
1 stick / 4 oz butter, melted
2 tbsp. / 24 g sugar
1 tsp. vanilla extract

3 sticks of cream cheese, 8 oz each (total of 24 oz) room temperature
1 cup / 210 g sugar
3 large eggs
1 cup / 8 oz heavy cream
1 tbsp. lemon juice
1 tbsp. vanilla extract (or the innards of a vanilla bean)
1 tbsp liqueur, optional, but choose what will work well with your cheesecake

1 Cup Mango puree (I used canned, unsweetened)

¼ tsp Cardamom powder

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (Gas Mark 4 = 180C = Moderate heat). Begin to boil a large pot of water for the water bath.

2. Mix together the crust ingredients and press into your preferred pan. You can press the crust just into the bottom, or up the sides of the pan too - baker's choice. Set crust aside.

3. Combine cream cheese and sugar in the bowl of a stand-mixer (or in a large bowl if using a hand-mixer) and cream together until smooth. Add eggs, one at a time, fully incorporating each before adding the next. Make sure to scrape down the bowl in between each egg. Add heavy cream, vanilla, lemon juice, and alcohol and blend until smooth and creamy. I left out the alcohol, and added the mango puree and cardamom powder.

4. Pour batter into prepared crust and tap the pan on the counter a few times to bring all air bubbles to the surface. Place pan into a larger pan and pour boiling water into the larger pan until halfway up the side of the cheesecake pan. If cheesecake pan is not airtight, cover bottom securely with foil before adding water.

5. Bake 45 to 55 minutes, until it is almost done - this can be hard to judge, but you're looking for the cake to hold together, but still have a lot of jiggle to it in the center. You don't want it to be completely firm at this stage. Close the oven door, turn the heat off, and let rest in the cooling oven for one hour. This lets the cake finish cooking and cool down gently enough so that it won't crack on the top.

After one hour, remove cheesecake from oven and lift carefully out of water bath. Let it finish cooling on the counter, and then cover and put in the fridge to chill. Once fully chilled, it is ready to serve.

Pan note: I made only a third of the recipe, and used 6 ramekins.

Prep notes: While the actual making of this cheesecake is a minimal time commitment, it does need to bake for almost an hour, cool in the oven for an hour, and chill overnight before it is served.

The cheesecakes turned out perfect, but while removing them from the ramekins, they cracked slightly. I am not a big cheesecake fan, but this one blew me off my feet. Thanks Jenny for the wonderful Cheesecake challenge.

Don’t forget to visit my fellow Daring Bakers to see their cheesecakes.

Cakes and more cakes!

The past few weeks have been really hectic with cakes and cooking orders. I've had absolutely no time to pause for a minute and update my blog or try new recipes. Though hectic, it has been worthwhile since I made 3 different themed cakes. The first was a Finding Nemo cake, second was for Easter with Easter treats and the third was a Jungle Theme Cake. All three were a whole lot of fun to do, not to forget work involved in each.

Easter is long gone, but here is what I did for a friend who had us over for Easter dinner.

Strawberry cake with buttercream and Gumpaste flowers

Easter Egg Basket Cake (with a Marshmallow handle)

I hadn't quite planned for the basket 'handle' due to lack of time, but I made a makeshift one using mini marshmallows.

'Easter Eggs' - Hershey's Candy

I also made Rice Krispie Treats using Kellogg's Rice Krispies and mini Marshmallows. The kids loved them.

Rice Krispie Treats with buttercream

It was one Easter dinner to remember with friends and yummy treats.

Moong Dal Chakli

Known as Chakli or Murukku, these savory twirled treats make for a delicious snack anytime. There are many types of chaklis and each recipe results in a lip smacking good treat. My mom sent me a Chakli press/maker last year with a friend who was visiting India. I had even bought a instant murukku mix, but had never gotten down to trying it – I still haven’t.

Last week while talking to mom, she gave me the recipe for Moong Dal Chakli which she had tried that day. It sounded fairly simple and considering I had been long meaning to make chaklis at home, I decided to give this one a go. I must say this was one easy chakli to make and inspite of being the first time, it still turned out great.

You will need:

1 measure* Yellow Moong Dal

1 measure* Rice flour

½ tsp Salt

½ tsp Asafoetida

½ tsp White sesame seeds

Oil for deep frying

*By measure I mean any cup/bowl/container you choose to use. Both the yellow moong dal (unboiled) and the rice flour need to be in the same proportion.

Pressure cook the yellow moong dal in water till soft and can be easily mashed. Pour into a colander and let sit till all the water is completely drained. This is an important step and all excess water has to be drained from the dal.

To the drained moong dal, add measured rice flour, sesame seeds, salt and hing. Knead into smooth dough. This dough will be softer than chapathi dough. At this point you can taste to check for salt and add more if required. Also if the dough doesn’t come together because of less moisture you can sprinkle with little water to make it wet and then knead.

To make this chakli use the chakli plate with 3 ridged holes in it. Take a portion of the dough, place in the chakli press, and then you can either press directly into the hot oil (if you have a steady hand) or press the chakli onto waxed paper and then drop in hot oil ,like I did .

Fry on medium heat, so that the insides get cooked. The outside should be a golden light brown, that is when it’s ready. Remove from oil, and drain on paper towels. Store in an air-tight container.

These chaklis are crisp and very tasty, and extremely addictive!! I made a small batch and before we knew hubby and I had wolfed down the whole lot. :D

Baby in Tub Cake

A friend of mine had a baby boy two weeks ago and I made this cake for her little one last week.

The cake is a Red Velvet cake. Covered in Buttercream and Fondant (the 'tub').

Fondant Soap and Duck

It was a surprise for my friend, and she loved it :)

Raagi Rotti

Raagi (Finger Millets) Rottis are very nutritive as well as filling. In Karnataka, Raagi is used to make various dishes including porridges and the popular Raagi Mudde.

Raagi Rottis are made like Akki Rottis but with Raagi flour. This flour is readily available in Indian stores.

You will need:

1 ½ Cups Raagi Flour
1 medium red onion, finely chopped
1 tsp Green chilli paste (ground fresh green chillies)
1 tbsp Oil plus more for roasting
¼ cup chopped Cilantro
1 tsp Salt
¾ Cup Water (warm to the touch)

Combine raagi flour, onions, cilantro, salt, oil and green chilli paste in a medium bowl. Slowly add warm water and mix to form a soft smooth dough. The dough should not be sticky and if rolled into a ball, it should hold. It is softer than chapathi dough ( whole wheat flour dough)Cover and let sit for 30 minutes to 2 hours.

Oil a flat roasting pan or a non-stick pan. Make a small ball of the dough, place in centre of pan and gently pat into a circle; turn the pan while doing this so u get an even thickness. Drizzle with ½ tsp Oil on top and place on medium heat. Cover and cook for 2 minutes. Flip rotti and cook on the other side for 30 seconds. Remove from heat and serve hot. Make remaining rottis with the dough.

Since this rotti is already seasoned well, it requires no side dish to go along with it. But we enjoy it with a spicy pickle, ghee or with yoghurt. We had ours with Avvakai (Mango) pickle (courtesy: my dear Ajji :) )

Any dish made with Raagi keeps you full and energized for a long time.So this is ideal for breakfast.

Rottis are easy to make and taste great, they may seem intimidating at first and almost impossible to get right but once you get the hang of it, they are a breeze to make.

Kadai Vegetable

This is a curry that comes together quickly and makes for a delicious side with rotis or rice. Kadai Vegetable is an excellent way to use up that leftover odd vegetable in the fridge.

You will need:

3 tbsp Oil

1 tsp Cumin seeds

1 tbsp Ginger Garlic paste

2 ½ cups Tomato Puree

2 Carrots, cut into 1” pieces

½ cup Green beans, cut into bits

1 cup Cauliflower florets

1 Onion, cut into 1” strips

1 Green bell pepper, cut into 1” pieces

¼ cup Green peas, frozen

1 tsp Corriander powder

1 tsp Cumin powder

1 tsp Cayenne

2 tsp Paprika

1 tsp Kasuri Methi (dried fenugreek leaves)

1 Cup Water

Salt to taste

Heat oil in a deep pan. Add the cumin seeds. When it begins to splutter, add the cubed onions.Saute till onions are soft and translucent. Add the ginger garlic paste and saut̩ for a few minutes. Add the coriander powder, cumin powder, cayenne, paprika and kasuri methi. Fry till fragrant, about 3 minutes. Now add the tomato puree and water. Add the vegetables Рcarrots, green beans, cauliflower florets and green peas. Bring to a simmering boil. Reduce heat to medium-low, cover and cook for 8-9 minutes, till all the veggies are cooked through. Cook longer if required. Season with salt.

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