Tuesday, September 29, 2009

My Ashtami celebrations

This year Ashtami was really different and lots of fun. Ashtami is the eight day of the Navratri celebrations. All those who fast throughout the Navratris, break their fast on the eight day. Kanya Pujan is done on that day, where in eight little girls are called home and made to eat "prasad" and given gifts like bangles, earrings etc.
Finding little girls was difficult, so I made the prasad and went to the mandir for Kanya Pujan.
Its such a sweet sight to see. Small girls all sitting in huge circles with their goody bags collecting their goodies, from everyone. It was adorable.
After getting ready, in the morning I decorated my little corner and made the prasad. The prasad consists of black chana, puri and suji halwa. It was good fun coz I had a few friends over for lunch, and then later in the evening we went for dandiya and garba.

Though the chanas I made were pretty straight forward and simple but still here goes the recipes.

You will need:

  • 1 cup of Black chana
  • 2 tbsp Oil
  • Salt
  • ginger and green chillies
  • 1 tsp red chilli powder
  • 1 tsp jeera dhania powder.
You have to :

  1. Soak chanas over night. Pressure cook them with salt.
  2. Heat oil in a pan. add the ginger and the green chillies.
  3. Add all the spices and put the boiled chanas.
  4. Saute it all, cover and cook till all the masala has coated the chanas.
  5. Its all done.

This year I kept the fast and celebrated Ashtami first time after four years of coming here to the US. It really felt good. I realised that all this keeps us involved and sure makes us feel all the more festive.

Hope Durga Ma showers her blessings on all.
More later.

Monday, September 21, 2009

German Chocolate Cake with Chocolate butter icing and Praline

My friends birthday was nearly a month ago and I had made this cake for him. I had already decided that this time I was going to try a cake mix and put all my work into the icing. But what icing and how not to make it similar to all my previous cakes. So I thought and searched , but could not find something convincing enough. not to mention the fact that my husband told me that it was better to get the cake from outside. That I think triggered me off.

And the result was is this yummy cake which all of them really enjoyed.

So here goes the recipes. The pictures don't do justice to the cake as I was more focused on getting everything right for the cake.
You will need:
For the Basic cake
Betty Crocker's German cake mix.

For the Filling
2-3 cups Ghiradelli semisweet chocolate chips.
1 cup Heavy whipping cream

The outer coating of Praline
1 cup sugar
1 cup mixed nuts (pecans,walnuts and cashews.)

For the icing
1 -1 1/2 cup Heavy whipping cream
Vanilla Essence
For the chocolate stars
1 cup ghiradelli chocolate chips
Other ingredients
Icing pen for writing.
Coffee liquor for soaking

You have to :

For the cake:
  1. Follow the directions on the package and bake the cake. This can be done a day before.
  2. Cut it into 2-3 layers.
  3. Make the coffee liquor by soaking any coffee in 1 cup of water and heating it till the coffee dissolves. cool it.
  4. Spoon the liquor over the layer of cakes. soaking each layer well. This gives a real good taste with the filling.
For the filling:
  1. Melt the chocolate either on a double broiler or in the microwave till the chips are melted.
  2. Add the cream to this and whip till peaks form. Refrigerate.
For the Praline:
  1. Break the nuts into small pieces.
  2. Heat the sugar in a dry saucepan till only melted. Be careful, once it melts and begins to caramelize it hardens up very fast.
  3. Add the chopped nuts and mix it all up. Pour it out on a parchment paper and let it cool.
The Praline getting cool.

For the stars and the chocolate plaque:
  1. Melt the chocolate. Line a cookie tray with parchment paper.
  2. Once the chocolate is completely melted pour it out onto the parchment and spread it in a layer. Let it cool.
  3. Once it begins to harden, cut out a big round for the plaque with a cookie cutter. The stars or any other shape can be cut using a cookie cutter. If you do not have a cookie cutter, simply cut out long stripes with a knife.
  4. Leave to cool completely.You can even put it in the refrigerator.
  5. Do not remove it from the sheet. Only give it its shape.

For the topping:

  1. Whip the cream with vanilla essence and sugar,till it forms peaks.
To Assemble the cake.
  1. Place the bottom layer of the coffee liquor soaked cake.
  2. Spread the filling in between.
  3. Repeat with all the layers.
  4. Know spread the whipping cream around.
  5. Make sure you cover all the sides of the cake with a thick layer of the cream.
  6. Now break the praline up and stick it all around the sides of the cake. You don't have to be particular about breaking it into small pieces. A little big pieces add to the texture.

8. With the icing writing pen, write down whatever message you want. I wrote Happy Birthday. Decorate with stars, or whatever shapes you have made.

9. Once completely cooled and firm, the chocolate stars and the plaque will come off the parchment really quick.

10. I then piped out some of the filling around the rim of the cake.

And voila, the cake is ready to be cut.

I made two cakes as there were thirty people comign for the party.

The cake as such is very easy to make, but what takes the most time is getting the different components ready to assemble them all together. This is a fun way I came up with, but there are endless possibilities with icing and cake decorating.

Hope you all enjoy this recipe.

More cake recipes coming soon.