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Chocolate Coffee Mousse - And something romantic!

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It is more than 2 years since I have been active in this space and to be honest - sometimes I forgot, sometimes I remembered, sometimes I did not miss it and sometimes I did...

When I started this blog 5 years back, I never knew I would try so many new things, meet new people, feed many, share so much and journal random thoughts. But now I hardly get time to check if it is up and running. I tried kept cooking, but getting the props, photographing, editing, blogging was something I pushed out of the radar. So after a long time, it feels good to pen down again my "not-so-important" random thoughts and be a little nostalgic.

I don't remember the day when I started this little blog of mine, but to my defense I have to add that I manage to forget my own birthday as well. But frankly speaking, the best joy of this blog has been to cook all the different dishes and see my better half enjoy them when he came back from work. I enjoyed staying at home and leisurely watch life pass by - teaching, chiding, flirting and letting me savor all those chapters of my life.

He was the first to subscribe to my blog feed, comment on my post, and his comment was something like this "Try at your own risk". Yeah - He is a very encouraging person and has a quirky sense of humor to match mine :)

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So when I made this Dessert for our guests and let him try a little bit - I chuckled to myself hearing all his commentaries and side notes. It doesn't help that he has learnt a few words and phrases from "Master Chef" series - especially remarking that my "work station" aka kitchen looks like a war zone when I cook. But the best judge of the dish is when he asks for seconds.

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So I would add this one as a go-to for all those romanticists out there who want to impress their loved one. Somehow Coffee and Chocolate are a match made in heaven kitchen!

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Ingredients
* Cream - 200 ml
Semi-sweet Chocolate chips - 1/2 cup
Egg yolks - 2 nos
Sugar - 1/2 cup [Increase by a few tablespoons as per your interest]
Vanilla Extract - 2 tsp
* Coffee Espresso - 1/4 cup

For Coffee Espresso -
In 1/4 cup of boiling water, add 1 tablespoon of powdered Coffee Beans and filter it.
Let it rest for a few mins and filter again, if there are any sediments. Make sure to remove any bean residue. If you do not have powdered Coffee Beans, use 1+1/2 teaspoon of Instant Coffee like Nescafe Classic and dissolve in 1/4 cup of hot water. Let it rest and cool for a few minutes before adding it to the rest of the ingredients.

Cooking
1. In a large bowl, add the Egg yolks, 1/4 cup of Sugar, Chocolate chips and 1 teaspoon of Vanilla Extract and place the bowl on a Double Boiler. Keep whisking in order to prevent the Eggs from curdling.
2. Add slowly the Coffee Espresso into the mixture and keep whisking until all the ingredients form a silky and smooth mixture.
3. Remove the bowl from the double-boiler and let it cool down for about 15-20 minutes. 
4. Add cream, remaining 1/4 cup of Sugar and 1 teaspoon of Vanilla Extract to another bowl or Kitchen Aid stand mixer. Whisk using a hand-mixer or the stand mixer until the Cream is whipped to form stiff peaks.
5. Reserve some of the whipped Cream in a piping bag with a tip of your choice to decorate the Mousse.
6. Fold the remaining whipped Cream into the cooled Chocolate mixture carefully. Do not over-mix and deflate the whipped Cream.
7. Spoon the Mousse into small cups and then pipe the reserved whipped Cream onto the top of the Mousse.
7. Refrigerate the cups for 3-4 hours before serving.

Note
I used Coffee beans roasted in Chocolate - a specialty coffee. This was a gift from our friend in Illinois, so am not sure where to get these kind of Coffee beans. You can use a Coffee bean of your choice.
Make sure the Egg yolks, Chocolate chips are at room temperature.
I used Guittard Semi-sweet chocolate chips. So far, I find they taste better for desserts.

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I couldn't dig into these to show you how lovely the Mousse looked as we had to serve these for our guests. But the texture and the pairing makes this one stand out for all those Coffee and Chocolate lovers.

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Cheers,

Mini Pina Colada Trifle

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It's been quite some time since I sat down to catch-up with my photography, writing and blogging. Though I did bake quite some, during the holidays and later, I never got to click or post about them. With the Project release due, all things were left unattended and I did miss the lazy-afternoon's and getting to know my Camera and learn more on photography.

So one day, I kept aside from the busy schedule, just to pick up my Cam and click away. I still have to get to clean my ramshackled house, but for now, my mind is closed to what is happening around. A little bit of me-time. For this post, I got crazy and tried different exposures, lighting and editing of the photographs.

Meanwhile, much has happened, but I don't know where to begin with - but for the time being  I have to talk about my Blogger account being compromised and spam mails sent from my ID. Apologies to all who have been spammed. Inadvertently, I had to lose many mails, Contacts etc.
Sigh.

I thought my password was secure and my accounts were separated etc. But the take-away was that it can never be secure enough on the Internet. 
Thanks to a timely bounced mail, I was made aware of the breach and was able to take control before I lost my account.

And few things I noted after this mishap -
* Always keep your Blogger and personal mail/profiles separate.
* If you are using Twitter and Facebook, be wary of the numerous privacy changes. Change your passwords frequently as both these had been hacked recently and user info had been compromised. More importantly, keep your passwords unique.
* Any personal info like birth day, mobile number is better kept private.
* And finally, one can never be careful enough on the Internet. But we ought to try for the prevention route as much as we can :)


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Ingredients

For Cake
* All Purpose Flour - 1/2 cup
* Corn Starch - 1/2 cup
* Baking powder - 1 tsp
* Salt - a pinch
* Eggs - 4 nos [At room temperature]
* Sugar - 3/4 cup
* Butter - 1/4 cup [melted]
* Vanilla Extract - 2 tsp

For Cream layer
* Heavy Whipping Cream - 200 ml
* Cream Cheese - 4 tbsp [At room temperature]
* Vanilla Extract - 2 tsp
* Sugar - 1/2 cup [increase/decrease as per your interest]

For Fruit layer
* Pineapple [chopped] - 3 cups
* Unsweetened dessicated Coconut Flakes - 4-5 tbsp

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Cooking

For Cake
1. Sift All Purpose Flour, Corn Starch, Salt and Baking powder onto a dry bowl. Keep aside.
2. Line a Cupcake pan with Cupcake baking cups.
3. In a large bowl, add the Eggs, Sugar, Vanilla Extract and beat with a hand-mixer for about 10-15 mins or until pale in color and fluffy in texture.
4. Add the melted Butter [lukewarm temperature] slowly into the beaten Egg mixture. Keep whisking. This constitutes the wet mixture.
5. Add the sifted Flour mixture into the wet mixture. Whisk gently until all the ingredients are incorporated thoroughly. Do not over-beat at this stage.
6. Pour the Cake mixture into the lined Cupcake pan and place in a preheated Oven at 325 Degree Fahrenheit for 20-25 mins.
7. Check the center of the Cupcake to check if it is done with a skewer. If it returns clean without wet dough, it is done.
8. Remove the Cupcake pan from the Oven and let it cool down to room temperature.
9. Once cooled, slice them roughly into bite-size pieces for layering. Keep aside.

For Cream layer
1. In a large bowl, add the Cream Cheese, Sugar and Vanilla extract. Mix well with a whisk.
2. Add the cold Whipping Cream into the Cream Cheese mixture. Using a hand-mixer, whisk for 7-10 mins or until the Cream holds stiff peaks.
3. If needed, transfer the Cream mixture into a piping bag with a tip of your choice.

For Assembly
*  Add the sliced Cake and pineapple pieces. Layer with the Cream and top with the Coconut flakes.
Repeat for another layer as per the serving bowl or glasses used.

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Note
* Unsweetened dessicated Coconut is different from the sweetened variety.
* The bowl and whisk used for whisking Cream should be cold in order to aid in the whipping of the Cream.
* The melted Butter should be lukewarm and the Eggs should be at room temperature in order to avoid curdling.
*  I used Cupcake pans since I was slicing them to add as layer. Any other pans can also be used as per personal preference. But do note to adjust baking time accordingly.

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We loved this dessert served at The Wynn in Las Vegas and it brought back all our buffet memories.

Cheers,

Chocolate Cake layered with Cranberry Sauce and Cream Cheese Frosting

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The Thanksgiving holidays got over "so soon" for us and we are back at our routine. But I have always felt that holidays and vacations are the most tiring days than the routine ones. This time was also no different. 
Our Vegas trip early this month was a good break and we managed to walk about 25 miles around the strip [minimum], slept at 11 pm [may be we were the only ones sleeping at that time], were sober all the time [like the rest of the 365 days of the year] and spent 25 dollars [not a penny less or more] on the slot machines over a period of 4 days. But we did have our kind of fun - stuffing ourselves with food at the buffets, watching the Cirque Du Soleil shows, checking out all the architecture, snapping photos and eat again!
As soon as I came back to rest my feet, we got into the holidays. So after work, I sat and baked this Cake for the Thanksgiving lunch we were invited to, till 3:30 am in the morning when folks in this part of the  world were sleeping. Woke up at 3:30 am the very next day to witness for the first time "Black Friday" shopping and got out the following day for some buffet-time and boating and again some more shopping.
So by Sunday, we both were sleeping through the day..."ZZZ"...

And this Thanksgiving, we are very grateful for God's provisions, sound mental and physical health, our church, being married to each other, family and friends, food, clothes, shelter and being together. I don't think we can thank enough for the kindness, peace and joy, God has blessed us with and we are eternally indebted to him.


And when somebody asks me - "Why" and "How"?


All I have to say is - it rained somewhere in the world, seeds were sown, somebody reaped them, cleaned and packed them. And we are fortunate to earn some, share some and have our daily meals - which we never sowed, reaped or gleaned.

I cannot deny the hand of God in all the provisions.

I used my old recipe for the cake and frosting. The Chocolate lace design, I owe to the lovely blog - Passionate about Baking. I find her Chocolate lace borders very pretty, mine let's just say are "artsy" aka ignoramus-piping.
Also forgive me for the lousy pictures as we just snapped them when we were leaving for the lunch. And hubby-bi simply has to be very punctual, so had to forego all props and angles.

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Ingredients
For Chocolate Cake
* All Purpose Flour - 3/4 cup
* Corn Flour - 1/4 cup
* Baking Powder - 2 tsp
* Salt - 1/4 tsp
* Cocoa powder - 1/4 cup
* Eggs - 7 nos
* Sugar - 1 + 1/2 cups
* Butter - 100 gms [approx 1/2 cup]
* Dark Chocolate squares - 80 gm
* Vanilla Extract - 2 tsp

For Cream Cheese Frosting 
* Cream Cheese - 100 gm [At room temperature]
* Whipping Cream - 1 + 1/2 cups [cold]
* Sugar - 1/2 cup [Increase according to your interest]
* Vanilla Extract - 1 tsp

For Cranberry Sauce
* Cranberry - 200 gms
* Sugar - 3/4 cup [Increase  or Decrease according to the tartness of the Cranberries]
* Brandy - 1 tbsp
* Water - 3/4 cup

For Chocolate Lace
* Chocolate chips - 80 gms
* Milk - 2-3 tbsp [Optional]

Cooking
For Chocolate Cake
1. Sift the Flour, Corn Flour, Salt, Baking powder and Cocoa powder and keep aside. This forms the dry ingredients.
2. Grease and line the pans [I used two 8" inch pans] with parchment paper and preheat the Oven to 350 Degree Fahrenheit.
3. Melt the Butter and Dark chocolate mixture on a double boiler and mix well to form a liquid and let it cool for 5 mins.
4. In a large vessel, add the Eggs and Sugar. Beat with a hand-mixer for about 15-20 mins until enough air is incorporated and it gains a foamy texture [A stand mixer like Kitchen Aid takes lesser time to whip air into the Eggs].
5. Add  the Vanilla Extract and the slightly cooled Dark chocolate and Butter mixture into the beaten Eggs. Beat for 2 mins until everything is mixed well.
6. Add the sifted dry ingredients into the beaten Egg mixture. Fold the ingredients and remove all lumps.
7. Pour the cake mixture into the prepared pans and place the pans into the preheated Oven for about 30-45 mins [the time needs to be adjusted depending on the size of your cake pans]. Insert a toothpick into the center of the cake to check whether it is done.
8. Once done, remove the pans from the Oven and let it rest for 2-3 hours until it cools down completely.

For Cream Cheese Frosting
1. In a large cold vessel, add the Sugar and the cold Whipping Cream and whip for about 5 mins using a hand-mixer until soft peaks form. 
2. At this stage, add the Cream Cheese [at room temperature], Vanilla Extract and whip again for another 2-3 mins until firm peaks form and all the ingredients are mixed well.
3. Let the Cream Cheese frosting rest in the fridge for about 2-3 hrs to firm it further.

For Cranberry Sauce
1. Wash and drain the Cranberries. Pat them dry.
2. In a saucepan, add the Cranberries, Sugar, Brandy and water and mix well. Place the saucepan on Stove on medium-heat for about 10-15 mins and keep stirring.
3. The Cranberries start popping and get soft and mushy. It renders a thick sauce.
4. Filter the mixture through a sieve to get a consistent and thick sauce.

For Assembling
1. Layer the Chocolate Cake [if more layers are needed, you can slit the cake into 2] and brush a thin layer of the Cranberry Sauce. Top it with the frosting and repeat with the remaining layers of Cake.
2. Once layered, cover the top and sides of the Cake with the frosting.
3. Pipe the frosting on the top as per your desire using piping tips of your choice.

For Chocolate Lace
1. Cut a parchment paper with length equivalent to the circumference and width to the height of the cake.
2.  Melt Chocolate of your choice in a double boiler pan or microwave to form a thin liquid mixture. Add 2-3 tablespoons of milk if required.
3. Transfer the melted Chocolate mixture into a piping bag with a small round piping tip [No 3 or No 4 in Wilton piping tips]. Then pipe the Chocolate mixture onto the cut parchment paper as per your interest.
4. After 2-3 mins, when the Chocolate is still flexible, wrap the parchment paper around the sides of the cake with the chocolate lace facing inwards [onto the side of the cake].
5. Refrigerate the Cake for an hour and remove the strip of parchment paper carefully.

The Cake needs to be refrigerated and can be served cold or at room temperature.

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I did some on-the-spot testing for the cake and the frosting while I was making the Cake. But we never got to taste the final product as it was finished by the time we went for Desserts. So I hope to believe it was liked by all the folks who were present :)

Cheers,