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Eggless Saffron Cookies (Nan Khatai)

8 Nov

In the introduction to my last recipe post (Eggplant Raita) you learnt about my love for Diwali and my zeal for recreating the Diwali spirit in the US by cooking up a storm. This recipe is a new addition to my repertoire of Diwali worthy dishes this year.

As a child, my favorite food memory of Diwali was the assortment of Indian sweets and cookies that could be found in every household. I fondly remember, the Nan Khatais(Eggless Saffron Cookies) that my mother bought form a local bakery to serve our guest during Diwali time. Since they were always store-bought I assumed that it would be too complicated to make them at home. Then I found this easy Nan Khatai recipe on the Moonsoon Spice website, and with a few minor modifications I was able to recreate a childhood favorite in less than thirty minutes.

I urge you to make and serve these sweet, crispy and flaky cookies to your guests with a warm cup or tea or coffee and you will automatically earn the title of “host/hostess with the mostess”.

Eggless Saffron Cookies (Nan Khatai)

Recipe: Adapted from Mosoon Spice’ Saffron Nan Khatai Recipe
Yield: 18-20
Time: Active: 12 minutes Inactive: 14-16 minutes

Ingredients:
1 stick (1/2 cup) salted butter, melted (See note)
1 tablespoon ghee/Indian clarified butter, melted
½ cup + 2 tablespoons of fine granulated or caster sugar
¼-½ teaspoon of saffron mixed in 1 tablespoon of warm milk
1 ½ cups All-purpose flour, sifted
1/8 teaspoon of baking soda
6 green cardamoms, crushed, peeled and powdered
¼ teaspoon of ground nutmeg
¼ teaspoon of cinnamon, powdered
Small pinch of salt (See note)
Few cashews or de-shelled pistachios for topping (Optional)

Note:

  • These cookies are traditionally made in ghee. If you want to make them the traditional way, substitute the 1 stick of butter with ½ cup of ghee.
  • Ghee can be found at any Indian, Pakistani or Bangladeshi store or ordered online.
  • If you are making these cookies with butter and only have access to salted butter, then do not add the pinch of salt. You may also need to increase the sugar content by 1-2 tablespoons per your taste if you are using salted butter.
  • These cookies can be stored in an air-tight container, in a cool, dry place for upto a week.

Method:
1) Preheat the oven to 350 degree F (180 degree C). Line a baking sheet with parchment paper or aluminum foil and set aside. If using foil, then lightly spray the baking sheet with cooking/baking spray.
2) In a large mixing bowl, add the butter, ghee, sugar and milk with the dissolved saffron and mix well, till the sugar and ghee are incorporated well.
3) Now add the flour, baking soda, cardamom, nutmeg, cinnamon and the pinch of salt to the above mixture. Mix everything well until it forms one large dough ball. If the dough is too dry or crumbly add a teaspoon of milk at a time to help the dough bind together.
4) Make small rounds from the dough – just a little smaller than a golf ball. Line each of these on the baking tray, leaving enough space between each of them. Press a cashew or pistachio onto of each ball.
5) Place the baking sheet in the middle rack of the oven and bake for 13-16 minutes until the cookies are a light golden color. The cookies that come out are soft, but they harden once they cool. Don’t overbake these cookies as they will then become too hard after they cool.
6) Serve these cookies with a cup of tea of coffee or a cold glass of milk.

CHEWY, FUDGY NUTELLA BROWNIES

18 Sep

“All you need is love. But a little chocolate now and then doesn’t hurt.” – Charles M. Schulz

This was the very reason why I signed up for Le 15 Patisserie’s Chocolate Lover’s class in the beginning of this year. I had been away from my husband for a month and wanted to do something really special for him when I returned to the US, just in time for Valentine’s Day. I know the way to my man’s heart is through his stomach, specifically if it’s a decadent chocolate dessert.

The class was led by Pooja Dhingra, Owner and Executive Chef of Le 15 Patisserie. She went over several pertinent baking tips and techniques, while covering five scrumptious chocolate based dessert recipes. This class was really a turning point in my culinary life as it awakened in me a new-found love for baking. I have always been an ardent cook but baking desserts was not really my forte. Till last year my repertoire of baking included experimenting different variations of boxed brownies, cookies and cake mixes. The thought of measuring every ingredient and baking from scratch was rather daunting and required more patience than I possessed.  Pooja’s class inspired me to start baking from scratch and along the way I have discovered that baking is a very de-stressing activity.

Post the Chocolate Lover’s class, I called my husband gushing about my plans to start baking regularly. He was overjoyed and ensured that I would not change my mind by gifting me a Kitchen Aid Stand Mixer (a baker’s best friend) for Valentine’s Day. And so began the last few months of my baking experiments.  

Of the five chocolate recipes shared in the class, the Nutella brownie recipe was my favorite. It marries together Nutella and chewy brownies – a sinful combination!  Using lesser flour and using baking chocolate (instead of just cocoa powder), creates brownies that are both chewy and fudgy. While dark chocolate and hazelnut spread are the dominant flavors in this recipe the addition of white chocolate adds a remarkable creaminess to the texture of these brownies.

After working on these brownies a few times, I have made a few minor modifications to the recipe shared in the class.

Chewy, Fudgy Nutella Brownies

Recipe adapted for Le 15 Patisserie’s Chocolate Lover’s Class
Yields: 20-25 brownies, depending on the size of your baking pan

 Ingredients:

170 grams (1 ½ sticks) of room temperature unsalted butter
150 grams dark chocolate (Recommended Ghirardelli 60% Cacao Baking chocolate)
85 grams of white chocolate
3 tablespoons Dutch processed cocoa powder
350 grams (1 ¾ cups) granulated sugar
3 large eggs at room temperature
1 ½ teaspoon pure vanilla extract
170 grams (1/2 cup) all-purpose flour
¼ tsp baking powder
¼ tsp table salt (ONLY if you are using unsalted butter)
75 grams (3/4 cup) roasted and chopped hazelnuts
3 tablespoons of Nutella (or more if you want a lot of Nutella)

Notes:

  • In some countries where only salted butter is available, eliminate the salt from the ingredients.
  • You can use walnuts in place of roasted hazelnuts.
  • Never melt the chocolate directly on the stove top as it will scorch. Always use a hot water bath (double boiler) to melt the chocolate.
  • Chewy and fudgy brownies do not break while being cut if refrigerated for 1-2 hours before cutting them.

1) Preheat the oven to 160°C (320°F). Grease and flour a 9” or 10” square baking dish and set aside.
2) Over a hot bath, melt together the butter, dark and white chocolate and cocoa powder. Use a whisk to keep stirring this constantly. Once melted, set aside till this mixture cools a little.
3) Whisk together the eggs and sugar until light and fluffy.
4) Sift together the flour, baking powder and salt (if using it).
5) Slowly pour the melted chocolate mixture over the egg mixture and lightly whisk it together. Be careful not to over mix.
6) Use a spatula to slowly fold in dry ingredients, followed by ¾ cup of the hazelnuts.
7) Spread this mixture into the greased baking pan.
8) Bake for 30-40 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean. It takes about 35 minutes in my oven.
9) Set aside the brownies to cool in the baking pan. After the brownies have cooled down, generously spread them with Nutella.
10) Place the brownies in the fridge and let them chill for 1-2 hours. Once the brownies are chilled and firm, cut them into 2 inch squares.
11) Enjoy these brownies with some vanilla bean ice-cream or a cold glass of milk!

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