Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Eggless Pina Colada cake - Baking Eggless Challenge

This week's Baking Eggless challenge had us making a rich, fruity cake - a Pina Colada cake. I had heard, of course of the pina colada drink, but I had never heard of the corresponding cake. Pina Colada, apparently means pressed pineapple, because of the fresh pineapple used in the famous cocktail. This beautiful cake was suggested by Meena of Chettinad Fiesta.
When Gayathri of Gayathri's Cook Spot posted the translated version of this recipe, (the originals are all in Polish, I believe) I was a little skeptical. There were quite a few steps and quite a few ingredients required. Although I have baked cakes many times, I haven't baked too many layer cakes. My decorating skills leave much to be desired as well !
But I love the flavors of pineapple and coconut (how could a self respecting south Indian not love coconut ?? ) and I already had a good recipe for a simple yet delicious sponge cake, eggless to boot!
So, I gathered all the ingredients and took the plunge and made the cake almost as specified in the original recipe. Here it goes :


Eggless Pina Colada Cake :

The Sponge Cake : The original recipe made a sponge cake using 7 eggs !!!! There wasnt any way I could replicate that recipe by replacing the eggs. I had however, made this eggless sponge cake quite a few times and felt this would be a good base for the pina colada cake.

1 C unbleached all purpose flour
½ C whole wheat pastry flour
1 C sugar
1 C yogurt
½ tsp baking soda
1 ¼ tsp baking powder
½ C oil
1 tsp vanilla extract

1. Preheat the oven to 350 F.
2. In a bowl, beat the yogurt to remove any lumps, add the sugar and mix well.
3. Add the baking powder and the baking soda and mix again. Set this mixture aside for 5 minutes until tiny bubbles are formed.
4.Add the vanilla extract and mix well.
5. Add the combined flours slowly to the yogurt mixture and mix gently until no dry flour can be seen.
6.Grease a baking pan ( I used a round 8 inch pan). Pour the batter and bake in the preheated oven for about 30 - 35 minutes.
7. Let the cake cool in the pan for about 10 minutes before turning it out onto a wire rack to cool completely.

Pineapple mousse : This mousse is more of a jam type filling made with fresh pineapple and cornstarch. There is no dairy product used in it. I halved the original recipe.


Ingredients :
1 fresh pineapple
1 tbsp cornstarch
2 tbsp sugar (if required)
¼ C pineapple juice or apple juice
¼ tsp ground cardamom (optional)

1. Peel and core the pineapple. Remove as many brown bits from the pineapple as possible.
2.Chop the pineapple into small pieces.
3. Place the chopped pineapple in a thick bottomed pan, along with the juice and the sugar, if using.
4. On medium flame, let the pineapple cook until tender.
5. Dissolve the cornstarch in a little juice or water and add to the pineapple mixture.
6. Cook until thickened.
7. Take of from flame and cool.
8. Mix in the ground cardamom.

Coconut Cream
1 can (400 ml) coconut milk
1 C sugar
¼ C sour cream
½ C ricotta cheese
1 tsp coconut extract

1. Pour the coconut milk in a pot, add the sugar and boil until the mixture thickens to the texture of a syrup. Cool until just warm.
2. Reserve ¼ C of the syrup.
3. Add the extract, sour cream and ricotta cheese to the rest of the coconut syrup until well mixed.
4. Chill in the refrigerator until ready to use.

Assemble the Cake :
1. Cut the cooled cake into two halves, slicing it horizontally, as evenly as possible.
2. Place the lower half on a serving plate. poke small holes gently and pour the reserved coconut syrup all over.
3. Spread a generous layer of pineapple jam over the cake.
4. Then spread about half a cup of the coconut cream mixture gently over the jam.
5. Place the top half of the cake over the bottom layer
6. Use the remaining coconut cream to frost the top and the sides of the cake evenly.
7. Chill the cake in the refrigerator overnight so that the flavors can meld.
8. Decorate the cake with shredded sweetened coconut.
9. Cut into beautiful slices and amaze your family!!

Result :
The resulting cake was definitely unique in its combination of flavors, nothing like I ever had prepared before. If I had to make this again, I would try to get more of the pineapple flavor, maybe by adding crushed pineapple to the cake.
I would also make the cake layers moister by adding glazing it with either simple syrup or pineapple juice.
My children and hubby, however, loved the cake !
If you want to make the cake for a larger crowd, you could double the cake recipe and the coconut cream recipe.

Sunday, October 27, 2013

The Week in Bentos : Oct 21 - Oct 25 2013

Last week was pretty busy. There were several classes that I needed to take my son to, a Halloween party, a Cub Scout event that we had to attend (sans TH) and some preparations for a family trip that we are taking next weekend ! Talk about hectic and this coming week promises to be even more !!

On Monday, LG7 took bowtie pasta in a light tomato sauce, plums and strawberries, a homemade banana mini muffin and some crackers in the silicone cup.

On Tuesday, I packed grilled cheese sandwiches with thinly sliced apples, more apple slices, dried apricots, a cream filled cookie and some cheese crackers.

On Wednesday , I packed LG7's lunch in a two tiered bento box. The lower tier contained a homemade tortilla with peanut butter and strawberry jelly and a banana muffin. The top tier contained apple slices. (Can you tell that my little guy loves aples :)  ? )

On Thursday, I packed Amy's organic and vegetarian cheese ravioli with a couple of picks, an almond butter jelly sandwich half, pretzels and grapes and orange segments.

On Friday, an Easy Lunch Box contained a waffle sandwich made with peanut butter and strawberry preserves, apple slices and grapes and a small treat.

All the lunches were happily eaten and the empty boxes were happily washed :)
Have a fabulous week ahead !

Sunday, October 20, 2013

This Week in Bentos : Oct 14 - Oct 18

This week was similar to last week in terms of the lunches packed. I do need to get inspired for the coming months..Maybe some soups and toasted homemade bread perhaps ? Definitely something slightly heavier in terms of nourishment and preparations containing warm spices such as cinnamon and ginger!
LG7 had a holiday on Oct 14 on the occasion of Columbus we had only 4 school lunches this week.

LG7 had Annie's Organic Mac and Cheese in the food jar and carrots, strawberries, apples and peanut butter filled celery sticks on Tuesday. He ate only the fruits and a couple of spoonfuls of pasta and brought the remaining home uneaten. When questioned rather sternly, he replied that he couldn't finish his lunch because he was busy playing and talking at the lunch table!!  Does this ever happen at your home ?

On Wednesday, I packed banana nutella bites in a whole wheat tortilla, strawberries, steamed and salted edamame and cheese slices.

On Thursday, an EasyLunchBox contained spinach, corn and cheese quesadillas, strawberries and homemade eggless tea cake.

On Friday, I packed cheese toasts made with whole grain bread, apple slices and a treat.

Have a great week ahead !

Thursday, October 17, 2013

Simple Applesauce Cake

I am always on the lookout for nutritious and simple sides that I can send in my son's lunch box. In all my online searches, applesauce came up a lot. Lots of kids seem to enjoy having applesauce in their lunch boxes. Moms all over the country send applesauce regularly, store bought or homemade, in disposable cups and reusable pouches!
So, a few weeks back, I purchased a pack of natural, unsweetened applesauce from our local grocery store. I had my kids try it out at home before sending it to school and wonder of wonders, they didn't like it! So I had 4 boxes of applesauce and nobody to eat it..
I looked up recipes using applesauce and finally chanced upon this one from Martha Stewart.I halved the original recipe and baked it in a square pan instead of in a bundt pan.
I tried it out and it turned out pretty well. Read on for the recipe !


1 C unbleached all purpose flour
½ C whole wheat flour or white whole wheat flour
1 tsp baking soda
½ tsp salt
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1 tsp ground cardamom
½ C butter (1 stick), softened
1 C packed brown sugar
2 Tbs honey
1 flax egg ( 1 Tbs ground flax meal + 3 Tbs water)
1 C applesauce (2 small boxes, if store bought)

1. Preheat the oven to 350 °(350). Whisk together the flours, salt, spices and baking soda in a large bowl.
2. In another bowl, cream the butter, sugar and honey until light and fluffy. Add the flax egg and beat again until thoroughly incorporated. Beat in the applesauce.
3. Add the flour in increments and gently fold in until just combined.
4. Grease an 8 X 8 square pan. Pour the batter in and smooth the top.
5. Bake in the preheated oven for about 45 minutes until toothpick or skewer comes out clean. Check at around 40 minutes to see if the cake is done.
6. Cool in the pan for 5 minutes and then on a wire rack for 10 minutes.
7. Dust with confectioner's sugar if you want and serve it to your family for a satisfactory snack!

This cake had a nice crust and a pretty crumb and tasted well right out of the oven.
My kids and my husband all loved it and I think I will be making it again. The applesauce cake travels well and is a nice addition to the lunch box or the snack box.
I think I might buy more applesauce just to make this cake!

Monday, October 14, 2013

The Week in Bentos : Oct 7 - Oct 11

The weather has definitely turned here in the north of Dallas. Gone are the hot, blistering summers, only to be replaced by cool, cloudy and rainy days..Today is one such day..its been raining since the morning and makes me crave for steaming coffee and spicy snacks!
Last week was pretty tame as far as the lunches that I packed went.
But thankfully, the boxes all came back empty.
Here's what I sent this week.

On Monday, I packed a whole wheat bun with almond butter and nutella. Although I dont think nutella is very healthy because of its sugar content, I do allow it as a treat once in a while. I also included apple slices, carrot slices and bear cookies.

On Tuesday, lunch consisted of bow tie pasta with a quick tomato sauce, apple slices and yogurt covered pretzels.

On Wednesday, LG7 got a grilled cheese sandwich, carrot slices and apple slices. 

On Thursday, an EasyLunchBox held waffle sandwiches with peanut butter and honey, strawberries with a frog pick, chocolate covered almonds, raw almonds and yogurt covered pretzels.

Friday included a plain peanut butter jelly sandwich on whole wheat bread, carrot coins and strawberries with a panda pick.
Today is Columbus day and schools in our district have scheduled parent teacher meetings. Do your children have a holiday today ? What questions do you ask your child's teacher when you go in for a meeting ?
Hope you have a great week ahead !

Monday, October 07, 2013

The Week in Bentos : Sep 30 - Oct 4

This week marked the 10th year since my arrival in the USA ! Its difficult to comprehend how these many years have passed by , seemingly in the blink of an eye! 10 years ago, I was a young single girl, living with roommates, working at a software organization, enjoying the company of my friends and looking forward to visiting my family. A decade later, I am in an entirely different continent, across the proverbial seven seas, married with two children and running my own household! (Also, I am no longer young..unless 35 is the new 25 ;-) )
Needless to say, I have loved every single moment of these 10 years !

Having said that, moving onto the bentos for this week -

On Monday, LG7 had two tortilla rolls with almond butter and apricot jelly. I try and use homemade whole wheat tortillas whenever possible. These, however, are flour tortillas from Costco. I also added black grapes, carrot sticks, kettle corn and yogurt covered pretzels.

On Tuesday, I made Annie's Organic Mac and Cheese, which I packed in the thermos jar. Black grapes and Pirate's Booty cheese puffs, almonds and dried apricots were added to the rectangular Lock and Lock box.

On Wednesday, LG7 took tortillas again (homemade this time) with peanut butter and honey. Can you tell that my son loves nut butters ?  He also got goldfish, sliced apples and grapes.

On Thursday, the lunchbox contained cheese toasts, carrot sticks, apple slices, yogurt covered pretzels and hazelnut mousse in the small container.  Although the picture shows only half a toast, I actually packed 3 such slices.

On Friday, I made tortillas with a cauliflower cheese filling , cantaloupe cubes, goldfish, carrot slices and whole grain crackers with peanut butter.

Overall, this week was a good one as far as lunches went, because the boxes all came back empty. I also know that nothing went into the trash, because LG7 gets back whatever he doesnt eat. He is also doing much better with his water intake. This year onwards, I have started giving him two water bottles everyday. One in his lunch bag and one to keep on his desk so that he can sip water through out the day.
Since drinking sufficient water is so necessary to a healthy body,  I figure its best if he gets into the habit early on!
Have a great week !

Tuesday, October 01, 2013

Eggless Ferrero Rocher Tart - Baking Eggless Challenge

In today's busy and often hectic lifestyle, its not unusual that people tend to stick to certain routines and schedules to make their lives easier. While sticking to particular habits and methods might save you some time and effort, it is also possible that monotony might set in ! I joined the Baking Eggless Group a few months back, just to break a similar monotony in my kitchen and on my blog. The challenges set every month are amazing, the resources available are very helpful and the group members are absolutely awesome !
If you like cooking / baking and are looking to create something new in your kitchen, do join up.
This month's challenge might very well persuade you !
For the month of September, the bakers at Baking Eggless attempted to create the Ferrero Rocher Tart in their kitchens.This recipe was suggested by Priya Srinivasan of Enveetu Kitchen and the original recipe is from Trissalicious. As the name suggests, the star ingredients of this tart are hazelnuts, hazelnut cream / mousse and chocolate. There are several components of this tart and it is a significantly time consuming process.
It is also pretty calorie dense. It will definitely not win in the healthiest dessert competition ;-)
But it is an outstanding dessert and will definitely amaze your family !
Without further ado, here's the recipe !


Tart Base or Crust 
I adapted this recipe from Dishes From My Kitchen and halved the recipe.
3/4 C Cake Flour
6 Tbsp Butter
3 Tbsp Sugar
3 Tbsp Unsweetened Cocoa
a pinch of Salt

1.Process the butter, sugar and salt in a food processor until combined.
2. Add the cocoa powder and pulse until smooth.
3. Then add the flour and pulse until crumbs are formed.
Note: I do not have a food processor, although I have a small chopper. I completed steps 1 and 2 in the chopper, then turned out the mixture onto a big plate and then cut the flour into it in batches.
4. Gather the flour to form a disc and then wrap it up in parchment or wax paper and refrigerate for at least an hour. Mine remained there overnight!
5. When ready, turn out the disc onto a flat surface. You might need to let it thaw just a little bit so that rolling will be easy.
6. To make things easier, place the parchment paper over the disc and then roll until its about 2 mm.
7. Cut out circles that are slightly larger than the tartlett pans or muffin tin that you are using.
8. Place the dough circles into the tins and refrigerate for about an hour.
9. When ready, blind bake the crusts at 350F for 10 minutes and then bake directly for a further 5 minutes.
10. Remove from oven and set aside until cool.

Hazelnut Mousse 
The original recipe for the mousse contained eggs as well as gelatin. While searching for a suitable vegetarian recipe, I came across this one by Tarla Dalal which contained neither.Again, I halved the recipe and was pretty happy with it.

1/2 C chopped chocolate (I used a mixture of milk chocolate and unsweetened )
2 Tbsp milk
6 Tbsp chocolate hazelnut spread (such as Nutella)
1/4 tsp vanilla essence
1/2 Tbsp powdered sugar (you can omit this)
3/4 C whipped cream

1.Combine the chocolate and milk in a microwaveable bowl and heat until the chocolate melts.
2. Add the nutella and mix well.
3. Fold in the whipped cream gently and refrigerate until the mousse sets.
Note: Covering the surface of the mousse directly with cling wrap prevents the unwanted skin from forming!

Chocolate Hazelnut Thing
I referred to the original recipe for this layer. I just scaled it down.
2 Tbsp milk chocolate
2 Tbsp nutella
1/2 Tbsp dark chocolate / semisweet
pinch of salt
1/2 tsp light corn syrup
1 tsp any neutral tasting oil
4 Tbsp crushed caramelized hazelnuts

1. Place all ingredients in a microwave safe bowl and heat until the chocolate melts.
2. Mix thoroughly well and mix in the crushed hazelnuts.
Note: I had to add a tablespoon of cream to get the right texture.

Caramelized Hazelnuts
1/2 C toasted hazelnuts
1/4 C sugar
2 Tbsp water

1. Place the sugar and the water in a heavy bottomed pan and bring to a boil.
2. Add the toasted nust and take off the heat.
3. Mix gently until syrup thickens a little.
4. Return to heat and mix gently until the sugar turns into a golden color.
5. Pour onto a baking tray or a similar surface and cool.


To Assemble :
For making tarts, pipe some hazelnut mousse into the tart shell, then top with the chocolate thing and sprinkle some crushed caramelized nuts.
For verrines (useful if you arent able to get your tarts out of the container :) ) , crush the tart shells into a clear glass, pipe some hazelnut mousse over it, top with the chocolate thing and sprinkle with crushed hazelnuts!

Whew !! That was a pretty lengthy recipe, wasnt it ?It was quite satisfying to get it completed!
Taste wise, it had a very intense chocolate flavor with the buttery taste of the hazelnuts for a complement.
It was, however ,a little too sweet for my tastebuds.That , combined with the fact that this confection is quite high in fat and calories makes the serving size very very tiny!