Our lives today bear a resemblance to science-fiction thrillers with Coronavirus lockdowns having us confined to our homes a la The Quiet Place, I am Legend and 28 Days Later. Home, for now, has become our world—the old-fashioned way. As the confinement continues, we’re getting hungrier to find ways to ‘kill boredom'. Cooking in such times is a natural escape—it offers a sense of comfort and anchors everyone.
Desserts, in particular, have the innate power to add a sense of overall wellbeing. To help you get by these tumultuous times, we bring you some of our favourite recipes from the CEO and Founder of The Chocolate Spoon Company, Rachel Goenka’s book, Adventures with Mithai. Each of these recipes uses classic techniques and familiar ingredients. But it is flavour combinations that will take you on a sweet ride down nostalgia. Get ready to share these sweet treats with all at home or else simply consider them as treat from you to yourself:
Kala Khatta Sorbet Recipe
“I have fond memories of kala khatta chuskis that would stain my tongue a vibrant purple. This sorbet is my tribute to that childhood memory,” writes Goenka, the Founder and CEO of The Chocolate Spoon Company, which owns and operates award-winning restaurants across Mumbai and Pune, including The Sassy Spoon, House of Mandarin, Wicked China and Baraza Bars & Bites.
500 ml water
500 ml kala khatta syrup
40 gms castor sugar
100 gms liquid glucose
1 tsp black salt
1/4 tsp black pepper powder
20 ml lemon juice
Chaat masala, to taste
1. In a saucepan, combine water with liquid glucose and sugar. Bring the mixture to a boil, then remove the saucepan from the heat and allow it to cool completely.
2. Add the kala khatta syrup, lemon juice, black pepper and black salt and mix well.
3. Remove the saucepan from the heat and cool the mixture over an ice bath. Cover with plastic cling wrap and refrigerate overnight. Also, place the ice cream machine bowl in the freezer overnight.
4. Churn the mixture on the following day in an ice cream machine till your sorbet sets. If you don’t have an ice cream machine, you can hand-churn (explained below) till it sets.
5. Serve once the sorbet is firm, with a pinch of chaat masala.
Filter Coffee Truffles
Makes: 12 pieces
110 gms South Indian coffee powder
110 gms filter coffee powder, finely ground
140 ml decoction
140 gms dark chocolate
90 gms dark chocolate
60 g cocoa powder
1. To get that authentic south Indian coffee flavour, you will need a filter coffee percolator. Add the coffee powder in the upper chamber of the percolator and pack or tamp it. Fill boiling water till the maximum water line in the upper chamber and let the coffee brew and drip into the lower chamber. Preferably, leave it overnight.
2. Melt the dark chocolate over a double boiler till smooth.
3. Combine 140 ml coffee decoction and the ground coffee powder with the melted dark chocolate.
4. Mix well and chill in the fridge for 30 to 40 minutes or till the ganache is pliable and can be rolled.
5. Measure 15 gms pieces of ganache, roll into balls and set on a baking sheet. Chill in the freezer for 15 to 20 minutes. (This ganache will be extremely wet since it contains a large amount of water, so it is important to freeze it so that the chocolate balls set properly.)
6. For the coating, melt 90 gms dark chocolate over a double boiler till smooth.
7. Using a toothpick or skewer, dip the ganache balls into the melted chocolate and coat evenly. Tap to remove excess chocolate. Chill in the fridge till set. Before serving roll the truffles in cocoa powder. These truffles can be stored in the fridge for up to three days.
Bitter Chocolate Nap Naang
“A black rice pudding from Nagaland, my version of Nap Naang is made with dark chocolate to keep it super healthy. You can even skip the sugar!” says Goenka.
120 gms Black rice
200 ml water
500 ml milk
100 gms sugar (optional)
120 gms dark chocolate
1/2 tsp cardamom powder
Whipped cream, for garnish
1. Wash the black rice a few times and soak it overnight in water.
2. Drain the rice and cook it in a pressure cooker in 200 ml water for four or five whistles. Release the pressure from the cooker.
3. Transfer the rice to a medium-sized saucepan and add milk, sugar and cardamom. Simmer for 10 minutes.
4. Meanwhile, melt the dark chocolate over a double boiler.
5. Add the rice mix to the melted chocolate. Pour the rice and chocolate into glasses or any bowl you choose to set the pudding in.
6. Once cool, refrigerate for three to four hours. Serve garnished with whipped cream.
Gajar Ka Halwa Cake
According to Goenka, this gajar ka halwa cake is “a modern spin on a slow-cooked Indian classic.” The cream cheese cuts through the halwa’s heaviness creating a dessert that’s both light and luscious, she writes in her book.
750 gms carrots, peeled and grated
20 gms ghee
750 ml milk
12 tbsp castor sugar
2 tsp cardamom powder
3 tbsp butter
1.4 kg leftover gajar ka halwa
1.2 kg flour
60 gms baking powder
10 gms salt
256 gms castor sugar
1.5 litres whole milk
224 ml vegetable oil
2 tbsp vanilla essence
1 kg Philadelphia cream cheese
500 gms unsalted butter
500 gms icing sugar
1 tsp cardamom powder
2 tbsp vanilla essence
1. To make the gajar ka halwa, take half the ghee in a large, heavy-bottomed pan. Make sure your pan is wide enough.
2. Add the grated carrots and cook. Keep stirring and cooking till the water from the carrots evaporates.
3. Add the milk, sugar and the remaining ghee. Cook until all the milk is absorbed by the carrots. The carrots should be soft but still, have a slight bite. This adds texture to the cake and keeps it moist. Add the cardamom powder and butter, and mix.
4. To make the sponge cake, preheat the oven to 175°C and grease two round baking tins (seven-inch and four-inch) and keep aside.
5. In a bowl, mix the flour, baking powder, salt and sugar.
6. Add milk, oil, vanilla essence and mix until everything comes together. Do not overmix the batter.
7. Fold in the cooled gajar ka halwa till well mixed.
8. Pour the batter into both greased cake tins and fill about half or three-fourths of the pans. Bake for about 50 minutes to one hour.
9. The centre of the cakes should be firm and a toothpick should come out clean when inserted. Allow them to cool down completely on a wire rack.
10. Prepare the frosting while the cakes are cooling. In a bowl beat the cream cheese, butter and icing sugar till softened and blended. Add the vanilla essence and cardamom powder, and mix well.
Rasmalai Ice Cream
250 ml kesar rasmalai milk
750 gms heavy cream
200 gms castor sugar
100 gms milk powder
12 gms cornflour
10 strands of saffron
100 ml milk
15 pcs kesar rasmalai
1. In a heavy-bottomed saucepan, combine the rasmalai milk, cream, sugar, milk powder and saffron.
2. Once the mixture comes to a boil, take it off the heat.
3. In another saucepan, warm 100 ml of milk and pour it over the cornflour. Mix until smooth.
4. Combine both mixtures in a saucepan and heat, stirring gently until the mixture coats the back of a wooden spoon. When you run your finger down the middle of the coated spoon, the mixture should hold its shape.
5. Cool the mixture over an ice bath. Cover with plastic cling wrap and refrigerate overnight. Also, place the ice cream machine bowl in the freezer overnight.
6. Churn the mixture on the following day in an ice cream machine till your ice cream thickens. If you don’t have an ice cream machine, you can hand-churn (explained at the bottom) till it sets.
7. Serve the ice cream with kesar rasmalai, either whole or cut into pieces.
How to hand churn ice
1. If you don’t have an ice cream machine, start by filling a large bowl about halfway with ice. Stir in ¾ cup rock salt.
2. Nestle a smaller bowl in the ice, burying it as much as possible. Fill the smaller bowl halfway with ice cream base (use at most 2 cups of mix).
3. Using a hand mixer, beat the mix for 10 minutes. Partially cover the bowl with a towel to prevent spattering. The mix should get very cold to the touch, although it will probably not start transforming into actual ice cream.
4. After you have beaten and chilled the mix for about 10 minutes, cover with a towel and place the entire set of nested bowls—large and small—in the freezer. Freeze for 45 minutes.
5. Remove the bowls from the freezer. Draw a spoon across the top of the ice cream mix. It’s probably the consistency of loose pudding, especially on top.
6. Mix again with the hand mixer for five minutes. At this point, the mixture should be the texture of soft-serve ice cream.
7. Remove the small bowl from the large bowl, and cover the top with plastic wrap touching the surface of the ice cream. Freeze for an additional two hours, or overnight.
Lead creative by Vartika Pahuja