It was my birthday yesterday. I know I really ought to wait for everyone to wish and graciously accept the wishes, but how could you all wish me if you didn't know about it?
I had a great day filled with calls and wishes from family and friends which ended up as long conversations, catching up on all that had happened since the last time we had talked!
I must confess that I spent a lot of time talking and got very little done during the day, but then it's not everyday that one celebrates a birthday. It was also unexpected to have my friendly Tweeple, sending their best wishes including one who virtually sang her wishes to me. (You know who you are!).
I know it's the done thing to celebrate birthdays with cake. Traditionally in India, we celebrate birthdays with payasam which is a sort of sweet milk/ coconut milk based dessert. I made payasam but decided to break the rules a bit and so there was no cake!
I usually make cake for everyone's birthday here, and somehow didn't feel like making one for mine.
So there was no cake, but there was chocolate and for me chocolate is better than cake! For one thing I'm really not overly fond of cake, and another I cannot imagine how anyone could celebrate without chocolate.
I had some home-made mascarpone cheese in the fridge, so I made some chocolate mascarpone mousse. I have to say that it's the best chocolate mousse I have ever eaten. It was finger-licking good.
Do you need any more proof of this other than my telling you that my husband was licking the mousse off his spoon and I'm surprised that there wasn't a hole in the bowl from the spoon scraping of the bottom of it?
Or that my daughter who usually asks (and she likes chocolate), "Why is it always chocolate here?" told me "This is chocolate mousse! Please make more of that mascarpone stuff, I like it!"?
I'm very sorry that I have built up the suspense this far, only to tell you that I'm not posting that dessert today!
The chocolate mascarpone mousse was my variation on an element in this month's Daring Baker challenge. So it must stay under the wraps till reveal date later the weekend, so please drop by then.
But this is my birthday post and that calls for something sweet, so let me present another dessert I made last weekend with some of that same home-made mascarpone.
Why home-made mascarpone?
There are many ingredients and food items used in baking and desserts which are easily available in many countries but not here in India, and mascarpone is one of them. Mascarpone is so easy to make if you have cream and lemon juice as Deeba pointed out to me.
There are any number of sources on the net telling one how to make it. Heat the cream, add the lemon juice, stir it some, leave it to drain it overnight in the fridge and ta-daaaa! You've got yourself some thick, creamy gorgeous cheese.
Now back to that dessert.
It's one of those desserts that can be done ahead of time and are very easy to make. I was inspired by these parfaits from My Recipes and though mine don't look as pretty they were good.
I halved the recipe, used sweeter apples and added some spice with cinnamon and garam masala. This recipe is supposed to make 3 servings (and my glasses are small even though they don't seem so in the picture), but I found a single serving pretty filling so you could consider using slightly smaller glasses and making 4 servings instead.
Here's my version.
1/2 tbsp butter
3 apples (cored, peeled and sliced =approx. 2 cups) +1 tbsp lemon juice
2 tbsp golden raisins
1/4 cup packed brown sugar (reduce if apples are very sweet)
2 tbsp water
1/2 tsp grated dried ginger
1/2 tsp garam masala
1/4 tsp cinnamon powder
1/2 cup low fat crumbled paneer (or cottage cheese if you can find it)
1/2 cup mascarpone (I made mine with 25% fat cream)
2 tbsp white sugar
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
In a pan, melt the butter. Add the apples with the lemon juice, raisins, brown sugar and water. Mix well and bring to a boil. Turn down the heat and simmer the mixture till the apple is cooked, soft and almost dry.
Use your spoon to break up the apple pieces a bit while they're cooking.
Add the ginger, garam masala and cinnamon powders and mix well. Cook for another minute and take the pan off the heat. Allow the mixture to cool.
In the meanwhile, run the crumbled paneer (or cottage cheese) with the sugar in your processor or mixer/ blender jar until it is smooth. Add the mascarpone and vanilla extract and run everything together just till very smooth.
To assemble the parfaits, take three glasses and put in about 2 tbsp of the apple mixture into each. Cover this with about 2 tbsp of the cheese mixture. Again layer another 2 tbsp of apple mixture and top with the remaining cheese mixture.
You can use a spoon to layer the cheese mixture or pipe it using a pastry tip. Chill the parfaits for at least 3 hours.
Decorate with grated chocolate or nut brittle and serve.
This recipe makes 3 parfaits.