November 21, 2009

Another Year, Some Sandbakkelser (Almond Cookies), And A Giveaway!

A first birthday is more of an event than a second one is, I agree, but a birthday is a birthday, I say. After all, it's not everyday that one gets to look back and see how far one has come while feeling good about the changes in oneself.
I thought someone, maybe one or two of you, would remember that I've been around here for a just a bit over two years and wish me a happy birthday. If we're getting down to the brass tacks, I am now two years and three weeks old. Yes, my second birthday celebrations are overdue by three weeks!!!
Then again, I guess I am expecting too much when even the lady who writes here seems to have forgotten all about it.

Last birthday, she made a lot of noise about my turning one, and had party with lots of sweet goodies. This year……………….
I'm sorry, the sadness of it all got to me and I couldn't go on. I did some investigating and discovered that all is not yet lost as far as my birthday goes. The lady who writes here hasn't forgotten my birthday, after all. True, I do remember her mentioning it on and off a couple of times, now I come to think of it.

Turns out she was planning a surprise and then before she could get down to it a vacation happened! Flimsy sounding excuse, if you ask me. She didn't forget her vacation, did she now?
Hey, the one and only chance I get to say what I feel here, and SHE's back and taken control! Oh well, I'll let her get on with what she has to say, not that I have a choice…..

Oh, Oh, I'd better get in on this act before it gets out of hand. That's my blog letting off a bit of steam and getting carried away!
True, this blog turned two a couple of weeks ago when I was away on vacation. I had planned to write this post as soon as I got back, but that didn't happen. The flu decided to pay a rather unwelcome visit and then over stayed its welcome (not!).
Now, I couldn't let a birthday here go without mentioning or celebrating it, even though a bit belatedly.

Two years, over 300 posts and more than 200, 000 visitors - these are just statistics. These numbers do not tell of the numerous mails I have received with good words and wishes for my blog. They do not tell of just how closer the world has come to me, with so many of us connecting over good food.

These statistics can never begin to describe the wonderful, helpful and supportive community that I am proud to be a part of. In the past two years, many in this community have become very good friends.
The funny thing is that I have never met most of them, though I hope I can and I will meet them (outside the virtual world) some day.

This blog has ensured that I explored the world of good food a whole lot more than I would ever have if I hadn't started blogging. I must say, it has also given me a voice that I didn't really know I had.
I can now bake a decent loaf of bread, bake and decorate a cake using basic skills. I have to confess that the "macaron" and "French bread" still has me stumped, though I'm sure I will conquer them both some day (I hope!).

Now, birthdays are no fun without food. There is this almost special connection between birthday celebrations and cake. For a change, let's get a bit adventurous and celebrate with some "Sandbakkelser"!

Sandbakkelser (also called Sand Tarts because of the ground almonds, I understand) are small Scandinavian almond cookies or tarts. These are crumbly, hollow almond cookies are baked in 2" fluted sandbakkel tins/ moulds. They are usually served as they are (as cookies) or can be filled with fillings like fruit, whipped cream, etc as for tarts. Whichever way you serve them, they are the perfect bite-sized dessert, though from what I have read about them, it seems these cookies are traditionally a Christmas time treat.

I had bought some small fluted tart tins/ moulds sometime back, thinking they would be got to make tartelettes for appetizers. It now turns out that they are perfect for sandbakkelser!
I also had quie a bit of ground almonds left over from making macarons and this seemed a great way to use that up too.
I used half this recipe from "Petite Sweets: Bite-Size Desserts to Satisfy Every Sweet Tooth" by Beatrice Ojakangas. Below is my halved version, from that recipe. My sandbakkelser are a little different from Ms. Ojakangas' recipe.

The original recipe requires 3/4 stick of butter for the halved recipe. Here I get 100gm slabs of butter so I used 3/4 of that which is a bit less. I didn't blanch my almonds and ground them skin and all so my sandbakkelser are specked with brown.
The original recipe suggests filling the sandbakkelser with berry preserves and whipped cream. My cookies didn't last long enough to be filled with anything!


75gm butter, at room temperature

2/3 cup sugar

1/2 cup blanched almonds, pulverized or ground

1/2 tsp pure almond extract

1/2 a large egg, at room temperature

1 cup all-purpose flour


In a large bowl, cream the butter and sugar until well blended and light. Blend in the almonds, almond extract, and egg. Stir in the flour to form a dough.
Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface and knead briefly until it forms a smooth ball. Add a bit more flour if needed to make a stiff dough. Gather the dough into a ball, wrap, and chill for 30 minutes.

Lightly butter or coat with nonstick spray 2 dozen fluted sandbakkel tins or tart tins. Pinch off parts of the dough and, using your thumb, press into the tart pans to make a thick, even layer.

Place filled tins on a baking sheet for easier handling. Bake at 190C for 12-15 minutes or until the sandbakkelser are golden. Remove from oven and allow them to cool in the tins. To remove the tins, gently tap the tin until the tart comes out.

Serve unfilled (upside down on a serving plate to reveal the impression from the pan), or invert the tart shells so that the cavity is upright. Just before serving, spoon the chocolate mascarpone mousse into the tart shells.
This recipe makes 24 sandbakkelser.

Now to the next, final and perhaps most exciting part of this celebratory post.
Last year, I decided to have an event to celebrate a birthday here. This year, I thought I'd do something different from that.

Variety is always fun and an event means everyone would have to cook something, take pictures, post, link here, e-mail entries……….! And then I would have to go through everything, do a round-up. It seems to me that that's too much work all around.

So this time, I'm going to give away a copy of Petite Sweets: Bite-Size Desserts to Satisfy Every Sweet Tooth by Beatrice Ojakangas (from which the sandbakkelser were made).

That's right, no hard work at all but there's a catch (haven't you all realized that there's always a catch to everything somewhere?).
All you need to do is to leave a comment at this post telling me what you like about this blog. Only one comment per person, please.

I know, I know, it's a very sycophantic thing to do but tell me, honestly, who doesn't like to hear something nice about themselves (That's my blog talking, by the way!) and if this is the one way of doing it………..
Actually, criticism is welcome too, but rudeness shall not be tolerated. Tell me what you don't like about this blog or if there's something you would like to see that is different or improved and maybe I can do something about it, if it is within my scheme of things.
You have till the 30th of November (that's 10 days from today) to leave comments here, after which date I will randomly pick one lucky person who shall take home this lovely book.

All those silent readers who visit this blog, this is open to you too, whether you have a blog or not. So please do come out and have your say and who knows, Lady Luck may be on your side.
I will be happy to send this book anywhere in the world.
Please make sure to enter your email address in the appropriate field so that I can contact you should you win.


Simran said...

Happy Birthday, dear blog! What I love most about you is the simple, easy food presented in such a stunningly beautiful way. Looking forward to another year of lovely food.

Nithya said...


I have been a silent reader and follower of your blog for quite some time now. Its time for me to write to you. First of all CONGRATS dear blog. You have grown up really cute as a pretty girl now :p
The very first impressive thing about your blog is the lovely description that you write every time to let us know how it all started. :) Then just one pic and the one is the best pic concept of yours is damn impressive. Love all your recipes.

Keep it going. will be watching yours constantly as ever. :)


Preethi said...

Happy Birthday dear blog.... You have inspired me to start a blog of my own.... Love your writeups... Your creativity is SUPERB.... All the best...! Looking forward to many such birthdays :)

A_and_N said...

Such a fun post, Aparna! :)

And congratulations and here's to many more recipes from your diverse kitchen. I love, love your blog simply because you have so many different kinds of food and mostly because of you. Thanks for all the recipes and all the efforts shared :)

I posted too, a recipe from your blog!

Cham said...

Many more Delicious Returns to ur lovely space!
How could the owner forget ur Birthday?
I particularly love all ur baking goods... Keep it up - 300 posts in 2 years way to go :)

Sonia said...

Happy Birthday to Diverse Kitchen!!!
I like your place because you always try to cover different recipes from all over the world in one place. And yes, a lot of food blog events too!

Renu said...

happy birthday to your blog!! I can imagine how you must feel ....I am just a 10 month old blogger and feel so attached to my blog :) I am a new reader of your blog, have participated in few events hosted by you. I see you have great variety of dishes ....would love to try one by one !
Good luck !

Asha @ FSK said...

HAPPY BIRTHDAY TO Dear Aparna's Blooggg

This is awesome!!! We are both co-hosting milestones with giveaway.. such love ;-)))...

OK what do I like about your blog - your thoughtful recipes with beautifully written posts to go with it !!! :)

Wish you many many many more returns of the day!! ;-)))

Avanika [YumsiliciousBakes] said...

Happy Birthday to your dear blog! :) Congratulations on 2 amazing years!

About the blog - I would say my favorite thing would me how you bake amazing Indian traditional recipes along with the usual western ones! A perfect balance :)

jayasree said...

Happy B'day to MDK. Loved the intro very much.
I like the prelude to the recipes in each post. True to the blog name, I like the diversity of the recipes posted here.

Wishing you many more happy years of blogging.

DEESHA said...

Happy Birthday to your blog. I love your space.

PJ said...

Happy B'day baby blog!May you and your lovely mom continue to shower goodies in the culinary world!!Wishing you both many many many more happy years of blogging...

vegeyum said...

Happy birthday, dear beautiful blog. I am looking forward to many many more years (and recipes).

roma said...

hearty congratulations! I am a regular reader of your blog and love your creations. Keep at it, May the force be with you!

Priya Narasimhan said...

If I had known that your b'day is round the corner and there is a giveway too, i would have reserved the comment which I made sometime back in one of your posts where I said, "I have adopted you as my eggless baking guru." :-) I love your blog, your writing style, presentation of the recipes, everything is an inspiration..Happy blog anniversary.

Ivy said...

Happy blogoversary Aparna and may you post for many more years. Your cookies sound delicious.

Priya said...

Congrats Aparna, Wishing you many many happy new years, cookies sound yummy and fantastic..

Senritsu said...

Happy Birthday!

I like the variety of vegetarian recipes - many things I'd never heard of before as well as some new recipes for ones I have. Thanks for the great blog!

Parita said...

Happy Birthday to your blog aparna! Wish you many more wonderful years ahead! Its always a pleasure to read your post. Almond cookies look gorgeous and i perosnally loved the moulds, do you mind sharing from where you got such lovely moulds?

Nags said...

i absolutely love the way you stay true to the name of this blog and bring out so many diverse dishes. you have crumpets and rolls and yeasted breads and iyer recipes and what not. that's awesome :)

Madhuli said...

woah..its raining almonds everywhere!They look very cute..Love your simple and easy style of writing..and your do-able (at least for me) recipes..also since you blog from India I can see familier ingredients in most of your recipes!love your post..congrats and Best luck!

Jamie said...

Happy Happy Birthday and don't listen to that blog voice! You needed that vacation and this celebration - fabulous cookies and a great giveaway are perfect as they are! I still haven't done my 1 year giveaway and months have passed!

Happy Birthday and that is one great cookbook (that I hope to win)!

Curry Leaf said...

Happy B'Day MDK.Wishing you many many more years of decorative posts filled with cakes,bakes and curries by 'the lady who writes here'.Better late than never,so its fine atleast she's surprised you. My lady has forgotten the first b'day itself and am now almost 1.5 years(tears) So see the brighter part she is giving a fantastic book and I am sure my lady will love it and let me tell you something - she comes here to check for the latest bakes of your lady and drools at the pics of your latest post.But ofcourse she also love other recipes and has tried few of them as well.Bakes are the first craze and the posts supply the necessary information that fire the imagination.Truly diverse you are MDK..
OOPS,Aparna it was my blog talking to MDK -I think it has released all the pentup anger against me for being lazy and forgetful

LOL,The book is droolworthy and may the lucky person win.

Tejal said...

For me a blog is like a person, I just accept them for who they are and how they are...its a reflection of them as a person...ditto for your blog..I love reading your blog and enjoy making the recipes that tempt me, or more importantly whose ingredients are there in my sparse kitchen..i do admire your baking skill..hope to get to that level someday..

And Happy Birthday to your blog! (in case it feels bad about me not saying to word to it)

Y said...

Awww don't you just hate it when the most important person in your life forgets about your birthday ;) Happy blog birthday! Those cookies look fantastic. I just got the book too, and will have to check out the recipe some time.

lata raja said...

Ooh hoo! that was real steam let off! How could the lady who manages forget???
Happy birthday MY DIVERSE KITCHEN! wishing you belated but wish you many more to come by.
after all she did celebrate with lovely treats, didn't she?

Sumi said...

Well As usual I came to get o to some baking recipes to bake for the weeked.Yes I love all your baking post.YOu rock as a baker.

Wishing Divers Kitchen many may happy returns , and looking forward to many more intersting posts on baking

Happy cook said...

See i know after 1 year they all get taken granted so dear blog don't be sad it happens to us too :-)
Happy B'day and wishing you many more delicious years.
Well now did you ask about critisisme, well were should I start ;-)
Hi hi kidinglove your blog.
I also would like to see Non Veg recipes but then i know you are vegetarian so i can't ask you to do that.
Enjoy the b'day.

Clumbsy Cookie said...

What do I like about this blog? Are you kidding me? Lol! I like the fact that YOU write it ahahahah! Happy birthday by the way!!!
You know how I love gooey cookies and those sort of things, but truth is simple crumbly cookies like these are up there with my favourites too! Love the shapes.
About your question on my blog about the cake with the bread dough: I think the Abin5 works just fine.

♥♥♥Ria♥♥♥ said...

Dear Bloggie,

Belated Birthday wishes to you! Hope you had a day of pampering and lots of food ;)

I am sure you would remember my angry comment on one of your posts, but you got back to me (and not sound angry at all! ) and tried to explain where and how I could have gone wrong! And it was just few days ago that I re-tried the same recipe and you know how we all loved it! :)It was really really goood! YAY!

I admire you for all the time and effort you have put in for your amazing space! I sincerely hope that you may have many many more to come!


munnudi said...

Happy Belated Birthday! I have to say yours might be the only eggless cheesecakes I have found, and will be trying all of them on Thanksgiving, wish me luck :)

Sharmila said...

Happy b'day to dear Diverse Kitchen! You have done a great job with it Aparna. :-)

Sunshinemom said...

We should have discussed that one when we met, isn't it? But then, there was so much to catch up on! My favourite part of the blog is the voice of the "lady behind the pom". The food is great and so is the tone. Ah, yes!! Eureka:D. It is the tone that I love because it eggs me to go further and read the recipe!!

Veggie Belly said...

Thanks for a great giveaway! You have an awesome blog, been following you for a while. I'd love to see a new header here :)

Srivalli said...

Aparna, many many happy returns of the day to your wonderful blog!...ehm you want to know what I think abt your blog??.ok you asked for it, so don't feel bad reading my comment.

I like the way you write the post, the beautiful pictures and the efforts you take to present such stories that are wonderful to read. I love reading, so enjoy my chance at reading stories along with pretty pictures and what not!..Now how can you be so mean not to pass on my wishes to your dear how well your bloggie lets you share your love to the world!..But I think your bloggie is much cooler now that you have given it a surprise..:))

Here's wishing you many more years! And you got me drooling with your cookies!

Lorraine @ Not Quite Nigella said...

Beautiful work Aparna and a big congratulations on your first blog anniversary! I'm sure it is the first of many! :D

Sarah said...

I LOVE all your bread recipes, they are so inspirational! You got me to pick up so many unique flours too, love it! Happy birthday!

Shri said...

The cookies look amazing...I like the patterns!Happy anniversary to you blog..

I love reading your write ups..You have wonderful writing skills!!There are blogs out there that I envy for their writing skills and you are one of them!

jayasri said...

Happy Birthday dear blog, I love you for lots of reasons and makes me come back all the time!!, right from the lady who started you, with a brief notes on the dishes, dished out from this diverse kitchen so true to it's name, I wonder and always amazed how she collects her recipes with every nook and corner of the world and the write-ups are so good, makes the reader go through, and such yummy looking clicks, The best part I appreciate here is somewhere in India, getting ingredients or utensils may be very difficult but, she tries to bring out the best you can never picture, very experimenting I would say.., but something more is the lady herself is so warm and giving and helps you in your thoughts and encourages you to the core, bless her and her blog, she is my mentor in so many ways.
The almond cookies are amazing that's BM too!!, see you here many more years with some amazing recipes!!

Anonymous said...

Hi Aparna,

Hey congrats on completing 2 good years blogging. You keep to the blog name "diversity in cooking". The best part I like about your cooking style is the various substitutes you give for the dishes which use egg, gelatin etc. I have seen for various daring bakers challenge and other events you come up with easy home substitutes for pure vegetarians. I like your writing style and good presentation style.

I hope you dont mind a suggestion (if you like .. the photography part could be better. I liked the recent stir fried yard long bean photo , the onion rings and of course the photo which got selected for one of the click events. The clarity, the presentation, the light looked better in these photos.

Anyway it does take a lot of effort to put things together which itself is the best.

Thanks for the wonderful recipes and stories you share with us

Anu, pune

P.S. you gave me the confidence for baking in convection microwave:)

Suzana said...

Happy Birthday, My Diverse Kitchen! Tell the lady who writes here, she does a very nice work. That's one of the reasons why I enjoy coming here, and read her words and recipes. Another reason is a bit more personal. I can't help feeling a link between our two countries... Even if we have a world apart!

Aparna, I wish you all the best for the next tw...enty years with the blog, and I'll remember you (as I always do) when I have lunch tomorrow at Cachemira. ;)


Cakelaw said...

Congrats on your second blog-o-versary Aparna! It certainly demonstrates passion for food to keep cooking and blogging two years on. Your almond biscuits are very cute!

What I like about your blog is your willingness to try so many different recipes that are outside the sphere of what is typical in India, and where necessary, share your creativity in coming up with innovative substitutes for locally unavailable utensils or ingredients. Your creativity is inspiring.

yamini said...

I poppped in on your blog today to take a look at the cannoli recipe, and after that, spent some time looking through the other posts. i love the layout, the write-up that accompanies each post and the photographs - and of course, the wealth of recipes that you have here.

on that note, wishing your blog a very happy 2nd birthday :) and the very best for many more birthdays to come!!

[p.s. my blog is at - pls do drop in sometime :)]

Indimoney said...

Happy birthday dear MDKitchen. Aparna, I'm a silent reader of your blog. Your recipes and photos are awesome. Keep up the good work.

prathee.chandar at gmail dot com

Shabs.. said...

Happy Birthday to you Diverse kitchen. Ever since I have discovered your blog, I have become a follower and an ultimate fan of your blog. Dint visit the blog for few weeks, so was going thru all the missed post and reached here!!Oh, Lucky me.

What I love most on your blog is:
1- The Excellent photogrpahy, i love the theme of all ur pics, the contrast, the setup, and the lightning all...They are awesome.# 2- I love how you put ur recipes in different categories...the one with pics that read 'On my menu'.
3- Even though iam not a great fan of reading, i read almost all your write-ups,cos they are very informative and u present it in a nice way.
4- But I just thought the colour of the blog (pink)and the border (brown) somehow dint match enough??...That's just my view....

RJ Flamingo said...

Well, Happy Birthday! I've been behind in everything recently, including my visiting, so apologies for the late wishes. :-)

I love your blog because you do everything so well! Also, although I'm not vegetarian, I do keep kosher, and I know I can use all of your recipes without hesitation. Thank you for being there, my friend. :-)

Soma said...

Congrats and Happy Birthday to Diverse Kitchen. Aparna you have a beautiful blog. Here is to many more years and many more wonderful recipes.

sra said...

Hey, Aparna, I missed this post, hadn't come back from my trip yet. Happy 2nd birthday to a beautiful blog, great writing, documentation of tradition and clever substitutions - pl don't include me in the drawing because I won't use this book anyway.

The Cooking Ninja said...

Happy 2nd Birthday!

Hope you have a blast and looking forward to reading more posts.

arundati said...

seems like i came really late tot he party, but what a way to celebrate... yours really is a diverse kitchen aparna... i've always admired the dedication you have to post varied recipes...and that each writeup has your personality stamped on it... you've never tried to copy anyone or anything... i love that... congratulations and more power to you... keep up the lovely work

Aparna said...

Thank you all for all the suggestions and the lovely things you said here.
Best birthday this blog has ever had! :D