May 29, 2013

An Eggless Prinsesstårta (Swedish Princess Cake) : Daring Bakers Challenge May, 2013

dainty looking pale green cake with pink roses on top would perhaps be the perfect cake to serve a princess or maybe 3 princesses? That’s what a Swedish teacher once made for three princesses who were here students, and therein lays the story of the Swedish Prinsesstårta or the Princess Cake.
Korena of Korena in the Kitchen was our May Daring Bakers’ host and she delighted us with this beautiful Swedish Prinsesstårta! This post was due a couple of days back, but I was away and just got back. I had made this cake quite early in the month, and it was such a good cake that there was no way I was going to miss posting it, even though a bit late.


I had seen a Princess Cake way back, in the days when I used to have the time to regularly read my favourite blogs. I also remember thinking it looked very pretty but was too much work for me to attempt it. A traditional Swedish Prinsesstårta is dome-shaped and made up layers of sponge cake which are sandwiched with raspberry jam and thick vanilla custard and topped with a dome shaped layer of whipped cream. This is then topped with one more layer of cake and covered with a pale green coloured marzipan layer and decorated with a marzipan rose. Sometimes the cake is then dusted with powdered/ icing sugar.
The Prinsesstårta is credited to a Swedish home economics teacher called Jenny Åkerström, who taught the daughters of the then Swedish king, Prince Carl, Duke of Västergötla.  The three sisters, Margaretha, Märtha, and Astrid were supposed to have been very fond of this cake.
There is also a story that Ms. Åkerström originally made three very elaborate “princess cake”, a different one for each princess, and the Prinsesstårta as we know it is a simplified combination of all three. The recipe for this Princess Cake first appeared in print in Jenny Åkerström’s 4 volume coobook series, the "Prinsessornas Kokbok".

So why is the cake green? No one seems to know why, and that still remains a mystery. Perhaps the princesses liked green, or maybe it was their teacher’s favourite colour. Or maybe, just maybe, green was the only colour Ms. Åkerström had on hand to mix into her marzipan! Whatever the reason for that, the green does make for a very unusual looking and striking cake, and it’s the perfect background for the rose that sits on top.
The cake was originally called “Gron tarta” (green cake), but was given the name “Prinsesstårta” or “Prinsessakakku” or “Princess Cake” because the princesses were said to have been especially fond of the cake. Today, the Prinsesstårta is popular in Finland as well as Sweden, so much so that they have dedicated a whole week in September to celebrate Prinsesstårta Week!
And with good reason – this is a delicious cake! The sponge cake is as soft as a feather and despite all the whipped cream and custard, it is very light and not too sweet. The cake may seem too difficult and time consuming to make, as I first thought, but it is catually bnot too difficult to do, especially with a bit of planning.
You can even break down making the various components of the cake on different days and then put them all together on the day you would like to serve it.
We had to create a dome-shaped cake in the spirit of a traditional Prinsesstårta with layers of sponge cake, jam, custard, a mound of whipped cream, and a final layer of sponge cake, covered with marzipan or any other rolledcovering like fondant.

Here’s a good video to watch that shows how a Prinsesstårta is made, and another one that details how to make marzipan roses. The most common variations are the Hallonprinsesstårta, or raspberry Prinsesstårta, made with custard, whipped cream flavoured with raspberry jam, whole raspberries, and topped with pink marzipan.
Then there is the Karl-Gustav tårta, made with custard, sliced banana, a chocolate-covered meringue disc replacing the middle layer of cake, and covered with yellow marzipan.
And finally the Williamtårta, made with custard, poached pear, whipped cream, topped with marzipan, covered with a shiny chocolate glaze, and garnished with toasted sliced almonds.

A typical Prinsesstårta is made as shown in the crosssection below, though some have variations of these. 
1 - Marzipan, 2 - Sponge cake, 3 - Whipped cream, 4 - Crème Patisserie/ Vanilla Custard, 5 - Sponge cake. 6 - Crème Patisserie/ Vanilla Custard, 7 - Raspberry jam, 8 - Sponge cake
Please see Korena’s Prinsesstårta for detailed instructions and the original challengerecipe. I decided to make the original green version with the pink rose on top, and followed her instructions to put together my Prinsesstårta but decided to create an eggless version of the original. So I used an eggless sponge cake, eggless vanilla custard, and an eggless marzipan that I made at home.  
 I used my eggless sponge cake recipe to make the sponge cake required for this recipe. I baked it in an 8” round cake tin, and gave me three perfect layers. The recipe for the Eggless Crème Patisserie/ Vanilla Custard is given below. Here in India, we get only 25% fat cream, and we’ve been having a very hot summer so I decided to stabilize my cream with cornstarch. You can also stabilize it with agar 

 I do not get readymade marzipan here, and home-made is always better anyways. I made an eggless cashew marzipan but instead of powdering the cashewnuts, I soaked them in hot water for 4 hours, drained the water and then ground them into a fine paste. I then cooked them into marzipan using my regular recipe.
I used 2cups of broken cashews to make my marzipan and I had more than enough to cover my 8” cake as well as make three roses and lots of leaves, with a little more left over. The excess marzipan can be refrigerated for later use.

 The finished Prinsesstårta should be refrigerated until serving, preferably the same day. It keeps well for one more day, but after that, tends to lose its structure and look messy though it will still taste pretty good. My cake was big enough to serve about 10.
Eggless Crème Patisserie (Vanilla Custard)


1 1/2 cups milk
3 tbsp vanilla custard powder
4 tbsp sugar


Dissolve the custard powder in 1/4 cup of milk in a small bowl and keep aside. Put the remaining milk and sugar in a pan and bring to a boil. Turn down the heat. Mix the cusrad powder-milk mixture id the custard powder has settled down at the bottom and slowly add it to the simmering milk, while stirring constantly.
Keep stirring it constantly so that no lumps are formed, until the custard thickens well. Turn off the heat and let it cool, stirring occasionally to prevent a skin from forming. Transfer to a bowl, cover and refrigerate till required. 
Some tips that made my Prinsesstårta an easier experience.

1.       Always remember to line the base of your cake tin with buttered parchment paper while making a sponge cake. This helps for easy removal of the cake from the tin.

2.      It helps to make the sponge cake a day ahead and refrigerate it before cutting it into 3 layers. Overnight refrigeration made it easier to handle and cut my sponge cake into three layers.

3.      The same goes for the custard. Spreading chilled custard on the cake meant that it wasn’t spilling over the sides of the cake.

4.      Filling the custard into a piping bag and piping it out into a layer makes for even thickness of the custard layer as well as an even edge to the layer.

5.      I also found it easier to handle the whipped cream after stabilizing it and then piping it onto the cake in a mound. This also meant I could shape the cream mound better and faster into a very even dome shape.
You can stabilize cream with agar or cornstarch.

6.      Gel food colour is the best to colour marzipan as liquid food colour can add moisture to the marzipan making it sticky.

I used liquid colour as that’s what I had. Just knead more icing sugar into the marzipan to make it easier to handle.

7.      If you live in hotter tropical climates like mine, it is an excellent idea to keep returning the cake to the fridge during assembly any time you feel the cake can do with it, especially during the shaping of the whipped cream layer and when covering with the marzipan.
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May 24, 2013

We Knead To Bake #5 : Bialys (Chewy Rolls Topped With Caramelised Onions)

ast month’s bake for this group was a sweet one so I thought it would be a good change to make something savoury for this month so I picked Bialys from my to-bake list. The Bialy (pronounced bee-AH-lee) maybe thought of as a cousin to a Bagel but is quite different from it. For one thing, a Bialy is baked whereas a Bagel is boiled and then baked.

A Bialy is round with a depressed middle, not a hole, and typically filled with cooked onions and sometimes poppy seeds. So it is not shiny on the outside with largish puffy bubbles on the inside. A good BIlay should have a springy soft crumb and a chewy and floury crust. A lot of people slather Bialys with butter or cream cheese but the best way (in my opinion) is to eat them as they are. Bialys are best when eaten within 5 to 6 hours of making them.

The name Bialy comes from Bialystocker Kuchen which translates as “bread from Bialystok” which is in Poland. Apparently, Bialys are rarely seen or made in Bialystock these days (I wouldn’t know if this was a fact and I’m going by hearsay). In the days when there used to be Bialys in Bialystock, it seems the rich Jews ate Bialys with their meals, while the Bialys were the whole meal for the poorer Jews.
In the early 1900s, many Eastern Europeans, including the Polish, immigrated to the US and settled down in New York. Naturally, they also brought their Bialy making skills with them and that is how the New York Bialy became famous.

What lends Bialys their signature chewiness is the use of flour that is high in gluten. So to make Bialys, use bread flour if you can find it. Otherwise use all-purpose flour and add 1 tbsp vital wheat gluten (for the 3 cups). If like me, you can find neither bread flour nor vital wheat gluten, go ahead and make it with plain flour. You’ll still have very nice Bialys that are slightly softer, that’s all.

One way to make them slightly chewier is to refrigerate the dough overnight after the first rise. The next day, take the dough out and keep it at room temperature for about half an hour. Then shape the rolls and proceed with the recipe. These Bialys are on the softer side so do not over bake them or they will dry out and become tough.
Bialys usually have a thin layer of caramelised onions and poppy seeds. I decided to use only onions, and then lots of it. I also made one batch with some crumbled paneer too. Being Indian and having been brought up on spices in my food, I also added some garam masala to spice up my filling. You can use whatever filling you would like. Remember the filling needs to be savoury.

This video is shows a pretty good demonstration on making Bialys and here's one that tells you how to eat one, if you'd like to take a look!Here are a couple of videos, if you want them.
(Adapted from King Arthur Flour)


For the dough:

1 teaspoon instant yeast
1 tbsp sugar
1 1/4 cup warm water
3 cups all-purpose flour (use bread flour if you can find it or all-purpose flour + 1 tbsp vital wheat gluten)
1 tsp salt
Milk for brushing the dough 

For the Onion Filling:

1 tbsp oil
3 medium onions, finely chopped
1 1/2 tsp cumin seeds
3/4 tsp garam masala
Salt to taste
100gm paneer, crumbled (optional)


Make the dough first. If you are using bread flour or vital wheat gluten, then your dough will be tougher to knead so if you have a machine you can use, I would say go ahead and use it. Me, I always take the easier way out provided I get good results. If you’re doing this by hand, just adapt the instructions to that.
Put the yeast, sugar, salt and flour in the food processor bowl. Pulse a couple of times to mix and then add the warm water in a steady stream. Knead until the dough comes together as a mass and then let the dough rest for 10 minutes. This will help the dough absorb water. Knead again, adding a little more water or flour (not too much) if you need it, until your dough is smooth and elastic but not sticky.
Shape it into a ball and put it in a well-oiled bowl, turning the dough till it is well coated. Cover and let it rise till about double. This should take about 2 hours. If you’re not making the Bialys right away, you can refrigerate the dough overnight at this point. When ready to make them, keep the dough at room temperature for about half an hour and then proceed with the rest of the recipe. 
In the meanwhile, make the filling. Heat the oil in a pan, and add the cumin seeds. When the crackle, add the onions, and sauté over low to medium heat. Sprinkle a little salt and continue sautéing until they become soft and turn golden brown in colour. Add the garam masala and stir well. Keep the caramelised onions aside to cool.
Sprinkle your work surface lightly with flour and place the dough on it. Divide it into 8 equal pieces and shape each one into a roll by flattening it and then pinching the ends together to form a smooth ball. (See this video for shaping rolls, if necessary) Place the rolls on a lightly greased baking sheet and cover them with a towel. Let them rise for about one hour (about  1 1/2 to 2 hours for refrigerated dough)  till pressing with a finger on the top leaves a dent. 
Work on one piece at a time, while you keep the others covered so they don’t dry out. When the rolls are ready, pick them up one at a time and using your fingers, form the depression in the middle. Hold the roll like a steering wheel with your thumbs in the middle and your fingers around the edges. Pinch the dough between your thumb and fingers, rotating as you go and gradually making the depression wider without actually poking a hole through. 
Remember not to press on the edges, or they will flatten out. Once shaped, you should have a depression about 3” in diameter with 1” of puffy dough around the edge, so your Bialy should be about 4” to 5” in diameter. Prick the centre of the Bialy with a fork so the centre doesn’t rise when baking. 
Place the shaped dough on a parchment lined (or greased) baking tray leaving about 2 inches space between them. Place the caramelised onion filling in the depressions of each Bialy. Brush the outer dough circle with milk. If you’re using crumbled paneer, add it to the Bialys in the last 5 minutes of baking or it will get burnt.
Bake the Bialys at 230C (450F) for about 15 minutes till they’re golden brown in colour. Cool them on a rack. Serve slightly warm or at room temperature. I found that the Bialys keep well in an airtight container for a day or two and just need to be warmed up slightly before serving. This recipe makes 8 largish Bialys.
 These Bialys are being YeastSpotted too.

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May 20, 2013

Easy Banana Bread Pudding

here are very few people who don’t like some kind of dessert and there are some who would happily have dessert for lunch or dinner if it’s something they really like. However too much of a good thing can be bad a lot of the time, especially when it comes to dessert!
So I’ve tried to create some sort of balance between the good and bad of desserts whereby we do have dessert often enough not to miss it and that’s a good thing, but not so often that that it becomes a bad thing, if you get where I’m going. The way I do this is by making dessert for our Sundays because it’s the one day that everyone is at home and has the time to enjoy not only breakfast, lunch and dinner but also dessert.

That doesn’t mean that we don’t have the occasional dessert on weekdays or that we have dessert every Sunday, and there are always exceptions to the rule. I also tend to make easy and simple desserts that focus on low fat and low added sugar while trying to incorporate as much seasonal fruit into them as I can.
Most weeks I plan what I’m making so I have the whole business well in hand. But every once in a while, it just happens that it is Saturday evening or Sunday morning and I’m still wondering what to make. Last Sunday morning found me in such a situation, and this time I had to plan a dessert around a couple of ingredients because I had a large loaf of sandwich bread and 4 very ripe bananas, that needed to be used up.

The most obvious thing to make was bread pudding which I’m not very fond of unless it is this one, and my daughter will do her best to avoid. However, we generally of the opinion that bananas can generally make quite a few desserts better, so bread and banana pudding it was to be.

This bread pudding requires no butter or oil (except 1 tsp to panfry the raisins and cashewnuts). Also the use of bananas means that one can cut down the sugar a bit, especially if you can find really sweet bananas.  It’s a recipe that’s so easy to put together, and you can make it early in the day and just warm it up before serving.

I used sandwich bread because that’s what I had, but if you have any leftover challah or brioche you should use that instead for a much better tasting bread pudding.
I used the sweet green variety of bananas that we get here called “Robusta”, which I believe is a cultivar of the Cavendish. So if you’re using smaller bananas, go with your intuition and use 4, 5 or 6 bananas instead.
You could also try flavouring your bread pudding with cardamom instead of vanilla for really nice bread pudding. Adding some chocolate chips would also be an interesting thing to do.

Serve this pudding warm with some unsweetened cream, vanilla custard or ice-cream.
Easy Banana Bread Pudding

1 tsp butter + a little more for the baking dish
1/4 cup chopped cashewnuts
1/4 cup raisins
1 egg
1/2 cup sugar
 1 tsp vanilla extract
 1/4 tsp salt
2 1/4 cups milk
10 slices medium sized day old sandwich bread cut into 1 1/2" pieces
3 ripe bananas, sliced into 1” thick rounds


Heat the butter in a small pan and add the raisin. Over low to medium heat, pan-fry the raisins till they plump up. Remove them to a plate and add the cashewnuts. Pan-fry them till they turn a light golden and add them to the raisins with any butter that’s in the pan. Keep aside.
Whisk together the egg, vanilla, salt, the sugar and the milk, in a big bowl, until combined.  Add the bread cubes, bananas, raisins and cashewnuts and toss them gently so they’re well coated with the liquid. Do not let the bread break up or you will have a mushy pudding. 
Transfer the mixture to a buttered 11” by 7” baking dish and set aside for about 10 minutes so the bread absorbs the liquid. Gently stir the mixture once after about 5 minutes.
Bake at 170C (325F) for 30 to 45 minutes until the bread pudding is golden brown on top and a skewer pushed into the centre comes out clean. Take the bread pudding out and let it cool for about 15 minutes before serving. Serve it warm as it is or with cream, vanilla custard or ice-cream.. This recipe serves 6.
This Banana Bread Pudding is being YeastSpotted!
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May 12, 2013

Leek, Potato and Carrot Soup / Potage Bonne Femme (The Good Woman’s Soup)!

oups and I, we’re just not very good friends. At the worst, we tend to give each other a very wide berth, and the best we try to tolerate each other as best as we can. I like to think of myself as a reasonably good cook but when it comes to soups, I’m cannot say so with any confidence.
I’m really not a lover of soup and for some reason my experiences with soup making haven’t always been the best. In fact, my daughter will get a worried look on her face if I mention I’m making soup and will ask if there’s anything else she could have for dinner! That’s just in case my soup for the day does not turn out right.


However there are days when the stars are aligned just right and the “Soup Gods” up there smile favourably at me and there’s no way my soup could be anything but good and the hero of this post, my “Leek, Potato and Carrot Soup”, otherwise known as the “Potage Bonne Femme” is definitely one of them.
I made this sometime back when leeks were in season, and they were everywhere at my local market, pale and almost white with a growth of white beard/ moustache-like roots and one end, and almost fish tail-like arrangement of deep green leaves at the other. A sort of almost overgrown, spring onions-on-hormones sort of vegetable, I thought when they first made an appearance at the market a couple of years back.


Not being able to resist the green freshness of this vegetable, and then finding out that they weren’t expensive at all, unlike a lot of the more “exotic” variety if vegetable and fruit which keep tempting me on my market trips, I triumphantly took home a bunch of these leeks. Only to sit down and wonder what I was supposed to cook with them, since leeks are not a vegetable I grew up with.
I did remember seeing recipes for Leek and Potato Soup somewhere on the net, so I went hunting for it. After a little searching, I came across a version which included carrots. A little more digging and I found this was apparently a classic and traditional French country soup called the “Potage Bonne Femme” or “The Good Woman’s Soup” though some refer to it as the “Housewife’s Soup”!
Leave out the carrots and make a soup with just leeks and potatoes and you have a Potage Parmentier. Make a leek and potato soup enriched with cream and serve it chilled and you have a Vichyssoise.

I couldn’t find any information on why this soup was called a “Good Woman’s Soup”. Was it meant only for good women, or was it cooked only by good women or perhaps a good soup for women? If anyone knows I’d be glad to hear how this soup came about its name. I will however tell you that it is a soup that’s good not just for women, but also for men and children.
The beauty of this soup is in its simplicity and all it needs in terms of seasoning is salt and crushed black pepper, but I couldn’t resist adding a little powdered cumin which I felt was just perfect. Creamy, thick and filling yet light, a Potage Bonne Femme is typically served with a simple parsley garnish.

 And just one more thing; I’ve never grown leeks but I understand that leeks can be very dirty and require a bit of meticulous cleaning. I say I “understand” because for some reason, the leeks I get my local market are always extremely clean.
Apparently, leeks are grown such that a large part of the lower part is under the soil so that the part of it under the soil is paler in colour and very tender. This means that the soil tends to get into every bit of the leek that it can. Check this article for tips on how to clean leeks without too much of an effort.
Leek, Potato and Carrot Soup / Potage Bonne Femme
1 tbsp butter
1 tbsp olive oil
2 leeks
1 onion, chopped
1 tsp cumin powder

1/4 tsp chilli powder/ chilli flakes (according to taste)
1 tsp salt
3 cups water
1 cup milk (or water if you prefer)
4 medium to large sized potatoes, peeled and cubed
2 medium sized carrots, peeled and sliced
Freshly crushed black pepper, to taste
More salt, if needed, to taste
Trim the roots and the top part of the leaves of the leeks.  Make sure the leeks are washed well, as they can have dirt inside. Chop them up.
In a largish pan, heat the butter and oil together. This gives you the flavour of butter without it burning. Add the onions and sauté them till they turn soft and translucent. Add the leeks and sauté till they turn soft.
Add the potatoes and carrots and sauté for a couple of minutes and then add the chilli and cumin powders. Stir in for about a minute and then add the water and 1 tsp of salt. Bring to a boil, and then turn down the heat. Cover the pan and let it simmer until the potatoes and carrots are cooked well. This should take about 15 to 20 minutes.
Turn off the heat and let it cool a bit. The transfer in two batches to your blender and purée it till smooth. If you are not serving the soup right away, you can refrigerate the soup. This soup will keep refrigerated for a couple of days, but do not add the milk to it if you’re planning to refrigerate it.
Otherwise, return the soup back to the pan and put it back on the stove top. Re-heat gently (do not boil) and add the milk or water (as much of the 1 cup you need, or all of it) to thin the soup to desired consistency and season with a little more salt and crushed pepper according to taste. This is a thick and creamy soup.
Serve hot garnished with cream (or grated cheese), parsley or chives, and bread on the side. This recipe serves 3 to 4.
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May 7, 2013

Custard Apple (Ramphal) Fool With Ginger-Lemongrass Syrup and Mangoes & The Winners Of The Basilur Tea Giveaway……

or a very long time, I knew the “Sitaphal” was Custard Apple because that’s what we call the fruit in India. That was until I discovered that the rest of the world it Sugar Apple (Annona squamosa) and not Custard Apple!
So then what is the real Custard Apple? It turns out that we have that in India too, and it’s known as “Ramphal”! This one also belongs to the Annona family of fruits (Annona reticulata) and also known in various other parts of the world as wild-sweetsop, bull's heart, etc. There’s also yet another variety of the Annona family that’s native to Latin America (Annona cherimola) which is known as the Cherimola or Cherimoya.

As a child, I had only seen the “usurper” Custard Apple (Sitaphal), but the last couple of years I have been seeing the “real” Custard Apple (Ramphal) at muy local market.
For those of you who are still confused between the two like I was, Sitaphal is green in colour and has a bumpy exterior while the Ramphal is brown or yellowish, sometimes with red highlights and comparatively smoother on the outside.
Sitaphal tends to be rounder/ squatter, apple-like in shape while Ramphal tends to be more“heart” shaped which probably gives it the “bull’s heart” moniker.

There are slight differences on the inside too. Sitaphal tends to have individual small lobules of seed enclosed flesh clumped together in the fruit while Ramphal is just a fleshy mass and fewer seeds. While both are soft and custardy in texture and taste, I personally find the Sitaphal tastier but the Ramphal is easier to convert to pulp as it has less seeds.

Of course, both fruits tend to appear at the market around the same time of the year, and are best eaten scooped out as they are, fresh and chilled. However, there are always ways to turn them into desserts where they still shine through. The Custard Apple (the real one and the usurper) is excellent to use as fruit mousse or in similar preparations given their naturally custard like property.

I decided to make mine into “Fool” and serve that with a lemongrass-ginger syrup and fresh mangoes for a light summertime dessert. Add some crushed cookies and you have a perfect dessert.
Custard Apple (Ramphal) Fool With Ginger-Lemongrass Syrup and Mangoes


For the fool:

2 large Custard Apples
200ml chilled cream (25% fat) 

For the syrup:

1 1/2" piece of fresh ginger
1 stick of fresh lemongrass
1 cup sugar
1 1/2 cup water
1 tbsp fresh lime juice
zest from 1 lime
2 mangoes (cubed) and some crushed gingernut cookies, to serve


First make the syrup.
Peel and slice the ginger into thin pieces. Crush the lemongrass with the handle of your knife and then cut into pieces. Put the sugar and the water in a pan and over medium heat, stir it till the sugar dissolves. Then bring it to a boil, turn down the heat and add the ginger, lemongrass and lemon zest.
Let this simmer for about 8 to 10 minutes, till it reduces a little and thickens slightly into a syrup. Stir in the lemon juice, bring to a boil and take the pan off the heat.
Let the syrup cool completely. Strain out the solids and refrigerate till required.

To make the Fool, cut the Custard Apples and scoop out the flesh. Press through a sieve to remove the seeds. In a bowl, whip the chilled cream till stiff. I didn’t add any sugar because my Custard Apple pulp was sweet enough and the ginger-lemongrass syrup would add more sweetness later. But you can add fine sugar to the cream while whipping it, if you desire. Gently, fold in the Custard Apple pulp till blended.
To serve, divide the chopped mangoes between four glasses, keeping aside a little for garnishing. Pour in a couple of tablespoons of the ginger-lemongrass syrup into each glass, over the mangoes.
Now divide the Custard Apple Fool between the four glasses. Crumble gingernut cookies over this and top with the reserved mango pieces. Serve with more syrup on the side.
This recipe serves 4.

And its time to announce the winners of the Basilur Tea Giveaway. My sincere apologies for taking so long to do this, so I won’t take any longer to do this. The three lucky winners of a pack of Basilur Tea each are Shailaja, Divya Shivaraman and Prerna Sinha. Congratulations, and hope you enjoy your little gift of exotic tea.
Please e-mail me your mailing addresses within this week. If I don’t hear from you in this time, I will have to pick a new set of winners for the tea.

Update (15th May, 2013) : Since Ms. Prerna Sinha did not respond with her address, I have now randomly chosen another winner for the Basilur Tea giveaway. Congratulations Archana Gunjikar Potdar.
Do let me know where I can send you your gift.

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May 3, 2013

Chocolate From The Cocoa Trees : A Review

hocolate! That’s a word that is music to the ears of many I know, including myself. As I have said, I have rarely met a chocolate I don’t like unless it is filled with liquor or its too sweet. I know there some people who will wave away a chocolate without a second thought and I like to believe they’re in the minority. I don’t know who said “There are four basic food groups: milk chocolate, dark chocolate, white chocolate, and chocolate truffles", but there’s no doubt that person was most definitely addicted to chocolate!
People who have loved chocolate with a passion have been moved enough by it to make remarks which have gone down in history as memorable quotes. Take a look, and this is just the tip of the iceberg!

“The greatest tragedies were written by the Greeks and Shakespeare...neither knew chocolate.”
Sandra Boynton

“Strength is the capacity to break a Hershey bar into four pieces with your bare hands - and then eat just one of the pieces.” Judith Viorst

"Anything is good if it's made of chocolate." Jo Brand

"There's nothing better than a good friend, except a good friend with chocolate." ― Linda Grayson

"Chocolate is a perfect food, as wholesome as it is delicious, a beneficent restorer of exhausted power. It is the best friend of those engaged in literary pursuits."― Baron Justus von Liebig

"Make a list of important things to do today. At the top of your list, put "eat chocolate." Now, you'll get at least one thing done today." ― Gina Hayes

"The 12-step chocoholics program: Never be more than 12 steps away from chocolate!" ― Terry Moore

"God gave the angels wings, and he gave humans chocolate." – Anonymous

"If you are not feeling well, if you have not slept, chocolate will revive you. But you have no chocolate! I think of that again and again! My dear, how will you ever manage?" ― Marquise de Sévigné

So when someone from The Cocoa Trees got in touch with me asking if I’d like to review some of their range of imported chocolates, I said I would. As Charles M Schultz (of Peanuts fame) said, “A little chocolate now and then doesn’t hurt”!
As it happens, The Cocoa Trees has an outlet at Magsons Hymart (Caculo Mall Complex) here at Panaji, Goa so next thing I knew, someone from there was at my door with a small hamper of assorted chocolate from their store.
They sent me Hawaiian Host Chocolate Covered Macadamia Nuts, Hazelnut Milk Chocolate XXL Pastille from Droste Holland, Cherry Truffines (Cherry Flavoured Chocolate Bonbons) from The Belgian Chocolate Group, Belgian Dark Chocolate With Orange Pieces (76% Cocoa) from Chocolatier Duc d’O of Belgium, Dark Chocolate from Anthon Berg of Denmark, and Belgian Chocolate Thins from Jules Destrooper Belgium.

Dark Chocolate from Anthon Berg of Denmark
Hawaiian Host Chocolate Covered Macadamia Nuts
Belgian Chocolate Thins from Jules Destrooper Belgium
Cherry Truffines (Cherry Flavoured Chocolate Bonbons) from The Belgian Chocolate Group

Belgian Dark Chocolate With Orange Pieces (76% Cocoa) from Chocolatier Duc d’O of Belgium
Hazelnut Milk Chocolate XXL Pastille from Droste Holland

Since there was no liquor chocolate in that lot, I have only nice things to say about the chocolate. Of course, I had a definite preference for some over the others.
My daughter liked the Milk Chocolate Pastille because she loves the hazelnut-milk chocolate combination. Everyone loved the contrast of the biscuit crunch contrast and the chocolate smoothness of the Belgian Chocolate Thins.  These came in a variety of biscuits covered with milk, dar and white chocolates.
I like dark chocolate because it is not too sweet, so the Dark Chocolate, both plain and with orange pieces, were nice though the one with orange had an somewhat bitter after taste which was expected.
There’s definitely something to satisfy everyone’s chocolate preference in the collection at Cocoa Trees. So if you like chocolate and if you’re ever in Goa, you know there’s one place you might want to add to your list of “must see” places here.
The Cocoa Trees is a Singapore based chocolate boutique store that stocks and sells a wide variety of fine chocolates from well-known international chocolate companies, and they’re now in India too.

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