Pina Colada Cheesecake

On Sunday we had such fun filled birthday celebrations in Bahamas! Or so I imagined, eating this Pina Colada Cheesecake that really made up for a few misses. Well, almost.2Its been a long time since I baked a cheesecake though there often is a demand for one. As we geared for the birthday in smoldering May, a coconut cheesecake seemed the best choice. A few splashes of rum and a few chunks of pineapple make everyone merry. Did I mention hidden chocolate chips in the rum cream topping? I was ready with the plan.1WP_20160529_08_54_22_ProThough we do get mascarpone here, it’s obscenely priced and I can’t bring myself to bake with an ingredient I wouldn’t be happy buying. Luckily, you can make your own mascarpone at home and that what I do. It tastes far better than the store bought and costs a fraction. Though it takes a bit of planning as making mascarpone at home takes two days, it’s totally worth the time. I suggest you make your own mascarpone and spend that hard earned money on that Ruby woo or Nymphette, or both. Making your own mascarpone can empower you in some ways.WP_20160530_17_50_03_Pro (2).jpgI believed that Pina Colada would be a great flavor to be translated into a cheesecake and I wasn’t wrong because it’s one of the most superlative cheesecakes I have baked, and is decadent at its best. Though I trust my gut feeling while choosing a flavor, it’s the smiles, hugs and kisses which really tell it all.3Homemade Mascarpone Cheese:
(Adapted from here)
Yields around 650 grams cheese

• 1 Liter amul cream (25% fat)
• 2 tablespoons lemon juice

1. Prepare a bain marie  large enough to hold the vessel you are going to pour your cream in. Bring water to simmer.
2. Empty the cream in a large heatproof vessel and place in bain marie. Heat the cream gently till it registers a temperature of 85° C.
3. Add the lemon juice and keep stirring the cream till it thickens and coats the spatula, 3-4 minutes.
4. Take the cream vessel out and cool it to room temperature. Chill cream for up to 24 hours. It will thicken further under refrigeration.
5. Spread layers of clean muslin cloth and empty the thickened cream into it. Hang it inside refrigerator for 24 to drain out whey.
6. Store tightly under refrigeration for up-to a week.

Pina Colada Cheesecake
(Adapted from here)
Makes a 9 inch round cheesecake

Ingredients:
For the Crust
• 6 tablespoons (3/4 stick) unsalted butter, melted, divided
• 3/4 cup digestive biscuits crumbs
• 1/2 cup unsweetened shredded coconut, toasted, cooled
• 1/4 cup sugar

For the filling
• 680 grams cream cheese, room temperature
• 1 ½ cup sugar
• 1/4 cup (1/2 stick) unsalted butter, room temperature
• 3 tablespoons corn flour
• 4 large eggs
• 1 cup canned cream of coconut, unsweetened
• 1/4 cup rum

For the topping
• 400 grams amul cream
• 1/3 cup confectioner’s sugar
• 2 tablespoons rum + a handful of chocolate chips (optional)
• Small chunks of freshly chopped pineapple

Bake the crust:
1. Preheat oven to 176° C. Brush 9-inch-diameter springform cake pan with 2.5-inch-high sides with 1 tablespoon melted butter. Line the pan with parchment paper; lightly brush paper with some of melted butter.
2. To roast coconut, scrape a fresh coconut and roast at 176° C for 7-10 minutes, tossing the coconut regularly till it turns very light golden. Cool and keep aside.
3. Blend crumbs, coconut, sugar, and remaining butter in a medium bowl. Press mixture tightly over bottom of prepared pan. Bake crust until lightly browned at edges, about 10 minutes. Cool. Reduce oven temperature to 150° C

Prepare the filling:
1. Using electric mixer, beat first 4 ingredients in large bowl until blended. Add eggs 1 at a time, beating for a whole minute before adding the next. Beat in cream of coconut and rum.
2. The batter will be thin. Gently pour batter over crust.
3. Place the pan on a big sheet of heavy duty aluminium sheet such that you get over-hangs above the edges. Secure the overhangs to make it a watertight contraption.
4. Place cake pan in large roasting pan. Add enough boiling water to roasting pan to come 1 inch up sides of cake pan.
5. Cover roasting pan with foil and bake cake 1 hour.
6. Remove foil. Bake until cake is pale brown, puffed, and just set in center, about 40 minutes#. Cool cake in water bath 2 hours. Remove from water; run knife around cake to loosen. Chill cake in pan for minimum 6 hours. (Can be made 2 days ahead. Cover and keep chilled.)

#My cake took more than two hours at this step and I almost became impatient. A frantic google search enlightened me by the fact that it was alright to bake as long as the center was jiggling and that the baking time has a lot to do with the temperature inside the oven. Mine being an old equipment, took more than two hours but you really need to keep a check to avoid over-baking. The key is to turn off the oven when its still jiggling in the center and leave it in the water bath inside the oven where it will keep on setting with time.

For the topping:
1. Chill the amul cream at least for six hours. Remove the thickened cream in a bowl and discard the separated water. Add the confectioner’s sugar and beat gently to lighten the cream.
2. Add in the rum and beat once more. Mix in chocolate chips if using.
3. Spread over the cooled cheesecake and decorate with pineapple chunks and cherries.

Eggless Vanilla Cake with Rich Vanilla Buttercream

When I thought that I knew American buttercream like the back of my hand, this happened:

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You see those tiny bubbles in the buttercream? I don’t like them there. Its true that this buttercream still pipes well, tastes divine and is devoured by kids and grown ups alike,  but truth be told, I was a bit disappointed when they appeared. But more than success, its failure that makes us strive to learn further. It urges us to find ways we wouldn’t have otherwise known. So, it was back to reading about bubbles in buttercream. There are many reasons bubbles are formed in the buttercream and I would love to compile them in another post. There is nothing wrong with the buttercream recipe. Its just the technique, a point that I have missed. I would update as soon as I find out.

As for this cake, its an eggless vanilla cake with vanilla buttercream. I bake with eggs all the time, so this one made me push the envelope and the result was a moist cake bursting with vanilla flavor. Dress it up with buttercream or chocolate ganache and sandwich with cream and fruits for celebrations. Or sprinkle it with tutti-fruity if you aren’t feeling too fancy. Either way, this cake will make you happy, and that’s what a good cake is supposed to do.

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Eggless vanilla cake with vanilla buttercream frosting
(I made 2.5 times of the recipe to make a two tier cake)

1.5 cups cake flour
1 tsp baking powder
a pinch of salt
½ cup water
½ cup oil
¾ cup fine sugar
5 tbsp yogurt/curd
1 tbsp white vinegar
½ tsp baking soda
1 tsp vanilla extract
• Preheat the oven to 180 degrees C. Grease and line an 7 inches pan.
• Sift the cake flour with the baking powder. Add a pinch of salt to the sifted flour.
• Add the sugar to the oil and mix well and keep aside.
• Whisk the yogurt till smooth. Add 1 tbsp vinegar. Then add baking soda into the yogurt and stir.
• Now pour the oil-sugar mixture, ½ cup water and the frothing yogurt-vinegar-baking soda into the sieved flour. Add vanilla extract.
• Fold quickly to make a lump free batter, Avoid over-mixing.
• Pour the batter in the prepared pan. Tap the pan a number of times to release the trapped air bubbles.
• Bake at 180 degrees C for 30-35 minutes or till a tooth pick inserted in the cake comes out clean.
• If the cake starts browning too quickly, cover the top with an aluminium foil tent.
• Once baked, let the cake cool at room temperature before frosting.
• The cake can be baked a day before and frosted the next day.

Rich Vanilla Buttercream
(I made 1.5 times of this recipe to fill and frost the two tier cake)
1 cup unsalted butter
3 teaspoon of pure vanilla essence
4 cups of icing sugar
3-4 tablespoons of fresh cream

• Whip the butter till its light and fluffy, for about 2-3 minutes
• Carefully sift the icing sugar over it. It helps to remove any lumps and gives a better texture to the buttercream. It is also important to use fresh icing sugar as it really builds the taste.
• Start adding the cream, one table spoon at a time, and whip it well before adding further. Once the desired consistency is reached, add in the color and whip well before frosting the cake.

Chocolate Oreo Cake

Not so long ago, my pantry turned into an “Oreo and chocolate” storehouse. No, I do not buy cookies or chocolates for my girl, because if I start buying on top of what she already gets from her doting father and our circle of over-indulgent relatives and friends, it will be a crime. It came to a point where I had to put my foot down and evict all those packets from wherever they were in my kitchen. The girl was obviously not happy, and even accused that she never knew I was “that” kind of mamma. But since there is no other option, she has made peace with the truth. Before you scoff at me, let me tell you that she does get her chocolates and Oreos once in a while.  But this time again, I took away a whole packet. Ya I know I am evil. Not because I took away her favorite cookies. But because I made this.6

I was searching for some inspiration to re-new my buttercream recipe when I came across the Oreo version. Oreo Buttercream? Despite my face off with the Oreos, I knew those two words together would mean “Luscious” if they were in dictionary, and a chocolate cake.  I tried a new chocolate cake recipe this time and it turned out to be a keeper. The  cake has intense chocolate flavor, the texture is sturdy and it will be fabulous for layer cakes.

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And just to tell you that the girl was super happy to see her Oreos sitting on top of the cake. She insisted on getting a slice with an Oreo topping. I didn’t feel the need to tell her that Oreo is in every bite in this cake. Whether she eats a slice with or without an Oreo, she is going to enjoy her cookie.

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Chocolate cake with Oreo buttercream frosting:

(Adapted from here)

Yields Two 8-inch round, 2-inch tall cake layers

250 grams self-raising flour

250 grams light brown sugar

50 grams cocoa

250 grams dark chocolate

250 grams butter

4 medium eggs

  • Preheat the oven to 160 degree Celsius. Grease and line 2x 8 inches cake pans
  • Mix the flour, sugar and cocoa together.
  • Melt the chocolate, butter and 200 ml water together over low heat. Then beat this along with the eggs into the dry ingredients.
  • Pour the cake batter into the prepared pans, and bake for approximately 40 mins, until well risen, and a skewer inserted in the middle comes out clean.
  • Transfer to wire racks and allow to cool.

Oreo buttercream:

150 grams Oreo cookies

250g butter

300-400g sifted icing sugar

few drops vanilla extract

1-2 tablespoon light cream

  • Beat the butter until creamy. Then add the icing sugar in small batches and beat well after each addition. Add vanilla and mix well. An electric mixer is really useful here! If you find the mixture a bit dry, add a tablespoon of cream at a time. If the mixture is wet, add a little more icing sugar and whip till the spreading/piping consistency is reached
  • Blitz all the cookies in a food processor. Mix half of the cookie crumbs into the buttercream, and reserve the other half.
  • Spread the butter icing between the two cakes, and over the top of them when sandwiched together. Sprinkle the cookie crumbs generously over the sides and over the top layer. Decorate as desired.

Chocolate cake with peanut butter frosting

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I must have been around 10 years old when my teacher at school demonstrated baking cake in a cooker as part of the SUPW. It was a basic vanilla cake with glazed cherries and tutti frutti and without any frosting. I remember how giggles turned into squeals when the cake was out. We all happily ate the cake baked by “us”. “Was it all? A recipe and a cooker? really? Then it must be the simplest thing in the world!” the child in me thought.

Soon after that incident was my kid sister’s birthday in June, and I offered to bake the cake for the small kids party we had organized that evening. I chose a recipe titled “Steamed chocolate cake” from a decade old”cookbook” that came free with a cooker. With a song in my heart and a whisk in my hand, I mixed the cake batter and kept it to bake.  I was as confident as a magician who was about to turn a handkerchief into a hare under a hat. And when the time was up, I opened the cooker lid, only to find a gooey, chocolaty mess in the pan instead of a cake. What had gone wrong? Was there a Genie inside the cooker who held a grudge against me?  I frantically read and re-read the recipe, trying to figure out if I had missed anything when I noticed that unopened packet of baking powder on the kitchen counter. And that was it. I can never put in words how I felt at that moment but what really broke my heart was the disappointment over my sister’s face and the tears in her eyes. Luckily, my parents had a backup plan that cheered up my kid sister and the party went on as planned. But I could never take that failed cake out of my head. or sight.

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Many birthdays have been celebrated since then and I have been baking cakes for family and friends for quite sometime now. So for my first ever blog post, it had to be a chocolate cake recipe  as a tribute to my first (failed) chocolate cake, and to my sister, who again celebrates her birthday this month. This is one of my favorite chocolate cakes sans any exquisite ingredients. You see, this cake was baked with much love and that is the main ingredient.

Chocolate cake with peanut butter frosting
(Adapted minimally from smittenkitchen.com)

Yields one 9 inches round cake or 16 small cupcakes

6 tablespoons (85 grams) unsalted butter, at room temperature
175 grams firmly packed dark brown sugar
1 large egg
1 large egg yolk
3/4 cup (175 ml) buttermilk
1 teaspoon (5 ml) vanilla extract
1/2 cup dark cocoa powder
1 cup (125 grams) all-purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon table or fine sea salt

• Heat oven to 350°F (176°C). Line the bottom of an 8-inch round cake pan with parchment paper, butter the parchment.
• In a large bowl, beat the butter and sugar until fluffy (~3 mins); scrape down bowl.
• Add the egg, yolk and vanilla and beat until combined, then add the buttermilk and mix again.
• Scrape the bowl down well and don’t worry if the batter looks curdled.
• Place your flour, cocoa, baking soda, baking powder and salt in a sifter and shake it over the batter bowl. Stir on low until just combined; scrape down bowl a final time.
• Pour batter into prepared pan and smooth flat. Bake for 25 to 35 minutes, until a toothpick inserted into the centre comes out clean. Let cool for 10 to 15 minutes in cake pan, then flip out onto rack or serving plate to completely finish cooling before frosting.

Creamy peanut butter frosting:

1 cup confectioners’ sugar
1 cup creamy peanut butter
5 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon table salt
1/3 cup low fat cream

• In a bowl, mix the confectioners’ sugar, peanut butter, butter, vanilla, and salt with an electric mixer fitted with a paddle attachment.
• Mix on medium-low speed until creamy, scraping down the bowl with a rubber spatula.
• Add the cream, one tablespoon at a time and beat on high speed until the mixture is light and smooth.
• Smeared or swirled, it will taste heavenly, on its own and on the cake.