Agar agar ; Ramadan Sweet

We call it sanja and the packets says it’s agar agar and now gelatine bars.
Whatever it’s called it tastes so good and looks colorful. It cooks very fast and sets with no refrigeration.
Here is how you do it basically.

Ingredients
1 pack agar agar
4 cups water
Sugar as required
Preferred color

Directions

1. Boil water in a pan.
2. Add agar agar and cook over a medium flame.
3  Add sugar when the mixture starts thickening slightly.
4. Once the mixture thickens add preferred color and pour on a flat tray.
5. Keep it covered and away from insects until it sets.
6. Once it sets cut into squares and serve.

Refrigeration is required when keeping more than a day.
Store different colors separately in different boxes.

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Thats my sanja 🙂

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Thats the raw sanja or agar agar.

Here are a few Ideas to make them look more beautiful and fun –

1. Add nuts and fruits to uncoloured sanja or agar agar. The will look yummy and lovely.

2. Add some sweetened condensed milk instead of sugar for a heavy texture and more enhanced sweetness.

3. Cut into different shapes to serve for kids parties.

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Red velvet cupcakes

Did I just give this post the heading red velvet cupcake?
Ooops yea.
I’ve never imagined myself to be addicted to red velvet cupcakes.
The sound red velvet gives me a velvety feeling and I thought these red velvet cupcakes ingredients lists are too big.
The recipe slightly varies in many sites and books but it all made me think it tastes weird.
The fact that vinegar is used in it keeps me away from trying it out.
So why did I start a post?
Well do you know I love challenges?  Yes I took this recipe as a challenge and started of with bringing down the ingredients to my worktop.
I opted to try martha stewerts recipe which poped up on the first few search results over the Internet.
Marthas recipe called for buttermilk which I substituted with some milk and butter while I also substituted vegetable oil with olive oil. I doubted if I did the right thing by substituting olive oil for vegetable oil and I received the answer as ‘yes’ after baking.
The recipe called for red gel food coloring which I used wilton brand. I guess wilton brand red gel color is not the ideal choice as the color was not strong enough and was rather pale red after baking.
The cake batter was red and beautiful, did I mention red as my favourite color? Well red is one of my favourite colors where white and black follows red. Yes I’ve got three favourite colors.
So baking in my microwave is what I love as it saves time and electricity unlike baking in an electronic oven which takes a long time to bake yet the taste is better when done in an electronic or gas oven unlike microwave.
So here are some images of my red velvet cup cakes.

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Cream cheese frosting oh no I wouldn’t have bought a cupcake with it if I have never tried it now. Yea I never imagined cheese to go well with icing sugar even after having tasted cheese cakes for dessert. Wow! cream cheese is a good option for those who prefer low sugar icing with no butter. Some hate butter, I know. I meed to experiment alot.
It’s always better to taste something and find out rather than assuming or imagining. That’s a lesson learnt at the end of baking these red velvet cupcakes.
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My invention test
I decided to go one step ahead and invent something. I thought i will create a dessert of my own.
Here is my recipe –

red velvet trifle


ingredients
1 red velvet cupcake
1 oreo biscuit
1 teaspoon condensed milk
2 teaspoons fresh milk
2 tablespoons whipped cream
1 tablespoon chocolate shaving

Method
1. Mix together fresh and condensed milk.
2. Soak the orea and leave aside draining the milk.
3. Crumble the red velvet cupcake and add onto a serving glass.
4. Pour the milk from the orea dipping over the red velvet cupcake.
5. Place the oreo on top.
6. Pipe some whipped cream over and sprinkle the chocolate shavings.
Serve with a scoop of ice cream if required.

This is a dessert idea ideal for bachelor’s and spinsters who wanna go for something quick, easy yet homely and made by themselves.
Nowadays you can find everything readily available on store including dessert bowls and spoons.

Sweet almond pattie

When you have lots of almonds in the fridge what do you do?
I transformed them into an almond and date paste to make my own recipe and I called it sweet almond pattie.
I guess these ground almonds were blanched as they had a very pale taste and we dint like it much. We had to use it as I’ve asked my dad to get me almond powder and he ended up bringing a lot of ground almonds. So I decided to try some sweets with almond filling.
Below is my recipe.

 
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Recipe

Pattie
Ingredients
1 cup flour
2 tablespoons ghee
1/4 teaspoon Salt
Water as required
2 pinches of baking powder

Method
1. Mix all the ingredients together and roll over a board using a rolling pin.
2. Apply ghee and sprinkle with flour.
3. Fold into 2 and roll again till its thin and even.
4. Cut small circles or any other desired shapes and place over a lightly floured surface.
5. Place the filling and fold into half.
6. Deep fry in hot oil until crispy and golden brown.

Almond filling
ingredients
A handful of almonds
3 or more cashew nuts
3 or more dates deseeded
A drop of vanilla essence
1 teaspoon fresh cream
Sugar or any sugar substitute as required

method
1. Blend altogether using a hand mixer to a fine paste.
2. Transfer the mixture onto a small pan and add sone butter or ghee.
3. let it cook for a few minutes until the mixture is thick and starts to leave the sides of the pan.

Once the patties are fried drizzle a bit of honey or treacle on top for extra sweetness.

Now the filling is ready to spread.
Add a few drops of food coloring to give it a more colorful look.
Use any other type of nuts instead of almonds.
Substitute sugar with kithul treacle or stevia extract.
Omit the sugar and prepare this dish finally serve those sweet toothed guests with a garnish of honey or treacle.

mafaza

Gajar Ka Halwa (Carrot Halwa)

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Is Gajar ka Halwa Indian or Pakistani?
Am lost.
Need to do a good research and repost a new post while in the mean time I’ve got a small twist in a carrot halwa recipe. I decided to try some substitutes in the carrot halwa recipe I’ve come across online. The main substitute for ghee was a super healthy one according to me.
Wondering what I substituted ghee with? Well, it’s none other than olive butter. The tub says its cholesterol free and healthy, which I believe due to the maximum amount of olive oil used in the making of olive butter.
The second substitute was almonds for cashew nuts. Well, almonds are rich in fat but has 0% cholesterol while it also contains a similar percentage of protein and iron which are totally healthy. Almonds were recommended to me by my dietician as a snack. Excess of anything is not healthy so everything has a limit.
So my next substitute for saffron was yellow food color with a few drops of vanilla essence to give the halwa a dessert feeling.
Carrot means a vegetable according to my Sri Lankan family but now they know carrot is sweet and can be used to make delicious desserts too (slight grin).

Some tips for a very healthy carrot halwa that you can try at home.

Use stevia extract instead of sugar as stevia is know as a diabetic friendly sweetener.
Substitute milk with low-fat milk.
Try avoiding the nuts for a gluten free dessert they make no big difference.

Food story of the day
I accidentally added some turmeric powder into my carrot halwa for the color and as a substitute for saffron strands but latter on adjusted it by adding yellow food coloring and sone vanilla to cover up the turmeric powder flavor.

So I end my post with another question.
Are almonds an Arabian nut?
I have seen people gift almonds to relatives when they return from a middle eastern country which is what made me think almonds are from the middle east.
Need to go on a research for the origins of some ingredients I guess!

mafaza

Cake Pops with Olive gold butter and free style measurements

Olive gold butter
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My first time with olive gold butter made with olive oil. It is halal and cholesterol free while it’s also heart friendly, no more worries to those health conscious use olive gold butter with olive oil and feel no difference. One other thought that came to my mind is “this butter is ideal for vegetarians”. I wanted to try some recipes that would be suitable for vegetarians at the same time healthy and rich in flavor. I have wanted to try baking with olive gold butter since the first time I saw it on the shelves at carrefour Dubai. 
Today I decided to bake my first ever cake pops using my new pop mould and trying out some free style baking.

Cake Pops
I ordered a cake pop mould on ebay just 2 weeks ago and I received it today, it’s the fastest shipping I have ever experienced. I am glad I ordered it from that buyer and was eager to try baking my very first cake pop using free style measurements.  I have to admit I have never baked a cake pop nor tried it until recently at a Christmas fair in which my sister in law sold. I was not happy with the taste.  Now it’s a challenge to get it right. I read a few recipes and instructions on the wilton site and was clear that the main reason why cake pops are called cake pops is because they are on a popsicle stick and looks like a lollipop, the taste or recipe does not play a role and we can use the basic cake recipe.
So wanting to try free style measurements and baking I took it as a challenge and decided to bake. Not only the cake pop mould was new but even baking with olive gold butter was also new.
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Free-style measurements
What is free-style measurements?
Free style measurement is adding ingredients by assumption.  A basic cake batter requires equal amount of flour, sugar, and butter or margarine.  While eggs and baking powder are added as 2 eggs for 2 teaspoons of baking powder.  So free style baking is on my own recipe book, adding ingredients without measuring.
I already do that for pizza, bread and bun doughs. Wondering how? I add some flour and salt whike the yeast is added according to the quantity of flour. It definitely needs practice and the more often you bake and cook you will gradually learn to add ingredients without measuring. Free style measuring needs a lot of experience and practice. So finally I don’t have any measurements to provide a proper recipe but here is how I made my cake pops using free style measurements.

Mafaza’s cake pops (I’ve named it)

Ingredients
A few tablespoon of olive gold butter
Some icing sugar to taste
2 eggs
Some flour
3 pinches of baking powder
A few drops of vanilla essence

Method
Cream butter and icing sugar.
Beat in the eggs.
Combine flour and baking powder.
Using an electric mixer beat until incorporated by adding a few drops of vanilla.
Distribute into cake pop moulds and bake until done.
Place on BBQ sticks or cake pop sticks.
Dip on melted chocolates and serve.
Melted chocolate is a must as it adds color and style to the cake pops.
Serve these as a fondue for dessert.

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mafaza

Mascarpone cream

Ingredients

80 gms mascarpone cream cheese I used cream kraft cheese
250 ml whip cream
Sugar 30 gms
1 tsp Vanilla essence

Method
Whip the whipping cream with sugar and vanilla essence until it’s frothy.
Add the cream cheese and mix with a spatula thoroughly to incorporate but do not over mix as the texture of the whipped cream might go. Once your done with the mixing spoon the mixture into a bowl and freeze.

Serve with pouched pear, it tastes well by itself too.
Keeps well in the freezer for a couple of days.

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Dessert going green

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I have always been wanting to make ad try out srilankan food since I moved into Dubai and always went around supermarkets looking for ingredients which are really unique. One such ingredient I juggery, one might ever wonder how can juggery be an unique ingredient but trust me Sri Lankan kithul juggery is very unique and have a special taste which any other normal juggery made with cane sugar nor coconut palm will equalize.

Juggery is used to make various sorts of desserts and sweets in srilanka and one such dessert was watalappam.
Many people love it. During festivals we prepare and share it with family and friend. Making this dessert Nd getting it right the juggery should be very good in quality and taste or else the taste wi not be vey good.
Recently having moved into Dubai I was looking around for juggery and found the a juggery made of cane sugar which had a very spicy aroma and never tasted good on anything.
So started my search for srilankan jugger and finally was all smiles when I saw it On a shelf with the other jugger and started grabbing a few packs to store.
As k reached home I prepared my watalappam mixture and left aside. My hubby walked into the kitchen and said the color doesn’t look good so he suggested to add food coloring.
I don’t have brown so my hubby mixed red, yellow and green to get some town and the color was perfect.
As I mixed it with the watalappam mixture I was glad the color was perfect and the mixture was tasting good I started cooking the dessert.
Once it was cooked I was really shocked.
The watalappam went green.
I bet that’s what is called going green.
We were discussion on how to serve it to the visitors and finally had to serve.
By its look and taste everyone had a good home made watalappam and was asking. Whee I found the juggery.
I had to narrate the story.