Category Archives: Nuts


Mawa Cake 1 main

Aparna of My Diverse Kitchen was our August 2013 Daring Bakers’ hostess and she challenged us to make some amazing regional Indian desserts. The Mawa Cake, the Bolinhas de Coco cookies and the Masala cookies – beautifully spiced and delicious!

I was really kicked about the Mawa Cake and worked on it as soon as I read the post. In a hurry I ended making a stupid mistake. I read 4 cups of milk as 4 litres of milk(that was alot of MILK!!!). Mawa requires patience and lot of stirring. Mine took almost 3-4 hrs; that’s when I felt something was wrong;logged into the DBC site to check and that’s when I realized how dumb I was!!!.Now that I was left with a huge batch of Mawa,I saved up a cup for the cake and added a little sugar to the remaining. Mixed it well and made small flat disc and refrigerated it for sometime. These are called Pedas and they make agreat dessert. But yes…not to forget they are made with whole milk so very very HIGH in calories.

Mawa Cake 2 main Mawa Cakes are a speciality cake that is the hallmark of Irani cafe’s in India. Mawa (also known as Khoya/ Khoa) is made by slowly reducing milk (usually full-fat) until all that remain is a mass of slightly caramelized granular dough-like milk solids. Mawa is used in a wide variety of Indian sweets like Gulab Jamun and Peda, to mention just two. Mawa is pronounced as Maa-vaa; Khoya is pronounced as KhOh-yaa.
Mawa Cake 3 main In this cake, Mawa lends a rich and a caramelized milky taste to this cake which is slightly dense and reminiscent of a pound cake. Cardamom and cashewnuts are typical of a Mawa Cake; but almonds can be used too. I had a whole pack of blanched sliced almonds from Trader Joe’s that came into use. The batter can be used to make Cupcakes as well. They were totally moist and the cardamom flavor was to die for. Even my little enjoyed this cake. Masala Cookies 2 main
Masala cookies are something that features very often at home. So these were not something new; however I just baked them with the flavors I like.The word Masala means “Spice Mix”, they are savory and spicy Indian snack. These were quite spicy because of the chilies and pepper that went into them. They are loaded with flavors and are super crunchy on the outside;soft and flaky in the inside. I used Mint and Dill leaves which added a zing to the cookies. Masala Cookies 1 main I made the Mawa two days ahead of time and stored it in an airtight container in the refrigerator. Allow it to come to room temperature before you make the cake. Instead of cardamom you may choose to use nutmeg also.For the Masala cookies I didn’t have curry leaves handy; Cilantro,Dill and Mint leaves did their flavoring magic:)

Mawa Cake

Serving Size: Makes One 8 inch Cake


  • For the Mawa:
  • 1 litre (4 cups) full fat milk
  • For the cake:
  • 1/2 cup unsalted Butter (soft at room temperature)
  • 3/4 cup packed crumbled mawa
  • 1-1/4 cups castor sugar
  • 3 large eggs
  • 5 to 6 cardamom pods, powdered, (about 1-1/2 tsp powdered cardamom)
  • 2 cups cake flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract (optional)
  • Blanched Sliced Almonds / Cashewnuts to decorate


First make the “Mawa”. Pour the milk into a heavy bottomed saucepan, preferably a non-stick one. Bring the milk to a boil, stirring it on and off, making sure it doesn’t stick to the bottom.

Turn down the heat to medium and keep cooking the milk until reduces to about a quarter of its original volume. This should take about an hour to an hour and a half.

The important thing during this process is to watch the milk and stir it frequently to make sure it doesn’t stick to the sides or bottom of the pan and get burnt. The danger of this happening increases as the milk reduces and gets thicker.

Once the milk it has reduced to about one fourth, 1/4 quantity, lower the heat to low and let cook for a little while longer. Keep stirring regularly, until the milk solids (mawa) take on a lumpy appearance. There should be no visible liquid left in the pan, but the mawa should be moist and not stick to the sides of the pan.

Remove the pan from heat and transfer the mawa to a bowl and let it cool completely. Then cover and refrigerate it for a day or two (not more) till you’re ready to make the cake. It will harden in the fridge so let it come to room temperature before using it.You should get about 3/4 to 1 cup of mawa from 1 litre (4 cups) of full-fat milk.

Now start preparations for the cake by pre-heating your oven to moderate 350°F . Beat the butter, the crumbled mawa and the sugar in a largish bowl, using a hand held electric beater, on high speed until soft and fluffy.

Add the eggs, one at a time, and beat on medium speed till well incorporated. Add the vanilla and milk and beat till mixed well.

Sift the cake flour, baking powder, cardamom, and salt onto the batter and beat at medium speed and well blended. If you cannot find cake flour, place 2 tablespoon of cornstarch in the bottom of your 1-cup measure and then fill it with all-purpose (plain) flour to make up to 1 cup.

Grease and line only the bottom of an 8 inch (20 cm) spring form pan. Pour the batter into this and lightly smooth the top. Place the cashew nuts (or blanched almonds) on top of the batter randomly. Do not press the nuts down into the batter. A Mawa Cake always has a rustic finished look rather than a decorated look.

Bake in a preheated moderate oven for about 1 hour until the cake is a golden brown and a skewer pushed into the centre comes out clean. Do not over bake the cake or it will dry out. If the cake seems to be browning too quickly, cover it will aluminium foil hallway through the baking time.

Remove from oven and allow it to cool for 10 min in the tin. Release the cake, peel off the parchment from the base and let it cool completely.

Masala Herb Cookies

Yield: Makes 2 1/2 dozen cookies


  • 1-3/4 cup all-purpose (plain) flour
  • 2 tablespoons fine white or brown rice flour (optional)
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt (or according to your taste)
  • 1/2 cup chilled butter, cut into small pieces
  • 3 green chillies, deseeded and chopped
  • 3/4 inch piece of ginger, finely grated
  • 1-1/2 teaspoon whole peppercorn, crushed coarsely
  • 1-1/2 teaspoon cumin seeds, toasted and crushed coarsely
  • 1 tablespoon granulated sugar
  • 1-1/2 tablespoons finely chopped curry leaves
  • 1 tablespoon each finely chopped fresh cilantro,mint and dill leaves
  • 3 to 4 tablespoons cold yogurt
  • A little oil to brush the tops of the biscuits/ cookies


Put both flours, salt, baking powder and baking soda into the bowl of a food processor and add the pieces of chilled butter. Pulse until the mixture takes on the texture of breadcrumbs.

Now add the chopped green chillies, finely grated ginger, crushed peppercorn and cumin, sugar, the chopped curry leaves and coriander leaves. Pulse a couple of times to mix well.

Then add 2 tablespoons of yogurt and pulse again. Add one more tbsp of yogurt (or two, as much as needed), and pulse again until the dough just comes together and clumps together. You want a moist dough, not a wet one – somewhat like pie dough.

Do not over process or knead. The dough should be just moist enough for you to use your hands and bring everything together to shape into a ball. Flatten it into a disc and cover the dough with plastic wrap and let it rest in the refrigerator for at least hour. You can also leave it overnight (up to about 24 hours) and work on it the next day.

Pre-heat your oven to moderate 350°F and line your baking trays with parchment or grease them with oil.

Lightly dust your working surface and roll out the dough to 1/8”(3 mm) thickness, not more or your biscuits/ cookies will not be crisp. If using Sesame seeds, sprinkle it uniformly over the dough and use your rolling pin, very lightly, to press them in.Using cutters of your choice (about 2-1/4 inch in size), cut out biscuits/ cookies and place them on lightly greased baking trays. Brush a very thin coat of oil over them. This will help them brown while baking. Bake them in a preheated moderate oven for about 20 to 25 minutes or till they’re done and golden brown on the top. Remember the baking time will depend on the thickness and shape of your biscuits/ cookies. Let them cool on the trays for about 5 minutes and then cool them on racks. Once they’re completely cool, they should be a bit crunchy and not chewy.

Note – I was traveling so posting very late. Its better late than never:)

Bon Appétit



Brownies main 1

Satisfying a picky eater is not an easy task. Little A hates veggies, so I try different ways to incorporate them in her diet. I add grated carrots in Savoury Pancakes which she eats with no fuss. Similarly I add grated Daikon, carrots,spinach,beets in tortillas( to the dough). Pumpkin puree  comes to help in most baked items. I was very happy to see this month’s Daring Baker’s Challenge. It was a perfect challenge for Mom’s like me who struggle with their kids eating habits. I loved all the recipe’s suggested by Ruth and was particularly intrigued with the “Cashew Chocolate Kidney Bean Brownies”. I have made brownies with Adzuki beans long back and wasn’t happy with the taste. One could easily make out the beans in the finished item. Since then I have used Beets puree in Brownies and Cakes and have been happy with it. I wonder why I never posted them so far!

Ruth mentioned that she had tested these brownies in half a dozen people and no body could identify the kidney beans in it. And she was so right…I baked these Brownies and no one could taste the beans. I have already made this twice. Little A loved them too…she enjoyed each and every bite . I was amazed to even see the “Scottish Macaroons” in Ruth’s blog. You would be surprised to know that she made them using mashed potatoes….can you believe it? Head on to her lovely  blog for more such recipes.

Brownies main 2

Ruth from Makey-Cakey was our March 2013 Daring Bakers’ challenge host. She encouraged us all to get experimental in the kitchen and sneak some hidden veggies into our baking, with surprising and delicious results!

I made a few changes in the recipe to suit our taste buds. I have reduced sugar by ¼ cup, reduced one egg and also added Instant dry milk. I have also omitted two tablespoons of maple syrup, mentioned in the original recipe. And finally to make it all the more chocolaty I have added ¼ cup white chocolate chips which is optional.

Cashew Kidney Bean Chocolate Brownies


  • 1 cup kidney beans
  • 3/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 2 tablespoons instant dry milk(milk powder)
  • ½ cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • ½ cup cocoa powder
  • ½ cup canola Oil
  • 4 large eggs ( I have used 3 eggs)
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • ½ cup raw cashew nuts (can use roasted cashews, but unsalted is best)
  • 1/4 cup white chocolate chips(optional)


Preheat the oven to 350°F and grease and base line your baking tin(8x8 square).

Drain, rinse and puree the kidney beans until smooth - if in doubt, blend it a bit more - bits of unblended kidney bean in the finished brownie spoil the ‘hidden’ element of surprise!

Combine all the ingredients apart the nuts and beat well until mixed. You could do this in a food processor or mixer if you wanted.Stir in the nuts.Pour into the prepared tin, and bake for about 25 minutes until just firm to the touch.Cool in the tin, then cut, serve, allow people to enjoy, and then surprise them with the secret ingredient!

Hope you enjoy making these brownies. I am posting late this month….better late than never. Thanks Ruth for a great Challenge!

Bon Appétit



spec2 main

I must confess that if it was not for Daring Baker’s Challenge I wouldn’t have “dared” to bake so many things. Even in my wildest of dreams I wouldn’t have thought about making-Armenian Nazook,Batternberg Cake,Dutch Crunch Bread,Povitica….and so on. DBC is such a wonderful platform to give folks an opportunity to pursue and hone their baking skills! What makes this even special is the exposure it gives to baking delicacies of different countries and ethnicities.

It is entirely my privilege to be a part of this forum. This month’s challenge reminded me of the Nanaimo Bars that we baked few years back on DBC. Very soon it going to be four years with Daring Baker’s and I have loved every bit of this exciting and enriching journey. Lets go ahead with yet another fascinating challenge – A traditional Dutch Pastry called GEVULDE SPECULAAS ( Stuffed Speculaas).

spec 3 main

Francijn of Koken in de Brouwerij was our January 2013 Daring Bakers’ Hostess and she challenged us to make the traditional Dutch pastry, Gevulde Speculaas from scratch! That includes making our own spice mix, almond paste and dough! Delicious!

To start with we had to make the speculaas spice;the almond paste and then the speculaas dough.The entire recipe can be made in one day but to enjoy the full flavor it was recommended to refrigerate the almond paste and dough for a few days before assembling it.

Francijn mentioned about the history of Netherlands and spices – Until 1800 cloves, mace and nutmeg are exclusively found on the Maluku Islands, in the East Indian Archipelago. That’s why these islands are called “the spice islands”. To make one’s fortune in Europe through the spice trade, one needed a monopoly on the European trade. Since 1500 the Portuguese owned that monopoly.
The Republic of the Seven United Netherlands, too, wanted to get rich from the spice trade, and established the Dutch East India Company around 1600, to join forces. Since 1660 the monopoly on spice trade was firmly in Dutch hands. In the Dutch Golden Age, roughly the 17th century, the republic got rich through this trade, and flourished like never before, economically, artistically and scientifically. In many Dutch cities the heritage of this century is still visible. Sadly, this wealth must be considered in the light of war and repression. The Dutch used much violence and oppressed people to establish and defend their monopoly.

Only after World War II Dutch India became independent from the Netherlands. Until that moment the trade of spices, coffee, rubber, tobacco, opium, sugar, indigo and tea from Dutch India contributed significantly to the Dutch economy.
In light of this historical involvement of the Netherlands in the spice trade, the contents of my kitchen cupboard are not surprising. Anise seeds, cayenne pepper, chili pepper, lemon grass, mace, ginger, cinnamon, cardamom, curry powder, cumin, coriander seeds, cloves, galangal, mustard seed, nutmeg, paprika, allspice, saffron, vanilla, fennel, white pepper, black pepper. And that’s without the long list of herbs.

Spec1 main


When spices had become commonly available in the 17th century, bakers’ guilds began to make their secret spice mixtures. A mixture that gloriously survived the ages is “speculaaskruiden” (speculaas spices). Speculaaskruiden contain at least cinnamon, cloves, mace and ginger, and these spices to taste: pepper, cardamom, coriander, anise seeds and nutmeg.The smell of speculaaskruiden is overwhelming, especially when you take the trouble to mix them yourself. The deliciously warm and woody aroma is a perfect fit for the chilly Dutch winter months.
From the golden age onward, this spice mixture was used to bake a crisp, buttery biscuit: speculaas. For centuries it remained a luxury item, baked only in the holiday season, and often given as a present. Sometimes bakers made the dough three months in advance so that the flavor would permeate the dough.Ever since the 15th century, the 6th of December has been celebrated as the nameday of St. Nicholas, combined with an exchange of gifts on the evening before. But in the age of the Dutch East India Company St. Nicholas became associated with speculaas. And that is not so strange, as St. Nicholas was the patron saint of sailors as well as many bakers’ guilds.

In the course of time many recipes using speculaas spices have been created. Speculaasjes (“speculaas cookies / windmill cookies”) which are shaped using a wooden mold, speculaasbrokken (“speculaas chunks”), kruidnoten (“spiced nuts / miniature spiced cookies”), gevulde speculaas (“speculaas stuffed with almond paste”). And that is not the end of it: speculaas spices can be used in custards, cakes, muffins, bread toppings, cheesecake crusts and so on.
Recipe Speculaas SpicesSpeculaas spices can be bought in a store. But it’s more fun to make your own mixture, so that you can adjust the flavor. Here is a representative recipe from the extensive Dutch tradition.

cinnamon 40 to 60 % of the total amount
ground cloves 1 or 2 parts
mace ½ or 1 part
ginger ½ or 1 part
white pepper ½ or 1 part
cardamom ½ or 1 part
coriander ½ or 1 part
anise ½ or 1 part
nutmeg 1 or 2 parts
A convenient way to mix the spices is as below:


Take at least 1 or 2 teaspoons of ground cloves, ½ or 1 teaspoon of mace and ½ or 1 teaspoon of ginger.
Add to taste ½ or 1 teaspoon of white pepper, ½ or 1 teaspoon of cardamom, ½ or 1 teaspoon of coriander, ½ or 1 teaspoon of anise, and 1 or 2 teaspoons of nutmeg.Measure or weigh the amount of spices you have now, and add an equal amount of cinnamon.This method yields at least 4 and at most 18 teaspoons of spices, so if you plan to mix just a few spices, use bigger or more spoons to get a reasonable amount.

Take your time to smell the ingredients individually before you decide how much to add. And remember the proportions,that will make adjustments easier next time. Store the spices airtight, dry and dark, they will not spoil for a long time.


1-1/3 cups ground almonds
5/8 cup granulated sugar
1 large egg
1 teaspoon lemon zest

Add Almonds and sugar, grind for one or two minutes. Add the egg and let the food processor combine it. You’ll end up with a sticky mass of almonds paste. Store it in an airtight container in the refrigerator. Although the flavor gets better as days pass by, it is not wise to store the paste for too long, as it contains a raw egg. For the same reason you should not eat the paste unbaked.


1¾ cups all purpose (plain) flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
¾ cup brown sugar, firmly packed
a pinch salt
2 tablespoons speculaas spices
3/4 cup unsalted butter

Directions:Put flour, baking powder, sugar, salt and spices in a bowl.Cut the butter in dices and add.Knead until smooth.Feel free to add a little milk if the dough is too dry.Wrap in clingfoil and put in the refrigerator for two hours.You can choose to make the dough a few days in advance, just like the almond paste, that will benefit the flavor. Freezing is no problem.


speculaas dough
almond paste
whole almonds without skins for decoration
1 large egg
shallow baking pan, 8×10 inch (20×26 cm) or, round with of diameter 10 inch (26 cm)

Grease the pan. Preheat the oven to moderate 350°F. Divide the dough into two portions.Roll out both portions on a lightly floured surface, until they are exactly as big as the baking pan. Put one of the layers in the pan and press it lightly to fill the bottom. Lightly beat the egg with a teaspoon cold water. Smear 1/3 of the egg over the dough in the pan. Roll out the almond paste between two sheets of clingfoil, until it is exactly as big as the pan, and put it on the dough in the pan. (If you chose to make the paste soft, you can smear the paste instead of rolling it.) Press the paste lightly down to fit in the pan, and smear the next 1/3 of the egg over it. Now put the second layer of dough on top of the paste, press it lightly, and make as smooth as possible. Smear the last 1/3 of the egg over the dough. Decorate the pastry with the almonds. Bake for 40 minutes in the preheated oven. Let cool completely in the pan, then cut it in portions as you like. If you wrap the stuffed speculaas in clingfoil, after it has cooled completely, you can store it a few days at room temperature. Freezing is possible, but fresh speculaas tastes better.

While mixing the spices – I smelt each and every one of them. I could feel it’s wonderful aroma fill up the entire house while baking. The nutty almond filling sandwiched between two layers of crunchy Speculaas dough was yum. The sweet level was perfect, just like the way I like – not too sweet.

While I was planning to decorate the pastry with almonds,I came across Hannah’s comment in the DBC forum. She had decorated her pastry so beautifully and I was totally inspired by her creativity. I decorated mine in a similar way!

Thanks Francijn for such a lovely challenge!

Bon Apetite!



I love the Holiday seasonits fun,festive and everyone’s just happy during this time of the year.Starting from Costumes+Halloween party + Candies to thanksgiving+ doorbusters+blackfriday shopping to Cakes+ Santa+ lights +some more shopping and last but not the least the brand new yearA New beginning , a New Hope. Can this get any better??? When I think about Christmas the first thing that comes to my mind is the “Christmas Fruit Cake”Is there anything better than this?:-)

Each one has their own recipe; some follow their traditional one, while others have recipe passed on from generations. They are made in a variety of ways – dark & light,with or without yeast,plain / frosted/glazed, some are dense,some are dry,with or without alcohol and so on.

This year, I started baking my cakes well in advance. Fruitcakes need a lot of care and pampering as they taste best when they age and mature. A good cake is the one which is fed well with alcohol either rum or brandy, thus allowing the flavors to set in and intensify. Feeding  with alcohol gives the cake a unique flavor; moistness which in turn reduces sweetness and thus making it very rich and scrumptious It’s a real  cake loaded with all the goodness;-) . A traditional Cake contains sultanas, glace cherries, figs, apricots, currants, raisins, candied peel, prunes etc.

I found it easy to use the fruit cake mix (contains– orange and lemon peel,cherries,pineapple,citron, corn syrup) along with raisins, nuts, dried cranberries, sultanas and blueberries. Though there wasn’t any change to the taste; I think I baked my cake for little longer than required; as a result it wasn’t as soft as expected.  Also, I felt that it was a little too sweet. Since the readymade fruit mix that I used already had corn syrup, I should have reduced the amount of sugar. The next time I would use ¾ to a cup.

Things to keep in mind while baking – These cakes should always be baked in low temperatures. And since it bakes for a long time, ensure to line the cake tin/pan with parchment on the base as well as the sides. Once baked you may also wrap the cake in cheesecloth before feeding it. For an alcohol free cake, use orange juice instead of rum/brandy. From my personal experience, I feel the batter needs to be heavy enough for the dried fruit and nuts to be suspended in it , if it is thin the fruits might sink in the bottom. Usually while baking cakes with nuts or dry fruits its suggested to toss them with a little bit of flour ( to avoid them to sink down), but in this case it’s not possible as we have soaked it in alcohol.

Once the cake was done, the most difficult part was the wait time. It was right in front of us for a week, the longer we looked, the stronger was our temptation. I wrote so much about feeding ….maturing…ageing and so on. Unfortunately mine didn’t last for more than a week for the entire process. Christmas is yet to come but my cake is gone!!! There isn’t a scrap left and all the flavors were truly delicious!.  Guess  its time to bake another one!


Makes one 8” round cake


3 1/4 cup fruit mix

1/2 cup dried cranberries,blueberries and sultanas

1/2 cup raisins

1/3 cup rum + li’l more for feeding

2 cups all-purpose flour

½ teaspoon all spice mix

¼ teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon baking powder

1 cup butter, softened

1 ¼ cup brown sugar

4 eggs

2 tablespoon molasses

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Zest of a lemon and orange

Directions : Place the fruitcake mix along with raisins, dried cranberries, sultanas and blueberries in a large bowl and pour rum over it. Mix well and cover and leave to stand overnight. I kept mine for almost 36 hours.

Preheat oven at 300F. Line the base and sides of an 8 x 3” round pan with parchment paper. Mix  flour, baking powder, all spice powder & salt and set it aside. In the bowl of a stand mixer, beat butter and brown sugar until creamy. Gradually beat in the eggs. Once all the eggs are well incorporated, add vanilla extract, molasses, lemon and orange zest. Stir in the flour. When completely mixed, add the fruits and nuts ;  do not over beat. Spoon the mixture into the prepared pan and bake for about 2 hours or until a skewer inserted to the center comes out clean .If the top of the cake starts to brown, cover it with a foil and bake.

Once done, remove the cake from the oven , allow it to rest and bring it to room temperature. Using a skewer  gently poke a few holes on top of the cake. Feed the cake with rum, a tablespoon at a time once every week. You may also brush the cake with rum . Just before serving you may want to decorate it. Either sprinkle confectioner’s sugar or cover it with Marzipan or frost it the way you like….or simply eat it the way it is!

Bon Apetit!



Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...
Next Entries »

COPYRIGHT Registered & Protected


Povitica Bread

Povitica - An East European Bread

Proud member of FoodBlogs
my foodgawker gallery
Top Food Blogs
Manage your shopping list and search for recipes from across the web at