June 23, 2019

Celebrate with an ice-cream cake

Ice-cream cake

The longer you stay away, the harder it is to come back. That has been the case for me with blogging. Once it became infrequent, the time used for blogging was filled up with other kid activities and as a consequence, it became harder to find time for blogging.

Visiting my blog last week, I came across nice messages left by readers about recipes they had tried. It inspired me. And when a friend wants a recipe, you know that you have to write it down. So here I am writing the recipe for an ice-cream cake I recently tried for a little girl's piano recital.

There are 4 main layers when it comes to a ice-cream cake.

1. The base layer - it can be a cookie layer or a ice-cream layer

2. The ice-cream layers - you can choose your favorite flavors, colors, this is really fun. Have at least two, but you can make it as high as you want.

3. The crunchy layer - this is the secret no-one will tell you about. Between two ice-cream layers, it's important to have a crunchy layer. It can be cookies like oreo, graham cracker or even nuts.

4. The topping layer- This has whipped cream and any kind of topping you want - cherries, sprinkles or anything else.

Another tip before we begin... make sure all the layers are made in the same cake tin. It will get the cake ready easier.

Ingredients and Method:

1. Base Layer: There are many cake recipes on my blog, so I am just going to link to a few here.

1. Confetti cake: http://ahaar.blogspot.com/2018/11/confetti-cake.html

2. Cardamom and almond cake: http://ahaar.blogspot.com/2013/09/cardamom-and-almond-flour-cake.html

3. Orange and Lemon cake: http://ahaar.blogspot.com/2014/02/orange-and-lemon-birthday-cake-for-4th.html

2. Ice-cream layers: This is the hard part, choosing the flavors of ice-cream for the cake. For mine, I went with the classic - a layer of vanilla and and a layer of chocolate ice-cream.

Since I don't have a ice-cream maker, I decided to make the vanilla ice-cream using the freeze and stir method and bought the chocolate ice-cream. Make the ice-cream layers at least overnight so it freezes well.

Making ice-cream with freeze and stir
  • 1 1/4 cups cold whole milk
  • 2 cups cold heavy cream
  • 3/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 tbspoon vanilla extract 
  • pinch of salt  
Take a stainless steel baking dish and put it in the freezer for at least 30 minutes before you have to use it. Mix all the ingredients in a blender and put it in the cold dish and freeze it for an hour. Then, take it out, mix it and put it back in the freezer.
Then take it out again for repeat a couple more times. This reduces the ice formation in the ice-cream. 
Once the ice-cream is done, take the same cake pan in which you make the cake and put a layer of cling wrap leaving edges out. Then add ice-cream on top of that, smooth with a spatula and freeze overnight.
Do the same with any other ice-cream layer. For the chocolate layer, I semi-melted the ice-cream, put it on top of cling wrap in a cake pan, smoothed it and froze over night.
Tip: putting a cling wrap under the ice-cream helps take it out without breaking it. 
3. Crunchy layer: For the crunchy layer, I used graham crackers. Break them coarsely and keep it. Use right before you are ready to take it.
4. The top layer: For the top layer, I used whipped cream and sprinkles. Your can also use jellies, fresh fruits and nuts.
Making whipped cream 
  • 1 pack of heavy cream 
  • 1 tspoon  vanilla extract
  • 1/2 cup powdered sugar
 Mix all the ingredients till soft peaks form. 
Ice-cream cake
When you are ready to assemble, put the cake, 1st layer of ice-cream, crunchy layer, second layer of ice-cream and then cover it whipped cream.
Keep it frozen till about 20 minutes before you have to serve. If it is really humid and hot, 10 minutes should do it.

March 18, 2019

Homemade waffles and pancakes

Homemade waffle pancake mix

Every weekend morning, the kids choose between pancakes and waffles for breakfast. I have always relied on store bought mix, assuming that making it from scratch must be so difficult.

But, tired of reading the long list of ingredients in the mix box, I finally caved in last year, deciding to give making the batter at home a try.

To my surprise, not only is it easy, there are few ingredients involved. It takes about the same time as store bought mix and I now know everything that goes in the mix.

The kids also like to pitch in and help me make it in the morning.

I have been using this recipe for a year now and sharing it with you.

(makes about 5-7 small to medium)
2 cups flour (i usually use a mix of all purpose and whatever is at hand - oats, whole wheat etc)
2 1/2 tspoon baking powder
1 tspoon sugar
Pinch of salt
1 egg
1 tspoon vanilla essence
1 1/2 cup milk
Homemade waffle pancake mix


Sieve all the dry ingredients together. 

Make a well in the center of the dry ingredients and add the egg, and milk. Mix till it all comes together as a batter - not super runny. 
Let it rest for 15 minutes and it is ready. 
If I am making pancakes, I add some chocolate chips at this point. 
For Waffles, heat the waffle iron, pour a ladle on each side and follow instructions of your iron.
For Pancakes, pour a ladle of batter on a heated pan. Spray some oil, and turn after a minute or so till they are golden brown. 
Serve with fruits and syrup. Enjoy. 

January 15, 2019

Almond brittle or badam chikki

Almond brittle

I was in India last year for makar sankranti after many years. It was wonderful to see all the variety of chikki, gajak, pithe, payesh that were so easily available. I even brought back some with me.

This year as sankranti rolled around, I made some almond brittle or badam chikki.

The Great British baking show has turned them into little critics. They are walking around pouting things like "is it crunchy enough?" "is the bread hollow sounding?," and all the things they have seen on the screen.

Surely enough, as soon as I told them I made some almond brittle, they asked, how is your caramel. The first thing they did, was to see if it was crunchy enough. It was, so I was saved.

Here is how to do it:


1 cup almonds

2 cups white sugar

1/4 cup water

Almond brittle

Blanch the almonds and chop them into little pieces. Heat the oven to 400 deg and toast them for 5 minutes.

Let it cool. In the meantime, take a thick bottomed pan and pour in the sugar. Then add in the water and turn the heat to medium high. The sugar will melt and start bubbling. It is a 10-15 minute process so keep an eye on the syrup. Once it starts to thicken, turn the heat to high and watch the color to change.

As soon the color turns golden or light brown, take it off the heat and pour it over the almonds on the tray.

Let it cool. Cut it in small pieces and enjoy.

January 03, 2019

Boiled eggs in instant pot

Instant pot boiled-eggs

Happy new year everyone.  Hope your new year has started well. Are you working on any new resolutions in 2019? 

I do intend to set some goals, write some intentions for the coming year, but not setting any resolutions. I feel some of the best things happened when I was no thinking about them, they were not on my list. So this year, I am opening myself to possibilities with some goals. 

Let's see how it goes.  

Coming back to this recipe, I didn't think of it as a recipe. But in the last week, I feel we have give this recipe to atleast 3-4 friends so writing it down to share with more friends.

We got the instant pot about a year and a half ago. When we got it, Aswin immediately started using it and I ignored it for a while, a little intimidated.

Slowly, I started warming up to it, even joined a couple of recipe groups and tried different recipes, getting comfortable with it.

Over the course of last year I have made chicken chili, palak paneer, rice, sambar, chole, hummus, and egg curry.  This winter I am using it for yogurt as well.

But what I love the most are the boiled eggs made in the instant pot.  Over the last year, Aswin has perfected his method - 5 minutes for boiled eggs, 8 minutes for hard boiled recipe.

Here is how he does it:


6 boiled eggs
1 cup water
1 bowl iced water

Put the water and then the eggs on a tray in the instant pot.

Set the instant pot on manual setting for 5 minutes.  Then let it sit in the instant pot for another 5 minutes before the release. Open the instant pot.

Then take the tray with the eggs out and drop them in the bowl of iced water. Let it sit for a minute and then peel the eggs.

Deviled eggs desi style

They are ready to eat. We made some desi-style deviled eggs with this batch.

December 25, 2018

Millionaire's shortbread for cookie exchange

Millionaire's shortbread

Merry Christmas everyone. I hope everyone is enjoying their break.

We had a cookie exchange in our neighborhood earlier this month and this year, I decided to make something different.

You see, the favorite show for us to watch together now a days is the Great British Bake Off. Lil A and Tiny M are into it too and together we found ourselves cheering for Nadiya Hussain from episode one. Paul Hollywood and Mary Berry are rubbing off on them and they are becoming quite the judges when it comes to baked goodies.

In fact, when I take them grocery shopping now, they stop in the bread aisle checking breads with sentences like "yes, this sounds hollow", "what temperature was this cooked at," etc.

So we had to make something special and something British for the cookie exchange. We settled on millionaire's shortbread.

It was also my first time making caramel and I learned that light brown sugar make the caramel light, better to stick with the dark brown sugar.

I followed the recipe from America's Test Kitchen, modifying it a bit to my needs.  It came out quite well.

November 13, 2018

Chocolate almond barfi

Chocolate almond barfi

Happy Diwali everyone. I hope you all had a wonderful celebrations with your friends and family. It was wonderful to get friends and family spend some time together.

This Diwali, I decided to make this dessert on an impulse - Chocolate almond barfi or fudge. The texture was indeed fudge-like, not the kora pak we Bengalis like to call it. Chewy with the almond and chocolate, it was quite delicious.

I even added in some white chocolate chips on top to entice the little ones, but they stayed away. The adults, on the other hand, all enjoyed the barfi.

Festivals have a way of bringing up all the food memories of sharing food during festivals, people who made it special, and of eating and cooking. I was on my way back from work and I heard a cookbook author on NPR echo those same thoughts.

And Fall is full of these festivals and celebrations. Birthdays, Diwali, soon Thanksgiving and Christmas. How do you like to celebrate these special moments?

November 04, 2018

Confetti cake

Funfetti or confetti cake

Just as we wind up Halloween, I stay up trying to make a cake for Tiny M who is coming up on 6 years. Not a little guy anymore!

His request for this year were confetti cake and Pokemon cookies. So when they went to bed, I browsed through recipes and zeroed in on Smitten Kitchen's recipe.  I wanted to make a two-layer cake, so I doubled up her recipe except egg whites partly because I had only 3 eggs at home and it was too late to get more.  I also had vanilla bean paste at hand and used it. The only thing I did not double was the sprinkle measurement, but it was close.

Let me tell you, her idea of using cornstarch in this cake is genius! I haven't used cornstarch in cakes before and wasn't so sure, but I went with the directions.  It made the cake soft and the white cake also pops the colors of the sprinkles.

I used whipped cream instead of the butter cream for some lightness and a little sprinkles to round it off.


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