Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Tres Leches Cake

'Tres leches cake' or 'Three milk cake' is a cake soaked in three kinds of milk - Evaporated milk, Condensed milk and Whole milk. This moist cake is so easy yet so impressive! Perfect for big crowds and almost always a stunner! 

When I first started hunting for recipes of this cake, I was worried the final product would be too heavy or too sweet. I was also a little apprehensive as it sounded too easy to be true. But when I finally did decide to give it a go, I was in love all over again! :) It was perfectly moist, perfectly sweet just .....PERFECTLY PERFECT!

Most of the desserts I cook for my parties at home are almost always just semi-homemade. I do not have the time or energy to go all traditional and super precise after I spend so much time cooking the main meal. This recipe too starts with a box cake mix. I generally use the classic white cake mix for this recipe. I find it much more airy and light compared to the other cake mixes. 

For the topping, I whip the cream at home as I the try to keep the sugar content in it quite low. This way it perfectly balances the sweetness in the cake. But if you think you don't have time for that, some cool whip or ready made whipped cream spray cans work just fine. 
Most of the tres leches cakes are topped with a maraschino cherry. They look the cutest, but I just do not like the taste. It spoils the dessert for me as you expect it to be sweet and it turns out to be weirdly synthetic. So I generally top my cake with some freshly cut strawberries or blueberries or raspberries just before serving. You could also toast some nuts or some coconut and sprinkle it on top of the cake. Just let yourself go crazy with the toppings here.

So without further delay, let us get to the recipe.

Level: Easy
Serves: 10 - 12 people

For the base:
1 classic white box cake mix
1/4 cup of whole milk (I use the 2% I usually have on hand)
1 14 oz can of condensed milk
1 12 oz can of evaporated milk
For the frosting:
1.5 cups whipping cream
4 tblsp powdered sugar
1 tsp vanilla essence
Cocoa for sprinkling
Strawberries to decorate

Step 1 - Bake the cake as per the package instructions. Bake it in the same pan in which you plan to serve the dessert. Your pan should have higher sides as you will have to pour the milk mixture into the cake once it bakes and you do not want the milk to over flow from the top. Once your cake is baked, leave it for cool for 5 mins.

Step 2 - As the cake is cooling, let us get our milk mixture ready. Mix the milk, condensed milk and evaporated milk in a bowl. Stir well to make sure the condensed milk does not settle at the bottom. It is that simple. Keep aside.

Step 3 - After you have let the cake cool for 5 mins from Step 1, take a knife or fork and slowly poke the entire cake well all the way to the bottom. You might think you are destroying the cake, but remember the places this cake does not get poked, does not get the liquid goodness we will be pouring into it. So don't be too gentle!

Step 4 - When you are done piercing holes and the cake is still warm, pour the milk mixture all over the cake. (don't forget to stir the milk a little before you start pouring). At this point you will realize why I was stressing on a pan with a little high sides. The liquid will first pool on top and you might think it is a little too much. But the warm cake will soak up all the liquid in a matter of mins. Now let the soaked cake cool down completely. 

Step 5 - Let us work on the frosting now. In a large clean bowl add the whipping cream and vanilla essence. Start whisking this cream mixture. When the cream starts frothing, slowly add the powdered sugar one tsp at a time, continuously whisking. Beat the cream till it forms stiff peaks. i.e. when you take the beaters out, the cream stuck on your beater should hold shape. These are called stiff peaks.

Step 6 - Smear the ready whipped cream with a butter knife or a spatula all over the cooled soaked cake from Step 4. Try to spread it around as evenly as possible covering the entire top of your cake. 

We are done!

Just before serving, I cut out a piece and placed it on my serving plate. I sprinkled the top with some cocoa powder and I placed a beautiful red strawberry beside it. Doesn't it look pretty? I sure think it does!

Hope you enjoy this juicy goodness as much as my family and friends do!

If you are having a tough time finding the classic white box cake mix, go ahead and use the yellow cake mix. The cake may be a a little denser, but it doesn't compromise the taste.

If you think you are not up for whipping the cream yourself, go ahead and use some cool whip or whipped cream spray can to top off the cake.

Sunday, December 9, 2012

Lal Bhopalyachi Bhaji (Stir Fried Pumpkin)

After all the heavy and delicious food everybody indulged in during Diwali and Thanksgiving, it is time to get back on track (until Christmas that is..) with some simple grounded meals. With leftover pumpkin after a failed pumpkin pie attempt of mine, a quick stirf-fry recipe it was for all of us at home!

Low in calories and high in fiber, pumpkins are a good source of vitamins and minerals, especially beta-carotene, vitamin C and potassium. All of these linked to fighting heart diseases and other ailments. Pumpkins are 90% water and are therefore one of the food items recommended by dietitians in cholesterol controlling and weight reduction programs.

The preparation I am sharing with you today is a very typical Maharashtrian style of eating pumpkins. The bright red chillies, give a necessary punch to the otherwise sweet fruit and the fenugreek seeds and jaggery gives this dish so many different levels of flavor. You can leave the coconut out if you want to keep it strictly healthy, but as I wanted to share the traditional recipe with all of you, I have added coconut to this preparation.

Here is the recipe.

Level: Easy
Serves: 2 - 3 people

1 lb yellow pumpkin
1.5 tsp oil
3/4 tsp mustard seeds
2 pinch asafoetida
1/2 tsp fenugreek seeds
5 - 6 dry red chillies
10-12 curry leaves
1/2 tsp turmeric powder
1.5 tsp jaggery
1/2 cup of water
Salt to taste
1 tblsp coconut for garnish
Few sprigs of coriander for garnish

Step 1 - Wash the pumpkin well. Peel the skin with a potato peeler. Scoop out the seeds and the fibers with a spoon. Cut the pumpkin into 1/2 inch cubes. Keep aside.

Step 2 - In a flat pan, heat the oil. Add mustard seeds and let them splutter. Add the asafoetida and fenugreek seeds. Stir for a few seconds. Add the dry red chilles and curry leaves. Stir for a few more seconds till the chillies get a little dark.

Step 3 - Add the chopped pumpkin and turmeric. Stir well till all the flavored oil coats the pumpkin. Reduce heat to medium low. Add 1/2 cup of water and cover and let it cook for 3 - 4 mins. Add the jaggery and salt. Mix everything together and cook again for 5 - 6 mins checking and stirring occasionally. Do not over cook the pumpkin. Once you realize that you can easily cut through the pumpkin with a spoon, immediately take it off the heat and keep it uncovered till it warms down.

Decorate with coriander leaves and coconut.
Serve warm with some hot chapatis.


For more pumpkin information head here: