Eggless Malted Chocolate Whipped Ganache Cake

I have a soft spot for a hot drink before bed. Something sweet and milky usually does the trick. It has to be poured into a large mug and I need to be able to see gentle waves of steam dancing off the surface. I’m truly comforted if the steam is robust enough to reach my nostrils quickly, the familiar smell bringing instant comfort. When it’s warm enough to hold, I like to clutch the mug with both hands, tight enough to feel my arms tense up a bit, rather like embracing an old friend.

Malted Chocolate Whipped Ganache Cake

That goes back to the days I’d refuse to go to bed until I’d had a mug of saffron, cardamom and almond milk. Yorkshire diva. It was a treat reserved for special occasions or following on from particularly terrifying nightmares. I’d watch my mum preparing it, her skilled hands flaking each almond, one at a time. She’d then use a brass pestle and mortar to bash a cardamom pod with the satisfying clang, not unlike the sound of a temple bell ringing after arti. The Spanish saffron strands would stain the warm milk a sort of daffodil yellow, making it appear rich and luxurious, like clotted jersey cream. Once simmered together, the kitchen would be filled with the sweetest smell which in itself was soothing enough to send me to the land of nod, even before it reached my lips.

Another hot drink I fell in love with at a young age was that old classic, Milo. I had my first taste aged four in Mombasa, Kenya. All us cousins would have hot Milo made for us at breakfast and before bed and Milo time was my favourite time of the day. Some of us were such fans that the granules were good enough to be munched straight up, by the spoonful.  And when I say some of us, I mean me.

Malted Chocolate Whipped Ganache Cake

That faux choco malt flavour tastes like all the comforts of home. It’s sweet but not overly so and somehow you feel like you’re replenishing your body’s energy stores with it. Just as well too because we used to spend a hell of a lot of time running around the agasi (roof terrace), throwing things down below and shouting for the man from the shop across the road to fetch us the bubblegum that had stickers under the wrapper.

But I had to grow up from being that Milo-drinking, bubblegum-chewing kid from the roof one day. Now I’m preparing to welcome a fresh new little person into the world and quite soon I’ll be the one preparing those warm bedtime beverages.

Malted Chocolate Whipped Ganache Cake

So this post is an ode to the old times of being comforted and feeling loved throughout my entire childhood. I’m ready to pay it forward to someone else now. And what better way to celebrate them than with a cake that has all the flavours of Milo?

Baby K.O. Due April 2018.

Malted Chocolate Whipped Ganache Cake

“Balle Balle” topper for the ultimate celebration cake.

Eggless Malted Chocolate Whipped Ganache Cake
Makes one 3-layer, 10-inch cake

Ingredients:

700g plain flour
510g caster sugar
150g cocoa powder
2 tsp baking powder
2 tsp bicarbonate of soda
180ml buttermilk
1 tbsp apple cider vinegar
6 tbsp Horlicks (malted bedtime drink) dissolved in 320ml hot water
300ml sunflower oil
1 tsp salt

For the whipped ganache:
450g dark chocolate, chopped
450g double cream
3 tbsp malt extract
Pinch of salt

Dark and white chocolate curls, to decorate

Method:

1. For the chocolate cake, preheat oven to 160C and butter and line three 20cm diameter cake tins with baking paper. Whisk together all the dry ingredients. Combine all the wet ingredients in a separate bowl. Add the wet ingredients to the dry. Whisk until smooth. Divide among prepared tins, bake until a skewer inserted comes out clean, about 40 minutes. Cool in the tins for 10 minutes, loosen around the edges with a knife and turn onto wire racks to cool completely.

2. For the whipped ganache frosting, heat the cream in a saucepan until hot but not boiling. Add the malt extract and chopped chocolate. Stir gently until melted and smooth. Allow to cool to room temperature and then cover and refrigerate until it has thickened slightly but is still soft. Beat with an electric whisk until light and fluffy, about 1-2 minutes. It will become paler in colour, too. Use immediately.

3. Trim the cakes if the tops have domed a little. Sandwich each layer with the whipped ganache frosting. Spread the frosting on the outside and smooth out. I used a Wilton 1M open star tip for the ruffled swirls on top. Decorate with chocolate curls.

Love Sanjana + bump




Eggless Turmeric Milk Tart

Shove over overpriced Turmeric Latte and Golden Milk. It’s Haldi Doodh and it always has been!

Ever since I heard about the South African Melktert (Milk Tart) I knew I had to try it. It’s creamy, custardy and packed with delicious cinnamon flavours on top of a shortcrust pastry base. What’s not to love?

Much like a British custard tart, the Melktert is made with egg yolks for that famous custard-like wobble. As you know, yolks are not my setting agent of choice – I’m going rogue and using my own blend of cornflour (cornstarch) and wheat flour blended with milk.

I was inspired by Paul Hollywood’s show City Bakes on Food Network, where he makes an Earl Grey Melktert in Cape Town. The show is fantastic and you can watch the episode tonight, 15th May on Food Network. Give it a watch and try out a take on the famous Melktert.

Turmeric Milk Tart

Since it began, I’ve boycotted the rise of the turmeric milk fad that seems to have infiltrated every coffee shop and café in sight. It should be simple, a feel-good tonic to make you feel better after a rough day, not flashy, expensive and inaccessible. After all, the ingredients are basic. Haldi Doodh is a healing tonic Indian mums stir up for children when they’ve got sore throats and coughs. As a natural antiseptic, turmeric (either fresh or dried and ground) was always in the kitchen. As a child I would reluctantly down mugs of hot Haldi Doodh because it didn’t taste like the banana milkshake I’d hoped for it to be. It wasn’t bad, it just wasn’t Nesquick. As much as I now love haldi doodh and the soothing properties it carries, I don’t believe in paying a shed load for it when I can make it at home.

The beautiful thing is that when fresh turmeric is combined with milk, cardamom and black pepper, you get the most miraculous flavour and aroma of fresh mango. Just a little bit, not too much, blitzed with the milk for a pretty yellow colour. Once cooked, the colours will transform from daffodil to deep amber.

This tart is as sweet and flaky as it is fruity, spicy and ever so slightly bitter. Each element is perfectly balanced, just how I like it.

Turmeric Milk Tart

Eggless Turmeric Milk Tart
Serves 8-10

Ingredients

For the sweet pastry:
240g flour
140g unsalted butter, frozen and grated whilst still frozen (this helps incorporate it faster and keeps everything cold)
Pinch of salt
2 tbsp brown sugar
3 tbsp cold water

For the turmeric milk filling:
415g evaporated milk
395g can condensed milk
50ml whole milk
3cm piece turmeric, peeled (this will stain so wear gloves!)
3 cardamom pods, seeds lightly crushed
6-8 black peppercorns, seeds lightly crushed
1 tsp vanilla extract
40g flour
40g cornflour
50g salted butter
Ground cinnamon to dust

Method

1. Pre-heat the oven to 180°C.

2. To make the pastry, place the flour, salt and brown sugar in the bowl of a food processor. Add the grated butter and pulse until the mixture resembles fine breadcrumbs. Add the cold water and pulse until the mixture just comes together. Wrap the dough in cling film and allow to rest in the fridge for 30 minutes.

3. Take a 25 x 3.5cm loose bottomed tart in with fluted edges. Roll the pastry out to about 35cm wide, 4mm thick. This will ensure you have enough overhang at the edges. Place the roll dough into the tin and allow it to hang over the sides. Use a spare ball of dough to gently press the dough into the corners and sides to line the tin. Don’t worry if you make a tear, just patch it up.

4. Place a piece of greaseproof paper over the dough and fill with baking beans, rice or any dried lentils you have. Bake for 10 minutes.

5. Carefully remove the baking beans, greaseproof paper and prick the pastry all over with a fork. Turn the oven down to 120°C and bake for 20-25 minutes until the pastry is golden brown and dries out completely.

6. Remove from the oven and set aside to cool. Put the oven back up to 160°C

7. To make the filling, place the flour and cornflour into a large bowl. Add 50ml whole milk and stir to make a thick paste.

8. Place the evaporated milk in a blender (I used a Nutribullet), and add in the fresh turmeric, cardamom, peppercorns, vanilla and condensed milk. Blend until super smooth, about a minute.

9. Slowly whisk the evaporated milk mixture into the flour paste until smooth. Pour the mixture into a pan and cook on a medium-low heat until slightly thickened (think cheese sauce consistency). Add the butter and whisk.

10. Pass the mixture through a sieve and into a jug to remove any lumps.

11. Place the tart shell on a baking tray and place it in the oven. Pull the shelf out and pour the filling into the shell. Push the shelf back in gently and close the oven door. Bake for 30 minutes.

12. Crack the oven door open and allow the tart to cool in the oven.

13. Dust the tart with ground cinnamon and decorate as you wish. Serve warm.

Turmeric Milk Tart

Love Sanjana




Rum-Soaked Kala Jamun (Cardamom and Rum Doughnuts)

I figured that as everyone seems to have totally lost their minds this year, I’d follow suit in my own crazy way. You might have noticed a Facebook and Instagram post I wrote, earlier this month. It was a big deal for me, having dedicated a huge amount of myself to this blog. In case you missed it, it served as a reminder to myself that if we pursue our passions with our whole selves, we must not forget to extract every last bit of love it gives back to us. Anyway, enough of that soppy stuff… it’s rum time!

I have a love/hate relationship with gulab jamun (or gulab jambu as we call them at home). I mean this in the sense that I love to eat them but hate that I can never just have one. 

These sweet, saffron, rose and cardamom-soaked milk doughnuts are one of the most well-known Indian desserts, and the chances are, they’re on your local Indian restaurant’s menu.

Rum-Soaked Kala Jamun (Cardamom and Rum Syrup-Soaked Doughnuts)

Kala jamuns are the lesser-known big sister of gulab jamun. At first, the most obvious difference is in the colour difference between brown gulab jamun and black kala jamun (hence, the name – ‘kala’ meaning black). The texture of kala jamuns is also very different to regular gulab jamuns. They have a chewier exterior, that’s almost squeaky and the inside is a little grainier. You could say they’re the heartier of the two. Another key difference is in the serving style. Gulab jamuns are usually served in their syrup, whereas kala jamun are served without their soaking syrup, often rolled in desiccated coconut. When I was little I’d love coconut coated kala jamun split down the middle and filled with Shrikhand, but that’s another story for another day.

This grown-up version of traditional kala jamun is easy to make, since I use milk powder and just a touch of khoya (also known as mawa) for added texture. Khoya is made by simmering full-fat milk in a pan for several hours, until almost all the water has evaporated, leaving just the milk solids behind. Khoya is widely used in South Asian cuisine, across India, Nepal, Bangladesh and Pakistan, to name a few places. You can find khoya sold in vacuum-packed blocks in the chiller section of your local South Asian supermarket. Hint: Look near the paneer section, it’s usually there.

Rum-Soaked Kala Jamun (Cardamom and Rum Syrup-Soaked Doughnuts)

I’m a huge fan of anything soaked in rum, so when the opportunity to make kala jamun presented itself, I know that making a spiced rum syrup was the way to go. The combination of dark rum, cardamom, saffron, rosewater and vanilla is my idea of bliss and it works so perfectly in the recipe. It’s sweet and beautifully aromatic with just a hint of bittersweet flavour from the caramelised jamuns.

They’ll make a show stopping alternative Christmas dessert, served in a tower and covered in gold leaf. Sprinkle over some pistachios or toasted coconut if you like.

Rum-Soaked Kala Jamun (Cardamom and Rum Syrup-Soaked Doughnuts)

Rum-Soaked Kala Jamun (Cardamom and Rum Syrup-Soaked Doughnuts)
Makes 24 kala jamuns

For the kala jamun:
600g milk powder
430ml warm milk
50g khoya, grated
3 tbsp icing sugar
150g self-raising flour
2 tsp coarse semolina
½ tsp crushed green cardamom
Pinch of saffron
Pinch of salt
Sunflower oil, for deep frying

For the cardamom and rum syrup:
800g sugar
950ml water
400ml dark rum
1 vanilla pod, split and scraped
Juice of 2 limes
2 tbsp rosewater

Gold leaf, to decorate

Method
1. To make the kala jamun: In a large bowl, mix together the milk powder, self raising flour, khoya, semolina, salt, sugar, saffron and cardamom.

2. Gradually add the milk, stirring gently. The ingredients will come together to form a dough. Knead the dough for a few minutes until smooth. Cover with a damp tea towel and allow to rest for 30 minutes.

3. To make the sugar syrup: Place all the ingredients, including the vanilla pod in a pan. Give it a quick stir and bring to the boil. Allow to simmer until it reaches the thread stage on a sugar thermometer (110-115C) and then switch the heat off. It’s important you don’t stir it during the cooking period. If you notice the sugar starting to crystallise around the sides of the pan, run a wet pastry brush around the sides of the pan so that water runs into the crystals and dissolves them.

4. In a large, deep pan (I use a wok), heat enough sunflower oil to deep fry the jamuns. Use a cooking thermometer to bring the oil to 150C.

5. Make small balls with the dough, about 2cm in diameter. This might seem a little small but they will expand in the oil. It’s really important to roll them firmly between your hands to ensure there are no cracks. Do this for all the jamuns – you should have around 24.

6. Deep fry 6-8 jamuns at a time, taking care not to overcrowd the pan. Allow the jamuns to cook for 3-4 minutes. They are ready when they turn really dark brown/almost, but not quite black all over. The jamuns will swell slightly in the oil, making them a little larger than the balls you rolled.

7. Drain the jamuns on a plate lined with kitchen paper. Allow to cool and test one to ensure the middle is cooked through. Repeat the frying process for the remaining jamuns.

8. Allow all the jamuns to cool for 20 minutes and then place them in the sugar syrup, making sure they’re fully submerged. Leave covered for 24 hours and serve the following day. Decorate with gold leaf if you’re feeling fancy.

I love to eat my kala jamuns hot with vanilla ice cream.

Note: If you’re serving them hot by reheating them in the microwave, make sure you add the gold leaf after they’ve been warmed.

Storing: Keep the jamuns in their syrup and store in an airtight container in the fridge. They will last two weeks… unless you eat them all before then!

Click the image above to Pin this recipe for later.

Click the image above to Pin this recipe for later.




Alphonso Mango Pavlova Cheesecake (Eggless Recipe)

‘Tis the season to eat mangoes! I had my annual fix of Indian Alphonso mango this weekend and they were flawless, as always.

Alphonso Mango Pavlova Cheesecake (Eggless and No-Bake Recipe)

I was so desperate to get my mitts on them, I immediately went on a mango hunt after leaving work on Friday. Stepping into the Indian shop closest to my London train station, my eyes darted from shelf to shelf. There were rows upon rows of lentils, spices and green vegetables, but alas, there was not a mango in sight. My heart sank.

As I meandered through the tiny, yet unfathomably packed shop, my nostrils filled with the smell of ajwain, dried turmeric, fenugreek… and then finally, the sweetest scent of fresh mango. There they were, a pile of mango boxes lying in wait like treasure in Aladdin’s cave, except better.

I pounced on them faster than Shere Khan on Mowgli, the man child in Rudyard Kipling’s Jungle Book. As usual, the two mango varieties were Alphonso and Kesar. When given the choice, I get Alphonso. They have more fragrance and a super-lush orange colour.

They were only sold in boxes of twelve so I got the whole lot. The only glitch was that I had to carry the entire box back home. The entire train carriage was filled with the heavenly scent of fresh mango – a welcome change from the stench of somebody’s hot Burger King dinner *shudder*. You’re welcome, fellow commuters. You’re welcome.

After eating three of twelve mangoes, I figured I better whip up one of my favourite desserts before they all disappear. This egg-free Alphonso Mango Pavlova Cheesecake is a true showstopper.

It’s a malted milk biscuit base, sweet mango and vanilla mascarpone cheesecake filling topped with eggless pavlova, fresh cream and all your favourite fruit. This pavlova cheesecake is rich, decadent and unashamedly two of the most awesome desserts ever stacked to make one epic masterpiece.

If you’re a lover of Indian Alphonso mango, this is a glorious way of celebrating it.

Here’s how I did it.

Alphonso Mango Pavlova Cheesecake (Eggless and No-Bake Recipe)

Alphonso Mango Pavlova Cheesecake (Eggless Recipe)
Serves 12-14

Ingredients

For the pavlova layer:
1 x 400g tin chickpeas in water (left in the fridge overnight)
280g golden caster sugar
1 tsp apple cider vinegar
½ tsp arrowroot or cornflour
3 tsp vanilla extract

For the cheesecake base:
260g malted milk biscuits (you could use ginger biscuits or NICE biscuits too)
100g unsalted butter, melted

For the Alphonso mango cheesecake filling:
500g mascarpone cheese
300g full fat cream cheese (I used Philadelphia)
200ml double cream + 100ml extra
450g icing sugar
Juice of 2 lemons
2 tsp vanilla extract
300g Alphonso mango, blended (this was approx. 3 mangos for me)
2 tbsp agar agar powder

For the decoration:
Whipped cream
Mixed fruits of your choice (I used more mango, kiwi, strawberries, grapes, physalis, blackberries and figs)

You will also need a 24cm spring form tin.

Method

1. First, you’ll need to make the pavlova. Preheat the oven to 120C.

2. Take a piece of non-stick baking parchment and draw a circle on it, using the removable base from your cake tin. Flip the paper over and place it on a large baking tray. You now have the perfect outline for your pavlova.

3. Drain the can of chickpeas and reserve the water. Put the chickpeas in a container and use it to make Channa Masala or Hummus later.

4. Pour the chickpea water and vinegar into the bowl of an electric stand mixer fitted with the balloon whisk attachment. Make sure your bowl is really clean and grease free. Any oil could cause your meringue to deflate.

5. Whisk on a high speed for 4 minutes. Mix together the sugar and cornflour. Gradually add the sugar mixture a tablespoon at a time and continue to beat until you have stiff glossy peaks. Congratulations, you’ve just made your own vegan marshmallow fluff! But right now, we’re making pavlova.

6. Dollop the meringue mixture onto the piece of baking paper, staying inside the circle you traced. Even it out using the back of a spoon, creating a little crater in the middle for your cream and fruit later. I like to keep it looking craggy and rustic so don’t fuss over it looking too perfect.

7. Place into the middle shelf of the oven and immediately turn the heat down to 100C. Bake for 2 hours 30 minutes. Once this time is up, crack the oven door open a little and leave it to cool completely. You’ll then be able to peel it away from the non-stick paper.

8. Next, make the cheesecake base. Blitz the biscuits in a food processor until they resemble the texture of sand. Stir in the melted butter. Press into the base of the tin, making sure it’s even and packed tightly. Refrigerate for 30 minutes.

9. To make the cheesecake filling, beat together the mascarpone, cream cheese, 200ml double cream, vanilla, icing sugar and lemon juice. Don’t overwork it.

10. Place the agar agar in a small bowl. Add 2 tbsp cold water and stir to dissolve. In a small saucepan, combine the agar agar and 100ml double cream. Heat gently, stirring all the time until the mixture comes to a boil. You will notice it will begin to thicken. Boil for a minute or so and then switch off the heat. Add the mango pulp and stir to combine. This will lower the temperature of the cream mixture.

11. Add the mango mixture to the cream cheese mixture and whip until fully combined. It should thicken very slightly.

12. Pile the cheesecake filling onto the cooled biscuit base and smooth out the top.

13. Cover tightly and refrigerate overnight.

14. To serve, run a knife around the edge of the cheesecake and remove the sides of the tin. Place onto a cake plate or stand and place the pavlova on top. Fill the crater in the middle with whipped cream and fresh fruit. I recommend more mango, obviously.

Devour immediately.

Note: Wrap your cooled pavlova in foil overnight to ensure it stays crisp for serving the next day.

Alphonso Mango Pavlova Cheesecake (Eggless and No-Bake Recipe)

Love Sanjana




Lime and Dark Chocolate Melting Moments

I’ll never forget my year five primary school teacher. She was the kind of person you should have aspired to be like one day, over and above Ginger Spice who was probably the most popular choice at that age. Along with all the fair qualities and graces you’d expect from somebody who had mastered the art of being patient with a bunch of little cretins, this particular teacher was a master of bribery.

And said bribery always involved sweets.

Lime and Dark Chocolate Melting Moments

Chocolate Limes to be precise. She had a stash of these retro classics stowed away in her top drawer for when you answered a question correctly, or were simply doing something that was out of your comfort zone. Even though it was a single sweet you probably wouldn’t have given a toss about if your nan had offered one up at the weekend, it was the status, power and sense of achievement that came with that limey shell and chocolate middle. It made you feel like you had truly taken a step forward that day.

Don’t even get me started on the time one kid mapped the entire family tree of Henry V111 on the wall and earned himself a tidy SIX Chocolate Limes – one for each deceased wife. The whole class was seething with jealousy.

My point is, it’s always important to reward yourself. Someone I look up to very much once said to me, ‘Don’t be fixated with end goals. Reward your successes every step of the way, recognising the things you’re learning and how they’ll ultimately contribute to a bigger picture. Learn new skills and collect a multitude of new experiences. Consistently accomplish your aspirations, however small.’ This is something I believe can keep us motivated and not overwhelmed by long-term goals.

Lime and Dark Chocolate Melting Moments

If I learnt anything in year five, it was that the chocolate limes reward system was the dog’s bollocks and a legit way to make you feel great about achieving something – when you’re ten. Now we’re all grown up, I felt the need to take standard sweets to the next level.

These Lime and Dark Chocolate Melting Moments are incredibly soft and almost Viennese Whirl-like in texture. A combination of flour, icing sugar, butter and cornflour creates the most wonderful melt-in-the-mouth feel. Inspired by those retro Chocolate Lime sweets, the biscuits are packed with lime zest and extract, while the chocolate buttercream filling gives them the most delicious bitter sweetness. Add a smidge of lime marmalade for added indulgence. I’m a life-long advocate of Rowse Shredded Lime Marmalade.

So tell me, what have you achieved today? Whether you saved a life or simply managed to have a great conversation with someone new, treat yourself to one of these Lime and Dark Chocolate Melting Moments. You deserve it.

Lime and Dark Chocolate Melting Moments

Lime and Dark Chocolate Melting Moments
Makes 18

Ingredients

For the biscuits:
200g plain flour
200g unsalted butter, softened
40g icing sugar
30g cornflour
Zest of 2 limes
Drop of lime extract (optional)
Drop of green food colour (optional)
Pinch of salt

For the chocolate filling:
120g unsalted butter, softened
90g icing sugar
100g dark chocolate, melted
30g cocoa powder

Method

1. Pre-heat the oven to 160C. Line two flat baking sheets with greaseproof paper.

2. Place all the ingredients for the biscuits into a food processor fitted with a rotating blade and switch it on to high. Process until you have a smooth dough that leaves the bowl fairly clean.

3. Place the dough into a piping bag fitted with a large, star-tip piping nozzle and pipe an even number of rosettes or swirls onto the sheets. Try to make sure they’re all a similar size to make sandwiching them together easier later on.

4. Bake for 18-20 minutes or until lightly golden. Allow to cool on the sheet for 10 minutes, then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.

5. To make the filling, beat the butter and sugar until pale and fluffy. Add the cocoa powder and chocolate and continue to beat for 10 minute.

6. Pile the buttercream into a piping bag fitted with a star tip and pipe onto the biscuits before sandwiching with another, or simply spread the buttercream on with a teaspoon.

Love Sanjana

 

 




Vegan Mango, Raspberry and Vanilla Meringues

I’m so obsessed with vegan meringue right now. I never thought that it would be possible to create light, fluffy whipped meringue that becomes so beautiful and melt-in-the-mouth after a couple of very patient hours in the oven.

Vegan Mango, Raspberry and Vanilla Meringues

You might have already seen my previous recipe for Vegan Saffron, Strawberry and Lime Meringue Nests which I did a YouTube video for and still, I’m raving about the endless possibilities aqua faba or ‘bean water’ holds for the future of vegan baking. No longer do I waste and drain away the water from cans of chickpeas, butter beans and pinto beans. Rather, I save them and whip them in to the fluffiest meringue peaks you’ve ever seen.

Vegan Mango, Raspberry and Vanilla Meringues

Just like egg whites, this bean water is packed with protein and when it’s whipped with sugar, becomes glossier than that expensive French manicure you just got.

It’s this that makes glorious desserts like pavlova, eton mess and meringue cakes possible and it’s this that’s lit me up from inside. I’m so hungry to experiment with magic aqua faba more and I can’t wait to share more of these vegan-friendly creations with you.

Vegan Mango, Raspberry and Vanilla Meringues

This recipe is unbelievably basic but the results are slap-you-in-the-face pretty. I promise, everyone will be asking how you did it. I did toy with the idea of using fresh fruit to create the stripes but aqua faba meringue can be quite temperamental. Any trace of grease, oil, excess water or fat will very quickly deflate the mixture and all those beautiful air bubbles will be gone.

Also, I’ve had lots of comments on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram about whether you can taste the chickpeas in the end product. The short answer is no. After adding vanilla, natural fruit extracts and baking for over 2 hours, there’s no trace of chickpea flavour.

If you’re looking to try it with fresh fruit, I’d suggest really blending it to a very smooth puree, boiling with a little sugar and reducing right down so the water content is minimal. Cool it completely before using.

I opted to use natural concentrated mango and raspberry extracts, which you can buy online from Amazon. The flavour they give these otherwise very simple vanilla meringues is so incredibly intense.

Stick with me for more vegan meringue experiments.

Vegan Mango, Raspberry and Vanilla Meringues

Vegan Mango, Raspberry and Vanilla Meringues

Ingredients

1 x 400g tin chickpeas in unsalted water, drained and the liquids reserved
140g icing sugar
1 tsp cream of tartar
1 vanilla pod, split lengthways and seeds scraped

For the raspberry stripe:
Wilton gel food colouring in rose
2 drops vegan raspberry extract

For the mango stripe:
Wilton gel food colouring in lemon yellow
2 drops vegan mango extract

Method

1. Preheat the oven to 100C. Line three large baking trays with greaseproof paper.

2. Drain the chickpeas and reserve the water. Put the chickpeas in a container and use it to make Channa Masala or Hummus later.

3. Pour the chickpea water into the bowl of an electric stand mixer fitted with the balloon whisk attachment. Make sure your bowl is really clean and grease free. Any oil will cause your meringue to deflate.

4. Whisk on a high speed for 4 minutes. Gradually add the sugar and continue to beat. During this time, add the cream of tartar and vanilla.

5. In a small bowl, add a teaspoon of the lemon yellow gel food colouring and two drops of vegan mango extract. Stir to combine. Repeat in a separate bowl for the rose colouring and raspberry extract.

6. Fit a large piping bag with a large round tipped piping nozzle. Use the back of a teaspoon to stripe the two colours lengthways all the way up inside the piping bag but not right to the top – leave at least 2 inches at the top free of any colour. Use two different spoons to keep the colours separate. I did three stripes of each colour.

7. Place the bag inside a large mug and fold down the top slightly. Fill your piping bag with half the meringue mixture and holding the nozzle straight, pipe 1 ½-inch chubby meringues, pulling away quickly when you get to the top to achieve those cute little peaks. Leave a bit of space around each meringue to ensure they don’t touch in the oven. I have a quick video for this on Instagram. I’m @korasoi.

8. Wash out your bag and repeat this process for the remaining meringue mixture.

9. Bake in the pre-heated oven for 2 ½ hours or until the meringues are totally dry to the touch and come away from the baking paper easily. Remove from the oven and allow to cool completely.

10. Serve with your favourite vegan ice cream, on top of cakes, or dip the bottoms in melted vegan chocolate and crushed freeze-dried raspberries or chopped nuts. You can also serve them with fresh raspberries, mango slices and whipped coconut cream, but assemble this right before you want to eat or the meringues are likely to dissolve.

Vegan Mango, Raspberry and Vanilla Meringues

Go on, experiment with your favourite flavours and colours. I’d love to see where your imagination takes you.

Love Sanjana




Vegan Saffron, Strawberry and Lime Meringue Nests

Ever since I was a little girl I’ve been fascinated by meringues. There’s something so magical about those white, fluffy clouds of sweet vanilla. The chewy goodness of pavlovas, with their marshmallow-like middles and cratered tops that are begging to be dolloped with whipped cream and crowned with berries.

So beautiful, yet nigh on impossible without egg whites which somehow, when whipped up, have more volume than Claudia Schiffer’s barnet in a L’Oréal Elnett ad.

Well that’s what I always thought… until now.

Vegan Saffron Strawberry and Lime Meringue Nests

The protein in egg whites allows the air bubbles created by lots of whipping to be held. Sugar dissolves into these proteins and bonds with them. The water in sugar helps increases their strength and elasticity, allowing even more air to be trapped and held sturdy. There’s nothing quite like a stiff peak.

Vegan Saffron Meringue Kisses

Without the strong proteins present in egg whites to kick the meringue process off, all you’re left with is sugar. What can vegans and those who abstain from eating eggs use instead? Fear not, we no longer need to be oblivious to the sheer joy desserts like Eton Mess, French Macarons and Pavlova can bring.

Want to know the most frustrating thing about all of this? The answer has been staring us in the face the whole time.

The secret to replacing egg whites is chickpea water. Nope, I haven’t lost the plot. It really is the water we throw down the drain when we’re making our Channa Masala and Falafel. I almost slapped myself across the face when I found out. Mind. Blown.

Vegan Saffron Strawberry and Lime Meringue Nests Chickpeas

I stumbled upon the chickpea water trick through my awesome, creative mum and later, the aquafaba website which was created off the back of a development group of very clever vegans on Facebook. It’s taken the vegan world by storm. From Lemon Meringue Pie to Baked Alaska, this makes almost every meringue-based dessert possible and I can’t wait to try more recipes with it. And share them with you, of course.

BTW, you can’t taste chickpeas in the finished dessert AT ALL. Not one bit.

My first flavour experiments led me to create these very simple Vegan Saffron, Strawberry and Lime Meringue Nests. They’re beautifully-crisp on the outside, slightly spongy and marshmallowy in the middle and they totally melt in your mouth.

Vegan Saffron Strawberry and Lime Meringue Nests

The chickpea water is whipped with cream of tartar, saffron and sugar until stiff and glossy. This takes about 8 minutes in a stand mixer. So quick.

Many meringue recipes call for vinegar, lemon juice, or cream of tartar to increase the foam’s acidity, which promotes the growth and stability of a meringue. You can use any of them.

These are then piped onto a baking sheet and baked in a very low oven for a few hours until they’re totally dry and peel away from the paper easily. The key here is patience. Give these beauties time.

While they were baking, I macerated strawberries in lime juice, zest and a touch of icing sugar. To assemble, I filled them with whipped coconut cream and topped with the strawberries. I love strawberry mojitos and these are like a gorgeously-tall glass of iced strawberry mojito in dessert form.

Vegan Saffron Strawberry and Lime Meringue Nests

You can use this recipe to make a large pavlova too – just add a teaspoon of cornflour to the meringue mixture and bake for 90 minutes longer.

Watch my YouTube tutorial for how to make these right here. Don’t forget to subscribe!

Vegan Saffron, Strawberry and Lime Meringue Nests
(Makes 18 nests or one super large pavlova)

Ingredients

For the Vegan Meringue:
1 x 400g tin chickpeas in water –not brine or salted water (you can also use other white beans – butter beans also worked for me)
140g icing sugar
1 tsp cream of tartar
1 large pinch of saffron
½ tsp vanilla extract (make sure it’s not oil based!)
Yellow gel food colour (optional) 

For the Strawberries:
600g strawberries
1 lime, juice and zest
1 tbsp icing sugar

For the Whipped Coconut Cream:
2 x 400ml full-fat coconut milk, refrigerated overnight
2 tbsp icing sugar

Method

1. Preheat the oven to 100C. Line three large baking trays with greaseproof paper.

2. Drain the chickpeas and reserve the water. Put the chickpeas in a container and use it to make Channa Masala or Hummus later.

3. Pour the chickpea water into the bowl of an electric stand mixer fitted with the balloon whisk attachment. Make sure your bowl is really clean and grease free. Any oil could cause your meringue to deflate.

4. Whisk on a high speed for 4 minutes. Gradually add the sugar and continue to beat. During this time, add the cream of tartar, vanilla and saffron. Once your meringues have reached a really stiff glossy peak stage, add a little bit of yellow food colour if you like. Whip until evenly incorporated.

5. Fit a piping bag with a large star-tipped nozzle and spoon in your meringue. You might have to do it in batches if it doesn’t fit. Shake to remove any large air pockets.

6. Pipe into nests by piping a 3-inch round spiral base, then pipe two to three circles on top of the outer edge of the base, spiraling upwards to create a ‘nest effect’ on the edge of the meringue.

7. Bake at 100C for 2 ½ hours, then switch the oven off and leave for a further hour. Remove from the oven and gently peel the meringues away from the greaseproof paper. They should be totally dry underneath. Remember, the larger the meringues, the longer they will take to bake.

8. Meanwhile, chop the strawberries any which way you like. Add the lime juice, zest and sugar. Mix and cover with cling film. Chill until later.

9. Open the tins of coconut milk (don’t shake them first) and remove the thick cream from the top. Place it in the bowl of your stand mixer and whip along with the sugar until smooth. Reserve the water for a smoothie tomorrow morning.

10. Assemble the nests with a spoonful of coconut cream, top with strawberries and lime zest. Serve immediately.

The plain meringue nests will keep in an airtight container for 3-4 days.

Vegan Saffron Strawberry and Lime Meringue Nests 3

Dig in.

Love Sanjana x




Eggless Pistachio and Raspberry Buttermilk Cake

If you’d have told me before today that there’s something quite beautiful about making your own pistachio paste from scratch, I’d have probably told you you’re a mug.

Turns out it’s only bloody brilliant.

I’ve been nuts about pistachio desserts ever since my taste buds got their first fix of the gorgeously-green ice cream as a kid. That sweet fragrance of pistachios and just a hint of almond reminds me of both Indian sweet shops with their rows upon rows of Pista Halwa and cherry-topped Bakewell Tarts. It’s what I imagine heaven for sweet-toothed food bloggers smells like. Also present in said heaven would be Mr Kipling (the master of baked goods), Lionel Ritchie (with his smooth-as-buttermilk voice) and Madhuri Dixit (with her timeless beauty). So like all the components of this, my dream cake… all the greats.

Eggless Pistachio and Raspberry Buttermilk Cake

To get the perfect green pistachio paste, the pistachios should be unsalted, shelled and skinned. If you have the good fortune to encounter them in all their emerald-green glory in a shop, buy them. If, like me, you can’t find them, you’ll need to remove the outer shells, blanch them in boiling water for three minutes, drain and refresh under cold water, then slip the skins off. Finally, give them a quick toast in a hot oven.

Marzipan gives the paste a delicious nutty edge and liquid glucose brings it all together like a dream.

In this recipe, I use a combination of sweetened condensed milk, milk powder and buttermilk as an egg replacer and it really works wonders in helping the cake hold its structure once risen which I find is the trickiest part of egg-free baking.

Finish the cake with a slathering of cream cheese frosting, raspberries and extra pistachios. A few white chocolate curls are also welcome to join the party.

Eggless Pistachio and Raspberry Buttermilk Cake

Eggless Pistachio and Raspberry Buttermilk Cake
Serves 10-12

Ingredients

For the pistachio paste blend together:
200g pistachios, shelled and skinned
150g white marzipan
220ml liquid glucose
A drop of green food colour, if required

For the cake:
1 x 397g tin sweetened condensed milk
180g caster sugar
320ml buttermilk
2 tsp apple cider vinegar
190ml groundnut oil
3 tbsp pistachio paste
2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp bicarbonate of soda
2 tbsp skimmed milk powder
450g cake flour

For the frosting:
250g unsalted butter, softened
250g full-fat cream cheese
300g icing sugar
1 tsp vanilla bean paste or vanilla extract

To decorate:
400g raspberries
Pistachios
White chocolate curls

Method

1. Grease and line two 10-inch wide x 4-inch deep cake tins.

2. Pre-heat the oven to 160C.

3. In a stand mixer, combine the condensed milk, milk powder, cider vinegar, buttermilk, oil, pistachio paste and sugar. Beat on high speed for 5 minutes.

4. Sift in the flour, baking powder and bicarbonate of soda in three stages, folding in gently between each. Don’t overbeat this.

5. Divide the cake batter between the two prepared tins, smoothing out the tops.

6. Bake for 40-45 minutes or until a sharp knife inserted into the middles comes out clean. It’s really important not to open the oven door for the first 30 minutes – your cakes will almost certainly collapse if you do.

7. Remove from the oven and allow to cool in the tins for 10 minutes before turning out onto a wire rack. Leave to cool completely.

8. To make the cream cheese frosting, in a stand mixer beat together the butter, vanilla and sugar (add the sugar gradually) for 5 minutes or until pale and fluffy. Next, add in the cream cheese and beat in very briefly. If you overwork this, the frosting will become runny. Keep in the fridge until ready to use.

9. To decorate, sandwich the cakes together with half of the cream cheese and an even layer of raspberries. Top with the remaining frosting. Scatter with pistachios and white chocolate curls.

Enjoy with your favourite people or all by yourself.

Love Sanjana




Sesame Salted Caramel Bars

My name is Sanjana and I’m a caramelholic.

Rich, luxurious caramel with a pinch of sea salt reminds me of the gooey-centered masterpieces I overindulged on in my favourite Parisian chocolateries some years ago. These days, whenever I hear the words ‘salted caramel’, my ears prick up like a meerkat on predator watch. And because it’s become so popular, this happens often.

In this recipe, I’ve paired salted caramel with toasted sesame seeds, dark chocolate and a touch of coconut oil. Trust me when I say this flavour combo will take you straight to heaven.

Nutty sesame seeds are ground and added into the biscuit base before being topped with a ridiculously-generous amount of salted caramel blended with coconut oil. The caramel is then set and crowned with sesame oil-spiked dark chocolate.

Be sure to line your tin with plenty of greaseproof paper and groundnut oil to make sure they don’t stick. Try to chill overnight and cut with a super-sharp and hot knife.

The deep, nutty flavours make these bars the perfect after-dinner treat with a shot of espresso. Just be sure to cut them into small cubes. I love them as an afternoon pick-me-up with a glass of cold milk.

If you love the combination of peanut butter and chocolate, you need to try the marriage that is sesame and chocolate. Forget Reese’s Cups and plain old Millionaire’s Shortbread. These will blow your mind.

Sesame Salted Caramel Bars

Salted Sesame Caramel Bars
Serves 16
Adapted from Donna Hay

Ingredients

For the biscuit base:
200g plain flour
30g toasted sesame seeds, ground
150g unsalted butter
100g light brown sugar

For the caramel filling:
2x 397g tins sweetened condensed milk
130g golden syrup
125g coconut oil
1 tsp sea salt

For the chocolate layer:
200g dark chocolate
1 tbsp toasted sesame oil
Toasted sesame seeds, to sprinkle (optional)

Method

1. Combine the flour, ground sesame seeds, brown sugar and melted butter. Press into a greased and lined 6-inch by 9inch tin. Bake in a preheated oven at 180C for 20 minutes.

2. While the biscuit base cooks, make the caramel. Combine the condensed milk, golden syrup and coconut oil. Cook until very lightly-golden and slightly thickened. Add the sea salt and set aside.

3. Remove the biscuit base from the oven and pour over the caramel. Allow to set at room temperature until cool. Place in the fridge for 2 hours or until the caramel has set.

4. Melt the chocolate over a double boiler and stir in the toasted sesame oil. Allow to cool slightly and pour over the set caramel. You can sprinkle over some toasted sesame seeds if you like but I love a smooth, shiny top. Return to the fridge to set for 4 hours or overnight.

5. Slice into bars or pieces as large as you can handle. The recipe makes approx. 16 squares.

Salted Sesame Caramel Bars 3

Store in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 7 days… if they last that long.

Love Sanjana




Eggless Coconut Drizzle Cake

Eggless Coconut Drizzle Cake

After a blissful late honeymoon in Phuket, Thailand, life in chilly England resumes. But thankfully I brought a few exotic Thai goodies back in my suitcase. Mango wafers, longan toffees, Thai honey and this gorgeous flaked coconut crowning my loaf cake.

Packed with coconut flavour, this eggless cake can be baked in a loaf tin or round cake tin. It’s great sandwiched with raspberry jam and buttercream but today, I wanted an exotic cake that reminded me of the mouth-watering flavours of Thailand. If you have a large loaf tin (25cm in length), this will make one loaf. If not, two smaller tins will be perfect.

Greek yoghurt is the perfect way to ensure this cake stays fluffy and rich inside and of course, there’s not a speck of butter in sight. Why use butter when coconut oil has so much more to give?

Cold-pressed coconut oil makes a wonderful loaf cake as it helps it retain its shape as well as keeping the cake fluffy and perfect inside as the coconut oil cools. It’s also packed with sublime coconut flavour. A touch of vanilla extract will help bring this out.

I always make it at least a day ahead of serving. When it comes out of the baking tin, wrap the cake in cling film and leave to cool like this. It will keep the cake lovely and moist. 

When toasting your coconut, keep an eye on it. It will scorch in the blink of an eye if you’re not careful.

The icing is just a simple mix of icing sugar, coconut extract, vanilla extract and a few drops of water added just until you have a thick ‘drizzleable’ consistency. Is that a word? It is now.

I love this with a cup of hot, milky masala coffee.

Eggless Coconut Drizzle Cake

Eggless Coconut Drizzle Cake 
Serves 10

For the dry ingredients:

400g self-raising flour
2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp cornflour
100g desiccated coconut

For the wet ingredients:

200g coconut oil
350g caster sugar
200g Greek yoghurt
250ml coconut milk
2 tsp white vinegar
1 tsp vanilla extract 
1 tsp coconut extract

For the icing:

200g icing sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
½ tsp coconut extract
20-30ml water or enough to make a thick icing

20g coconut flakes, toasted in the oven, to decorate

Method

1. Grease and line a 25cm x 8cm oblong loaf tin. Pre-heat the oven to 160 C

2. Combine all the dry ingredients together in a large bowl.

3. In a stand mixer or large bowl, beat together the coconut oil and sugar for 5 minutes.

4. Add the rest of the wet ingredients and beat until well combined.

5. Gradually add in the dry ingredients, and beat until fully combines – no more than a minute.

6. Pour into the line baking tin and bake in the middle rack of the oven for 60 minutes or until a skewer poked through the middle comes out clean.

7. It’s important not to open the oven for the first 40 minutes of baking.

8. Remove from the oven, run a knife around the sides of the cake to loosen it and turn out onto a wire rack. Wrap the cake in cling film and allow to cool completely.

9. To make the icing, beat together all the ingredients and drizzle over the top of the cooled cake. Scatter over the toasted coconut flakes and allow the icing to set at room temperature for an hour or so.

Eggless Coconut Drizzle Cake

Enjoy with masala coffee on a chilly afternoon.

Love Sanjana




Hot Saffron and Lemon Seeroh with Pistachio Ice Cream

Hot Saffron and Lemon Seeroh Pistachio Ice Cream

Seeroh is one of those desserts that brings out the greedy little kid in me. Sweet semolina tossed with spices and so buttery it melts as soon as it hits your tongue. Flippin’ gorgeous. And before you ask, it’s nothing like ‘school dinner’ semolina. Not even close.

Years ago we’d make special trips to the mandir (temple) during Navratri and Diwali to pray for the year ahead, see family and have an amazing, spiritual evening. Of course, I was there for all of these reasons, plus for the reason that there would be prashad – sweets like Seeroh offered to the gods that evening. After putting my hands together in prayer, I’d open them up and wait patiently for my Seeroh.

I believe glace cherries have three purposes in life; to garnish cocktails, top cherry bakewells and stud this delicious addictive treat. If you really don’t like them, replace with candied lemon or orange pieces. They’ll add an incredible texture to contrast the soft texture of this dessert.

Hot Saffron and Lemon Seeroh Pistachio Ice Cream (3)

I love experimenting with different flavour combinations with this recipe. The basic Seeroh is so simple that’s it’s easy to get carried away with different flavourings. One of my favourites is this saffron and lemon version. The other is my mum’s orange and cardamom version. I could eat it all…. day… long.

There are two ways you can serve this dish; The first is to set and cool this in a square thali so you can cut it into pieces, and the second is to serve it loose as a hot pudding. Top with a scoop of ice cream and be blown away by the insane contrast of hot and cold.

You should always store Seeroh in the fridge because it can spoil quickly at room temperature. This should keep well for 2-4 days – whether it will last that long is another story.

Hot Saffron and Lemon Seeroh Pistachio Ice Cream (2)

Hot Saffron and Lemon Seeroh with Pistachio Ice Cream
Serves 8-10

Ingredients

700ml hot milk
140ml hot water
100g sugar
50g golden syrup

140g salted butter
260g coarse semolina
Zest of 2 large unwaxed lemons – I love those beautiful Amalfi lemons
A large pinch of saffron
2 tbsp glace cherries, halved

Homemade or shop-bought pistachio ice cream, to serve (I’ll give you my recipe in another post)
Slivered almonds and pistachios to decorate
Icing sugar to dust, optional

Method

1. Heat the butter in a large non-stick pan and add the semolina. Sauté on a low/medium heat for around 3 minutes or until golden and toasted.

2. Slowly add the hot milk and water, whisking all the time. The mixture should thicken as you whisk. Add the sugar and syrup.

3. Cook on a medium heat for around 15 minutes or until a buttery sheen becomes visible on the top and sides of the mixture. Keep stirring all the time and cook for as long as it takes for the mixture to become glossy.

4. Remove from the heat, add the lemon zest, saffron and glace cherries. Combine.

5. Serve hot with a big scoop of pistachio ice cream.

That’s it. Pistachio and Rose Bombay Halwa, Gujarati Mohanthal and Hot Saffron and Lemon Seeroh with Pistachio Ice Cream. Three Diwali desserts to keep you sweet all year long.

Happy Diwali!

Love Sanjana




Pistachio and Rose Bombay Halwa

Pistachio and Rose Bombay Halwa (2)

I used to love going into Indian sweet shops as a little nipper, especially around Diwali. Wide-eyed and full of wonder, the shop keepers would see me peering through their glass cases at the majestic displays of endless halwa, burfi, penda, jalebi, kaju katli, mohanthal gulab jambu, rasmalai and everything in between. I very quickly became an expert at getting free samples.

My dad would always ask me what I’d like in my special box of sweets. I’d think long and hard about which ones would make the cut – it was a very important decision. To this day, he still buys me my own box of sweets and even if I’m not there to choose them, he somehow always picks my favourites.

Pistachio and Rose Bombay Halwa

The one that always stood out was the Bombay Halwa. It’s one of the only sweet that comes in lots of different colours – and they’re SO bright. Rows of translucent pink, yellow, green and orange jellies studded with jewel-like pistachios and cashews. They were bright and beautiful and I was a magpie, attracted to anything colourful.

For me, it was always the pink ones. As an avid fan of C.S. Lewis’s The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe, it reminded me of the White Witch’s wicked Turkish delights that were conjured up to encourage Edmund’s betrayal. Of course, the only things I betrayed were my poor teeth. It was so worth it.

I learnt much later that Bombay Halwa is really easy to make. The jelly-like texture is achieved by mixing cornflour and sugar syrup – very much like making Turkish delight. Next, you slowly add ghee until it’s glossy and thick. And that’s pretty much it. So simple but make sure your arm muscles are ready. There’s loads of stirring involved.

You can make pretty much any flavour or colour you like. I love rose and pistachio but saffron and cashew and simple lemon and cardamom are also great.

Pistachio and Rose Bombay Halwa (4)

Pistachio and Rose Bombay Halwa
Makes 18-20 pieces

Ingredients
160g cornflour
140ml water

400g sugar
250ml water

4 tbsp rose syrup
100g ghee, melted
50g roasted pistachios, lightly broken
½ tsp cardamom seeds, ground

Method

1. Grease a 6×8 rectangular tin with ghee.

2. First, mix together the cornflour and 140ml cold water.

3. In a large pan (I use a wok with a large handle), add the sugar and 250ml water. Bring to the boil and wait for all the sugar to melt.

4. Once all the sugar has melted, in a slow and steady stream, add the cornflour mixture, stirring all the time. Keep the mixure boiling all the time and keep stirring. It will thicken and look a lot like wallpaper paste.

5. When you’ve added all the cornflour mixture, add the rose syrup.

6. Next, start adding the ghee – slowly at first. Keep stirring to ensure there are no lumps. Then add the rest of the ghee and incorporate. Cook again, mixing all the time until thick, glossy and translucent.

7. Mix in the cardamom and pistachios.

8. Pour the mixture into the greased pan, decorate with crushed pistachios and allow to set at room temperature for 12 hours or overnight.

9. Cut into pieces as big as you can fit in your mouth.

Pistachio and Rose Bombay Halwa (3)

I have two more of my favourite Diwali sweets coming your way this week. Keep an eye out.

Love Sanjana