A guest post by Kankana Saxena from Sunshine & Smile – Cream Puffs filled with Strawberry and Mascarpone

I’m trying my best to keep up with race of time, it is ridiculously running fast, possibly there is no way I could make it go bit slow…..sigh! Anyways I have started writing my thesis and the D day is not so far…shall keep you all posted as soon as it gets official, there is endless list of things to complete, send me good wishes folks, to reach the red line!

This week guest post is from Kankana of Sunshine & Smile chirpy young lady, exactly as her blog name says, very positive and encouraging! She never fails to impress me with every single post she makes. She is one among my friends with whom I very quickly gelled with, at-least from few emails I felt she is like my childhood friend, she being so organised tolerated my absent-mindedness. Thank you Kankana for coming over and making such a gorgeous dessert. Let me say it was a surprise dessert for me, thought I knew its gonna be a dessert I hardly knew wat it was….and these little darlings made my morning a day before. They took me to the days in Rome where I indulged in Sicilian dessert, as soon my defense is over I’m sure to bake them. So people jump over to Sunshine & Smile not only for her wonderful and indulging recipes but her beautiful pictures….you are sure to get hooked …few fav of mine are  ohh mushrooms,  Rosemary in cookies  and Baigan bharta pizza

Thanks a lot Ananda for inviting me over to your gorgeous space. It’s truly an honor! 

I visited Ananda’s blog few months back and fell in love with it immediately, the layout, the photography and her baking skill, she is one talented girl. We became friends very quickly and with her busy schedule, we hardly get time to chat much but we stay connected. And when she said ’my heart always beats for sweets, anytime of the day’, I wanted to make something sweet for her.

I am not much of a sweet tooth person, but there are few sweet treats to which I will never say ‘No’ and one of those is Cream Puffs. After some serious thought and hours of internet browsing, I decided to take an attempt and bake it at home.
And thank god I did … cause they were delicious.

I was surprised and smiling from cheek to cheek as I saw those cream puffs rising tall in the oven. Kept my fingers crossed and hoped that it doesn’t fall flat after a while. It didn’t and they were still standing firm when I took these out of the oven. I kept staring impatiently for these to cool down and after a while, I held one in my hand.. they were perfect (at least in my world)!

I jumped like a crazy girl, told the whole world about it and did my happy dance for a very long long time :)
I am not much of a baker and that explains why I don’t have any piping bag, without which it’s tough to give the puffs a neat shape. Therefore, I improvised and used a zip-lock bag as my piping bag and as you can see, the shape weren’t that bad either.
After the puffs came out the way I wanted, I had to look for some filling to use and what’s better than mascarpone with strawberries, right?

It took me hardly any time to whip up the filling. The best way to enjoy these puffs is to slit these in half, spread your choice of cream filling and let these chill in the refrigerator for a while.
It was all worth the wait!

Every bite was delicious.. buttery.. creamy.. and the berries made it sweet and juicy. A perfect treat with pure indulgence!


This will make about 8 to 9 puffs.
Ingredients:
For the puffs
ñ 6 tbs unsalted butter
ñ 1 cup water
ñ 1-1/2 tsp sugar
ñ a pinch of salt
ñ 3 large eggs
ñ 1 cup all-purpose flour
For the filling
ñ 1 cup mascarpone cheese
ñ 1/2 cup heavy cream
ñ 1 cup powdered sugar (may vary depending of tartness or sweetness of strawberries)
ñ 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
ñ 1 cup strawberry thinly sliced
Directions:
In a deep pan, boil water and drop the butter in the water.
After the butter is melted, add sugar, salt and keep stirring.
Bring the heat to medium, add all the flour at once and using a wooden spoon, keep beating until the mixture forms a dough. This should take about 3 minutes.
Stop the heat and remove the pan from the stove.
The next step is to mix the eggs with the dough which can be done in two different ways :-
1. Beat all the eggs in a bowl. Then, pour the beaten eggs in the dough little bit at a time and keep stirring until all the eggs are mixed nicely with the dough (as shown here).
OR
2. Put the hot dough in the food processor, add the eggs all at once and pulse it for a while till it mixes properly (as shown here).
I used the second method to mix the dough with eggs until it was smooth and thick in texture.
Next, spoon or pipe 8 to 9 mounds of dough onto the baking sheet. Make sure to space them about 1-1/2 inch apart as they will spread while baking.
Wet the tip of your finger and tap the top of the dough slightly just to make sure it’s smooth on top.
Bake it at 400 F for 15mins.
Reduce the heat to 350 F and bake for another 30 minutes or until they are all puffed up and get golden brown in color.
Once done, let these cool completely before you start filling.
For the filling, whip together mascarpone cheese with heavy cream and sugar till it’s firm. Chop the strawberries and mix it with the cheese mix.
For final plating: Cut the puffs in half , spread the strawberries and cheese mix on the bottom half, place the top half of the puff shells and dust some icing sugar on top. You can serve it immediately, but I feel it tastes best when chilled for about an hour before you serve.
Enjoy!

Irregularities – Strawberry bavarian mousse/mirror cake

Final experiment running, data to be analysed, research articles to be massaged and finally a thesis should be generated. You heard me right? yes all these final stuffs has been keeping me occupied (no complaints, I’m happy with this phase) and also in such a state of mind that I kept adding sugar instead of salt to curry and was thinking huh this summer tomatoes are too sweet, hello excuse me in which world? Before I could realise the curry was almost a dessert! Wish to note down all these kinds of incidents, which makes me go fierce at that moment but it, would be a comic book for me in the future alas it will be a endless comic book! 
So lovely people kindly bear with me, you will see the regular irregularities of my presence in APL on the brighter side you are soon going to have some surprises stay tuned! 
This recipe is from my Japanese friend, Reiko, she made it as layer cake (green tea cake+ agar agar+ strawberry mousse) it was fantastic. I replicated only mousse part with thin eggless chocolate cake and strawberry jelly/mirror on top! The mousse is very special, not too sweet with tad bit of sourness, smooth and rich. If you all are wondering what is that leaf? I have no idea except for the fact it’s edible. The name was written in Finnish which obviously I forgot to note it down! Basically used them to bring some contrast. Enjoy the cake till the blogger part in me wakes up again :) 

Eggless Chocolate Cake
(I wouldn’t state it as world best eggless cake but it was just fine, it’s first time i tried eggless version, it was not too fluffy but soft and moist, served the purpose of being good base!) 
Ingredients 
50 ml milk (i used 1.5% fat)
100 gram sugar
120 gram melted butter 
150 gram all purpose flour
30 gram cocoa powder
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
Mix the dry ingredients first (flour + baking power + cocoa powder).
Melt butter, then add in sugar, then slowly mix flour and milk in steps till is uniformly mixed and required consistency is obtained. (If batter is too thick, adding milk in step of 10 ml till the required consistency is obtained). Pour the batter in greased 18 cm baking pan and bake in preheated oven at 180 C for about 30 to 40 minutes till tooth pick inserted comes out clean).
Let the cake cool aside, it definitely should be at room temperature; else it would melt the mousse. I let them cool over night. 
Bavarian Mousse
Ingredients
200 gram strawberries (room temperature) ( or 4 tbspn strawberry jam) 
60 gram sugar  
Lemon juice 1/2 tbspn
Water 50 ml
Gelatin 5 gram
Fresh cream 150 ml
Put strawberry + sugar+ lemon juice in blender and blend until smooth. Next filter the smoothie. Add gelatin in warm water in order for them to melt. Then sieve in gelatin into the smoothie, be quick and make sure your strawberry smoothie is at room temperature.
Next whip cream unil light and fluffy (single peaks are formed). Slowly incorporate cream to the strawberry smoothie and until it is uniformly mixed. Then place the bowl over the bowl of ice water, till the liquid gets viscous. 
Assembling  
Use a detachable cake pan and skillfully place cling foil to the inside sides of the cake pan.
Then place cooled chocolate cake and press with fingers so that cakes sits well to the bottom. As soon the mousse mixture gets viscous pour into the cake pan. Let it set in refrigerator for about 4 hrs. 
Once mousse sets next prepare the strawberry jelly or mirror part.
Strawberry juice
Strawberry 14 grams
100 ml water
50 gram sugar (add more if you want them sweet, try drinking the juice and check)
Blend together and filter the juice
For mirror
1/2 tsp lemon juice
1/2 tbspn water
3/4 tbspn gelatin powder
Few drop of red food color
In a small bowl pour lemon juice and water, sprinkle gelatin over the mixture and let it aside till soft. Next  pour strawberry juice in a sauce pan and bring to simmer and pour the juice to gelatin mixture. Stir till gelatin melts, next add food colour. then place the bowl over bowl of ice water till the liquid becomes syrupy, when its just beings to thicken pour it over the top of the cake and refrigerate until set. 
After the cake sets un-mold the cake pan, remove the cling foil and serve the cake cold!

Happy Feet – Layered Mango Mousse with Saffron and Cardamom

Bonjour Mesdames et Messieurs! 
Enjoying sun? Finally spring is here, crisp sun, budding green leaves, cheerful people and so far 16 hrs daylight, Bliss! With joyous attitude I have three happy news to share. 
Happy feet1 – We have a new addition in our family, I’m aunt again, my sis delivered a baby Boy two weeks ago, a new welcoming change has been best so far! He is darling sleeping day in and out. can’t wait to see him! Not sure when I will go but my thoughts are completely there!  

Happy feet2 – A new macro lens in my DSLR kit, very handsome guy I say, one disadvantage which I felt was there was it doesn’t have IS, but well manageable. Haven’t started playing with him, work has been keeping too much occupied, today’s photos are my first trial (have taken in manual mode f/2.8). Slowly I’m sneaking into nook and corner of my house, it’s amazing to get into fine details. During spring party I tried few portraits it worked good, waiting for sometime to learn him better!

Happy Feet3 APL turned one. 43 food post,  30,000 views and huge bunch of wonderful people feels like a winner! Thanks to my lens, made a self check with my earlier posts, was shocked to see the date. It was a dubious start, but the journey so far has been glorious. APL has been a platform for me to connect with all you lovely people out here, without you guys, trust me she wouldn’t have reached here. You all have been a part my joy, understanding my thoughts, encouraging me for both (blog and PhD) and top most all the love. Big THANKS to all of you, keep us loved! Would like to be more regular in posting to keep the visual treat on, you already know why, will try my best this year.

Today recipe is very special one for me, it was dream to make this kind of layered mousse cake, I spend days in other versatile food pages seeing and getting inspired. When I saw Mango event in Tanvi’s Sinfully Spicy, when I saw the book she is going to give as the gift I knew what I have to make. So here is guys, I wanted to try the way I could handle, by keep it extremely simple and very subtle. Base cake (mango saffron olive oil cake) I tried couple of months before when mum went back to India made it for my sis, she was singing glories of it so wanted to it make it for myself….it is fantastic! When I made it for my sis, used normal cooking oil but for the competition made it olive oil, since I didn’t taste it last time, not sure if there was change in taste, but I believe there shouldn’t be much. I’m submitting it for the Mango event.

That is the end of my happy feet story, I shall dance along it for some more days, you guys have a wonderful weekend and happy may day.  Envoi de L’amour :)

Note: I used tin mangoes, so flavour was bit mild, if you use fresh mango it will be just wonderful!

I kept the gelatin level also less since I to have a smooth and soft texture, it did start to tilt after 5 hours. If you want to it be firm for long time you ahead it bit more gelatin 
Ingredients

Mango olive oil saffron cardamom cake
2 Eggs
50ml olive oil
55 – 60 gram castor sugar
60 ml mango pulp (I used tin mango pulp)
1/2 tspn cardamom powder
1/2 tspn saffaron
3/4 tspn baking powder
65 gram flour
Method.
Gently mix castor sugar and olive oil. By beating on high, slip in one egg. Beat for about 1 minute, next add in another egg, beat till it forms a frothy mixture. Next gently fold in mango pulp. 
In another bowl mix flour, saffron, cardamom, baking powder. 
Now by parts add the dry mixture into the we mixture and gently fold them until well combined. Pour the cake batter in greased 9 inch cake tin. Bake at 170 C for about 20 – 25 minutes. When inserted toothpick comes out clean leave the cake to cool and cute in to small 2.3 inch (or desired size) disc using a cookie cutter. I had 8 uniform discs
Step 1 of assembly 
If you have pastry tins or mould (not sure about the name though) use them or (i used) transparent pastry sheets 4.5 inch in width and about 9 inch in length. Roll it around disc shaped cake. In such a way that cake form the base and pastry sheets forms the hollow pillar which will be filled with mousse. 
Mousse 
375 gram mango pulp (you add more if you want more orange flavour, then you will need to add more gelatin)
330 ml fresh cream
150 gram sugar
12.5 gram gelatin sheet (you add 5 more gram it need bit more firm)
250 gram mascarpone cheese
1/2 to 3/4 tspn of saffron
1/2 tspn of cardamom powder 
Few drop of mango essence (i added 2 drops of vanilla essence )
A pinch or few drops of yellow food colour (optional)
Method. 
Beat fresh cream and sugar till they form single peak. Make sure not to beat too much you will make the cream dry. Next add mascarpone cheese in to soft fluffy cream and continue to beat on LOW till they again start to form firm single peaks .
Next place gelatin sheet in warm water. when it becomes soft. Slowly sieve the gelatin in to the mango pulp. Make sure mango pulp is in room temperature, else gelatin will firm if mango pulp is cold.
(Tip: very gently warm 1 tbspn of mango pulp in microwave and mix the sieved gelatin with 1 tbspn. Stir well then add it rest of the mango pulp)
Next mix the gelatin mixed mango pulp into the macarpone cream mixture and very gently fold in till it is uniformly mixed. 
Now divided the mousse in to 3 parts.
To part 1 add about 1/2 to 3/4 tspn of saffron and mix gently till well combined 
To part 2 add abot 1/2 tspn of cardamom powder and pinch of yellow food colour to bring some difference in layers. Mix gently till well combined and 
To part 2 you could add few drop of mango essence (i added 2 drops of vanilla essence ) 
Step 2 of assembly 
Now pour the mousse into 3 pipping bags (or you could spoon it as well, but it can be messy, or if you have good beaker could pour it as well) 
According to you choice layer the mousse and leave them in the freezer to set. After set maybe 6 to 8 hours. peal the pastry sheet and decorate as your wish. I used fresh flowers and sugar stained glasses
Mousse is quite running before set so don’t panic when you do it :) 

Sugar stained glasses
Same as making caramel, but don’t let it turn brown. Place a  butter paper in a baking plate and spread some food colour randomly. When sugar is boiling, pour it on the butter paper and squirl it around and let it set. After cooled cut into desired size. 
I played too much with it…it was fun!

Happy Diwali – Caramelized Fig Tart

Diwali is around the corner, so all ready for it? what a pity that it falls on working day, chance to have a party or do something good seems to be bit out of question for me in Finland. Anyways Diwali reminds me of many happenings in India, waking  up early, bursting crackers, food, sweets, extended family and what not?

Dangerously Delightful : Mango Delight

Who doesn’t like king of fruits Mr. Mango? I’m a huge fan of him. Like mentioned in my previous post, I have a mango tree in our house, every year the yield was around 600 to 700 mangoes. After the harvest, the raw mangoes has to be kept in a special room, with proper setting to maintain the temperature for them to turn golden yellow. Mum and dad does them perfectly using some kind of dry grass and warp them in jute bags. As kids myself and my sis were curious how mangoes turn yellow and we used to peep into those bags every day, which was not good in any sense, but we do them when mummy and papa were away haha. Ripening time is around two weeks or more. Slowly the brusting of flavors will start, man I can’t tell you guys it’s one of the most wonderful time of the year, with all those gorgeous, succulent ,ultra sweet ones spread on the table. No we don’t eat all of them, mum distributes to family member and neighbors and I cry buckets when she does that 😀
On top of this my grandpa used to own a mango farm and he sends one basket of king of king Banganapalle mangoes all the way from my native place. With such a heavy duty mango background, when I came to Finland I was devoid of them. Usually I take my vacation during late autumn to escape gray and gloomy time of the year, but it’s too late for mangoes in India. After four long years, this year I have been super dooper lucky as one of oriental shop uncle brought some form Sweden for we starving Indians. Can’t tell you how we ladies barged into his shop and almost emptied the shelves. I quickly froze few diced mangoes to play around with it in baking. Was searching for weeks to make something exclusive, delectable, enchanting and darling. Total credit goes to dessert.net for this fantastic recipe, followed it to dot. But reduced the quantity to half. Hope you will also enjoy.