It was by pure chance that I came across a jar of St Aubin 1819 molasses at Le Bois Cheri restaurant boutique during an impromptu visit. This viscous syrup used to be readily available from sugar cane factories as a byproduct of the sugar industry. Richly endowed with vitamins and minerals due to its unrefined nature, molasses make a wonderful addition to homemade cookies. These lovely sugar-coated cookies studded with dried cranberries, from In Katrina’s Kitchen, perfectly bring out the pungent bittersweet note of natural molasses, making them deliciously soft and chewy. And that’s only a prelude to my Christmas baking…

CRANBERRY MOLASSES COOKIES

Ingredients:

1/2 cup butter, softened

1/4 cup molasses

3/4 cup granulated sugar

1 egg, room temperature

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon cloves

1/2 teaspoon ginger

1/2 teaspoon allspice

1 teaspoon cinnamon

1 teaspoon baking soda

2 cups all purpose flour

1/2 cup dried cranberries

Method:

  • Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Celsius. In a bowl or stand mixer, cream butter and sugar together.

  • Scrape bowl prior to each new addition. Add molasses and egg and beat again. Mixture may be lumpy.

  • Add baking soda, spices and flour. Mix until smooth. Add cranberries and mix with a wooden spoon.

  • Form 1 inch balls. Roll them in sugar and transfer them to a baking sheet lined with parchment paper.

  • Space the cookies 1-2 inches apart. Bake for 10-11 minutes until they turn golden but still soft to touch.

  • Let cookies rest for 1 minute before transferring to a wire rack to cool. Makes roughly 3 dozen cookies.

Cranberry & Molasses

This week I’ve been following Rick Stein, a famous British chef, as he goes on exploring the different cuisines around India in search of the perfect curry. What makes a good curry? Sensual spicy aromas or thick, creamy sauces? Rich, dark dals or crispy fried street snacks? Rick takes his viewers on a journey through India to unlock the secrets of these complex and diverse flavours through his TV show, Rick Stein’s India. His travels take him to the heart of Indian cooking through both long-held traditions and modern techniques of food preparation.

He uncovers recipes for fragrant kormas, delicate spiced fish and slow-cooked biryanis, all the while gathering ideas and inspiration for his own take on the perfect curry. In the misdt of all the spices and dishes heavily laden with desi ghee, he introduces to his viewers a delicate sweet dish, flavoured with saffron and rosewater. Nimish, a beautifully creamy dessert from Lucknow – the land of Nawabs - is a refined treat said to be better than kulfi, the common Indian ice cream. Traditionally, nimish is served covered with chopped pistachios and bits of edible silver leaf.

NIMISH

Ingredients:

450g/1lb double cream

50g/1¾oz icing sugar

1 teaspoon rosewater

Pinch saffron strands

100ml/3½fl oz milk

Few chopped pistachios

Edible silver leaf

Method:

  • Warm milk and soak saffron strands for 15 minutes till well infused. Whip cream in a bowl till soft peaks just start to form.

  • It is important not to over-whisk. Sift in the icing sugar, then add the rosewater and the cooled saffron milk plus the strands.

  • Whisk together for a minute until it is smooth and a few bubbles appear on the surface. Pour gently into small serving bowls.

  • Chill for at least 4 hours or overnight. Decorate with sliced pistachios and edible silver leaf and serve immediately. Serves 4.

Fit for a Nawab

BLACKBERRY SWIRL POUND CAKE

Ingredients:

1/2 cup unsalted butter, room temperature

1 1/3 cups blackberries

1 1/4 cups plus 2 tablespoons sugar

1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour

1/2 teaspoon coarse salt

1/4 teaspoon baking powder

2 large eggs, lightly beaten

1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

1/2 cup sour cream, room temperature

Method:

  • Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Lightly butter a 5-by-9-inch loaf pan and line with parchment and butter the parchment.
  • In a food processor, puree blackberries with 2 tablespoons sugar. In a bowl, whisk together flour, salt, and baking powder.

  • In a large bowl, using an electric mixer, beat together butter and 1 1/4 cups sugar until light and fluffy for about 5 minutes.
  • Add eggs and vanilla and beat to combine, scraping bowl as needed. With mixer on low, add flour mixture in 3 additions.

  • Alternate the flour with sour cream, beginning and ending with flour mixture. Transfer half the batter to the prepared pan.
  • Dot with 1/2 cup blackberry puree. Repeat with remaining batter and puree. With a skewer, swirl batter and puree together.

  • Bake until golden brown and a toothpick inserted in center of cake comes out clean, about 1 1/4 hours. Let cake cool in pan.
  • After 30 minutes, lift the cake out of pan and place on a serving plate; let cool completely before slicing. Makes 9 servings.

Blackberry Swirl Pound Cake by Martha

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