Orange muffins featured in one of my very first posts on Inspiredtobake. My love for orange as a flavour is mainly due to it clean healthy taste that lingers for a while after having happily demolished my piece of cake. The vitamin C theory does not quite work for me if you have to convince me that they are best eaten raw. Fresh grapefruit, red pomelo and larger citrus fruits look way more appealing from that angle.

Well, the reason why I had to make orange cakes [0ther than eggless baking]was largely due to my infatuation with parchment paper liners I’ve been seeing on food blogs and cookbooks lately. They were a cinch to make and can be a cute project for keeping kids away from the kitchen while you measure out your ingredients and get batter ready.  If you can even allow them to join in later for filling the parchment liners. Simply pour batter in a ziplock or pastry bag, snip off one corner and guide them how to pipe neatly into each liner. Great for presentation at an informal party.

I was really happy with my mini cakes. My imperfect folding of the parchment paper resulted in flower shaped cakes so dnt fret if you cnt achieve the professional finish of tulip shaped liners. Dunno why that all of a sudden makes me think of the famous quote:

You learn to love, not by finding a perfect person, but by learning to see an imperfect person perfectly.

These mini cakes are very forgiving; do find an excuse to make them. If you still cnt get yourself to like oranges, try a lemon version instead.

MINI ORANGE CAKES

 

Ingredients:

2 cups self raising flour

1/2 tsp baking soda

1/2 tsp baking powder

4 tbs unsalted butter

3/4 cup icing sugar

3/4 cup evaporated milk

3 medium sized oranges

Method:

  • Start by making the parchment liners. For this, cut out 5×5 inches squares or smaller from plain parchment or greaseproof paper.
  • I did the edges with my pinking shears as I can never get neat ones by tearing along the sharp border that comes with the box.
  • Select a glass whose base roughly fits that of your muffin pan cups.
  • Place each piece of parchment over the base of the inverted glass.
  • Smooth down paper adjusting creases to get a nice cup shape.
  • Drop your hand made liners in muffin pan and adjust shape to fit.
  • You can always use your conventional muffin paper cups instead.
  • Preheat oven to 350 oF. Leave butter outside to soften.
  • With a vegetable peeler, remove peel in thin layers from oranges.
  • Process peel coarsely in a mixer/grinder and set aside.
  • Then, squeeze oranges to remove as much juice as posssible.
  • Sieve flour, baking soda and baking powder together twice.
  • Place icing sugar in a large mixing bowl. If you find it lumpy, sift it or run it for a short time in your food processor.
  • Add softened butter to sugar and beat until light and fluffy.
  • Add evaporated milk and orange juice to butter mixture. It may curdle a bit but dnt worry. Scrape down bowl and mix well.
  • Fold in flour gradually until well combined and you have a smooth batter. Do not overmix. Finally stir in orange peel.
  • Divide batter among parchment liners with a rounded spoon.
  • Bake for 1/2 hour until centre of cakes spring back to touch.
  • Remove from pan and cool completely on wire rack.

After I was done with my orange cakes, I was left with a lil less than 3/4 cup evaporated milk. As I did not like the idea of it sitting in my fridge forever, I thought of using it up in some halwa. I chose carrot over semolina because I was looking for something colourful and aromatic. 

Carrot halwa really needs no introduction. Though you can make it as rich or sweet as you like, I’ve adapted it to create a healthier one where the fat and sugar is half of what you’d find in other recipes.  The consistency of my halwa is somewhere between ‘dry & flaky’ and ‘soft & mushy’. Wonder if it has something do to with my tampering with the original proportions. It may not be the authentic Indian Gajar ka Halwa but hey, that’s my version.

CARROT HALWA – GAJAR KA HALWA

Ingredients:

5-6 medium carrots

1/2 cup milk

3/4 cup evaporated milk

2 tbs ghee/ clarified butter

1/2 cup sugar

5 cardamom pods

2 tbs golden sultanas

1 tbs almonds, chopped

4-5 pistachio nuts

Method:

  • Peel carrots and grate coarsely by hand or in a food processor.
  • In a heavy based saucepan bring milk and evaporated milk and carrots to the boil. Do not cover pan.
  • Cook, stiring at regular intervals, until carrots have absorbed most of the milk, for about 20 – 30 minutes.
  • Make sure mixture does not stick to bottom of pan.
  • Remove from heat and drain any milk that has not been absorbed.

  • In a non stick pan, melt ghee and add carrot mixture and sugar.
  • Sauté over high heat until carrots look golden for about 5 minutes.
  • Add almonds, sultanas and cardamom. Cook for another 5 minutes.
  • Remove from heat and sprinkle with pistachios or other nuts.
  • Serve warm. Makes 5- 6 small servings.

Pictures of the carrot halwa were taken in very poor lighting conditions under limited natural light from my kitchen window. We had a thunderstorm combined with a localised powercut that lasted hours.

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