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I know that Valentine’s day calls for chocolate but I could not help sharing these cute red velvet cupcakes from The Recipe Critic. With a generous swirl of cream cheese frosting, they match perfectly with the red coloured theme of the day. While its popularity is gaining momentum in our chic and ridiculously expensive coffee shops, the red velvet cupcake is an easy 2-bowl recipe to make and enjoy at home. Its beautiful red colour comes from the reaction between the small amount of cocoa powder, buttermilk and vinegar, though it is now being enhanced with natural dyes or synthetic food colouring.

RED VELVET CUPCAKES

Ingredients:

For the Red Velvet Cupcakes

3 1/3 cups cake flour, sifted

3/4 cup unsalted butter, room temperature

2 1/4 cups white caster sugar

3 large eggs, room temperature

2 tablespoons. liquid red food coloring

3 tablespoons. unsweetened cocoa powder

1 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

1 1/2 teaspoon kitchen salt

1 1/2 cups buttermilk

1 1/2 teaspoon white vinegar

1 1/2 teaspoon baking soda

For the Cream Cheese Frosting

1 cup unsalted butter, room temperature

8 oz. cream cheese, room temperature

1/4 teaspoon kitchen salt

2 teaspoon vanilla extract

4 1/2 cups powdered sugar

1 tablespoon milk

Method:

  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line a muffin tin with paper liners and spray with cooking spray.

  • In a stand mixer, combine butter and sugar and mix until very light and fluffy, about 5 minutes.

  • Add eggs, one at a time, beating after each addition. Whisk coloring, cocoa and vanilla together.

  • Add to butter-sugar mixture and mix well. Stir salt into buttermilk and add to batter in 3 parts.

  • Alternate with the flour, starting and ending with flour. In a bowl, stir vinegar and baking soda.

  • Add to batter and mix well. Fill cupcake liners 2/3 full with batter and bake in preheated oven.

  • Bake for 17 to 18 minutes until a toothpick inserted in the center of cupcakes comes out clean.

  • For the cream cheese frosting, mix together butter, cream cheese, salt and vanilla until smooth.

  • Add sugar, 1 cup at a time, beating well after each addition. Pipe a swirl on top of each cupcake.

  • Cool the cupcakes completely and top with cream cheese frosting. Makes 3 1 /2 dozen cupcakes.

Happy Valentine’s!

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From the number of times I have been posting mango flavored cakes and desserts this summer, it must be plainly obvious that they are by far my favorite seasonal fruit. Well, come on, who can resist a chilled mango lassi in this heat? The balance between the sweetness of overripe mangoes and the tangy flavour of freshly made yogurt is what gives this Indian beverage it uniqueness. A pinch of crushed cardamom is all you need to add to this childishly simple recipe from SimplyRecipes before serving. Though it mentions two servings, I think that you should double the recipe to be on the safe side; a single glass might not be enough for foodies like me.

MANGO LASSI

Ingredients:

1 cup homemade yogurt

1/2 cup full cream milk

1 cup very ripe mango, diced

1 tablespoon mango syrup

3 teaspoons honey or sugar

A dash of ground cardamom

Crushed ice cubes, to serve

Method

  • Put mango, yogurt, milk, sugar, syrup and cardamom into blender, blend for 2 minutes.

  • If you want a milkshake-like consistency, blend in crushed ice or serve it over ice cubes.

  • Sprinkle with a pinch of ground cardamom before serving. Makes 2 cups of mango lassi.

  • Lassi can made ahead and kept refrigerated for up to 24 hours but are best served fresh.

Mango Lassi

I believe this to be my greatest discovery this summer. While I cannot honestly fathom how I did without this heavenly mango drink for so many years, I have a good mind to catch up on what I’ve been missing and I strongly urge you to do the same if you have not already done so. Mango mastani is a thick blend of fresh mango puree, chilled milk and vanilla ice cream topped with nuts, tutti fruit and candied cherries. I do not think that the term ‘milkshake’ really does it any justice to the mango mastani, which originates from Pune, Maharashtra in honor of the beautiful queen Mastani, wife of Maratha Peshwa Bajirao I. The love story of these ill-fated lovers has been over the years retold through novels, Tv series and movies, the most famous being Sanjay Leela Bhansali’s Bajirao Mastani, released in 2015. The recipe for this refreshing royal beverage, from Cook with Manali, has been tweaked to include mango sorbet as I was running short of vanilla ice cream and it serves to enhance the mango flavor, which can only be a good thing here.

MANGO MASTANI

Ingredients:

2 large ripe mangoes

1 cup whole milk, chilled

1/2 cup whipping cream

5-6 ice cubes, crushed or whole

2 tablespoons sugar, to taste

1/4 teaspoon cardamom powder

4 scoops vanilla ice cream

2 tablespoons chopped pistachios

2 tablespoons tutti frutti

2 glazed cherries

Few mango pieces

Method:

  • Peel the mangoes and remove all the pulp. Blend all the ingredients till smooth.

  • Pour into serving glasses, fill the glasses 3/4th leaving some space for ice cream.

  • Add 2 scoops of vanilla ice cream to each glass. Garnish with the chopped nuts.

  • Top with tutti frutti, mango and cherries. Serve immediately. Makes 2 servings.

Mango Mastani

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