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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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Panna cotta is dessert I think I should make more often. It is one of those examples which justifies the old adage that ‘simple is beautiful’ or ‘less is more’. All the way from Italy, this delicate chilled pudding is traditionally made from cream and gelatin with a side serving of fruit coulis. You can play around with the gelling agent and the dairy as long as your final product has a soft set and a slight wobble with a smooth, melt-in-the-mouth texture. You need to make sure your mixture does not turn lumpy or gritty at any point; it is not a good idea to walk away from your pan as it goes on the stovetop. If you are worried that it does not get to set properly, you can serve this vanilla speckled strawberry panna cotta, from BBC Good Food, right out of dessert cups or shot glasses instead of unmolding it on a plate.

STRAWBERRY PANNA COTTA

Ingredients:

For the Panna Cotta

3 agar agar leaves

450ml double cream

200ml whole milk

100g white caster sugar

1 vanilla pod

For the Strawberries

400g strawberries, hulled

1½ teaspoon corn flour

50g white caster sugar

Method:

  • For the panna cotta, put agar agar leaves in a small bowl of cold water to soften, about 5 minutes.

  • Meanwhile, pour the cream, milk and sugar into a pan, split the vanilla pod, scrape out the seeds.

  • Add the seeds, along with the pod, to the cream mixture. Heat gently until hot, but not bubbling.

  • Remove agar agar leaves from the water, squeeze out any excess liquid then add to the hot cream.

  • Stir the mixture until agar agar is dissolved and leave to stand for 20 to 30 minutes until cooled.

  • The vanilla pods should be suspended in the liquid by this point. Strain mixture through a sieve.

  • Pour into 6 serving glasses, then chill for at least 3 hours. Toss strawberries in a small saucepan.

  • Add the corn flour and sugar in a saucepan. Place over a medium heat and cook for 4 to 5 minutes.

  • Cook until the released juices thicken and strawberries are softened. Set the mixture aside to cool.

  • Once completely cooled, top panna cottas with the strawberry mixture. Chill until ready to serve.

Strawberry Panna Cotta

After I was done with my cornmeal pancakes, I still had almost half a bagful of finely ground cornmeal I purchased from a Rodriguan entrepreneur some months back. Contrary to my expectation, the processed corn had a surprisingly long shelf life and I was happy to have a bowl of cornmeal porridge on my list of breakfast items for the next few weeks. When I ran a Google search for ‘cornmeal cake’, this devilishly simple cake from Elegant Meraki stood out a mile and I felt that I had saved the last of my cornmeal just for this one. Liberally soaked in orange honey syrup and topped with pistachios, it has a rich golden crumb, which goes well with an infusion of Bois Cheri’s Paul & Virginie black tea.

ORANGE HONEY CORNMEAL CAKE

Ingredients:

For the Cornmeal Cake

1 cup almond flour

1 cup finely ground cornmeal

2 1/2 teaspoons baking powder

1/4 teaspoon kosher salt

3 eggs, room temperature

2/3 cup caster sugar

1/2 cup vegetable oil

Zest of 1 medium orange

1/4 cup fresh orange juice

1 tablespoon orange blossom

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

For the Orange Glaze

1/2 cup fresh orange juice

1 tablespoon orange blossom

1 tablespoon orange liqueur

3 tablespoons honey or golden syrup

3 tablespoons pistachios, chopped

Method:

  • Preheat oven to 350°F. Spray a 9-inch round cake pan with nonstick spray or line with baking paper.

  • Sift together almond flour, cornmeal, baking powder and salt in a large mixing bowl, and set it aside.

  • Whisk together eggs, sugar, oil, zest, juice, orange blossom water and extract until it is just combined.

  • Slowly add flour mix and whisk only until just combined. Set aside for 20 minutes then pour into pan.

  • Bake for 30 to 35 minutes until skewer comes out clean. Remove from oven, set on a wire rack to cool.

  • For the glaze, combine the fresh orange juice and honey in small sauce pan and simmer for 5 minutes.

  • It will thicken slightly. Stir in the orange blossom water and liqueur. Poke holes in cake, 1/2 inch apart.

  • Using pastry brush to slowly brush glaze over cake. Do not rush the process as it will make cake soggy.

  • Leave the cake to cool completely, then top with toasted pistachios before serving. Makes 10 servings.

Orange & Honey Glazed Cornmeal Cake

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