Sunday, February 22, 2015

Banana Cupcakes with Cream Cheese Frosting

Sunday morning baking. One of the most therapeutic ways for me to begin this lazy weekend day. While my daughters were napping, my son and I leisurely baked these cupcakes away. Lately, my freezer has had a ton of ripe bananas, with my kids love for all things banana. Thank you Alice's TeaCup for sharing this recipe in your cookbook and rescuing those two very ripe bananas. 

The cupcakes turned out moist, deliciously sweet, with a perfect slightly crusty top. All in all, this recipe is a keeper for me, and one that I will surely re-make.

The book suggests that they are delicious unfrosted, and true enough, they were delicious with and without the frosting. 

Makes 12 cupcakes

2 very ripe bananas

¾ cup canola oil
1 cup sugar

2 eggs
½ teaspoon pure vanilla extract

1 cup all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
¼ teaspoon kosher salt

Cream Cheese Frosting
1 stick (½ cup) butter, at room temperature
1½ cups cream cheese, at room temperature
3 cups confectioners’ sugar

  1. Preheat the oven to 350°F.
  2. Mash the bananas in a small bowl, and set it aside.
  3. In a large bowl, use a mixer to combine the oil and sugar until fully mixed. 
  4. Add the eggs, one at a time, and then the vanilla, and keep mixing until smooth. 
  5. Combine the flour, baking soda, and salt in a medium bowl. With the mixer set at the lowest speed, add the flour mixture a little at a time, mixing until all is combined and the batter is smooth. Use a spatula to fold in the bananas by hand.
  6. Fill a nonstick muffin pan or 12 cupcake cups half-full with batter, and bake for 15 to 20 minutes, or until a toothpick stuck into the middle comes out clean. Set aside to cool completely in the pan.
  7. Make the frosting: use a mixer to cream the butter and cream cheese in a large bowl until fully combined and smooth. With the mixer set on the lowest speed, slowly add the confectioners’ sugar, mixing until it is completely incorporated and the frosting is smooth.
  8. Use an offset spatula to frost the cupcakes with the cream cheese frosting. (For neater cupcakes, you can put the frosting in a pastry bag and pipe it onto the tops.)

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Asparagus Mousse

Every time I am in Mumbai, I must order the Asparagus Mousse from my friend Yakuta Sarkari, of Cold Food Company. It is light and fluffy, packed with flavor, a beautiful perfect green, and simply to die for! But now that I am a few continents away from her, it looks like I have to make it myself. 

Which is what got me down to researching recipes online, and found one from BBC that looked good. The recipe includes a ham and red onion salad to be topped on the mousse, but I like it spread on a toast. An alternate to the salad would be to layer a slice of prosciutto or jamon serrano, top with some freshly cracked black pepper, and enjoy! 

Serves 4  |  Prep time: 30 minutes  |  Cook time: 10 minutes

1 tablespoon unsalted butter
250 grams asparagus, finely sliced, chewy ends removed (about 8–10 stalks)
Salt, to taste
300 ml whipping (heavy) cream
200 ml whole milk (mousse is just not meant to be low or fat-free! do not substitute with low or fat-free milk)
1/2 garlic clove, sliced
Handful baby spinach (this helps with the color, and doesn't overpower the taste of the asparagus)
2 1/2 gelatine leaves, soaked in a little cold water
1 egg white

  1. Melt the butter in a heavy-based pan. Once it’s foaming, add the asparagus and cook for 4–5 minutes until soft, but not colored. Season with salt. 
  2. Remove from the pan and drain well on a kitchen paper towel. 
  3. Rinse out the pan and pour in the cream, milk, and garlic. Bring to a boil, simmer until reduced to 350 ml‚ check by pouring into a measuring jug— then add the asparagus and boil for a few seconds. Remove from heat.
  4. Blend the mixture in a liquidizer along with the spinach leaves, then sieve into a clean bowl.
  5. Add the soaked gelatin and stir until dissolved. Sieve again and allow to cool for a few minutes in the fridge, but do not let it set.
  6. Beat the egg white with an electric mixer with the whisk attachment to soft peaks, then carefully fold into the asparagus mix and season.
  7. Divide the mousse between 4 glasses of ramekins and leave them to set in the fridge, overnight.

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

The Best Ever Banana Bread

I have several other Banana Bread recipes— and they are all good. But this one hit the spot. So much that I now buy twice the amount of bananas, only to be sure that we have four ripe bananas available at any point of time! This recipe for the comfortable dessert is lighter, more balanced, and has the perfect caramelized thick crust. adapted this recipe from Dominique Ansel, Dominique Ansel Bakery, New York, NY, and said this about it: Anything Dominique Ansel touches morphed into a delectable treat— even something as classic and humble as banana bread. Here, Ansel rescues the fate of over-ripened bananas, turning them into an exceptionally moist cake.

They go on to say that at his bakery, his tinkering doesn't stop with the finished loaf. He soaks bits of it into sweetened condensed milk for tres leches and smears layers of mascarpone over the milky bread to make a decadent tiramisu.

Yield: 1 loaf  |  Cook time: 1 hour and 10 minutes  |  Total time: 1 hour and 30 minutes

2 cups sugar
2 cups all-purpose flour
3/4 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon baking powder
3/4 teaspoon nutmeg
1 teaspoon salt

3 eggs, at room temperature
4 ripe bananas, mashed

14 tablespoons / 200 grams unsalted butter, melted


  1. Preheat oven to 350F. Butter and flour a 10" x 5" x 3 1/2" loaf pan.
  2. In a large mixing bowl, mix together the dry ingredients.
  3. In a separate medium sized mixing bowl beat the eggs and combine with the mashed bananas.
  4. Add wet ingredients (egg-banana mixture) to the dry ingredients and mix together until just combined.
  5. Mix in the melted butter until fully incorporated.
  6. Pour the batter into the prepared loaf pan. Bake until golden brown and a cake tester inserted in the center comes out clean, about 1 hour and 10 minutes. Allow to cool for 20 minutes before slicing (if you can wait!)

Sunday, February 1, 2015

Daniel Boulud's Madeleines

Every year, my husband and I must have our anniversary dinner at Daniel’s. In fact, we even have our table preference on their system. The food is divine, the service is fabulous and right at the end, they come to your table with these warm madeleines fresh out of the oven, dusted with powdered sugar, in a white cloth basket. It is truly the perfect end to the already perfect meal. So when I saw this recipe, I was thrilled. 

As if you need another reason to make these mini cakes for dessert: The batter can be prepped the day before. So you too, can serve these, fresh and warm out of the oven, after dinner.

Thank you Bon Appetit (February 2015) for sharing this recipe with us.

Special equipment: Three 20-cake mini madeleine pans or one 12-cake regular madeleine pan

1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
3/4 cup all-purpose flour

2 large eggs
1/3 cup granulated sugar
1 tablespoon light brown sugar
1 tablespoon honey
2 teaspoons finely grated lemon or orange zest

6 tablespoons (3/4 stick) unsalted butter, melted, warm

Nonstick vegetable oil spray
Powdered sugar

  1. Whisk baking powder, salt, and flour in a small bowl.
  2. Whisk eggs, granulated sugar, light brown sugar, honey, and lemon zest in a medium bowl until smooth. 
  3. Whisk in dry ingredients until just incorporated, then which in melted butter until smooth.
  4. Transfer batter to a pastry bag or resealable plastic bag and chill for at least one hour. Do Ahead.
  5. Preheat oven to 400F. Light coat madeleine pans with nonstick vegetable oil spray and dust with flour, tapping out excess.
  6. Snip end off pastry bag into each mold, filling two-thirds full (you may have batter left over).
  7. Bake madeleines until edges are golden brown and centers are puffed and lightly spring back when gently pressed, about 5 minutes for mini and 8–10 minutes for regular cakes.
  8. Tap pan against to release madeleines. Dust with powdered sugar and serve warm.