Monday, December 17, 2012

Chocolate Truffles

Want to gift something home made that looks pretty and tastes equally good too? How about some truffles? Last year I baked the rich Indian plum cake and gifted them to all the german friends we had made over time. Not only were they stunned with the gesture, they were equally appreciative of our christmas tradition and relished the same. In return, one of the families gifted us with home made truffles. While we live in the land of Lindt and Nestle, the world famous European chocolates, I was taken aback by how delicious home made truffles tasted. Honestly, as I mentioned, we need no reason to make them at home cause when it comes to chocolate, we do get the best. But curiosity got hold of me and I was more than tempted to give a shot to making them myself. 

This is a german recipe which I have tried from one of the many german magazines that I have begun to buy. What surprises me is the use of our spices in so many german christmas preparations. While cinnamon and cardamom are used on a regular basis in our Indian cooking, germans tend to use them more in their christmas baking. 
These truffles are easy to make, taste real good and when wrapped in delicate film with a catching ribbon to go, it does make for a great christmas gift. While the original recipe called for the truffles to be dusted with cocoa powder, we found it to be bitter, hence I used dessicated coconut to roll them in. 

  • 1 vanilla bean
  • 175 ml whipped cream
  • 2" cinnamon sticks
  • 2 cardamoms
  • 1 star anise
  • 150gm white couverture chocolate
  • 250 gm milk couverture chocolate
  • 80 gm soft butter
  • a bowl of desiccated coconut


  1. Slit the vanilla bean and scrape the seeds carefully. In a thick bottomed vessel, mix the cream along with the vanilla seeds and bean too(after you have scraped the bean do not discard it). Add the cinnamon sticks, cardamoms and star anise. Bring the mixture to a boil.
  2. Remove from heat and keep it aside so that the spices are infused into the cream well.
  3. Meanwhile chop the white and milk chocolate into smaller pieces with a sharp knife. Place them in a deep bowl(preferably glass)
  4. Strain the infused cream. Discard the spices, and bring the cream once again to a boil.
  5. Pour the hot cream into the chopped chocolate. Keep stirring till the cream and chocolate are melted and mixed together well.
  6. Wrap the bowl in a cling film and refrigerate it for 5 hours.
  7. After 5 hours, add the melted butter to the chocolate mixture and stir well. If the mix is too hard, use your hands. Refrigerate it for another hour.
  8. Line a flat tray with butter paper. Remove the chocolate mix. Scoop out small mounds of the mass and roll it against your palms to form small sized truffles. Roll the truffles in the dessicated coconut and arrange them on the tray. Use up all the chocolate mix. You should be able to make around 60 truffles.
  9. They keep well for up to a week in the refrigerator. Before serving, bring them to room temperature.
Note: If you are unable to find couverture chocolate you can replace it with ordinary chocolate.

Sunday, December 9, 2012

Choco Almond cookies

So the big fluffy flakes finally fell upon us or rather whole of Germany. Too bad for the kids who were eagerly waiting to go sleighing. The hubby and I have been taking turns falling ill with the normal fever and cold. I guess we are growing old hence our bodies are taking time to adjust to the onset of winter. For me this is just the wrong month to be even lying in bed. With the umpteen jobs to be done, I really had to get better soon. It was hard convincing the kids though that we needed to stay indoors. We had to be content watching the snow flakes fall gently. 

Today's batch of cookies is the one I first began my advent baking experiment with. According to the kids, they rate number one in the entire batch of baking I have done so far. The reason being the secret ingredient - CHOCOLATE. You really can't separate the two, Kids and chocolate, can you? Not only did the experimental batch get over soon, over the next few days, as they munched on the different varieties, a small question would be heard every now and then "When are you going to bake the chocolate ones again?". Bake I did, only to promptly store them all in my new christmas tins and hide them from the hungry mouths. This mommy needs a break, truly!! and the cookies will come out of hiding just in time for Christmas!! :D


  • 100 g dark chocolate
  • 30 g cocoa powder
  • 100 g hazelnuts with skin, powdered
  • 100 g almonds with skin, powdered
  • 50 g almonds peeled and chopped into fine bits
  • 200 g powdered sugar + for rolling the dough(optional)
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon powder
  • 1/2 tsp clove powder
  • 2 egg whites
  • 1 tsp almond essence
  • Halved almonds to garnish

  1. Grate the chocolate fine.
  2. Beat the egg whites till creamy(not until they are stiff peaks).
  3. In a bowl mix the cocoa powder, powdered hazelnut and almond, chopped almonds, powdered sugar, cinnamon and clove powders. Add the grated chocolate and mix very well.
  4. Add the beaten egg whites and almond essence. Knead well to form a tight dough. If the dough is not tight enough add more almond powder ( I didn't need any).
  5. Wrap the dough in cling film and refrigerate for 2 hours.
  6. Line a baking tray with baking paper. 
  7. On a clean surface, sprinkle some sugar and roll out the dough. With the help of a knife cut into small squares( 1" x 1"). Place halved almonds on each square and line them neatly on the baking tray.
  8. Preheat the oven to 200 C.
  9. Bake the cookies on the middle rack for 8 to 10 minutes(At 8 minutes they are chewy which Ms A loves and a little more time makes them crisp and nutty which the remainder of us like).
  10. Remove, let cool. Once completely cool, store them in an air tight tin.

With this, I am done with the german cookie recipes. Next on my to bake list is the rich plum cake and my heart desires to make the mangy kidiyos and neuris. Keeping my fingers crossed to achieve all of the above.

Thursday, December 6, 2012

Ginger cashew cookies

I do not know if the season of advent stresses you out, but it does to me. So much to do, so little time. I am kind of waiting to tick of all the jobs on my to do list. These were the next batch of cookies I made last week. Husband loved them, the kids were kind of neutral, maybe because they preferred the Zimtsterne and butter cookies to these. I will be baking more of them the following week.


  • 100 g brown sugar
  • 70 g butter
  • 2 egg yolks
  • 150 gm finely chopped cashew nuts
  • 70 g all purpose flour sieved
  • 100 g finely chopped candied ginger
  • 1/2 tsp dry ginger powder


  1. Beat well the sugar and butter together.
  2. Add the yolks of the egg one at a time and continue beating.
  3. Add the finely chopped cashew nuts, candied ginger, flour, and ginger powder.
  4. Knead together to form a smooth dough.
  5. Wrap in a cling foil film and refrigerate for half an hour.
  6. Line a baking tray with baking paper. Preheat the oven to 170 C
  7. Form small sized balls(roughly a medium sized marble), flatten them slightly to look like above and place them in neat rows on the tray.
  8. Place a cashew nut on each of the cookie.
  9. Bake the cookies for around 10 to 12 minutes till they are golden brown. Be careful not to burn.
  10. Remove them and let them cool well. Store in an air tight jar. 


  • When you remove the cookies out, they will feel soft. They are supposed to be that way. As they cool, they get hard.
  • The above batch makes about 50 cookies.

Monday, December 3, 2012

Pepper Chicken

We had our first snowfall yesterday. In fact we woke up to this scene outside our windows. First snow fall of the year is always special, especially for the kids. They eagerly look forward to making snowballs and snowmen coupled with sleighing downhill. Last year we barely had any, so they missed out on all of the above. Since this is our last European winter, I too have been kind of silently wishing that they are not disappointed and that the snow gods will send us some big white fluffy flakes soon.
With the snow, it also means that the temperatures keeps plunging low into the negative. What better way than to keep ourself warm with a hot spicy gravy for lunch. This was where the pepper chicken came to our rescue. Soft tender pieces of chicken gently stewed with spices and relished with whole wheat bread. Yum, yum, yum!!!

  • 1 kilo chicken, cleaned and cut into small pieces
  • 4 large onions chopped
  • 4 medium tomatoes chopped
  • 2 tsp ginger garlic paste
  • 1 large green chilli finely chopped
  • 4 cardamoms
  • 6 cloves
  • 4 " cinnamon stick
  • 3 tbsp coriander powder
  • 2 tbsp cumin powder
  • 2 tbsp pepper powder
  • 1/2 tsp turmeric powder
  • 1 tsp mustard seeds
  • 2 sprigs curry leaves
  • 2 tbsp ghee
  • salt to taste
(not the best pic, thanks to the snowfall and hardly any light)

  1. In a thick bottomed vessel, heat the ghee. When hot add the mustard seeds. When they begin to splutter, drop in the whole spices and curry leaves. Stir for 10 seconds.
  2. Add the chopped onions, green chilli, ginger garlic paste and fry well till the onions are slightly brown.
  3. Add the tomatoes and fry well till the onion and tomatoes are all mushy and formed into a rough paste(10 to 15 minutes).
  4. Add the powders : coriander, cumin, pepper and turmeric and fry well for another 5 minutes.
  5. Drop in the chicken pieces, stir carefully to coat all of them with the onion tomato masala. Fry it on high heat for 5 minutes. Take care not to burn.
  6. Lower the heat and cook covered for 15 minutes or till chicken is tender. Do not add any water as the juices from the chicken will be released. If you feel the gravy is dry and burning then add a quarter cup of water. If you would like it dry, then skip the water but take care to see that the dish does not burn.
  7. Serve hot with whole wheat bread and a side serving of salad of your choice.
  • I didn't add any water at all. The gravy is the chicken broth on its own.
  • This preparation is on the spicier side.