Mango Cheesecake

My husband is not a very big fan of cheesecakes. But I on the other hand, a big fan!

I wonder who might have been the person who thought first of inventing a cake made of cheese.

Cheesecakes are divine. A rich, smooth dessert, that definitely would make anyone happy, except my husband.

Mango Cheesecake
recipe adapted from here

Crust:
Digestive Biscuits – 250 gms, finely ground
Butter – 3/4 cup, melted
Cheesecake:
Cream Cheese – 500 gms
Hung Yogurt – 1 cup
Mango Puree – 2 cups
Eggs – 4, large
Sugar – 3/4 cup

Method:
Preheat oven to 350°F
Wrap the outside of a 9 inch springform pan with 2-3 layers of heavy duty aluminium foil.
For the Crust: In a mixing bowl, add the finely ground digestive biscuits and pour in the melted butter. Mix until well moistened. Transfer crumbs to prepared pan, and press crumb mixture evenly onto the bottom of the pan. Bake for 15 minutes. Let cool completely.
For Cheesecake Filling: In a food processor, or an electric mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, add all the remaining ingredients and process for 5 minutes until just combined, keep scraping down the bowl. Pour cream cheese filling over crust. Place foil-wrapped springform pan in a roasting pan large enough to hold it. Fill roasting pan with enough hot water to come 1-inch up the sides of the springform and carefully transfer to middle oven rack. Bake until cake is set but still slightly wobbly in center, about an hour and a half.
Transfer the cake pan to a cooling rack and let cool completely. Later refrigerate, uncovered for 6-8 hours.
To serve, run a knife around the edges, slice and serve wedges. The cake keeps well refrigerated for upto 2 weeks.
Enjoy!

Luv,
Mona

Buttermilk Biscuits

I first had buttermilk biscuits at Popeyes along with fried chicken. And it was love at first bite.

Since then I have been in search for a recipe to recreate them in my home myself. I tried a lot of recipes online and finally I can say that I might have found one that I am really happy with. Today I am going to share it with you all.

Buttermilk Biscuitsmakes: 8 biscuits
adapted from here

Ingredients:

All purpose (not self-rising) – 2 cups
Baking powder – 1 tbsp
Salt – 1 tsp
Sugar – 1 tsp
Unsalted cold butter – 6 tbsp
Buttermilk – 1 cup

Method:

Preheat oven to 450°F. In a mixing bowl, add the flour, baking powder, salt and sugar. Mix. Now add cold butter cut into tiny pieces and buttermilk. Using a fork, gently mix, avoid overmixing. Dust flour on your kitchen countertop and invert the buttermilk+flour mixture. Knead dough gently 3 to 4 times until it holds together. Dust your palms with flour as well and pat the mixture down into a large patty, approx 1 inch in thickness.

Line a rimmed baking tray with parchment paper and dust it lightly with flour. Working quickly, use a biscuit cutter to cut biscuits and keep placing the biscuits on the tray, make sure they are all placed close to each other. Place the baking tray in the refrigerator for approx 15-30 minutes. Now transfer the tray to the preheated oven and let them bake for 15 minutes. As soon as you see a get a light brown hue, remove from oven and serve warm along with a salad or coleslaw and baked/grilled chicken.

Luv,
Mona

Dry Fruits and Nuts Biscuits

Just like Sharmila, and I believe many other Indians, I tend to get confused between cookies and biscuits. Back home in India, only those that are studded with chocolate chips were called as cookies, whereas all others are referred to as biscuits. So you are free to call them whatever you wish, fruit biscuits, or fruit cookies, these melt in mouth morsels studded with dry fruits and nuts are a treat.

dry fruits and nuts biscuits

The famous Karachi Bakery in Hyderabad city is popular for fruit biscuits, among many other baked food products that they are known for. I had always loved these when I was a little kid. These were perhaps one my most early loves. So you can imagine my joy when I discovered a recipe for fruit biscuits at one of my favorite TV chefs website, Ina Garten. I have tried and took delight in many of her recipes, her homely style of cooking is something that I can identify with.

Simple to prepare and delightful to taste, these biscuits have become a regular in my house. Ofcourse I miss those that were available at Karachi Bakery, but these have been successful enough to win my heart and rock my tastebuds. I have made a few changes to the original recipe so that it suites me. For an eggless version, try Priya’s version.

Dry Fruits & Nuts Biscuits/ Cookies
Adapted from this original recipe

Ingredients:

Dried fruits – 1 cup [I used a mixture of tutti frutti and raisins. You can use whatever dry fruits you fancy, like dried berries, candied cherries (or any fruits) etc]
Dried nuts – 3/4 cup [I used a mixture of cashewnuts and walnuts]
Honey – 1 tbsp
Fresh orange juice – 2 tbsp
Fresh lemon juice – 1 tbsp
Unsalted butter – 1/2 cup (at room temperature)
Canola oil – 1/2 cup
Powdered cloves – 1/4 tsp
Light brown sugar – 1/3 cup
Granulated sugar – 1/2 cup
Eggs – 2, large
All purpose flour – 2 2/3 cups
Salt

Method:

1. Chop the dried nuts and fruits roughly. Place them in a mixing bowl, add orange juice, lemon juice, honey and a pinch of salt. Mix well. Cover with a plastic wrap and let sit at room temperature overnight.
2. In a mixing bowl add butter and oil, powdered cloves, granulated sugar and brown sugar. Using a whisk or an electric hand mixer, beat for 3-4 minutes. Add eggs and beat for a minute or two until mixed. Add the the dried fruits and nuts, including any liquid in the bowl. Now add the flour and 1/4 teaspoon salt just until combined. Don’t over-mix! Divide the dough in half. Place the half on a wax paper and using the long edge of the paper as a guide, shape them into logs. Cover the logs with plastic wrap entirely if you plan to freeze them now to use later. Or else, refrigerate the logs wrapped in wax paper for 1-2 hours or until firm (you can even freeze them for just 15-20 minutes) so that you can easily cut them into slices.

biscuit dough logs

biscuits, cut and ready to be baked

3. Preheat the oven to 350°F. With a small, sharp knife, cut the logs into 1/2-inch-thick slices. Place the slices 1/2-inch apart on aluminium foil lined cookie sheets and bake for 14 to 20 minutes, until lightly golden on the edges. Mine were done in just 14 minutes. Once done, transfer the biscuits immediately on a rack and let cool. Once cool, store in air tight food storage containers.

Luv,
Mona

Classic Strawberry Jam

During season, when strawberries are seen flooding the market and are available at reasonable rates, I buy large stocks and freeze a few batches to work with them later on. This way I can enjoy them year long, even when they are not in season.

frozen strawberries in a zip-lock bag

To freeze fresh Strawberries: Wash the strawberries and drain them. Remove the leaves and spread them out on a kitchen towel for 30-45 minutes so that they air dry. Then, spread them on a rimmed baking sheet and freeze them for 2-3 hours. Once frozen, transfer the strawberries to a zip-lock bag and remove as much air as possible from the bags and seal them air tight. Freeze the frozen strawberries in the bags until needed.

Classic Strawberry Jam

Ingredients:

Strawberries – 850 gms (around 1.8 pounds), fresh/frozen
Granulated sugar – 2 cups
Lemon juice – 2 tbsp
Butter – 1 tbsp

Strawberry jam

Method:

Cut off the top stalk part of the frozen/fresh strawberries. In a large glass mixing bowl, add the frozen strawberries, sugar and lemon juice. Mix well and let sit at room temperature for 1 hour. Later, transfer it all to a food processor and pulse just until the strawberries are just chopped. DO NOT MAKE A PUREE. Transfer this to a saucepan, and bring to a boil and high heat, once boiling let cook at medium heat for 30-45 minutes or until a jam consistency is reached. Add butter to reduce the foam. Keep stirring and keep a close eye on it. During the last 15 mins, lower the heat to medium low. Remove from heat once done. Spoon the prepared jam into a sterilized Mason canning jar ( I recommend using 1 cup jars instead of one large jar for the jam) and seal the jar according to instructions. Once it is at room temperature, refrigerate the jar to store.

Note: This is a preservelike spread and not a true preserve and must be refrigerated to avoid spoilage, because it contains a higher proportion of fruit to sugar and retain more fresh fruit flavor.

Luv,
Mona

Crispy Chewy Chocolate Chip Cookies

A true American delicacy~brownies and chocolate chop cookies are my weakness. Oversize and dense with chocolate chips, these cookies are thin, crisp and slightly chewy in the center.

I got hold of this recipe for these indulgent cookies which are so easy to prepare from my darling dear sister, which she got from one of her close friend. I keep preparing them quite frequently at my home whenever the craving hits me. She deserves all the compliments for these delightful cookies.

Crispy Chewy Chocolate Chip Cookies
Makes about 15 jumbo cookies

All-purpose flour – 1 1/2 cup
Whole wheat flour – 1 cup
Baking powder – 1 tsp
Baking soda – 1 tsp
Granulated white sugar – 1/2 cup
Brown sugar – 1 cup, firmly packed
Eggs – 2, large, at room temperature
Canola oil – 90 ml
Vanilla powder – 1 1/2 tsp
Unsalted butter – 1/2 cup, melted and slightly cooled
Semi-sweet chocolate chips – 1 1/4 cup

1. Preheat the oven to 375°F. Grease cookie sheets or line with parchment paper.
2. Add all the first 6 listed dry ingredients in a large mixing bowl, mix using a whisk. In an another mixing bowl, add the next 4 wet ingredients and lightly whip using a whisk for approx a minute. Add the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients and mix well until dough like. Mix in the chocolate chips using a wooden spoon. Using an ice-cream scoop, scoop onto prepared cookie sheets.

3. Bake 10-12 minutes, or until the edges are lightly toasted. Keep a close eye at the last minutes, they can get burned or overdone easily.

4. Leave to cool on tray for 5 minutes. Using a flat spatula transfer them to a wire rack until they are cooled completely, approx 1 hour. Store in an air tight container at room temperature.

Tip: You can also freeze the cookie dough for later use, and when required bake them at a moments notice. Simply, scoop the cookie dough on a baking tray lined with parchment paper and freeze for 1 hour. Later, transfer the frozen cookie dough balls into to an air tight zip-lock plastic bag and freeze for later use for up to 3 months. When guests arrive, or your kids desire them, simply transfer the frozen unbaked cookie dough balls onto a parchment paper lined cookie sheet and bake as directed above, adding a couple of minutes to the baking time, keeping a close eye.

Note: Vanilla extract (vanilla in liquid form) is non-halal. Only powdered vanilla is Halal.

Luv,
Mona