Monday, March 24, 2014

Pomegranate Mint Orangeade

Last week marked the beginning of spring in most parts of the Western world, but its more like the beginning of summer here in the UAE. The scorch of the hot sun is starting to feel pretty intense if you're out and about from midday. 

Its definitely time for cooling, refreshing drinks which don't take long to put together, but make warm days all the more worthwhile, like this pomegranate mint orangeade. And if you're still in spring, then save this recipe for when summer comes, or make and take along on your next picnic. 

Like most people I can't think of anything more thirst quenching than fresh homemade lemonade in the heat. But its nice to play around with classic drinks and oranges are definitely one of those fruits that go really well together with lemons in a drink. 
I'm also still having my little pomegranate moment, having used it most recently in pomegranate white chocolate muffins, and a caramelized banana peach pomegranate fruit tart. I just love how it gives everything a delightful burst of sweetness whilst also giving a special pop of colour. And that's definitely what it does in this orangeade. Add a little mint and this drink is not only good to go but good to look at! 

One of my favourite things to do is to freeze pomegranate arils and mint leaves in an ice cube tray filled over with water. Its such an easy way to add pomegranate and mint to your drinks, when you need to use ice cubes. I didn't do that here but its totally an option for those who have to have ice in their drinks! 

Pomegranate Mint Orangeade
Serves 3-4

12 oranges, juiced, or 500ml fresh bottled orange juice
3 lemons, juiced
1 lemon, sliced
1/2 cup water
1/4 cup sugar
1/2 cup pomegranate arils, or pomegranate ice cubes
Large handful of mint leaves, or mint ice cubes.

1. Combine the water and sugar in a small pan over medium heat. Once the water starts to simmer stir well until the sugar has dissolved fully. Take off heat and leave to cool.
2. In a jug, pour in the orange and lemon juices. Slowly add the sugar syrup and mix well.
3. Add the lemon slices. Add the pomegranate arils and mint leaves, and/or ice cubes.

N.B. If preferred the sugar syrup can be added to taste.

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Triple Chocolate Peanut Butter Ombre Cake

It's time for another cake.

I absolutely love ombre cakes. They look really impressive and pretty at the same time, and make the cake be all about the inside of the cake too, not just the outside. I attempted a pretty pink gradient one for Valentines. Alas it didn't turn out that great. I used a raspberry jam filling for the layers and it just made the cake layers look too unclean once I cut through the cake. Probably because it was five layers and the jam was too moist.

Anyway, back to the drawing board I went. This time I came across a couple of ombre cakes with a difference. Just look at these! I fell in love with the idea of a chocolate/coffee/caramel ombre cake and knew this was going to be my next cake.

But I don't just want to be a copycat, no. So this chocolate ombre cake had to become a triple chocolate peanut butter ombre cake. Four individually flavoured layers, sandwiched together with three different buttercream layers: we have a dark chocolate, chocolate, white chocolate and peanut butter cake layer each, and then to perfectly complement the layers I decided that one buttercream frosting layer wouldn't be enough. Oh no. The buttercream frosting had to similarly complement the layers, so white chocolate, chocolate and peanut butter frosting it was!

But why stop there? The outside of the cake had to be just as spectacular and I really liked how The Moonblush Baker frosted the outside of hers, so I thought a similar look would go down well. I used both the peanut butter and white chocolate buttercreams to create an ombre effect, but rather than adding a chocolate butter cream layer too, I went one step further and poured dark chocolate ganache over the top! The literal icing on the cake. And it really makes this cake amazingly good. Lastly sprinkled with some chocolate and peanut butter sweets for good measure, I don't know how to tell you not to make this cake!

Some might think the numerous different flavours are a bit much, and it isn't a cake for the faint-hearted, but rest assured my cake-testers all gave positive results. What is for sure, is that this cake will satisfy any chocolate and peanut butter lover. The dark chocolate cake is delightfully fudgy and brownie like, whilst the peanut butter cake is perfectly nutty. Paired with the white chocolate and chocolate cakes, you get a cake which takes you through a journey in every bite, but a smooth satisfying journey. You'll find yourself wanting to eat through the layers individually and then also wanting to try different ones together!

It is definitely a party cake, made to impress and be eaten by a number of cake-eating happy people. But if you feel you want to stick to one buttercream instead or omit a cake layer then feel free to do as suited. I also layered my cake so that no two same buttercream and cake flavour is next to the other, but you could do exactly this to make an altogether different visually appealing cake. Whatever you decide to do, remember you don't want to leave out the ganache topping!

Please make sure to check out my notes at the end of the recipe too!

Triple Chocolate Peanut Butter Ombre Cake
Makes a medium-sized 7" cake

For the chocolate and white chocolate layer:
225g butter, soft
125g caster sugar
100g brown sugar
3 eggs
1 tsp vanilla extract
175g self-raising flour
1 tsp baking powder
150ml yoghurt
5 tbsp cocoa powder
15g white chocolate, melted

1. Preheat oven to 180 degrees C, and grease two 7 inch cake pans.
2. Cream together the butter, caster and brown sugars, in a large bowl. Add the eggs one at a time, then the vanilla extract, and mix well.
3. Add the flour and baking powder. Mix and then fold in the yoghurt.
4. Divide the batter into two. Mix in the cocoa powder to one and the white chocolate to the other.
5. Fill cake tins, and bake for 25 minutes,
6. Leave to cool completely before assembling.

For the dark chocolate layer:
80g butter, soft
135g caster sugar
1 egg
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
90g self-raising flour
35g/9 tbsp cocoa powder
1/2 tsp baking powder
100ml buttermilk, or milk with 1 tsp lemon juice
1 tbs yoghurt
Pinch of salt

1. Repeat steps 1-3 as above, greasing one cake tin, and adding the cocoa powder and salt with the flour as well.
2. Add buttermilk and yoghurt, and mix well.
3. Fill cake tin and bake for 25 minutes until a toothpick inserted comes out clean.
4. Leave to cool completely before assembling.

For the peanut butter layer:
80g peanut butter, soft
40g butter, soft
100g caster sugar
1 egg
1 tsp vanilla extract
120g self-raising flour
1/2 tsp baking powder
100ml buttermilk, or milk with 1 tsp lemon juice
Pinch of salt

1. Preheat the oven to 180 degrees C and grease one cake tin.
2. Mix together the peanut butter and butter, making sure it is well blended.
3. Now add the sugar and cream together well.
4. Add the egg and vanilla extract until incorporated, then mix in the flour, baking powder and salt.
5. Add the buttermilk slowly to form a smooth batter.
6. Fill cake tin, and bake for 25-30 minutes, checking for doneness.
7. Leave to cool completely before assembling.

White Chocolate:
3 cups icing sugar
3/4 cup butter, softened
5 tbsp white chocolate, melted

1 cup icing sugar
1/2 cup butter, softened
3 tsp dark chocolate, melted

Peanut Butter:
2 cups icing sugar
3/4 cup butter
3 tbsp peanut butter

1. For all the buttercreams, combine the icing sugar with the butter using a mixer until well incorporated.
2. For the chocolate buttercreams, add the melted chocolate and mix to a smooth consistency. For the peanut butter buttercream, add the peanut butter along with the icing sugar and butter.

Dark Chocolate Ganache
3/4 cup heavy cream
1 & half cup dark chocolate, chopped, or dark chocolate chips

1. Heat the heavy cream in a saucepan until it starts to come to the boil.
2. Remove off the heat and immediately pour over chocolate in a glass bowl.
3. Leave to sit for two minutes and then stir until completely melted and smooth. If you find you still have lumps, put the bowl in the microwave and heat on medium for ten seconds. Remove and stir.

Assembling the cake

1. Work out a method for assembling cake layers and buttercreams in preferred way. You might want to write down the order to make it easier.

The order used here was as follows (starting at the bottom)-

Dark Chocolate Layer
White Chocolate Buttercream
Chocolate Layer
Peanut Butter Buttercream
White Chocolate Layer
Chocolate Buttercream
Peanut Butter Layer

2. Trim off excess cake on layers using a large bread knife, to ensure they are even and flat.
3. Start with your base layer and using a spatula spread an even layer of your first buttercream.
4. Repeat with all the cake layers and buttercreams, until you place your fourth cake layer on top.
5. Using the white chocolate buttercream, make a thin crumb coat around the whole cake. Refrigerate cake for at least 20 minutes.
6. Starting with the bottom of the cake, use your spatula to spread the peanut butter over the third to lower half. Now add the white chocolate buttercream to the top half. Use your spatula to slightly blend the peanut butter with the white chocolate.
7. Chill in the fridge for at least half an hour, while you make the ark chocolate ganache.
8. Remove and pour the dark chocolate slowly over the top of the cake until it starts to drip down the sides.
9. Sprinkle over with chocolate and peanut butter chips or desired sprinkles.
10. Keeps in an airtight container in the fridge for upto ten days.

- When filling the cake tins, you should aim to fill the batter to the same height for each layer, in order to ensure even sized layers for assembling the cake.
- Be careful to check on the cakes at the 25 minute mark, as a few minutes longer and the cakes are prone to becoming dry.
- You probably want to make this cake over two days. One day for baking the layers, and a second day for making the buttercreams and assembling.
- The white chocolate buttercream yields the most, then the peanut butter, and lastly the chocolate, as I needed the most white chocolate to cover the outside the cake as well as for layering, and secondly the peanut butter which is also used on the outside.
- If you find the buttercreams are too soft, chill in the fridge for ten minutes before using.
- Any leftover dark chocolate ganache can be refrigerated, and heated when needed to pour onto endless other desserts. Or roll into balls and make chocolate truffles!

Thursday, March 13, 2014

Cinnamon Donuts & Fume Opening at Dubai Marina

So this is a first for me on the blog, but I was recently invited to try out a recipe from the dessert menu of soon to be opened restaurant Fümé, in Dubai Marina. I jumped at the chance because its always nice to try out new dessert recipes, and I love donuts. Plus I was eager to see how well these turned out to be.

The result? Warm, fried donuts rolled in cinnamon powder and sugar, and lightly fragranced with a surprisingly complimentary mix of nutmeg and lime zest. Once bitten into, these donuts were perfectly pillowy soft, with a very faint refreshing hint of lime from the zest.

They take a little bit of time to make, as you need to proof the dough, knead and divide into balls, and then wait a little while longer for a second proofing. But the results were definitely worth it.
Once fried, the donuts had a very classic quality to them in taste. You know when you crave a sugary soft donut? This donut beats that craving. And what I found makes them taste even better is slathering them with a little homemade chocolate ganache!

A little bit about Fümé itself - the restaurant is designed to be a casual neighbourhood eatery, with a focus on good, nostalgic, home food. Head chef Grand Brunsden has ensured a menu featuring eclectic items from around the world, cooked simply with the best quality ingredients.

Make these donuts yourself, or once Fümé is open head down and try them. Either way, they are going to be good!

Cinnamon Donuts
Recipe from Fümé Dubai

100ml fresh milk
3g fast action yeast
25g sugar
1 lime, zest only
250g strong flour
¼ tsp salt
1 egg
1g grated nutmeg
25g butter, softened
Sunflower oil for frying
Cinnamon powder for rolling
Caster sugar for rolling

1.    Mix the yeast and milk.
2. Add the flour, sugar, salt, lime zest and nutmeg to the milk and yeast mix and continue mixing till the mix is smooth.
3. Add the egg and vanilla extract and continue mixing till smooth.
4. Add the butter and on high speed mix till the dough starts pulling from the side.
5. Place in a greased bowl and proof till the dough is double in size.
6. On a clean surface, place the proofed dough and knock back the air by kneading it lightly.
7.  Portion the dough into 30gms and shape them into balls
8. Place on a greased tray and let rise.
9. Heat the oil and fry the donuts on both sides.
10.  Roll the warm donuts in cinnamon sugar which is made by mixing sugar with cinnamon powder.

Disclaimer: I was not offered any compensation and all opinions here are my own. 

Sunday, March 2, 2014

My uncles recipe: Pomegranate & White Chocolate Muffins

Its been a while since my last post. Family commitments, priorities and visits from guests had all taken over.  

One of these guests included a visit from my favourite uncle and its from him that the idea for these muffins came about entirely. This uncle of mine happens to be an artistic extraordinaire, someone who has had creativity running through his blood ever since I can remember. 

Along with my sister, many a time was spent in our childhood watching him paint (or rather cajoling him to let us paint with him), sketch and sew together dresses as a fashion student, or cook up an aromatic Indian dish. I used to love looking at his mood boards filled with magazine cut outs, colour swatches and movie star posters. The kitchen would always smells amazing when he cooked, and still does. 

Like most of my family, he avidly follows and reads my blog. So when he suggested the combination of pomegranate and white chocolate in a muffin, who was I to say no? Fruit and chocolate always go well together in a muffin. And it turns out he was right with this winning combination.

Ruby red pomegranate arils, and dainty white chocolate chips dot these hearty, filling muffins. Sweet enough to delight your senses, but not too sweet that they can't be enjoyed for breakfast. This recipe makes six, enough to feed a family, but you might want to make a double batch, coz these are going to go really fast! I used all white flour, but they would be just as good with brown or whole-wheat for a more healthier version.

If you are looking for an interesting muffin recipe then these muffins are going to be anything but boring. And since this wasn't the only recipe my uncle suggested keep an eye out for more featured on the blog in the future! :)

Pomegranate & White Chocolate Muffins
Makes 6 

2 cups all purpose flour, or 1 cup all purpose and 1 cup wholemeal flour
1/2 cup sugar
Pinch of salt
3 tsp baking powder
3 tbsp melted butter
1 egg
1 cup of milk
1/2 cup pomegranate arils
1/2 cup white chocolate chips/white chocolate chopped 

1. Preheat oven to 180 degrees and grease a muffin tin, or line with muffin cups.
2. Mix together the flour, sugar, salt and baking powder in a large bowl.
3. In a smaller bowl whisk together the melted butter, egg and milk. 
4. Make a large well in the centre of the flour mixture and pour in the milk mixture. Quickly fold together the ingredients without over mixing. Stop mixing as soon as the ingredients have been incorporated.
5. Carefully fold in the pomegranate and white chocolate. 
6. Fill muffin tin or liners with the batter until 2/3 full. Bake muffins for 20-25 minutes until golden and an inserted tooth pick comes out clean. There may be some bubbling on the surface from the white chocolate caramelizing, but this is normal.
7. Leave to sit for 5 minutes before removing from pan. 
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