Ali loves chocolate. Even dark chocolate. It’s what he asks for when it comes to ordering ice cream or cupcakes. Then almost overnight he started picking Vanilla. Vanilla everything. One day when he wanted me to bake cake, I agreed knowing I had some Vanilla Swiss Meringue frosting in the freezer. But then he asked, …
I know we’re in the middle of summer in Dubai. Not exactly the time to be making a crumble. We were having cousins over for lunch about a month ago and I wanted to make dessert that wasn’t too elaborate. I was making Biriyani that afternoon and needed this dessert to be out and ready before the Biriyani was sent for Dum in the oven. I was tempted to make a Mango fool with the last fruit of this season but I kept scouring for something new. That’s when I found this recipe using Bananas. Of all the fruits, I had never read or made a Crumble with Bananas. The recipe seemed fairly simple and used just one skillet for the entire process. After a few tweaks and additions, I baked this Crumble. I can bank on an honest opinion when it comes to these folks. It received such praise that afternoon I knew this recipe needed to be shared. This Eid a plate of this dessert with citrusy caramel and a touch of chocolate is all you need, alongside a scoop of ice cream, when you settle into the couch for an afternoon of banter with Biriyani laden bellies.
The memory of eating this pudding came suddenly one afternoon when I was preparing lunch for Ali. For some reason the smell of carrots cooking down reminded me of this pudding. The memory that came rushing was sitting in the back of the car peeping out of the window on a Friday morning with my father driving the car to Abu Dhabi. My mothers’ eldest brother stayed and we would drive down to see them. I vividly remember how the highway was deserted and billboards would appear on the horizon about every five minutes and I would slowly grow in height as the car grew nearer. Some months, we would drive down every other weekend. The advertisements weren’t changed too often back then and I would make a mental note of what was the last hoarding that stood at the outskirts of Abu Dhabi which meant the city wasn’t too far away. This is a pudding my aunt used to make. I was never fond of Payasams. Ammayi was a pioneer when it came to making non-traditional desserts. Crème caramel, brightly colored Agar Jelly Pudding and cool glasses of Falooda were a few of the desserts she made 25 years ago. On that day in my kitchen, I wanted to try my hand at making this Pudding. I didn’t even know what was in it and I called my cousin inquiring about the sweet orange colored pulp with custard on top. She instantly knew I was talking about her Pumpkin and Carrot Pudding.
I’m on the fence when it comes to coffee in desserts. Tiramisu is probably the only dessert on this planet I would pass on. I wouldn’t mind a scoop of Coffee Gelato or a couple of squares of Mocha Fudge. Given how the world is right now, a lot of us will be observing Eid very differently. When Ramadan began, I was a bit hopeful about seeing family on Eid. I was thinking of having them over for a traditional breakfast that is made on my husband’s side of the family. I wanted to make something sweet that could accompany the spread. A cake would be too much, a Payasam would have to be made the night before and even though summer has arrived, it would be too early for a cold dessert. I started looking through a few of my recipe books and felt that Cake Bars was the answer. Since we would all be having caffeine in the morning after a whole month, I felt that Espresso would be just the right flavor to end a heavy meal. I love texture in desserts and rummaged in my quarantine dictated pantry to see what was easily replaceable. I had almonds in all forms: raw, powdered and even flakes. A little testing later, I was hopeful to bake these on Eid morning. I’ve come to terms that this Eid will pass by without meeting the extended family. Baking has helped me with the uncertainty of our times and I will still be baking these Espresso & Almond Bars to lift my spirits.
The night before Ramadan began this year, I went out with my friends for dinner. We meet up once a month taking turns to pick our restaurants and this month it was Vietnamese fare. We tucked into roast Chicken with Bao buns, duck breast grilled and dunked in Hoisin sauce and shared an enormous bowl of Pho that my friend insisted we try and still couldn’t finish completely. I really wanted to go all out on dessert and the menu didn’t quite impress. We were in Downtown and decided to walk towards Dubai Mall just for dessert. We bounced ideas and settled on the seemingly popular Milk Cake. It was close to 11 pm and the cafe was almost full and we were lucky to snag a corner. Knowing long hours of fasting begin the next day and to satiate sugar cravings that seemed to have risen during the walk, ee ordered a classic Milk cake and a sizzling Brownie accompanied with of scoops Vanilla ice cream drowning in chocolate sauce. Milk cakes have been doing the rounds for quite some time in Dubai, and this was the second one I was trying. While we took turns with our spoons from different sides, I decided that this years’ Eid recipe on my blog has to be Milk Cake.
Ramadan is undoubtedly, the busiest time on my blog. I have been lying low throughout the year but closer to Ramadan, I feel obliged to shoot and share recipes for my table and yours. I almost always start planning with dessert for the day of Eid and then work my way backwards. This year I made a Pistachio Milk cake for an Iftar I hosted for my cousins and was inundated with requests to share the recipe. There were a few ideas that didn’t make it beyond the testing stage on the blog and I felt I had to make it up for it with more dessert. Given that we’ve been blessed with the season of mangoes coinciding with the month of fasting, it made perfect sense to try my hand at making a refreshingly light milk cake that would make for a sweet (and cool!) ending after generous servings of celabratory Biriyani.
For the past few years, Ramadan has been arriving in the peak of Dubai summers. The golden lining, if I may say so, is the influx of seasonal mangoes from the Indian subcontinent. They’ll slowly start appearing, tart, green and far from the ripening stage in the early days of May. Towards the end of the month, the color lightens revealing tints of yellow and before you know it the aisles of the supermarket will be hosting Mango ‘festivals’ where you get to pick and choose from over a dozen varieties that have arrived across the breadth of these countries. Rajapuri, Mallika and Malgova from the southern coastal areas, Alphonso and Kesar from the western parts and Chaunsa and Sindhri from across the border. I gravitate towards Badami and undoubtedly the most popular one, Alphonso.
We’re inching towards the middle of Ramadan and the temperature is rising steadily but with His Mercy, the humidity still hasn’t set in yet. If you entertain quite a bit, this recipe would make a perfect dessert considering it is a no-bake one. This dessert is especially for those who hated their daily dose of milk. Chances are that a spoonful of malt powder went into the glass and was vigorously stirred and handed over in the hopes it would be go down without gagging revolts. Regardless this is almost effortless and something sweet to end a long day of fasting.
Today’s dessert recipe comes with a little story. It’s a story of how I lost to a flavor pop quiz. I take pride (slightly) in my sense of taste especially when it comes to spices. And more so, if it something that isn’t the norm. Like papaya to tenderize meat. Or a teeny cube of jaggery in Sambhar. It has been carefully honed over the years and it often surprises people when I confirm whether certain ingredients have been added to a recipe. And then a little while ago, I got it wrong. Horribly. Horribly because my guess was no where close to the answer. In fact, it was something I had never tasted before!
When I first baked a cheesecake, I didn’t know I was stepping on what is considered to be a slippery slope. I first baked it for my husband on his birthday because its his favorite. Honestly, not knowing that its a recipe that might fail more than succeed helped because I just followed the instructions, put it in its water bath and let it bake. And it came out just fine. Later on when I was hoping to be a bake something other that the classic version did I encounter the horror stories. Cracked tops, collapsing middles and still wet insides. There seemed to be so many things that could go wrong. After having read that, the next time I attempted to bake a cheesecake I added some fear. And this despite having read troubleshooting tips from my trusted baking bloggers’ list. It came out of the oven with a crack on the top pretty much like the Mercedes logo. I laughed aloud at the coincidence and didn’t bother covering it up. It did make me want to find a daunting free cheesecake recipe.