Middle Eastern Nut Filled Cookies (Ma’amoul)

October 22, 2014 § 4 Comments

Middle Eastern Nut Filled Cookies (Ma'amoul)

It’s the time of year when the hearts are filled with love and joy. Diwali brings a lot of happiness along with it. It is when you get along with all your loved ones, your family and friends. Lighting diyas on Diwali has a warm feeling attached to it. It just symbolizes hope for me. In these times of distrust and sorrows of a mean world outside, a small lighting diya or candle uplifts your spirit and makes you believe in yourself. This being an auspicious time, I don’t want to drag about the serious subject. Because I believe the hope this beautiful festival brings is eternal.

Middle Eastern Nut Filled Cookies (Ma'amoul)

I so love this time of year. Everything is amazingly beautiful and festive. The food, the people and the surroundings. You just happen to love everything about Diwali. You get to eat a lot of sweets and dry fruits and a plenty of rich Indian food, eventually making your tummy happy as well. Every year, I think of planning and starting in advance. But I fall prey to the rush of the last moment. Like every other time,  this year I had thought of making Baklava from scratch for Diwali, which I obviously couldn’t make due to some last minute thoughts. And I didn’t have enough time to roll the thin layers of phyllo from scratch and I didn’t want to buy it from market either.

Middle Eastern Nut Filled Cookies (Ma'amoul)

Like every other Indian family, Diwali also means consumption of lot of dry fruits for us as well. Now, when I couldn’t make Baklava, I thought of making these dry fruits and nut filled eggless cookies called Ma’amoul from one of my favorite cookbooks author Ottolenghi’s Jerusalem. Oh! I so loved these cookies! They are buttery, rich, filled with mixture of dry fruits and very gently sweet. One bite of these and you’ll too sure fall in love.

Middle Eastern Nut Filled Cookies (Ma'amoul)

Traditionally, these are made with filling of dates. But, I filled these kind of shortbread cookies with a medley of nuts and dates. Walnuts, cashews, pistachios, dates, orange rind and a generous handful of rose petals adorn the inside of these cookies. Lovely, rich and fragrant flavors! A true epitome of this festive season! 

Middle Eastern Nut Filled Cookies (Ma'amoul) 

Middle Eastern Nut Filled Cookies (Ma'amoul)
Middle Eastern Nut Filled Cookies (Ma'amoul)
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For the cookies
  1. 350 gm semolina
  2. 40 gm plain flour
  3. 40 gm caster sugar
  4. pinch of salt
  5. 150 gm unsalted butter, cut into cuber
  6. 2 tbsp orange juice
  7. 1 tsp rose water
For the nuts filling
  1. 50 gm walnuts
  2. 50 gm pistachios
  3. 100 gm cashews
  4. 45 gm dates, roughly chopped
  5. 1/4 cup edible dry rose petals
  6. 1 tsp vanilla powder
  7. 1 tbsp orange juice
  8. 1 tbsp orange rind
Instructions
  1. Put the flour, semolina, sugar and salt into a large mixing bowl and stir together. Add the butter and work with your fingertips until mixture resembles coarse breadcrumbs.
  2. Add the water and rose water and mix to make into a ball. Knead the dough to make it completely smooth, about 5 minutes. Cover with damp cloth and let rest for 30 minutes.
  3. To make nuts filling, place all the ingredients into a food processor and pulse quickly to until you get a uniform coarse paste.
  4. Preheat the oven to 190 degree C. Line two baking sheets and keep aside.
  5. To mould the cookies, remove walnut sized pieces of dough and roll into a ball. Flatten each ball in the cup of your hands and lift the edges to shape it like a little pot.
  6. Fill the pastry with heaped tablespoon of the filling. Pinch the edges over the filling so that the pastry pot is sealed and then roll into a ball again. Flatten the ball between the palms of your hands and then place on the baking sheet. Repeat the process of moulding the cookies, until all the dough and the filling is used. You may wish to give it a design by gently pressing the top of the cookies with a fork twines or using a cookies design plunger.
  7. Bake the cookies for 15-20 minutes until cookies are very lightly golden on the edges. Remove from oven and transfer to a wire rack to let cool completely. Store in an airtight container for up to five days.
Adapted from Jerusalem by Yottam Ottolenghi & Sami Tamimi
Adapted from Jerusalem by Yottam Ottolenghi & Sami Tamimi
The White Ramekins http://thewhiteramekins.com/
 Happy Diwali! May this festival brings harmony and peace in our lives!

Middle Eastern Nut Filled Cookies (Ma'amoul)

Apple & Olive Oil Cake With Maple Icing

October 13, 2014 § 3 Comments

Apple & Olive Oil Cake With Maple Icing

I have been away from this space for almost two weeks now. Frequent visits to back home, a recent visit to mountains and the ever so increasing workload at office has been keeping me away from you all. That doesn’t mean that I have not being baking. Rather I baked four different kinds of cakes in past couple of weeks. Just that I have been able to capture the pictures only for this one.

Apple & Olive Oil Cake With Maple Icing

Apple & olive oil cake with maple icing is the recent one which I baked for my family this weekend. And this time around I got lucky to take some pics before the family got to gobble it down quickly. The other two cakes which I baked were a pine nut and olive oil cake and a banana wholemeal breakfast cake. My olive oil-in-cakes fascination doesn’t seem to end very soon. Rather I use olive oil in my recipes quite often.

Apple & Olive Oil Cake With Maple Icing

Especially in cakes, it lends a tender and moist crumb which probably only a good quality butter could yield. The moist and lighter flavors from my lemon rosemary and ricotta olive oil cake will always remain alive in my memories. Such lovely and ethereal flavors will always give you the comfort of your life. It’s like some soft melody playing in your ears while you are day dreaming sitting in your armchair on a relaxed and sunny day.

Apple & Olive Oil Cake With Maple Icing

Such were the lovely flavors we experienced again when we took the first bite of this lovely moist olive oil and apple cake. The maple cream cheese icing on top took the perfection to the next level. Warm earthy flavors of cinnamon, vanilla and maple syrup paired along with juicy red apples and tanginess of cream cheese were just perfect for us to spend our weekend at leisure while we chit chatted for hours throughout the weekend.

Apple & Olive Oil Cake With Maple Icing

A cup of hot simmering coffee to go along with these lovely flavors and endless talks was all what we needed. And why shouldn’t it create such magic, the recipe is from one of my favorite cook book authors, Yottam Ottolenghi. Ottolenghi has never been disappointing. He knows how to create magic with flavors.  The olive oil in this cake gives it that extra depth and intensity of flavors. The maple icing is the cherry on the cake which makes it all the more festive looking, isn’t it? 

Apple & Olive Oil Cake With Maple IcingApple & Olive Oil Cake With Maple IcingApple & Olive Oil Cake With Maple IcingApple & Olive Oil Cake With Maple Icing 

Apple & Olive Oil Cake With Maple Icing
light and festive apple and olive oil cake with maple icing
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For the cake
  1. 80 gm golden raisins
  2. 280 gm all purpose flour
  3. 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
  4. 1/4 tsp salt
  5. 1/2 tsp baking powder
  6. 1 1/4 tsp baking soda
  7. 1/2 tsp vanilla powder
  8. 120 ml olive oil
  9. 160 gm superfine sugar
  10. 2 eggs and 2 egg whites
  11. 3 large apples, cored, peeled and diced
  12. grated zest of 1 lemon
For the icing
  1. 100 gm unsalted butter, at room temperature
  2. 100 gm light muscovado sugar
  3. 85 ml maple syrup, extra for topping
  4. 200 gm cream cheese
  5. handful of roughly chopped walnuts
Instructions
  1. Grease 8 inch springform cake pan and line the bottom and sides of the pan with parchment paper. Preheat the oven to 170 degree Celsius.
  2. Sift together flour, salt, baking soda, baking powder, cinnamon powder and vanilla powder and keep it aside.
  3. Put the oil and super fine sugar in a bowl and whisk them together. Add 2 whole eggs one by one, beating the mixture to make it smooth and thick.
  4. Mix in diced apples, raisins, lemon zest and then gently fold in the dry ingredients.
  5. In a separate clean bowl, beat the egg whites to make a stiff meringue. Fold them in to the batter in 2 additions, trying to maintain as much air as possible.
  6. Pour the batter into the lined pan and bake for around 55 - 60 minutes, or until a skewer inserted into the center of the cake comes out clean.
  7. Remove from oven and leave to cool in the pan. Once it it completely cooled, remove from the pan.
  8. To prepare the icing, beat the butter, cream cheese, maple syrup, muscovado sugar in a bowl to make a smooth and fluffy frosting.
  9. To assemble, cut the cake horizontally into two halves. Using a spatula, spread a layer of icing over the bottom half of the cake. Carefully place the second half of the cake on it. Spoon the rest of the icing on the cake and spread to cover the top and the sides of the entire cake.
  10. Top with chopped walnuts and drizzle the extra maple syrup, as you like.
Notes
  1. Original recipe suggests the cake to bake for 1 1/2 hours, while mine baked perfectly in 60 minutes.
Adapted from Ottolenghi, The Cookbook
Adapted from Ottolenghi, The Cookbook
The White Ramekins http://thewhiteramekins.com/

A weekend amidst mountains

October 7, 2014 § 10 Comments

This time, I am not going to talk about food. Rather I am trying to depict the beautiful moments we lived through the last weekend in beautiful mountains of north. We travelled, trekked and spotted some really beautiful birds and breathed in loads of fresh air. We doused ourselves in the serenity of the mighty Himalayas. And we came back all rejuvenated. Hope you enjoy the journey the way we travelled, through this photographic essay.

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