Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Choco Bread Burfi

Its funny how you come across something unexpected when you are actually looking at stuff that is not even remotely related to what you just discovered. Well, this is one such recipe!! Diwali, this year, is on Nov 3rd, and is, just a few days away. I try and make couple different sweets every year apart from the usuals. Of course, I choose to make stuff that is not very time consuming but tastes delicious. When I first saw this video on tube (FYI, original video is in Hindi but towards the end, there is a quick recap partly in English), I couldn't wait to give it a try. It looked simple yet tempting enough to be on my to-try-out list. With slight changes, I was surprised that it turned out so good that my daughter couldn't stop with a small bite. 

The original recipe is almost vegan except for the usage of regular milk which can be easily switched to any non-dairy milk of your choice. Most of the indian sweets normally involve liberal use of ghee (clarified butter) but I was really happy to see a recipe that did not use that's a first!!!  The best part is that the ingredients are readily available in everyone's pantry, so what are you waiting for?? Trust me, you gotta try it out. It's definitely one of a kind and pretty darn good too!!

Adapted from Tea Time with Rakesh Sethi


2 1/4 cups breadcrumbs (approx. 4 slices - I used 12 grain bread)
1 cup unsweetened almond milk, original (3/4 cup would work as well)
2/3 cup ground raw sugar
2/3 cup frozen shredded coconut, thawed 
2  tbsp chopped cashewnuts
1 - 1 1/2 tbsp blanched almonds, chopped
1 tbsp unsweetened cocoa powder (optional)
2 - 3 drops kewra essence (or rose essence or 1/4 tsp cardamom powder)
2 tsp oil + extra for greasing pan
Cashews or Almonds or Pistachios, for garnish


Cut the brown ends from the bread slices. Prepare the bread crumbs using a food processor or blender (pulse until crumbs are formed) with your choice of bread, preferably, white/wheat or any grain-based bread (plain, no flavoring).

In a large mixing bowl, add the bread crumbs, unsweetened almond milk and cocoa powder. Mix well and set aside until it softens.

In a pan, on medium-low heat, add the ground raw sugar and fresh or frozen grated coconut and cook until the sugar completely melts. 

As the mixture starts to thicken (takes about 8-10 mins or so), add the chopped cashews and almonds and mix well. Cook on medium low heat until the mixture starts to bind well.

Add the soaked bread to the coconut-nuts mixture and stir well. Add flavoring of choice (I used kewra essence - extract made from pandanus flowers). Cook on low heat until the moisture is totally absorbed. Add oil (or vegan butter) to the mixture and cook for 5 mins or so. The bread mixture starts forming a big lump without sticking to the sides. Remove from heat.

Line a non-stick or glass baking dish with parchment or wax paper. Grease with cooking spray or vegan butter. Spread the bread mixture on the pan and smoothen the top for an even layer.

Allow the mixture to reach room temperature and cool it in the refrigerator for 1-2 hours (or freeze it for 1 hr). Cut into square or diamond shaped pieces. Garnish with nuts of choice (cashew halves/almonds or pistachios). Enjoy!!

Makes 16 pieces.

Monday, October 21, 2013

Til Ladoo

Life seems so pre-occupied with things adding up in my daily to-do list, sometimes, I wish a day was longer than 24 hours!! It has been a little over 2 months since my daughter started attending her new day care but she has fallen sick so many times. I suppose if you have a kid who attends day care/school, you can always expect a surprising home delivery of some sort of sickness that is so not welcome. Obviously, it starts off by sucking the energy out of the kid, with total loss of appetite (poor baby was literally on pedialyte/gatorade for nearly 3+ days) and an uncontrollable cough. The sickness cycle doesn't seem to be complete unless it has been passed on to atleast one person in the household, in most cases, a mom's gotta go through it all!!

It has been over a week since I made these Til (Sesame) ladoos but haven't had a chance to post it. Sesame has one of the highest oil content among seeds. Sesame seeds add a nutty flavor and is known to have a long shelf life due to the high levels of natural antioxidants. Sesame seeds is rich in vitamin-B and minerals like calcium, iron, zinc, magnesium, and copper. Sesame seeds, when consumed, helps reduce "bad" cholesterol and increases "good" cholesterol. It helps prevent diabetes, lowers blood pressure and also strengthens your immune system with the antioxidants present in them. Need I say more???

This is by far one of the easiest sweets that can be made in less than 10 minutes. All you need is 3 ingredients to enjoy these ladoos. This is one of the sweets that I normally make during Ganesh Chaturthi celebrations but it can be enjoyed all year round.


1/2 cup white sesame seeds, dry roasted
1/3 cup raw peanuts, dry roasted & de-skinned
1/3 - 1/2 cup powdered jaggery (unrefined whole cane sugar), adjust to taste


In a pan, dry roast the sesame seeds and peanuts separately.

If using raw peanuts with skin, after roasting, remove the skin from the peanuts and keep aside.

Using a blender or food processor, make a powder of the sesame seeds and peanuts separately.

In a large bowl, mix the powdered sesame seeds and the powdered peanuts.

In a blender or food processor, to few ladles of the mix, add jaggery and pulse (do it in batches).

Make ladoos from the above mix. The natural oils from the sesame seeds and peanuts along with the moisture from the jaggery help form the ladoos easily.

Store in an airtight container and enjoy until it lasts!! 

Makes 10 ladoos.

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Vegan Magic Bars

October officially marks the start of the holiday season with celebrations lined up one after the other....Diwali, Halloween, Thanksgiving and Christmas. Its not just that, it's the best part of the year because it gives you more reasons to enjoy sweet treats (who needs one anyway, right??). Holiday season always reminds me of time spent with family. Every year during Thanksgiving or Christmas, we get together with my aunt's family and she bakes a bunch of goodies, one of which, is the magic bars!!

Not sure, how it got its name but it is a piece of sweet goodness. When you taste a magic bar, you wonder if you are eating some sort of chocolate with nuts and coconut?? But, it tastes more like a decadent cookie with a nice graham cracker crust. It does get your taste buds thinking but can totally satisfy your sweet cravings with a bit of everything in it. Originally, loaded with a whole lot of calories and sugar, this is a bit toned down but can be prepared much lighter too. As I was making these bars, I couldn't stop thinking about how a pumpkin pie bar (topped with coconut and pecans) would taste with some ginger snap cookie crust...perfect treat for the fall season. Gotta get me some pumpkin pureé!! These bars store well for a week (i.e., if they last that long). Two batches of these bars and four days in the drafts, its about time this recipe hits the post!!!


For coconut caramel sauce:

3/4 cup light coconut milk
1/3 cup raw sugar

For the bar:

8 - 9 vegan graham cracker crust (approx. 1 1/2 cups crumbs)
3 tbsp vegan butter, like earth balance, melted
1 1/2 tsp raw sugar (optional)
1/2 cup vegan semi-sweet chocolate chips
1/2 cup chopped walnuts
1/4 cup unsweetened coconut flakes
2 tbsp dried cranberries, finely chopped (optional)


For the crust, use graham crackers or any vegan cookies (my personal favorite is the vegan digestive biscuit crumbs) and pulse in a food processor or crush it with a rolling pin or your fingers.

Preheat oven to 350° FIn a 9 x 9-inch baking pan, brush or spray little cooking oil (optional) and line with a parchment paper.

In a mixing bowl, add the graham cracker or cookie crumbs, melted butter (or organic coconut oil, melted) and sugar, if using (I didn't use any). Stir the mixture until moist. Layer the mixture in the bottom of the baking pan and press until even.

In a saucepan over medium heat, add the sugar and coconut milk and stir until sugar is melted. Reduce to low heat and cook until the mixture turns from light to medium-dark amber color (takes about 10-12 mins). For a variation, you can prepare a butterscotch sauce by melting 1/3 cup sugar with 1 1/2 tbsp water. After the sugar is melted and the caramel thickens, remove from heat and stir in the butter. Flavorful and irresistible butterscotch sauce is ready!!

Pour the coconut caramel sauce (or butterscotch sauce) evenly over the graham cracker crust. 

Sprinkle with chocolate chips and walnuts evenly over the caramel sauce. 

Sprinkle the unsweetened coconut flakes and cranberries. Press the top mixture slightly with a rubber spatula.

If using butterscotch sauce, pour 1/4 cup of vegan condensed milk (1/2 cup vegan evaporated milk and 1/4 cup sugar simmered over medium heat until sugar is melted) or whisk 1/4 cup coconut milk  and cornstarch paste(mix 1 1/2 tsp cornstarch with 1 tsp coconut milk/water to a paste) and pour evenly over the toppings and bake for 25-30 mins until the edges are browned. 

Cool completely before cutting into squares. Slowly lift the entire piece using the parchment paper on the sides and cut into squares. For perfect squares, refrigerate for 2-3 hours (the hardest part is keeping your hands off of these) before cutting. Keep at room temperature for 10-15 mins and then cut into squares. Enjoy!!

Makes 16 bars.