Saturday, 19 May 2018

Peanut Butter Cream Cheese Brownies

It is mid-May. Our friends in the plains share their woes about the rising temperature. We are fortunate to be in the hills. It is warm, vivid and green. Full of summer fruits and flowers and frolicking birds. Yesterday, it was bright. It was breezy and by mid-afternoon clouds appeared and started moving, rolling and rearranging themselves in fascinating and sometimes grotesque patterns on the blue canvass. Winds roared and howled and thunderclap deafened the world. The drama ended in the rain sprinkling on the grass, in the garden, and in the valley. The shower was soothing, the gust of cool air delighting, petrichor so intoxicating and elevating the senses to another level. There is something magical about rain. It nourishes the Earth and also the soul.

We sat in our verandah, soaking in the beauty and freshness that comes after a good downpour. We spotted a pair of Brahminy Starling perched in the lower branches of the Yellow Trumpet tree.
The evening was windy and cold. We enjoyed steaming tea with Peanut Butter Cream Cheese Brownies.

Peanut butter was homemade. Living in a small place has its own limitations. We do not get cream cheese in the stores here. We made cream cheese at home. If you wish to make cream cheese at home, follow my recipe given at the end of the post.

It was a pleasure to bake whole grain brownie. We loved the gooey chocolaty Peanut Butter Cream Cheese Brownies.

Peanut Butter Cream Cheese Brownies

Peanut Butter Cream Cheese Layer


  • ¾ cup Cream Cheese
  • ½ cup creamy peanut butter
  • ½ cup honey
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 pinch salt
  • 1 egg

Brownie Base

  • ¾ cup whole wheat flour
  • ¼ teaspoon baking powder
  • ¾ teaspoon salt
  • ¼ cup cocoa powder
  • ¼ cup butter softened
  • 2/3 cup sugar powdered
  • ¼ cup thick yogurt
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1 egg


  1. Preheat oven to 180 degrees C.
  2. Grease and line one 8x8 inch square cake pan.
  3. In a large bowl, take cream cheese, peanut butter, honey, vanilla extract and salt. Blend well to get a smooth and uniform mixture. Add egg and blend. Keep aside.
  4. To prepare brownie base, whisk together whole wheat flour, baking powder, cocoa powder and salt.
  5. In another bowl, beat butter and sugar. Add yogurt and vanilla extract and mix well. Add egg and mix till well blended.
  6. Mix dry and liquid ingredients of brownie base till combined.
  7. Spread brownie batter in the pan. Level with a spoon.
  8. Pour peanut butter cream cheese layer on top of the brownie base and spread evenly with the back of a spoon. Level the top.
  9. Bake for 15 to 20 minutes. The center should be firm to touch.
  10. Remove from the oven and cool. Refrigerate for 4 to 5 hours.
  11. Slice and serve.

In case if you want to make cream cheese at home, here is my recipe

Homemade Cream Cheese


  • 250 grams Paneer (cottage cheese)
  • ½ cup fresh thick curd


  1. Dice cottage cheese into small pieces. Blend to a smooth paste. Add curd. Blend again till you get a creamy mixture.
  2. Line a strainer with a cheesecloth. Place it on a wide-mouthed bowl. Empty the mixture into the lined strainer.
  3. Bring the edges of the cheesecloth together. Tie a knot. Cover and keep it in the refrigerator for about 24 hours.
  4. Discard the water collected in the bowl. Transfer cream cheese to a container and use.

Friday, 11 May 2018

Chocolate Peanut Butter Cups

An early morning walk is refreshing and rejuvenating. A sense of accomplishment and happiness pervades when you leave the comfy bed and venture out into the nippy morning air to start the day on a healthy note. The wind rustles the trees.  The dead leaves fall on the road. The East transforms from a mild pink to fiery Orange and soon the Sun peeps out to wake up the tired sleepers.
The morning offers a variety of scenery that makes the walk worthwhile. It makes you appreciate the simple things in life a lot more.

 A group of Plum-headed Parakeets alighted on a Surai plant to feed on the berries.

A glass of hot tea post walk is an elixir. We love to drink tea from tall steel glasses. We wrap our hands around the glasses and enjoy the warmth. No fancy cup can give this pleasure. Early morning is also the time to mull over and plan the day. A list of mundane tasks comes to the mind. A daily routine may appear utterly banal, but this is essential for existence.  A list is made and a visit to a grocer is on the top. We plan to make Chocolate Peanut Butter Cups later in the day. We have a jar of homemade peanut butter. We just need to buy chocolates.

The combination of dark chocolate and peanut butter is simply divine. To die for dessert for those who love chocolates and peanut butter.

 Imagine a delicious meal ending with heavenly peanut butter cups. You will love to bite into them at any time of the day!

Chocolate Peanut Butter Cups


  • 150 grams bitter chocolate
  • 150 grams dark Chocolate
  • 80 grams milk chocolate
  • ½ cup peanut butter
  • A pinch of salt
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter | Coconut oil (vegan option)


  1. Line one standard 12- cup muffin tray with paper liners.
  2. Break chocolate slabs into small pieces.
  3. Measure and melt half of the chocolate in a double boiler.
  4. If you do not have a double boiler, take a heat safe bowl. Add chocolate pieces. Take a wok. Fill half of it with water. Place the bowl in the wok and turn on the heat. Bring water to a boil and let the chocolate melt.
  5. After about 30 seconds, stir for about two minutes to get a smooth texture.
  6. With the help of a spoon, pour and distribute melted chocolate evenly into each cup. Level the top by gently thumping the pan on the counter.
  7. Place the tray in the freezer for 15 minutes.
  8. Meanwhile, take peanut butter in a bowl. Add salt and melted butter. Whip with an electric hand mixer until smooth. You may also do the same with a ladle.
  9. Remove muffin tray from the freezer.
  10. Add peanut butter layer with the help of a spoon. Distribute the mixture evenly in the pans. Level the top by thumping the tray gently on the counter.
  11. Place the tray in the freezer for 15 minutes.
  12. Place the remaining chocolate in the double boiler. Melt for 30 seconds and stir to get a uniform texture.
  13. Remove muffin tray from the freezer and add melted chocolate with a spoon distributing evenly in the pans. Level the top. Put the tray back into the freezer for 15 minutes.
  14. Remove the paper liners.
  15. Serve chilled for a firmer texture. Serve at room temperature for a creamy texture.

Sunday, 6 May 2018

Raw Mango Preserve | Aam Ka Murabba (Vegan)

It was a pleasant evening. It was breezy and the clouds were drifting in the sky. Soon, everything changed and the breeze sounded angry and large gathering of clouds began to change colour. The wind howled and the sky became a scary gray. There was a fierce storm. We could see leaves, papers and a lot of things flying helter-skelter.  The branches creaked and cracked and fell. The wires snapped and storm assumed monstrous proportions. Soon the rain was drumming on the window panes and on the terrace. The wall of rain moved from one end to the other. Nature displayed its fury and strength and also the puniness of the man.

The morning was beautiful. 

A Purple Sunbird flitted on the branches of the yellow trumpet.

The skies were clear and calm as though the storm never occurred. The only evidence was broken branches and uprooted trees. The storm also damaged the fruits. Late morning was spent in collecting the raw mangoes that were strewn on the ground in large numbers.

Every storm in summer leaves us with raw mangoes. Raw mango preserve or murraba is made in every household and is very popular in north India. We all have our own versions. Some add cardamom, some love with saffron and we love with heeng (Asafoetida ) and fennel seeds. It will pep up the meal and is a great accompaniment to parantha and toast.

Raw Mango Preserve | Aam Ka Murabba (Vegan)


  • 7-8 medium size raw green mangoes
  • Sugar (as required)
  • 1 teaspoon Asafoetida (heeng)
  • 2 teaspoon Fennel Seeds (saunf)
  • ½  pinch salt per one cup sugar
  • 1 teaspoon Oil


  1. Wash and wipe dry mangoes.
  2. Peel the mangoes
  3. Grate the mangoes. Discard the seeds
  4. Take a steel wok. Measure the grated mangoes using a cup. For every cup of the grated mangoes, add one cup sugar.
  5. Add salt. Mix with a spoon. Cover and keep for 3-4 hours. Sugar will dissolve and release a lot of juice.
  6. Cook on medium heat stirring continuously. By the end of cooking, the colour of the preserve should become golden and it should become thick and coat the ladle. It should be almost jam-like in consistency.
  7. Turn off the heat. Leave to cool.
  8. Heat oil, add asafoetida. Add this tempering to the preserve.
  9. Roast fennel seeds lightly. Cool. Grind coarsely. Add to the preserve.
  10. Store in a sterilized jar.


Tuesday, 10 April 2018

Naan | #BreadBakers

Unexpected weather patterns unfurl every year. This year, we entered summers directly from winters. The Spring hardly stayed and the temperature rose abruptly. The fields remained dry and parched. Not too many wildflowers and vegetation made an appearance. It was a bleak start to the summers. But nature has its own ways of restoring balance. For the last two days, it has been raining. The scent of rain drenched earth, cool breeze and a sudden drop in temperature has changed everything. Bunches of rain lilies have emerged in the corners of the fields. The dry lawn is a carpet of green. It is soothing to sit in the Sun and everything looks clean, bright and beautiful.

While our daily chores are going on, yeasty aroma of naan bread permeates the air. Our lunch is naan with chickpea curry.  Some finely chopped onions and green chilies along will make a perfectly pleasant day lunch.
Naan is a yeast-risen, yogurt enriched tender, soft and fluffy Indian flatbread.  Traditionally, Naan is made in a tandoor which is actually a cylindrical clay oven. Small pieces of dough are shaped with hands and slapped against the walls of the tandoor. Naan bakes over a burning fire. This gives naan a unique charred flavour of the clay oven.

Homemade naan is generally cooked in a cast iron skillet or a non-stick pan. It does miss out the charred flavour of the clay oven but is soft and very tender, blistered here and there and very delicious. It goes very well with soups, curries and Indian-style curry dishes with gravies.



  • 2 ¼ cups all-purpose flour
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • ½ cup yogurt
  • 1/3 cup warm water
  • 1 teaspoon instant dry yeast
  • 2 teaspoons sugar
  • 1 tablespoon oil
  • Some oil for greasing the pan and for cooking naan
  • Some butter to brush naan.


  1. Mix sugar and yeast in warm water. Cover and keep for 10 minutes or until frothy.
  2. Mix flour and salt in a large plate. Make a well in the center. Add yogurt, oil, yeast mixture and knead till the dough becomes smooth, supple and shiny. This will take about 10 minutes.
  3. Cover the dough with a damp cloth and leave it to rise in a warm place for about 1 hour or until double.
  4. Divide dough into 8 pieces. Work on one piece at a time. Cover the rest.
  5. Heat up a cast iron skillet or a non-stick pan. Brush the surface with oil. Roll out one piece of dough into an oval or a round naan. Brush the rolling surface with oil if the dough is sticking.
  6. Place the rolled dough in the hot pan.
  7. When it puffs up and bubbles appear on top and brown spots appear on the bottom, flip it over and cook the other side.
  8. Repeat with the remaining pieces of dough.
  9. Brush hot naan liberally with butter. Serve.

Linking to Bread Bakers.


#BreadBakers is a group of bread loving bakers who get together once a month to bake bread with a common ingredient or theme. Follow our Pinterest board right here. Links are also updated each month on this home page.
We take turns hosting each month and choosing the theme/ingredient
This month, the Bread Bakers are baking flat breads with yeast or starter. Our host is Sonia from the blog Sonlicious. Sonia's blog has a collection of great recipes. 
Here are some flat breads baked by the talented members of the group.
·         Bacon and Leek Flamiche from Food Lust People Love
·         Chole Kulche Delhi Style from The Mad Scientist's Kitchen
·         Creamy Garlic Flatbread Pizza from A Day in the Life on the Farm
·         Detroit-Style Pepperoni Pizza from Karen's Kitchen Stories
·         Foccacia Bread from Cook with Renu
·         Gözleme from All That's Left are The Crumbs
·         Manakish Za’atar from Herbivore Cucina
·         Methi Naan from Mayuri's Jikoni
·         Naan from Ambrosia
·         Nángbĭng from A Shaggy Dough Story
·         Paneer Kulcha - Indian Flat Bread from Sonlicious
·         Quick Beer Crust Pizza from Cook’s Hideout
·        Sourdough Flatbread from Sneha's Recipe
·        Tajik Non from The Schizo Chef
·         Yemeni Malooga Bread from Gayathri's Cook Spot


Saturday, 7 April 2018

Low Fat Chocolate Cupcakes (Eggless)

Kids are back to their school. The new session has begun. New class, new books, new uniform, new teachers, new timetable, new activities and all the excitement that this newness leads to. This took me back in time to our own school days. I got lost in the maze of memories and thoughts and my reverie was broken when my daughter placed scissors in my hand and together we sat down to cover her books and notebooks. When we were small, dad used to cover our books. He would cut out labels from a plain sheet and write in his beautiful handwriting. His cover and labels are still intact in some of the old books that I have.
Childhood is the most beautiful time of life when everything is so simple and uncomplicated.  There are no real worries, friends are plentiful and everything is fun. Given a choice, many of us would love to remain in our childhood forever.

On the first day of the new session, my daughter wanted to take some cupcakes for her teachers and friends. We baked some eggless chocolate cupcakes. Some were packed for the teachers and some for friends. Everyone loved the deep, dark and chocolaty cupcakes


Chocolate cupcakes

Wet Ingredients

  • ¾ cup warm water
  • ¼ cup yoghurt (beaten till smooth)
  • 1/3 cup coconut oil (melted)
  • 1 teaspoon white vinegar
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla essence

Dry ingredients

  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • ¼ cup cocoa (unsweetened)
  • ¾ cup unrefined sugar (powdered)
  • ½ teaspoon baking soda
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • ½ cup dark chocolate chips


  1. Preheat oven to 180 degrees C. Grease one 12 cup muffin tray or line the tray with paper liners. You may use silicone moulds if you have.
  2. Mix all the wet ingredients in a large bowl. Let sit for 10 minutes.
  3. In another bowl, mix all the dry ingredients except chocolate chips.
  4. Mix the wet and dry ingredients to get a smooth batter. Fold in ¼ cup chocolate chips.
  5. Pour batter into the tray. Fill up the moulds a little above half. Sprinkle the remaining chocolate chips.
  6. Bake for 20-22 minutes or till the top is firm to touch.
  7. Remove from the moulds, cool in the rack.
  8. Serve when cold.

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