Smooth, dark and chocolaty, this is almost a guilt-free chocolate pudding that is a low calorie, gluten-free and vegan 




There comes a day during monsoon when the rain stops and the day is exceptionally bright. The sky looks blue and it feels like autumn. This also turns out to be a busy day as a lot of washing, cleaning and drying happen.  



After winding up the daily chores,  we went to the orchard.




A Dove was sunning itself on an apple tree and sonorous song of a streaked laughing thrush echoed in the air.


Bunches of wild roses adorn the back wall. It smells heavenly as we pass by. A thousand insects and bees throng the pink flowers.

Being a very hot day there was an intense craving for something cold and sweet. Sweet also comes with a pang of guilt.  However, once in a while it is not very unhealthy to have a small portion of dessert to satiate sweet cravings. We decided to make chocolate pudding. Every effort went into making it guilt-free. Dairy milk was substituted with coconut milk and we used raw sugar.


Dressing up the pudding is the most exciting part and the kids love it.

Daughter made chocolate bark for garnish. Some went into garnishing, the greater amount was popped into the mouth. This is the fun of cooking together. 

The pudding turned out delightfully delicious and light. Smooth, dark and chocolaty, this is almost a guilt-free chocolate pudding that has become our favourite family dessert. 

Chocolate Pudding - Vegan and Gluten-Free

Ingredients

  • 1 ½ cups coconut milk
  • 2 tablespoons cocoa powder
  • 2 tablespoons + 2 teaspoons raw sugar
  • 1 small pinch salt
  • 75 grams dark chocolate
  • 1 ½ tablespoons corn starch.
  • ½ teaspoon vanilla extract


Instructions

  1. Heat 1 cup milk in a thick bottom saucepan. Add cocoa powder, sugar and salt.
  2. In the meantime whisk corn starch in ½ cup milk in a cup. Add this to the hot milk. Stir well and bring the milk to a boil stirring continuously. Let it simmer for 2-3 minutes.
  3. Turn off the heat.
  4. Break the chocolate into small pieces and add to hot mixture. Stir until it melts. Add vanilla extract.
  5. Transfer pudding to bowls. Let the pudding cool.
  6. Keep the bowls in the refrigerator overnight or for 3-4 hours. The pudding will become thick.
  7. Garnish with chocolate curls/ chocolate bark. Sprinkle some cocoa powder. Serve.





Rains tend to get boring if continuous for days. A recent spell of incessant rains lasted for three days, dowsing the spirits and leaving everything gray and dull. However, rain drunk grass and trees look vibrant and verdant.  A new variety of Lily blossomed in our garden, adding some colour to the monotones of green. We waited really long for the humongous bud to open up and unfold the flower within.


This is Agapanthus, also known as the Lily of the Nile or the African Lily.

Yesterday morning was bright and sunny and the azure sky looked unbelievable and strange.  For, a    cloudless sky and bright Sun during monsoons is a harbinger of heavy downpour later in the day.
Momentary though, it was a magical morning. 


The Himalayas were partially visible and partially covered by the cottony clouds.

After many days, we walked up to our apple orchard. The trees were bare. Apple season is over. Ripe apples were packed and sent to family and friends. However, we discovered some apples still there on the rugged branches of the tree. Perhaps these were out of reach while plucking or were too small in size and left for purposely for the birds. But the apples were intact and it seemed that the birds were enjoying the ripe pears more and were not interested in the apples.


We cannot be wasteful and decided to pluck the remaining apples.  Our little one climbed on to the slender branches dexterously and shook the branches. Apples rained and rolled on the dew-laden grass. We collected them all and decided to make Apple Jelly.


To make Apple jelly, you need not have the best and sweetest variety of apples. In fact, I use all the leftover apples- ripe and unripe, tart and small size.


It is very important to cook jelly until it sets well. Keep stirring continuously  during the last stages of cooking to avoid scorching at the bottom.


A dollop of  jelly on a warm toast slathered with butter is just divine.
We enjoyed Apple jelly with homemade wholegrain bread and homemade Peanut Butter.


Apple Jelly

Ingredients
  • 7-8 medium-size apples
  • water
  • Sugar
  • Lemon juice

Instructions

  1. Wash and wipe the apples dry.
  2. Cut into small pieces including core and seeds.
  3. Transfer to a pressure cooker. Add water just enough to cover the fruit.
  4. Cook for one whistle, or turn off the heat when the whistle is about to come.
  5. Open the lid and let it cool.
  6. Double line a mesh colander or a soup strainer with a muslin cloth.  Set it over a deep bowl to collect the juice.
  7. Ladle the apples and the juice into the lined colander or strainer. Keep it on the counter undisturbed for about three to four hours. Do not press down on apples with a ladle or squeeze to get more liquid. This will cloud the jelly.  
  8. Measure the liquid. For every one cup of liquid, add ¾ cup of sugar and 1 ½ teaspoon of lemon juice (strained).
  9. Pour it into a thick bottom steel wok or wide-mouthed deep pan and bring to a boil. During cooking, skim off the scum that collects on the surface.
  10. Keep the plate in the freezer.
  11. Cook on medium heat stirring in between till jelly begins to thicken and coats the ladle thickly.  To test if it is done, dab some jelly into the chilled plate. Keep it back in the freezer for a few minutes. Nudge it with your finger, If it wrinkles and collects, it is done. Else, continue to cook and re-test at intervals.
  12. When the jelly sets, remove from the heat and ladle in the clean jars.

 







Rains bring freshness and beauty unique to the season. Brown foliage is revived and wears bright hues of green. Rains lend a richness to the landscape The ground is moss-laden and the grass glossy, green and tall, waving as the breeze passes by. 



Ferns are lush and luxuriant and spreading wildly in the hills and it looks like a forest of ferns so beautiful, so green and so magnificent.



This is also the season of Pears. There are twelve pear trees in our homestead and this has been the year of bumper pear crop. 



Many a time there has been a constant creaking sound followed by a loud thud at night. Pear laden branches have been falling constantly.  Ripe pears are soft, sweet and juicy.


Birds have been feasting on the ripe pears and   there is a continuous  chirrup of Parakeets, Laughing thrushes, Barbets, Himalayan Magpies, Woodpeckers and Bulbuls in the orchard.


It was a bright day yesterday. The sky was clear in the morning and the majestic Himalayas peeked through the clouds. It was a heavenly sight. It being a bright and sunny morning, we plucked some ripe pears from the orchard and packed them into the boxes to send to our family and friends. 


We used some to bake a whole grain Pear cake.

Pear Cinnamon Cake has a delicious aroma that comes from the generous amount of cinnamon that goes into the batter. It has two big pears. One chopped finely that goes into the batter and another sliced into eight pieces that are arranged on top of the batter. 


The crumb is light ( make sure to beat the white of the eggs well) and with studded with pieces of juicy pears. This is a whole grain cake. You may use all-purpose flour for a lighter crumb.
  



Wholegrain Pear Cinnamon Cake

Ingredients

  • ¾ cup whole wheat flour
  • ¾ teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon powder
  • 1 pinch salt
  • 2 large eggs (free range)
  • ¾ cup unrefined raw sugar
  • ½ cup butter (1 stick)
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2 medium-size ripe pears


Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 180 degrees C. Grease and line one 8 inch round cake pan.
  2. In a large bowl, whisk together first four ingredients. Keep aside.
  3. Peel the pears. Chop one pear into small thin pieces. 
  4. Cut the second pear into eight thin slices.
  5. Beat white of the eggs in a bowl until frothy and stiff. Add sugar. Mix well.
  6. Add yolks. Melt butter and add to the mixture. Mix well. Add vanilla extract.
  7. Add flour mixture. Mix gently and do not over mix.
  8. Fold in chopped pears. 
  9. Pour batter into the prepared pan. Level the top. Arrange the slices of pears on top.
  10. Bake for 50-55 minutes. Check for doneness with a toothpick.
  11. Let it cool in the oven for 10 minutes. Remove from the pan and cool in the rack.
  12. Slice when cold or slice the next day.



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