Baking with Pooja Dhingra

by Khushboo on April 24, 2014

Let’s talk about bucket lists…who’s got one? I wrote one 4 years ago & then forgot all about it till a few weeks ago when I was cleaning out my Gmail inbox (it’s still a work progress).  Amongst the 30+ items I had listed, a few include:

  • Spend Christmas in New York & visit Rockefeller Center 
  • See a live performance of Atif Aslam (my favorite Indian singer)
  • Learn how to ride a bike

While those are yet to happen, I managed to cross one out over the weekend:

  • Attend a dessert-making workshop

photo 1

Granted I love to healthify dessert recipes but sometimes, you just want the good ol’ fashioned stuff made with love butter & sugar…why mess with a good thing right!  I figure it’s always a good idea to have a few winning dessert recipes up my sleeves for the many dinner parties I plan to host when I’m a grown-up ;)!  Especially given how much respect & admiration I have for Pooja Dhingra, the mastermind/owner of  Le 15 Patisserie & author of The Big Book of Treats, it was only natural I signed up for one of her workshops.  Up on the menu were:

  1. Nutella Squares
  2. Green Chilli & White Chocolate Truffles – Thanks for the photo, Pooja! 
  3. Red Velvet Cupcakes

I will let the pictures speak for themselves but oh em gee at those Nutella squares.  And just for the record, truffles are worth their relatively hefty price tag- they’re labor-intensive as hell!  The best part about all 3 recipes is how basic & readily available the ingredients are.  Especially as all 3 recipes are flexible, I plan to experiment with flavors in the future.  A few substitutions that instantly come to mind include:

  •  Replacing the Nutella with nut butter for a Reese’s-like flavor
  • Trying out other truffle flavor combos like coffee with white chocolate or dark chocolate truffles with an outer layer of desiccated coconut
  • 3 words: Green (or blue) velvet cupcakes 

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Especially as baking largely depends on precision, I tend to be more comfortable in the kitchen when it comes to cooking savory meals.  I prefer to add in a bit of thisa dash of that as I go along.   I am always keen to learn more about baking/cooking and picked up some useful tips on Saturday:

  • Ganache/truffles are usually made from chocolate and cream. For a dairy-free alternative, coconut milk can be used in place of cream
  • Cider vinegar adds a more unique & pronounced flavor to red velvet baked goods than regular vinegar
  • As castor sugar is much finer than regular sugar, replacing it with the latter changes the texture  of the recipe
  • Adding flavor to the fat helps distribute it better.  For example when a recipe calls for vanilla, add it to the butter to get a more intense flavor

photo 2

  • It’s fine to melt dark chocolate in the microwave, but you’re better off melting white chocolate in a double boiler
  • To avoid the ganache from melting, stick your hands in cold water (or an ice bucket) before rolling out truffles
  • Patience is a virtue: Opening the oven door for even 30 seconds can drop the temperature drastically and hence change the end result

On a completely random note, did you know that chocolate chip cookies & ice cream cones were actually food errors?  Check out this article for other Food Mistakes Gone Right.

Sweet or savory- what kind of dishes do you prefer cooking?

What’s on your bucket list?

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{ 22 comments… read them below or add one }

Shashi @ RunninSrilankan April 24, 2014 at 2:33 pm

Yay for crossing off an item off your bucket list! I have a huge sweet tooth – so attending a dessert baking class sounds like heaven! I once attended a chocolate making class and every few seconds I had “visions” of sticking my head into the tub with the melted chocolate, made it so hard to concentrate on the class 🙂
I had no clue that “adding flavor to the fat helps distribute it better” -thanks lady, cos of you I learned something new today.
On my bucket list is to eat a croissant in France and (in the same trip) eat a gelato in Italy – and maybe, stick my head into the tub with melted chocolate at the next chocolate making class I attend!

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Khushboo April 26, 2014 at 10:07 am

Haha sticking your head in a tub of melted chocolate sounds awesome ;)! So I’m actually headed to Paris in June and eating a croissant for breakfast is definitely on my To-Do list…will be thinking of you!

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Arman @ thebigmansworld April 24, 2014 at 3:16 pm

Khush, this looks like an absolutely epic event- How exciting to be able to cross it off the list 😉 Don’t make me get diabetes with those pictures.

Sweet AND savoury- that is my recipe goals.

LOL. I can cross something off your list. NYC Rockerfeller Centre at Xmas time. Everyone was screaming in happiness and joy. I was screaming because of the cold.

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Khushboo April 26, 2014 at 10:09 am

Hahahaha I have a feeling that I will be sharing your sentiments- I don’t deal well in the cold!!

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Lucie@FitSwissChick April 24, 2014 at 3:56 pm

OMG -desserts. After breakfast, my favorite meal of the day 🙂
Great tips too, thank you!!
You need to learn how to ride a bike??? Come visit me I teach you in return of Nutella squares!

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Khushboo April 26, 2014 at 10:10 am

We have a deal, Lucie…off to make some squares now 🙂

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Nix April 24, 2014 at 4:37 pm

Oh good god. Green Chilli/White chocolate?! Please take it easy and be prepared for some intense labour when you see me next. Also, just taught my self to ride a bike a couple of months ago. I’m teaching you when you get here x.

P.S. SO glad the blog is back.

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Khushboo April 26, 2014 at 10:10 am

Hahah I’ll trade you truffles for bike lessons. Also randomly- we need to find a new go-to food to bond over because fro yo is now out for me 🙁

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Miss Polkadot April 24, 2014 at 6:07 pm

Oh my, that sounds like a delicious way to cross an item off your bucket list. I have a feeling you’ll be a popular dinner or tea party – skipping right to desserts 😉 – host now …
My bucket list doesn’t exist in written-down form but my head only and I keep adding to it. And yes, attending a dessert-making workshop is right up there, too. Or maybe you made me add it. I’ve also made vegan truffles with coconut milk instead of cream before and they’re heavenly.
Feel free to visit me at my parents’ in the countryside for bikes rides. I still remember it took me quite a while to learn how to ride a bike as I was a cautious little girl. But then I was hooked and didn’t want to get off again :).
Now I’m intrigued to listen to Atif Aslam because I’ve never heard of him before but he has to be good if he’s your favourite singer.

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Khushboo April 26, 2014 at 10:11 am

Oh I’m glad to know that coconut milk works well as a cream substitute. Hope you enjoyed Atif Aslam…one of my favorite songs is “Tere Liye”–> his voice is dreamy!!

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Dixya @ Food, Pleasure, and Health April 24, 2014 at 7:43 pm

Atif Aslam is on my bucket list too..anything with desserts and education = win. im more of a savory person in the kitchen but love sweets equally.

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Khushboo April 26, 2014 at 10:13 am

I make up for my lack of baking in eating 😉

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Brittany April 24, 2014 at 7:48 pm

I want to go to a dessert making class!!! This is so cool! Totally on my bucket list.

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Khushboo April 26, 2014 at 10:16 am

You will love it!

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Sam @ Better With Sprinkles April 24, 2014 at 9:25 pm

That sounds like my ideal cooking workshop right there. Nutella truffles?! That’s just awesome. And I had no idea that you shouldn’t melt white chocolate in the microwave! Did he explain why that is?

And we need to get you on riding a bike!

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Khushboo April 26, 2014 at 10:18 am

Something to do with the difference in cocoa versus sugar content in white & dark chocolate!

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Amanda @ .running with spoons. April 25, 2014 at 3:03 am

That thing about not opening the oven door gets me every.single.time. I mean, I’ve gotten a lot better at it now that I’m older, but you don’t even know how many muffins and cakes I’ve flopped because I couldn’t wait to see how they were doing.

A dessert making class sounds like all sorts of awesomeness, though. I’ve never taken one, but it’s something that would definitely be on my bucket list [if I had one]. Either that or a cooking class. The former would be my preference considering how big my sweet tooth is, but the later would probably be more useful, seeing as I’m a lot less comfortable with cooking than I am with baking!

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Khushboo April 26, 2014 at 10:18 am

I’m telling you, girl…no-baked desserts are the way to go 😉

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Parita @ myinnershakti April 25, 2014 at 10:21 pm

I like making savory dishes because they are more fool proof! 🙂 So cool that you got to take this class – it’s on my list of things to do as well! I’m not so great with the decorative part of baking so I’d love to sharpen my skills!

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Khushboo April 26, 2014 at 10:19 am

I’ve never been interested to polish up my artistic skills but baking has given me a newfound desire!

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Meghan@CleanEatsFastFeets April 27, 2014 at 11:28 pm

I swooned at white chocolate truffles. Now that’s love (and butter and sugar) right there, and sometimes you just need the real deal.

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Khushboo April 28, 2014 at 9:30 am

Ahhh-greed 😀

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