Gingerbread Cake or Molasses Cake

Hello from my new office in Bengaluru ūüôā

office

i2cook office in Bengaluru

I kickstarted 2014 with a new office and the madness called ‚Äėtransfer & set up‚Äô. I felt like I was restarting i2cook but with a bit more experience and help. Couple of months have been busy with birthdays and family time too! I seem to have finally settled into my new space and hoping this year to be a super duper one and promise to bring you more recipes!

I’ve also been spending less time cooking and having a long distance relationship with my husband, who is in Mumbai (Sigh). Which is why baking a cake always makes me happy even if I’m missing him ūüėČ

Gingebread 2

Gingerbread cake has a lovely texture

I maybe a little late at sharing the ginger bread recipe adapted from 101 Cookbooks. But this cake has become my all time favourite cake to bake any time of the year.
Baking a cake has its own positive energy! I like to use only unrefined ingredients. I avoid using maida in my baking and use wheat flour or gluten-free flours. If you are not comfortable using 100% whole wheat flour, I suggest you change the proportion to 50-50 mixed with multi-purpose flour (maida). We are going to use three types of sweeteners in this cake. Remember my post about¬†natural sweeteners… We are using raw sugar, molasses and honey. Molasses does a perfect job at giving that nice flavour which can get you addicted.

Gingerbread 3

This cake is good for any occasion. You could add some walnuts to it and have it as a tea cake or just have it plain. I served this cake for my brother’s birthday with some cream cheese flavoured with coffee and garnished it with some caramelized walnuts; his reaction was a silent smile. You could also make a trifle and gift it to your friends. This cake is¬† versatile and with a little creativity with flavours can get your guests asking for more!

Gingerbread 1

Gingerbread trifle with cream cheese, pomegranate and cocoa nibs

Ingredients

For dry mixture:

350 gms wheat flour

6 gms ginger powder

5 gms cinnamon powder

6 gms grated ginger

5 gms baking soda

For wet mixture:

200 gms butter

100 gms raw sugar

150 gms black strap molasses

150 gms honey

110 ml water

120 ml milk (at room temperature)

Procedure

  1. Measure and mix the dry mixture along with grated ginger. Mix well and set aside.
  2. Measure all the wet ingredients like butter, sweeteners and water in a non reactive pan. Heat on a stove top until the sugar and butter has melted. Keep aside to cool.
  3. Add eggs one at a time to the wet mixture while it is  warm. Add milk and mix well.
  4. Add the wet mixture to the dry mixture and mix well.
  5. Pour them in the desired pans and bake in a pre heated oven at 160 degree centigrade for 45-50 minutes or depending on your oven settings.
  6. Once baked, allow it to cool for about 30 minutes before removing it from the pan. Serve warm or at room temperature.
Gingerbread4

Gingerbread cake is good for any occasion – topped with coffee flavoured cream cheese and caramelized walnuts.

You might also like…

Gluten-free chocolate cake

Polenta cake

Carrot cake with liquid jaggery


Heard of the Christmas cookie? Watch how it crumbles with some blackstrap molasses…..

Its December and we are all geared up to celebrate the last month of the year…aren’t we? Its been a while since I did a recipe post and frankly I’ve been waiting to share so many things with you. Firstly I want¬† to tell you that we are taking our i2cook organic store online and its being christened “i2cook.com” and we are all geared up to launch it in January.

Secondly I will be coming up with more recipes in sync with the store to give you the best options to use the products to your maximum benefit. Does that sound like fun. Yes. I’m so excited! And thirdly, I’m working on couple of new products for i2cook and will be adding more yummy stuff next year.

Christmas is round the corner and I hope we are all geared up to bake some ginger cookies. Today I’m not going to tell you about ginger cookies but a little more about a special ingredient that we are using in making these cookies- “blackstrap molasses”.

What is molasses?

Cane Molasses is made in a three-step process that begins with the juice from mature or green sugar cane plant. The juice is boiled to concentrate and crystallize the sugar. The result is called the “first” molasses. The crystallized sugar is removed and the residue is boiled again. The mixture darkens as the remaining sugar is burnt or caramelized. What results is called, “second” molasses. After more sugar crystals are removed, the process is repeated once again. The final or “third” boil produces the dark, concentrated syrup known as blackstrap molasses.

Molasses are of two kinds – sulphured and unsulphured. Blackstrap contains the same vitamins and minerals as “second” molasses, but in a more concentrated form. It has a bitter sweet flavour and taste.

Benefits of balckstrap molasses:
  • It is rich in iron and contains benefits for¬† menstruating women, who are more at risk for iron deficiency, pregnant or lactating and growing children or adolescents.
  • Molasses is rich in copper (good for bone development, connective tissue, production of the skin and hair pigment called melanin), manganese (involved in the synthesis of fatty acids that are important for a healthy nervous system and in the production of cholesterol that is used by the body to produce sex hormones), potassium & calcium (help in muscle contraction and nerve transmission) and magnesium – helps regulate nerve and muscle tone.

Storage:

Molasses should be stored in a tightly sealed container in the refrigerator or a cool, dry place. Unopened containers can be kept for about one year, while opened containers should be kept for not more than six months.

You can read more about¬† blackstrap molasses here and here. Due to the nutrients present in blackstrap molasses a lot of them have one or two spoons of molasses as a tonic with warm water. I prefer to¬† bake some cookies or use it as a rub for my meats. Either way it is a great product to include¬† in your diet. Since we now know everything about black molasses lets move on to the cooking part. Which is the fun part….isn’t it? And with Christmas round the corner, how can we not bake some molasses or ginger cookies. I’ve made two variations this time – plain and with candied ginger powder and I must confess that the ginger one does add to the festive spirit.

ginger cookies

Ginger Molasses Cookies

Ingredients for ginger molasses cookies

Recipe adapted from here

170gms wheat flour

80gms all purpose flour

150gms butter (Govind or Amul butter)

120gms blackstrap molasses

80gms raw sugar (some extra for rolling)

2tsp (10gms) baking soda

1egg (room temperature)

1tsp (5gms) cinnamon powder

2.5tsp (15gms) candied ginger powder

6-8 cloves crushed

  1. Mix all the dry ingredients flours, soda along with the spices.
  2. Beat egg, sugar and butter till mixed well. Add molasses and combine.
  3. Fold the wet and dry ingredients.
  4. Roll the dough into 1 ¬Ĺ‚ÄĚ balls, then roll the balls in raw sugar to coat the outsides. Arrange on baking sheets lined with parchment paper. Bake in pre-heated oven (@ 180 centigrade) until set and crinkled on top, about 10 to 12 minutes depending upon your oven settings. Keep a keen watch.
  5. Once done allow it cool on a wire rack . Store in air tight containers for about two weeks. I got 2 dozen medium-sized  cookies.

Some points to remember:

  • The recipe calls for¬† baking soda only, as it helps to curb any acidic reactions from molasses.
  • You need to bake the cookie mixture immediately or else they will fall flat.
  • Sieve the baking soda along with the flour to avoid any lumps.
  • Always lay the mixed cookie dough on a cooled baking tray, especially in the second round, allow the tray to cool first completely.
molasses cookie

Molasses cookies without any spices


Jaggery Production in India

Sugar industry in India is one of the largest industry after textiles. Manufacture of sugar involves a series of processing and can be a little complicated as compared to jaggery. Jaggery, on the other hand can be produced in small batches and has simple production. Maharashtra, Uttar Pradesh, Bihar and Tamil Nadu are the leading manufacturing states in India. Jaggery follows 3 steps:

  • Juice extraction
  • Filtration & Boiling
  • Molding, Cooling & Packing

Sugar and jaggery contain ¬†mainly sucrose, expect jaggery contains traces of mineral salts, iron & fiber.¬†Most of the jaggery comes from remote rural places and reach the market through agents. There is one industrial use of jaggery, and that is in the manufacturing of rum. Karnataka is the only¬† state which ¬†is set to become the first in the country to produce high quality rum from jaggery. Three cheers for rum drinkers ūüėČ

Most of the processing house follow their set of proportions and heating technique and may differ from one another. The photo log should give you a clear picture of the jaggery production.

Sugar extraction

Extraction of juice from sugar canes. The sugar cane waste is turned into bio-gas

Juice pouring

The extracted juice is pumped into a large cast iron vessel. Limestone or chunnam is used to remove the impurities.

Boiling

As the liquid begins to boil the molasses is separated out. The removed molasses is usually fed to the cattle feed in India.

liquid jaggery 1

Upon boiling the juice condenses into a thick viscous liquid, which is called liquid jaggery

further boiling

Boiling is further continued to a reduced volume to form jaggery. At this stage some processing houses use chemicals to give jaggery the desired colour.

consistency check

Consistency check

pouring

Once done, the liquid is poured into a large vessel from which it is poured into the desired molds.

mold filling

Pouring into molds

Unmoulding

After cooling, jaggery blocks are ready to pack.

Jaggery is available in gold or dark brown shade. Gold jaggery uses some amount of chemical to showcase an attractive colour. A lot of commercial jaggery producers believe that the gold colour is what attracts the consumers.

Note: All pictures belong to this blog. Please consult admin before using it for any purpose. 

You might also like 

Liquid Jaggery Carrot Cake

On a sugar rush! 

Source

https://www.organicfacts.net/health-benefits/other/jaggery-and-sugar.html

http://daily.bhaskar.com/news/BAN-karnataka-to-become-first-state-to-introduce-high-quality-rum-from-jaggery-4309949-NOR.html


On a sugar rush!

We¬†are all¬†fond of sugar and it has¬†become an integral part of our everyday diet. Sugar is everywhere! Your morning cup of tea/coffee,¬†fruits, cereals, bread all contain sugar.¬†If sugar is such an important part of our diet;¬†don’t¬†you think you should know what your options are, before¬†choosing the right type of sugar that your body requires? Some may also tell you that your body doesn’t require any sugar and you may¬†go on a “no sugar diet”.¬†Sometime later, you¬†find yourself losing control over a¬†candy;¬†to kill your¬†sugar craving. There are times when you are stressed or going through¬†your¬†PMS¬†and all ¬†you want is a piece of that scrumptious dessert. Why is sugar bad for you? Is it because all good things have to be the devil incarnate?! ūüėČ Perhaps a little knowledge on what sugar really is might help.

Sugar is a source of energy for all our body cells. It comes from food, mainly carbohydrates and excess sugar gets stored in our muscles and liver. Which means that, most naturally available food already contains sugar as a natural sweetener.¬†Hence sweeteners¬†are a necessary food of life!¬†One of the easy or the fastest¬†way to detect sweeteners¬†in food¬†is by it’s¬†¬†GI (glycemic index).¬†¬†Glycemic index is a measurement of how quickly sugars from food enter your blood as glucose. High GI results in high levels of blood glucose¬†and low GI results in slower absorption of glucose with fewer changes in blood glucose levels.

Sucrose (combo of glucose + fructose)¬†comes from sugar cane or beet and is often referred to as ‘table’ or ‘added’ sugar. It also occurs naturally in some fruits and vegetables. Chemically speaking table sugars refined from cane and beet sugar are quite similar.¬†However, many of the labels do not specify if the sugar is extracted from beet. Cane sugar may caramelize better than beet, but the difference may not be noticeable to most. Though, sugar beet is common in other parts of the world, there has been some interest¬†in growing sugar beet in India too.

There are so many sweeteners available in the market and the promotional doctored articles¬†make it really hard for¬†us to¬†choose what is really good for us. I’m sharing with you a list of natural sweeteners¬†which are not only healthy but also a good alternative to switch from refined and processed sugar crystals. I’ve cooked, baked and have made them a part of my diet. I think you need to be comfortable with each sweetener and that’s when you know what works best for you.

Raw Sugar¬†or Khandsari –¬†This sugar is a part of my everyday diet and I use it in almost anything. Raw sugar is also known as cane sugar or unrefined sugar¬†and it is minimally processed. Raw sugar¬†is¬†¬†processed in india for hundreds of years. Sugar is made by extracting juice from the sugar cane. The extracted juice is then boiled and cooled, allowing it to crystallize. The sugar may crystallize into a very fine or granular sugar. This pale golden crystals are raw sugar.

Because raw sugar is not heavily refined, it has higher molasses content than table sugar. It has higher moisture content than regular sugar and keeping raw sugar in an airtight container is highly advised. Raw sugar can be used in your daily cup of beverage, in making jams, juices, Indian sweets, desserts or baking.

pic 193

Liquid Jaggery

Liquid Jaggery¬†or kakvi¬†– Liquid jaggery is obtained by boiling raw sugar cane juice in a cast iron. As the liquid begins to boil the molasses is separated out. The removed molasses¬†is usually fed to the cattle feed in India.¬† Upon further boiling the juice condenses into a thick viscous liquid, which is called liquid jaggery (if further boiled, it leads to form jaggery). The boiling process is stopped and allowed to cool for bottling. Liquid jaggery has low GI. It helps relieve cold, cough, asthma and congestion in chest. Treats Indigestion and constipation. Also acts as a body coolant and antioxidant. Ideal for people with low haemoglobin. The uses are same as¬†block or powdered¬†jaggery. The disadvantage of this¬†sweetener is that it tends to ferment. The best way to use the fermented jaggery is to boil it again with a little bit¬†of water and use it¬†again and you won’t notice any change ;).¬†Here is an awesome¬†liquid jaggery cake ¬†recipe from my blog!

Jaggery or gurJaggery is one of the most popular sweeteners in india. It is an unrefined sugar, made by boiling raw sugar cane or palm juice (known as palm jaggery) in iron pans. It is then formed into trays to dry and either made into balls or powder form. Jaggery is healthier than refined sugars as it retains natural vitamins and minerals.

The mineral content of jaggery includes calcium, phosphorus, magnesium, potassium and iron and traces of zinc and copper. The vitamin content includes folic acid and B-complex vitamins. Thus, other than that it is a good source of energy, it also prevents rheumatic afflictions; prevents disorders of bile; helps in relieving fatigue, relaxation of muscles, nerves and blood vessels; maintains blood pressure and reduces water retention; increases hemoglobin level and prevents anaemia.

Jaggery is a versatile sweetener. It goes so well with our Indian cooking that is has become a must have sweetener in every household. Jaggery perfectly enhances and gives a final touch to any Indian dish. Jaggery is used in coffee/tea or in South Indian cooking to make dishes like sambar. Jaggery can be used in baking cookies, cakes or even breads.

pic 470

Palm sugar or jaggery

Palm sugar or palm jaggery РPalm sugar is a natural sweetener made from the sap of palm trees. Coconut palm sugar and palm sugar may sound same but are completely two different sweeteners. The liquid collected from the sap is called toddy or neera. This fresh toddy is boiled to obtain palm sugar or palm syrup. This process is done quickly to avoid toddy from fermenting. To make the sugar solid, the boiled juice is then poured into bamboo sections to form cylindrical shapes or into coconut shells  or into small baskets woven of palm leaves. You also get palm sugar in powder form, which looks very close to coconut sugar. This sugar, even when soft, can be extremely dense and very sticky. Palm Sugar has a low GI and helps prevent diabetes and anemia during pregnancy. It is also known to be effective against cold and lung related ailments. You can use palm sugar in the same way as you would use jaggery.

Coconut sugar or coconut palm sugar РThis is a wonder sugar! Most people are amazed and wonder if it tastes all coco-nuty. Coconut sugar is created from the sap of the coconut palm tree, rather than from the actual coconut itself. Coconut sugar is 100% pure, single-ingredient product with no additives, fillers, or added sweeteners. It is the single most sustainable sweetener in the world! Coconut  sugar is a healthy sugar; low in glycemic index and full of vitamins, minerals, and amino acids. It is definitely a better substitute compared to all sweeteners including agave syrup.

Coconut sugar has to be stored in an air tight container. It looses its texture to moisture and may also turn hard. Coconut palm sugar is a versatile substitute for conventional cane sugar for most baking purposes. It is slightly less sweet than cane sugar but more flavorful, and in many cases the quantity of sugar can be reduced by up to 25 percent without altering the end result.You will find coconut sugar not as  sweet as refined white sugars (so if using them for cakes or other desserts, you may need to add more to achieve the same level of sweetness). However, I find they have a nice caramel like taste which is similar to molasses, but lighter. You’ll definitely enjoy the taste! I have been using this wonder sugar in baking cookies, muffins, ladoos and I also made some yum vegan salted caramel.

coconut sugar 2

Coconut Sugar

Molasses or blackstrap¬†molasses¬†– This sweetener¬†is used by many as a medicine more than cooking. Cane Molasses is made in a three-step process that begins with the juice from mature or green sugar cane plant. The juice is boiled to concentrate and crystallize the sugar. The result is called the ‚Äúfirst‚ÄĚ molasses. The crystallized sugar is removed and the residue is boiled again. The mixture darkens as the remaining sugar is burnt or caramelized. What results is called, ‚Äúsecond‚ÄĚ molasses. After more sugar crystals are removed, the process is repeated once again. The final or ‚Äúthird‚ÄĚ boil produces the dark, concentrated syrup known as blackstrap molasses.

Molasses is rich in iron and contains benefits for  menstruating women, who are more at risk for iron deficiency, pregnant or lactating and growing children or adolescents.Molasses is rich in copper, manganese,  potassium, calcium and magnesium.

Molasses should be stored in a tightly sealed container in the refrigerator or a cool, dry place. Unopened containers can be kept for about one year, while opened containers should be kept for not more than six months. I usually refrigerate mine and they last me for a year. Christmas is fast approaching and I have a really good ginger cookie recipe on my blog. In this recipe, I’m using a combination of raw sugar and molasses.
pic 250

Honey – This naturally rich sweetener¬†produced by the honey bees, making it not suitable for vegans. It is an alternative substitute for white sugar. Research also indicates that honey’s unique composition makes it useful as an antimicrobial agent and antioxidant.

The process of making honey begins when the bees feast on flowers, collecting the flower nectar in their mouths. This nectar then mixes with special enzymes in the bees’ saliva, a process that turns it into honey. The bees carry the honey back to the hive, where they deposit it into the cells of the hive’s walls. The fluttering of their wings provides the necessary ventilation to reduce the honey’s moisture content, making it ready for consumption.¬†Raw honey is the best option than the most filtered honey¬†available in the market. Honey is best stored in glass bottles and they can be used in to enhance your juices and smoothies or for cooking and¬†baking.

Pure Maple Syrup РThe process of creating maple syrup begins with tapping (piercing) the tree, which allows the sap to run out freely. The sap is clear and almost tasteless and very low in sugar content when it is first tapped.  It is then boiled to evaporate the water producing syrup with the characteristic flavor and color of maple syrup and sugar content of 60%. Maple syrup is an excellent source of manganese and zinc. Pure maple syrup does not contain any flavouring and will be displayed on the labels. Maple syrup is commonly enjoyed with pancakes. You can also enjoy it on peanut butter toasts or in a bowl of cereal.

Stevia or sweet leaf or sugar leaf РStevia is a plant and origins from South America.  The compound in the leaves  is responsible for the sweetness. This compound is sometimes sold isolated from the leaves in a highly refined form. In other cases, the sweetener is made by crushing or distilling the leaves of the plant to form a powder or a syrup with an intensely sweet flavor.

It has been shown that stevia is much sweeter than other sugars, meaning that only a small amount needs to be used. The body also processes stevia very slowly, which greatly reduces the risk of a sugar high. In addition, it is essentially calorie free, which is why it is popular with dieters. However, there has no proven facts and some scientists claim that it can cause cancer. Though stevia may seem like a natural sweetener, there has been no proven studies. Stevia leaves can be used in your dialy cup of tea/coffee, juices and¬†smoothies. I’ve never baked with stevia and would like to know if you have used it.

Agave Syrup or agave nectar РAgave syrup is made from the juice of the agave plant, particularly found in the deserts of Mexico. Agave syrup looks like honey, but it is usually lighter and has a cleaner taste.  It is nearly twice as sweet as white table sugar or raw sugar. Though agave syrup has low GI it is high on fructose and is compared to the commercially available sweeteners (because of the way it is being processed). Agave syrup can be used to sweeten your juices, smoothies or can be used in baking.

Going the natural way is the best way of not in taking¬†highly processed sweeteners.¬†All sugars contain glucose and fructose but what you need to check and compare is the GI’s for easy understanding. You can¬†go deeper with the breakdowns and open a chemistry lab. ¬†All the mentioned sweeteners are available¬†on our online store i2cook.com.

 Sweetener

Type

 Glycemic Index (GI) (%)

Raw Sugar

Sugar   extract

40-60

Molasses

Sugar   extract

55

Pure Maple Syrup

Natural sugar

54

Honey

Natural   sugar

50

Jaggery & Palm Sugar

Sugar extract

41-45

Coconut Sugar

Natual sugar

35

Agave Syrup

Modified   sugar

15-30

Stevia*

Natural  sweetener

0

*Studies have shown that insulin is secreted by the pancreas soon after the sweet taste is experienced on the tongue, whether the substance contains calories or not. The body is fooled by the zero calorie sweetener. It expects glucose to hit the bloodstream and it gets none. This may result in increased appetite soon after.

References

http://www.livestrong.com/article/334100-types-of-healthy-sugars/

http://www.wisegeek.com/what-is-jaggery.htm

http://www.ecovillage.org.in/ecopedia/organic-farming/how-to-make-organic-jaggery-part-2

http://www.sugar-and-sweetener-guide.com/glycemic-index-for-sweeteners.html

http://www.nordicsugar.com/know-your-sugar/natural-sweetness/


Liquid jaggery in my carrot cake!

Of late I’ve been hearing a lot about “healthy food”. More since last month. Nature’s Basket opening up a new section “Healthy Alternatives” and Phoneix market city organizing a” World health day”. It makes me wonder why now! Why only now are we thinking of eating healthy?

A very interesting point that Dr.Anjali Mukerjee, a nutritionist discussed was that there is so much information that a consumer is exposed to that it is difficult to decipher what is really good for you. End result the consumer is confused.

Let us for example take sugars or sweeteners in our diet. Some say unpolished/unsulphured  sugar or commonly known as raw sugar, is better than polished ones  or jaggery is even better  or for that matter blackstrap molasses is  the best or what about coconut sugar? Have I confused you?

All the above sugars are good for you. Yes. I tend to ratio my usage of these different sugars depending on the usage. Jaggery does have an overpowering quality and actually can change the taste of your recipe. For example, lets take liquid jaggery in baking. I found liquid jaggery a bit sweeter than cane sugar and jaggery. Jaggery is  also high on medicinal and nutritional values.

liquid jaggery in bottle

So what is liquid jaggery?

Sugarcane is boiled for hours to achieve a thick consistency of liquid -like. This is liquid jaggery. The further boiling of this mixture results in jaggery.¬† Jaggery is a good source of iron that helps in improving haemoglobin levels and prevents anaemia. Jaggery should be consumed with extra precaution if you are a diabetic. Don’t confuse liquid jaggery to molasses. They are different in terms of taste and nutrients.

So now that we know what liquid jaggery is..how about some baking with it?! Liquid jaggery is a new ingredient to¬† me and I was a bit nervous to use it in baking. I tried asking on twitter and couldn’t find any recipe. I took it up as a challenge and thought of using it in my carrot cake. I had my first bite and¬† I knew, I had created the recipe that was¬† not only healthy but flavorful. My cake was dense but the cream cheese frosting made it the best wheat based cake I’ve ever had!

pic 312

Ingredients for the cake

140gms wheat flour

60gms all purpose flour

50gms grated carrot

80gms butter (Amul or Govind)

1 egg

100gms liquid jaggery (you can add 25gms more if you like yours sweeter)

1tsp baking powder

1tsp cinnamon powder

Ingredients for the frosting

50-80gms of cream cheese

25gms unsalted butter

1tbs liquid jaggery

For Garnish

25gms or more caramelized walnuts

Strawberries (optional)

1. Preheat the oven at 160 degree centigrade and grease a round mini cake pan (I used 18cm dia pan).

2. Sieve the flours along with baking powder and cinnamon powder.

3.  Add  liquid jaggery, butter and beat until mixed well.

4. Add egg and beat lightly until fluffy. Add  grated carrot and mix well.

4. Combine the dry and wet ingredients gently and mix it with the help of a spatula.

5. Pour the mixture into the greased pan and  bake for about 20-25 minutes or until its done based on your oven settings.

6. Allow it to cool on a wire rack for about one hour.

7. Prepare the frosting by mixing all the ingredients until combined.

8. Top the frosting on the cake and garnish with some caramelized walnuts for a crunch.

carrot cake 2

Notes:

  • If you don’t like wheat flour in your cake, go ahead and use¬† any other type of¬† unrefined flour.
  • This recipe makes a single layer cake for four. You can also double the recipe and make a two tier cake with cream cheese frosting in between.
  • You can replace powdered jaggery with liquid jaggery.
  • This cake tends to be a little dry in texture. So if you don’t want to use cream cheese frosting, you can also top your cake with fruits, jam or cream.

Whats the big deal about coconut sugar? Sharing a recipe which is the best!

Coconut sugar has been around for centuries. Yes.  I had heard about this exotic ingredient but never got a chance to taste it  (thanks to most of it being exported). But, things changed and i2cook has finally managed to source this  sugar. Yay!

Coconut sugar is created from the sap of the coconut palm tree, rather than from the actual coconut itself. Coconut sugar is 100% pure, single-ingredient product with no additives, fillers, or added sweeteners. It is the single most sustainable sweetener in the world!

Coconut Sugar

 Consumption of coconut sap sugar helps reduce and maintain weight, control and manage diabetes and also reduce your chances of getting breast cancer. It may also help lower serum cholesterol and risk of cardiovascular and coronary heart disease. Coconut  sugar is healthy sugar; low in the glycemic index and full of vitamins, minerals, and amino acids. It is definitely a better substitute of all sweeteners including agave syrup. For more detailed benefits, read here.

Coconut and palm sugar are  different. Both are natural sweeteners that come from trees: coconut sugar comes from the buds of coconut tree flowers, while palm sugar is made from the sap of sugar palm tree (also called date palm).

Coconut palm sugar is a versatile substitute for conventional cane sugar for most baking purposes. It is slightly less sweet than cane sugar but more flavorful, and in many cases the quantity of sugar can be reduced by up to 25 percent without altering the end result. If you would like to try coconut sugar in a cake, then you MUST try this recipe from “Love Food Eat”, what gorgeous pictures! It greatly enhances the taste of plain milk, Soy milk, Coconut milk, Porridge or any health drink and is suitable for children.

You will find coconut sugar not as¬† sweet as refined white sugars (so if using them for cakes or other desserts, you may need to add more to achieve the same level of sweetness). However, I find they have a nice caramel-like taste which is similar to molasses, but lighter. You’ll definitely enjoy the taste!

If you’re now convinced with this super nutritious¬† sugar. Lets get started with the “coconut sugar cookies”. These cookies are so so yummy and full of flavor that you cannot help but finish the entire jar. I must warn you that it can get you addicted ;). You can also¬† buy the¬† coconut sugar¬†cookies from i2cook.com

coconut sugar cookie

Ingredients:

170gms wheat flour

80gms all purpose flour

150gms butter (Govind or Amul butter)

150gms coconut sugar

1tsp (5gms) baking soda

1tsp (5gms) baking powder

1egg (room temperature)

  1. Mix all the dry ingredients flours, including the baking powder & soda together.
  2. Beat egg, sugar and butter till mixed well.
  3. Fold the wet and dry ingredients.
  4. Roll the dough into 1 ¬Ĺ‚ÄĚ balls. Arrange on baking sheets lined with parchment paper. Bake in pre-heated oven (@ 180 centigrade) until set and crinkled on top, about 8 to 10 minutes depending upon your oven settings. Keep a keen watch.
  5. Once done allow it cool on a wire rack . Store in air tight containers for about two weeks. I got 20  medium-sized  cookies.
 I love the texture and colour of these cookies. You really have to try this recipe out or buy from our store to taste awesomeness!
coconut sugar cookie 1
You might also like blackstrap molasses cookie recipe.

Milestones for 2012. The journey continues…..

Half way through the month of January and I wanted to share some of my  experiences;  some  professional and some personal. This post is dedicated to what I’ve achieved and what I would have liked to achieve last year.

2012 has been a year of learning for me. I was focusing on honing my skills and getting down to basics. Some professional:

  • We introduced ‚Äúpink mustard‚ÄĚ as a new branding for our mustard and was appreciated by the consumer.
  • Peanut butter on the other hand is considered one of the best peanut butter available as of today.
  • Granola bars were the highest selling product without any marketing ¬†push.
  • i2cook organic store got really good response and we got in products that were not easily available in the market.
  • Our products are now, not only available in Mumbai but also Bangalore and Mysore.
  • i2cook gifting.
Ethiopian

Ethiopian Spread – Injera (made with nachini/ragi flour) served with Doro Wat (chicken stew), Mesir wat (red lentil stew), Ethiopian style spiced butter flavoured greens, Tomato salad & Ethiopian cheese. The spread is served with Niter Kibbeh (spiced clarified butter)

Some personal:

  • I tried different cuisines from Ethiopian to Indonesian and attempted to get as close to the original taste for Coral. The toughest cuisine was Ethiopian and injera (Ethiopian flatbread, similar to dosa and fluffy like appam) being the most nerve jangling dish for me. I was very nervous about the batter for injera, which is fermented for 4-5 days and if things went wrong the entire cuisine would have fallen apart. Injera is made with teff flour and I substituted with pearl millet/ragi flour. The response was excellent and was one of the most well-appreciated and colourful of dishes.
  • I started baking and the first thing that I baked was a whole wheat bread.¬† Now I can‚Äôt stop baking ūüėČ
  • Exposure to new ingredients like nutritional yeast flakes, blackstrap molasses, chia seeds, cocoa nibs, millets, coconut sugar etc.
  • 90% of the ingredients¬† in my kitchen for everyday cooking is organic ūüėÄ
  • Conducted two i2cook cooking classes successfully.
  • Gaining experience in retail ‚Äď coming from an architectural background is not easy!
pic 012

Sachin, a special child and very hard working. He loves to sing and dance.

2012 has also been a year of hiring people and working together. The highlight for me was to meet Dilshad of Mann Рcentre for individuals with special needs, who gave me an opportunity to be a part of their family. I’ve never been with or around a special child and even though I had decided that I will try this new experience, I was a bit nervous. Scared that I may be faced with hyper activity and may not be able to control the situation. I was wrong!

Each child is assigned to you taking the work and place into consideration. I’ve hired two kids and I’m training them in packaging, labels, hygiene etc. They have shown really good results and it’s really a pleasure working with them. They really know how to put a smile on my face even after a long and tiring day at work.

Looking forward to 2013 –¬† professional and personal:

  • Introducing new product range for i2cook. We‚Äôre aiming at four new products this year.
  • Launch of i2cook.com.
  • Hiring more special children and training them to have a better life.
  • Recipe videos.
  • Collaborating with other brand(s) and producing products ‚Äď some products are so unique that no Indian brand is doing it.
  • More baking! ūüėÄ
  • Trying different cuisines for Coral ‚Äď networking dinner which my husband and I execute.

I hope you enjoyed reading my first blog post of 2013. I look forward to reading your milestones for 2012/13 in the comment box. Happy cooking!


Featured product(s) for August from i2cook organic store

I will be talking about two products in my first post on featured products for this month –

1.Black rice pasta

2.Nutritional yeast flakes (vegan cheese)

Black Rice Pasta – Fusilli

1. Black rice pasta 

This pasta is unfamiliar in India and is completely gluten-free and vegan. It also suits people who avoid wheat completely in their diet. Well for me it was the colour and the curiosity that made me taste the product ūüôā

Cooking time is same as any other pasta. However, it does change the colour of the water unlike other pastas. The pasta turns dark purple when cooked. I found the aroma to be sweet and the texture reminds me a lot of ragi or nachini. The pasta is different than other pastas not only in taste and texture but tends to be sticking in nature. Don’t forget to drizzle some olive oil after straining and avoid over cooking.
Black rice is commonly used in China. It has high level of antioxidants that help fight¬† cancer, heart disease and even diabetics. I¬† found an interesting article describing black rice as a “superfood”.

There is also something known as squid ink pasta which is a coloured pasta made by adding an extract from squids. Do not confuse the black pasta with squid ink pasta though they may look black in colour.

Any type of sauce will go with the black rice pasta. Since the pasta has it’s own flavour and taste unlike other pastas, you can even¬† serve it plain drizzled with some olive oil, pesto and some nuts or make a simple tomato sauce or bechamel sauce.

Nutritional Yeast Flakes

2.Nutritional Yeast  Flakes (vegan cheese)

Nutritional yeast is not only rich in protein but is also nut free and soy free. It is not only vegan but  gluten- free also. It is a powerhouse of nutrients and especially rich in B-complex (benefits of B-complex & B12).

Nutritional yeast has a strong flavor that is described as nutty, cheesy or creamy, which makes it popular as an ingredient in cheese substitutes. It is often used by vegans in place of cheese. Nutritional yeast can also used by vegetarians who are conscience of animal rennet being used during cheese making process.

Nutritional yeast is made from sugar beet molasses and is different from sugarcane molasses. The molasses is fermented and dried. Do not confuse it to be active dry yeast or baking yeast.

It is a great substitute for cheese. Couple of tablespoons of nutritional yeast can enhance your gravies, soups, pastas, popcorn or any vegan dishes. I also found some good information about nutritional yeast here.

Both products are available here and here.

Black rice pasta with yeast flakes


Recipes

Appertizer

Yam Fritters

Sweet Potato Kebabs

Pan-Fried Eggplant

Stuffed Mirchi Pakora (Stuffed Chilli Fritter)

Stuffed Zuchhini

Turkish Lentil Kofte

 Breakfast

Strawberry & Pumpkin Smoothie

Strawberry Pancakes

Tahini Toast

Sauted Sausages with Parsley

Peanut Butter

Peanut Butter Blondies

Grilled chicken with warm peanut butter sauce

Banana and PB smoothie
No bake PB and oat cookies

Chocolate covered peanut butter balls

 Desserts

Zabaglione, Italian Custard

Jackfruit kheer or payasam

Chocolate Covered Peanut Butter Balls

Shahi Tukra/Tukda with Rabri

5 Minute Microwave Cake

Muhallebi – Turkish rice flour pudding

Sesame Chikki (til ke chikki)

Sesame Balls covered with Chocolate (til ke laddo with chocolate covering)

Orangettes (orange candies)

Sweet Potato Halwa

Passion Fruit & Couscous Trifle

Tri-Flavoured Kheer (Indian rice pudding)

Badam Halwa (Indian almond fudge)

Cocochoco Burfi

Kele Ki Halwa (Indian Banana Pudding)

Apple & Cinnamon Sorbet

Breads

Crackly Dried Fruit Bread

Pulla or Finnish sweet bread

Banana bread with peanut butter glaze & cocoa nibs

Whole wheat bread

Cookies

Sea salt & peanut butter cookies

Molasses cookies

Coconut sugar cookies

Cakes

Polenta Cake

Banana & Coconut Sugar Muffins

Lemon coffee cake with almond streusel with lemon curd recipe

Carrot cake with liquid jaggery

Crackers

Whole wheat seed cracker

Oatmeal & flax seed cracker

Chutney/Sauce/Spreads/Dips/Pickles

i2cook’s Pink Mustard

Roasted bell pepper dip

Ricotta cheese spread/Pasta sauce/Fig & olive tapenade (featured in i2cook cooking class)

Pickled Onions

Mexican seven layered dip/Corn & bacon dip/Date & tamarind chutney (featured in i2cook cooking class)

Mayonnaise with free-range eggs

Tomato & Onion Chutney

Gravy/Fry/Dals/Rasam

Chickpea Stuffed Pepper with Tomato Sauce or Curry

Rasam (from leftover rajma water)

Sweet Potato & Peas Sabzi

Karela Fry (bitter gourd fry)

Puri/Paratha/Roti

Beet Puri

Raw Papaya Paratha

Rice

Prawn & Mung Pulav

Risotto/Pasta/Noddle

Spirulina Pasta

Asparagus, Mint & Lemon Risotto

Yellow & Red Pepper Risotto

Chicken Chop Suey

Macaroni with Sausage & Peas

Salads

Avocado and Bacon Salad with Tomato Dressing

Spinach, Strawberry & Ricotta Cheese

Mixed Salad with Peanut Dressing

Cinnamon Spiced Chickpea & Sweet Potato

Japanese Tofu Salad (shiraee)

Summer Vegetable Salad with Lemon Basil Almond Pesto

Asian Noodle Salad

Beet Appertizer Salad (Moroccan beet salad)

Mixed Baby Corn & Cinnamon  

Sprouted Mung & Pomegranate

Sweet Corn, Red Pepper, Gerkin & Green Olive

Soups

Miso Soup with Clams

Mushroom & Kale Minestrone

English Winter Soup

Pumpkin & Carrot Soup (spiced with cinnamon & wasabi)

Side-Dish

Spinach & Corn Casserole with Mashed Potato

Sauteed Mushroom

Meat/Chicken

Pandit style Rogan Josh

Desi style chicken (nati koli saaru)

Pandi Curry (Coorgi style pork)

Seafood

Crab in butter garlic sauce

Others

Food gifts for Diwali


Chicken Chop Suey

Taste & Create is a monthly event where blogger are paired with each other and have to create one of their recipes. It was time for me to explore new blog for a different taste…..

NO REASON NEEDED is my partner for this month’s event. I short-listed few recipes below:

Lime Chiffon Dessert
Chicken Chop Suey
Sweet n Sour Pork
Spaghetti Sauce

I don’t like elaborate cooking and found the above easy and quick to cook.
Well they are a good handful pick and confused as always….I asked my husband to pick one for dinner..and the result: Chicken Chop Suey…

The selection was spot on and it turned out to be an absolutely satisfying meal. The flavor was just perfect and very different in comparison to spring onions and garlic that are most commonly used in Indian-Chinese cuisine….

4 skinless boneless chicken breast halves (about 1 pound)
1¬ľ cups chicken broth
2 Tbsp. cornstarch
2 Tbsp soy sauce
1 Tbsp. corn syrup (I used honey)
¬Ĺ tsp. ginger
1 Tbsp. cooking oil
2 cups sliced celery
1 medium onion, chopped
2 cups fresh bean sprouts
I added an additional cup of green pepper

Rinse chicken; pat dry. Cut into ¬Ĺ-inch pieces. For sauce, stir together the broth, cornstarch, soy sauce, molasses, and ginger; set aside.
Heat oil in a wok or large skillet over medium-high heat. (Add more oil as necessary during cooking.) Stir-fry the celery and onion in hot oil for 2 minutes. Add fresh bean sprouts, if using, and stir-fry for 1 to 2 minutes more or till celery and onion are crisp-tender. Remove vegetables from wok or skillet.
Add half the chicken to the hot wok. Stir-fry for 3 to 4 minutes or till no longer pink. Remove chicken from wok. Repeat with remaining chicken. Return all chicken and cooked vegetables to the wok; push from the center of the wok. Stir sauce; add to the center of wok. Cook and stir till thickened and bubbly. Add canned bean sprouts, if using. Stir to coat with sauce. Cook and stir about 1 minute more or till heated through.
Serve immediately over noodles or steamed rice.

A must try and will surely make it again. Hope you’re having a great weekend.