Nankhatai | Baking | Childhood Memories



Nankhatai – the Indian Cookie which most of us, living in this part of the world have grown up on !!
I have some amazing memories of enjoying nankhatais with my grandfather. In our house he was the one who was so so fond of these lovely cookies, and had introduced me to them. White crumbly texture, the richness of the cardamom flavour and the aroma of desi ghee (clarified butter)…oh they make for the perfect cookie!! 



Have tried my hands, a couple of times at making nankhatais, but I was never satisfied. Either it was too sweet or the texture was not crumbly enough !! Finally I’ve found the perfect recipe for the Nankhatai. They look as good as they taste, exactly they way they used to when I was a little kid !
The recipe is courtesy Aromatic Essence.



Nankhatais are shortbread biscuits popular both in India as well as Pakistan. 
On searching the net, Wiki tell me, Nankhatai is believed to have originated in Surat in the 16th century, the time when Dutch and Indians were the important spice traders. A Dutch couple set up a bakery in Surat to meet the needs of local Dutch residents. When the Dutch left India, they handed over the bakery to an Iranian. The locals disliked the bakery biscuits and to save his business he started selling dried bread at low prices. It became so popular that he started drying the bread before selling it. With time, his experimentation with bread ultimately gave birth to Nankhatai.



Nankhatai


Ingredients

2 cups All purpose flour

1 cup Semolina (Sooji)

½ cup Chickpea flour (Besan)

1 cup Clarified butter (Ghee)

1 ½ cup powdered Sugar

Elaichi (cardamom) powder to garnish

Direction
1. In a mixing bowl, mix all purpose flour, semolina, chickpea flour and sugar together.
2. Add ghee, little at a time, to the dry mixture and try to knead the dough. Do not overwork with it otherwise the nankhatais will not be flaky. You need to bring the flour together like we do for the pastry dough. Knead just enough to bring it together.
3. Wrap the dough in cling wrap and refrigerate for 15-20 minutes.
4. Line 2 to 3 baking sheets with butter paper.
5. Make small flat balls and place on baking sheet. Using a knife, cut a cross in the middle of each, press some cardamom powder. Rest the cookies in the refrigerator for another 15-20 minutes. In the meanwhile preheat the oven to 180 degree C for 10 minutes.
5. Bake at 180°C for 15-20 minutes (depending on the oven)

6. Completely cool on a wire rack and then store in an airtight container.



Happy baking !!

Homemade Cookies | Whole Wheat Cookies | Lemon Cookies

“A Balanced Diet is a Cookie in Each Hand…”




Cookies were always a mind-block for me. Even though I’ve been baking for so many years now, but I never got around baking a cookie, for no particular reason. On thinking aloud, maybe I felt that it was not as satisfying as baking a cake… but how wrong was I !!
Off and on my father would encourage me to bake biscuits but with no results whatsoever, until one day he gave me an ultimatum to bake cookies :-)).


That weekend I tried my hands on my first cookies and I fell in love with baking all over again !! 
Baking cookies is such a joy, especially when you see so many cookies turning out from that little dough, and in no time. 
A whole new world of recipes opened up and there was no stopping me. Now I feel they are far simpler than cakes and the joy that a cookie brings no cake can 🙂
Ever since my new ‘cookie love’, Tea Parties are my favourite kind of parties to host these days :-).

Here I share my first set of cookies I baked.  2 recipes back to back.
There will be more coming up and sooon……


Whole Wheat Cookies ( Eggless)


Ingredients


Wheat Flour 1 cup

Unsalted butter 1 tbsp

Salt ¼ tsp

Sugar 3-4 tbsp

Cardamom Powder  ½ -1 tsp

Baking Powder ½ tsp

Directions
1. Take a mixing bowl, add wheat flour, salt, sugar, baking powder, cardamom powder and mix well.

2. Then add unsalted melted butter and mix well.

3. Now using water or milk knead it into a dough. Neither too soft nor too tight.

4. Knead the dough for 2-3 minutes and keep aside for 10 minutes.

5. Pre heat oven to 425 f or 220 C.

6. Dust the counter top with a little powdered sugar and roll the dough into a thin layer. Using a cookie cutter of your desired shape, cut into a biscuits and arrange them on a greased baking tray.

7. Prick the biscuits with fork or knife  to prevent puff up.

8. Bake it for 12-15 minutes or it turn to crisp and light brown.

9. Remove from the oven and let them cool on a wire rack.





Lemon Cookies





Ingredients


275g. flour

125g butter (at room temperature)

1 egg

80g brown sugar

1 teaspoon baking powder 

Zest and Juice of 1 lemon


Directions

1. All ingredients should be at room temperature.

2. Sift the flour along with the baking powder.

3. Beat egg and sugar. Once well incorporated, add the lemon juice and the zest.

4. Now add the butter and keep whipping until the mixture looks pale and creamy.

5. Add the sifted flour to the butter-egg mixture and knead into a smooth dough.

6. Wrap this dough in cling wrap and refrigerate for atleast 30 minutes.

7. Roll the dough out on a lightly floured surface to about 1/2 cm thickness and cutout cookies with the desired shape of cookie cutter.

8. Bake in a 180 C preheated oven.

9. Remove from the oven and let them cool on a wire rack.



Note: Do not bake cookies for more than 15 minutes, unless specified. Even they look a little under done or feel soft on touch, its okay, they will firm up and become crisp as they cool down.


Happy Baking !!


Chocolate Macarons with Dark Chocolate Ganache`

Macarons….the ever so Beautiful, so Fragile and so French !!
Till very recently the only macarons I knew about, were the American Macaroons which are ummm….so sweet, so chewy and so coconuty !!
While blog surfing I came across these beauties…. chiseled rounded to perfection and I soon succumbed to the temptation of baking these myself, inspite of knowing that these could bring the best of chefs to tears with their tantrums !!!
So in my quest to conquer the Macarons I went blog hopping and reached here.
After going through at least 20 different recipes I felt the most comfortable with Irina Kogan’s Master the Macarons. Hats off to the girl. She actually makes the whole macaron baking so simple and non fussy.
My first attempt was nothing but a disaster……they were yummy almond cookies but nothing more….not even the poor country cousins of the very elitist snobbish French Macarons !!

I think I got a grip on the recipe in my second attempt. They say your macarons are perfect if they get ‘feet’.
I think I got them, but I sure can do with some reassurance from the masters of the Macaron World. Deeba and Jamie of Mactweets  and Irina of Pastry Pal…. what do you say?
I made half of this recipe.

Chocolate Macarons with Dark Chocolate Ganache`

Makes about 50 macarons (100 halves)


Ingredients:

100 g Almond Flour
175 g Powdered Sugar
3 large (100 g) Egg whites
2 tbsp (30 g) Granulated Sugar
3tbsp Cocoa Powder
Directions
1. You can either purchase almond flour, or make your own.
2. Prepare 2 baking trays by lining with parchment paper.
3. Prepare a pastry bag with a plain tip.
4. First, sift the dry ingredients —the powdered sugar, almond flour and cocoa powder.
5. Sift into a large bowl. Refining the dry stuff this way will ensure that the macarons don’t end up with coarse looking shells. If you have a teaspoon or so of large pieces left in the sifter, just discard.
6. In a separate bowl, whisk the whites. Once they start to froth up and get meringue-like, sprinkle in the sugar. This little bit of granulated sugar helps stabilize the whites, so there is less risk of overwhipping.
A little more whisking results in firm peaks. You MUST whisk until the peaks are firm, or the finished macarons will suffer, with a too-liquid batter.
7. Once the whites are whipped, incorporate the dry ingredients, slowly, so the egg whites don’t deflate.
8. Sprinkle half the dry stuff over the egg whites.
9. Start folding the dry mixture in carefully, in batches. The whites will start to look broken and curdled and that’s ok. It’s not necessary to get every last speck folded in at this point.
10. The dry ingredients tend to collect at the bottom of the bowl. Fold by scraping from the bottom, and turning the mixture over on itself. This process does deflate the eggs somewhat, and that’s ok. You WANT to deflate them a little.
11. At first it may seem like there is too much dry stuff to be absorbed by the egg whites, but after a few strokes it comes together.
12. The easiest way to fill a pastry bag is to place it in a tall jar or glass with the top of the bag folded over.
13. Pour the batter into the bag.Pipe out nickel-sized dots. They will continue to spread on the sheet pan for up to five minutes, so it’s best to space them about half an inch apart.
14. Now they have to rest at room temperature. A skin needs to form, and it can take 30-90 minutes, depending on the weather. If you touch them lightly and some batter sticks to your finger, they are not ready to bake. If you feel the top has dried, and nothing sticks to your finger, they’re ready.
15. Bake at 140 degrees C for about 17 minutes.
16. They should be smooth on top, and of course, have the coveted “feet”. Let them cool completely before proceeding. They may rip right off the sheet pan if pulled up too early.
17. Once cooled, flip them all over and pipe your chosen filling on half of the rounds. Stick the other halves to these with a light hand. Let it set for about 5-7 minutes.
For the Chocolate Ganache` Filling:


Ingredients
230 g Dark Cooking Chocolate

180 ml Cream
2 tbsp Unsalted butter

Directions:
Heat the cream in a heavy bottom pan.

Cut the chocolate into small equal size pieces and pour into the cream and keep stirring continuously till the cream and chocolate blend in completely. 
Add the butter and mix over low-medium heat. Turn of the heat and keep stirring for another 2 minutes.
Let it cool down completely. Once cooled the ganache` will thicken a bit. Pour into a piping bag and pipe out on half of the macarons.
Happy Baking !!