Homemade Chocolates – A Perfect Gift Option

In this post, I’ll tell you how my love-affair with homemade chocolates started. Frankly speaking, the then a small start has now become a passion.

Homemade ChocolatesAfter my engagement with Sumit (my husband), one day (sometime in 2009) I thought of gifting him home-made chocolates made by me. Actually, chocolate was his first love, I came a lot later in his life.

I had never tried my hand with chocolate-making. So, I started my chocolate-making endeavor with hits-and-trials and browsing through few books. Those were the days (in 2009) when smart phones were not-so-common in India. Also for a non-techie person like me, it was not a usual thing to search recipes on Google.

Finally after some research I made the chocolates and along with Sumit I had gifted it to my elder brother. My  brother tasted and instantly loved the chocolates. Though, he didn’t missed the chance of pulling my legs for not coming-up with this idea of chocolate-making for him – after all he is also such a big chocolate fan.

I was eagerly waiting for Sumit’s response. It was really a sense of satisfaction to know he really loved the chocolates. He was completely overawed by the fact that I actually learned chocolate-making for him. He suggested me to continue refining my new-found skill. Truly speaking, I was also enjoying making chocolates.

Unwrapped Homemade ChocolatesWhenever, I used to get time, I tried and experimented to learn finer nuances – like blending different flavors, colors, fillings etc. Post marriage as well, with encouragement from family, I kept my interest in chocolate-making, and whenever time permitted I gifted chocolate gift baskets to friends.

Homemade Chocolate BasketsIn my several trials I learned quite a few things about chocolate making like which flavor blends well with dark chocolates and white ones and other. With the support of my loving family I started taking small orders. I remember my first order was of 400 chocolates given by dear friend Premlata Rajesh for Christmas celebration in her office. She herself is a passionate cook and writes about her cooking adventures. You may check her blog here.

So after delivering my first order successfully I got confident “yes, I can do it” and continued taking small orders. Parallel to this designing was going on actively so I couldn’t divert my much attention to expanding my chocolate making interests.

But after birth of Narayani (my daughter) I pursued my chocolate making interest again as jewelry designing was on back seat. I again started by accepting orders for children birthday party return gifts

I feel if you doing something with honesty and dedication, path gets paved for you. Automatically links get joined one by one and chain is formed. I started getting other personalized chocolate gifts orders too.

Homemade Chocolate Bunch and BouquetLater few of my friends got interested in learning chocolate making. With support of family and friends conducted my first chocolate making workshop. It was quite an experience and I totally enjoyed myself. It was during the workshop I realized how much I enjoy teaching such creative things. This clicked the idea of conducting painting and art and craft workshops.

So one thing led the path for the other things and my creative journey continued. Friends I’m sharing all these things as I believe if I can do all this along with a small child than you can do too.

Keep yourself occupied in something or the other. Try different things, read good books, learn new skills and follow your passion with whatever resources available to you.

My Bhaili, come out of your comfort zone; throw yourself into the unknown there are lots of opportunities waiting for you. If you have fire to do something then don’t worry about failures, take a plunge.

Leaving you all with few lines by Mark Twain:

“Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things you didn’t do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover.”

Mocha Souffle – An Easy-to-make Dessert

Few days back, we friends (bhailis) had a potluck lunch,  and I had chosen to make a dessert. As my other friend Yamini was making lemon-pie, I wanted something other than cake or pie. By the way she bakes just awesome cakes that not only taste good but look lovely too – no wonder we all call her ‘Dessert Queen’ 🙂

Since kids were to be also there, I had to plan-out something that would be liked by all – kids as well as their moms.  Initially, I was considering gulab-jamun or dry-fruits kheer or jalebi’s. Although, these Indian desserts are usually liked by all, I wanted to present them with something new. Something that was not commonly heard in my friends circle.

When it comes to cooking, it’s in my nature to explore something new, to try something that I haven’t done earlier. I always ask this question to myself – “when was the last time I did something for the first time”. Let me tell you, it’s quite a thought-provoking question, and works really well whenever I feel stagnated or bored in life.

OK coming back, however I as not able decide the final recipe. Therefore, I called my sweet sister – one of my closest bhaili and who  is always there to give wonderful ideas.

I told her about potluck lunch and the dilemma I was in regarding finalizing the dessert. Within no time, out came the suggestion  – Mocha Souffle. She often makes this recipe and was very confident that it will be liked by everyone.

However, my first concern was how will I manage a baking-dessert during lunch time. I had to leave by 1 pm and before that I had to prepare lunch for hubby and daughter as well. Reason behind this worry was my experience with my daughter. Seeking attention, she usually play more tantrums whenever she senses that I am busy in some work – no wonder you can’t run away from Murphy’s Law 🙂

So, my sister advised to go with non-baking option of souffle. But then, can a non-baking preparation be called a souffle. However, with her explanation and some research on web, I got convinced that Souffle can be prepared in two ways – either baked or can be set in fridge. Generally, the baked option (with egg) is more common.

Since, we are pure-vegetarians, I went for the second option – the not-so-common egg-less souffle. It’s an easy recipe which can be set in fridge for an hour before serving.

However, I had just one day to go (discussed this recipe with my sister on Wednesday afternoon, and lunch was on Thursday), and I had never made this recipe before. So, I thought to first prepare it according to the procedure that my sister shared, and then if time permits and if everything goes well, I’ll make the final dish with my variation.

Now, thankfully everything went according to the plan. I was able to prepare the original dish as-is, and was liked by both – my daughter and husband. I shared the picture of final dish with my sister, and she also okay-ed its final look. I was now feeling confident that I was on right track.

It was now late Wednesday evening, and my plan was to experiment with my variation by Wednesday night itself. Get it tasted by my hubby and daughter, and if they will like it, I’ll be good to go with my version of souffle. Otherwise, original souffle recipe was always there to fall-back on.

My variation of souffle was ready by 10 pm. Got it tasted by my husband (daughter had already slept), and he instantly approved it. However, with kids in mind, I had to get it tasted by my little angel as well.

So, the next morning when she woke up, instead of offering milk, I presented her my last night creation. She, was literally surprised that without any demand how come her mummy was offering ice-cream (she thought it was ice-cream) instead of that boring milk 🙂

Anyways, she also loved it, and now it was final that I’ll go ahead with my variation of souffle.

Thankfully, it was liked by all friends and their kids as well. It felt really satisfying when they asked for the recipe. Isn’t it a great feeling when someone asks the recipe of any dish that you prepared! That is actually a genuine appreciation which is most heartening.

So, here goes my version of Mocha Souffle. It’s a very easy to make dessert that surely will leave a very good impression on your guests.

Servings – 6

Preparation time – 25 min

Setting time – 60 min

Ingredients

  • ½ tin (200 gm) condense milk
  • 2 tbsp coffee powder
  • 1 cup fresh cream
  • 1 tbsp sugar powder/ icing sugar
  • 125 gm unsalted butter
  • 3 tbsp cocoa powder
  • 100 gm Oreo biscuits crushed (kids just love Oreo, so I opted for it. Otherwise, you can go for any other chocolate biscuit as well.)
  • ¼ cup roasted and crushed almonds and walnuts

Mocha Souffle Ingredients

Procedure

  • Take butter and sugar in a bowl.

Mocha Souffle - Butter and Sugar

  • Mix them till light and fluffy.

Mocha Souffle - Butter and Sugar Mixed

  • Add coffee and cocoa powder, and mix well.

Mocha Souffle - Coffee Cocoa and Butter Mixed

  • Whip the cream, and add condense milk to it.
  • Add this to butter and cocoa powered mixture and slowly start folding with the help of spatula.
Condense Milk with Whipped Cream and Cocoa-Coffee Mixture
Condense Milk with Whipped Cream and Cocoa-Coffee Mixture
  • Add crushed Oreo and nuts into the mixture (keep aside approx 1 tbsp for topping).

Mocha Souffle - Chocolate and Nuts Mixed

  • Transfer to serving bowl.
  • Keep in fridge to set for minimum 1 hour.
  • Sprinkle crushed Oreo and nuts before serving. You can also add chocolate chips or crushed chocolates. All these taste good and make souffle more tempting.
Mocha Souffle is Ready
Time to taste

So, keep this easy dessert recipe in your bucket-list of trials. Also, be always open to experiment and add new twist to the original version. Let your creative juices flowing and let everyone of us get a taste of it by not forgetting to share the final result in the comment section below 🙂

Veggies Paneer for Kids

As a mother I know how difficult it is to make her child drink a glass of milk. I am sure you’ll not disagree if I say it’s no less than a battle in itself.

After weaning my daughter, all I wanted was that she at least had one small glass of milk to start with. But even this simple task became a headache for me. I tried all possible methods but all was in vain – she would just not drink milk.

Tried different flavors like – rose syrup, saffron, warm chocolate, Bournvita, but all was just a waste of time and effort. I was really on pins and needles.

So one fine day, on her regular vaccine-visit I asked her pediatrician for any solution. However, to my surprise, doctor opined that it’s normal for kids to dislike milk post weaning phase.

Her simple advice was to stop forcing my child to drink milk. Instead, her suggestion was to give her milk only when she demands. She will eventually start drinking once she grows up.

But having said that, she did mention to include other calcium-rich dairy products in her diet – like paneer (cottage cheese), curd etc.

This gave me an idea that instead of literally running behind her with the glass of milk, why not experiment different and importantly interesting (at least for her) recipes with calcium-rich dairy products.

So, in this post I will tell you about one of the many recipes I tried out (she really loved it) with homemade paneer. Best part is, it’s rich in protein and calcium, along with being very easy to make.

So, here we go…

Firstly, I’ll tell how to make paneer at home.

Ingredients:

  • 1 glass of milk
  • 1 Lemon

Procedure:

  • Boil the glass of milk.
  • Add few drops of lemon juice in it and stir well. You can use vinegar or citric acid as well, however I prefer using natural ingredients as much as possible.
  • Once the milk curdles up, take it off the flame after few boils.
  • Let it cool and then strain the water.
Strained cottage cheese
Strained Paneer

Now, let’s move on to the main recipe. This particular preparation can be made in no time and makes good breakfast or evening snack option for kids.

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup paneer
  • 1 tomato
  • 1 capsicum
  • 1 teaspoon olive oil/butter/ghee
  • Salt to taste
  • A pinch of black pepper (from my personal experience I can say that taste of black pepper is usually liked by kids, and in small amount it’s healthy too)
  • A pinch of oregano (optional)

Procedure:

  • Grate the veggies (you can add any other vegetables as well according to your child’s liking).
Grated Vegetables
Grated Vegetables
  • Heat the pan, add olive oil and grated veggies.

Grated vegetables in pan

  • Saute a little, add paneer, salt, black pepper, and oregano.

Paneer mixed with Vegetables

  • Mix well and take off the flame, and it’s done.
Veggies Paneer
Final Recipe – Veggies Paneer

It’s not just simple to make, it tastes good as well. It’s not only liked by my daughter but my husband has also become its fan. You can use this mix as sandwich-filling or to make an open-toast as well. There can be multiple combinations. You just need to wear your thinking cap.