Sweet potato panna cotta for the daring bakers!

The February 2011 Daring Bakers’ challenge was hosted by Mallory from A Sofa in the Kitchen. She chose to challenge everyone to make Panna Cotta from a Giada De Laurentiis recipe and Nestle Florentine Cookie.

Well I have given up-  I do not even feel an iota of guilt for posting so late these days. I am the “lets-do-everything-last-minute” kind of person- I do it even the most important things- like paperwork for soon-to-expire passport! I tried fighting it- no more because it is simply not who I am! This month’s DB challenge was no different- I had everything planned as soon as the challenge was announced but clearly the execution of it left much to be desired! So here goes my version- had fun with it all the way!

2/3 cup (160 ml) (150 gm) (5.3 oz) unsalted butter
2 cups (480 ml) (160 gm) (5 2/3 oz) quick oats (I soaked the oats in 2 cups warm water and 2 tbsp apple cider vinegar for 24 hrs and then dried it in the oven using the warm setting, temperature around 170F for almost 7-8hrs)
1 cup (240 ml) (230 gm) (8 oz) granulated sugar
2/3 cup (160 ml) (95 gm) (3⅓ oz) plain (all purpose) flour
1/4 cup (60 ml) dark corn syrup (I used molasses)
1/4 cup (60 ml) whole milk
1 tsp (5 ml) vanilla extract
pinch of salt
1½ cups (360 ml) (250 gm) (9 oz) dark or milk chocolate (dried cranberries)


Preheat oven to moderately hot 375°F (190°C) (gas mark 5). Prepare your baking sheet with silpat or parchment paper.

To the melted butter add oats, sugar, flour, corn syrup, milk, vanilla, and salt. Mix well. Drop a tablespoon full, three inches (75 mm) apart, onto your prepared baking sheet. Flatten slightly with the back of your tablespoon, or use a spatula.

Bake in preheated oven for 6-8 minutes, until cookies are golden brown. Cool completely on the baking sheets.

Peel the cookies from the silpat or parchment and place face down on a wire rack set over a sheet of wax/parchment paper (to keep counters clean).

 This recipe will make about 2 1/2 – 3 dozen sandwiched Florentine cookies. You can also choose not to sandwich yours, in which case, drizzle the tops with chocolate (over your wax paper).

Sweet Potato Pannacotta, recipe source here

3 tsp agar-agar powder
3 tablespoons water
3 cup mashed sweet potatoes
1 cup almond milk
1/2 cup evaporated milk
5 tbsp dark brown sugar
Pinch of salt
1/2 cup vanilla-powdered sugar


In a small, microwave-safe bowl, sprinkle the agar over the water and let stand until softened, about 3 minutes. In a pan on medium heat, combine the sweet potatoes with the almond milk, evaporated milk, sugar and salt. Microwave the agar mixture at high power until melted, then whisk it into the sweet potato mixture and let the panna cotta mixture cool.

Lightly rub six ramekins with vegetable oil. Pour the panna cotta mixture into the ramekins and refrigerate until firm, at least 2 hours.

Serve it cranberry sauce, recipe source from Elise of Simply recipes fame-I adpated it to add some nutmeg and finish off with arrowroot powder


The cookies tasted amazing- very chewy and light. The panna cotta was hardly sweet (the sweet potatoes were not as sweet as I thought, should have cooked them with some sugar!). Served with the cranberry sauce and crumbled cookies on top,we had forgotten that the pannacotta was not sweet at all!

Fancy-schmancy chocolate cake?

Well it tastes like a fancy-schmancy cake but it was definitely a breeze to make it especially if you own a food processor. Nigella Lawson, if I have to sum up what I feel in one sentence- love her recipes, hate her eyes-rolling, up-close camera tricks cooking show!


Recipe source from Food network

1 cup all-purpose flour
2/3 cup barley flour + whole wheat flour
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 cup cocoa
1 cup sugar
1 stick Vegan butter + 1/2 stick soft unsalted butter
2 eggs
1 tbsp vanilla extract
1/3 cup yogurt + 1/3 tsp baking soda
1/2 cup boiling water
1/2 cup semisweet chocolate chips
1/2 cup chopped candied orange peel (homemade)

1 tsp cocoa 
1/2 cup water 
1/2 cup sugar
1-ounce dark chocolate (from a thick bar if possible), cut into splinters of varying thickness, for garnish

Equipment: 2-pound loaf tin (approximately 9 1/2 by 4 1/2 by 3 inches deep), lined with greased foil, pressed into the corners and with some overhang at the top.


Take whatever you need out of the refrigerator so that all ingredients can come room temperature.

Preheat the oven to 325 degrees F, putting in a baking sheet as you do so.

Put the flour, baking soda, cocoa, sugar, butter, eggs, vanilla, and yogurt into the processor and process until a smooth, satiny brown batter. Scrape down with a rubber spatula and process again while pouring the boiling water down the funnel. Turn it off and stir in the chocolate chips and candied orange peel.

Scrape and pour the batter into the prepared loaf tin and put into the oven, cooking for about 1 hour. When ready, the loaf will be risen and split down the middle (a toothpick will pretty well come out clean).

Not long before the cake is due out of the oven (when it has had about 45 to 50 minutes), put the syrup ingredients of cocoa, water and sugar into a small saucepan and boil for about 5 minutes (need a fairly thick syrup)

Take the cake out of the oven and sit it on a cooling rack, still in the tin, and pierce here and there with a cake tester. Pour the syrup over the cake.

Let the cake become completely cold and then slip out of its tin, removing the foil as you do so. Sprinkle the chocolate splinters over the top of the sticky surface of the cake.


Don’t be like me- impatient. Firstly I added the garnish well before the cake cooled down so we had a sauce over a sauce kind of an effect (which was fine, it tasted awesome) and secondly I even tried to cut the cake well before it had a chance to cool and ended up mostly with big crumbs- half way through cutting the warm cake, I realized I was being impatient and managed to salvage the rest of the cake. I made it for Super Bowl and it went quicker than I expected it to- I guess that says something eh? This gooey chocolate cake is off to Maison Cupcakes Forever Nigella #2 Seduced by chocolate.

I love nothing more

than twisting the traditional. I find myself constantly experimenting (I guess it makes sense because I am a scientist!) with food. And the one thing I love to make over are the idlis- my favorite dish in the whole world. When I am feeling low or when I am supremely exhilarated- the one that calms me down: idli-sambar. When I go home on vacation and on occasion when ma is too busy to make breakfast- dad hops on his hero winner (now this deserves a post in itself), gets to his favorite food joint nearby (either saravana bhavan or vasantha bhavan) and gets me sooda-sooda (hot-hot) idli-medhu vadai-sambar combination.


2 cups idli rice
1 cup brown rice
a handful methi seeds
1 cup urad dal
1/2 cup whole urad dal with skin
1/2 cup green gram sprouts
2 tbsp wheat germ
2 tbsp ground flax seeds


Soak the rice, dal and methi seeds separately (you don’t have to soak the sprouts) for about 4-5 hrs
(next time on-I am going to soak it longer)

Grind the dals first along with sprouts, methi seeds, ground flax seeds and wheat germ

Then grind the rice- mix the ground dal and rice together

Add a pinch of salt and let it ferment for 12-24 hrs depending on the temperature (I leave it in the oven)

To make the idlis, you will need an idli stand. Make sure the dough is not too runny (you will need runny dough for crispy dosas)- the dough for idlis is more like the pancake batter or may be even a bit thicker too.

Oil the idli pan (I use sesame oil)- add about a spatula-ful of the dough. Pressure cook it for about 12-14 minutes and you are done!

Serve with pretty much anything you like- the wise guy had made some really YUMMY thakkali thokku (tomato chutney/pickle)- so kept making idlis to polish off the thokku!

In my book- one can never go wrong with idlis and the fact that it allows so much room for experimentation is something that gets me everytime. I am sending this off to Twist the traditional event started and hosted by Satya of My Innovative Kitchen.

Last minute dash to

the World Nutella Day held every year on Feb 5th.  This year the event along with World Nutella Day is co-hosted by Ms.Adventures in Italy and Bleeding Espresso.  Every year I forget all about it and read about it pretty much after the round-ups have happened. I would not have it this time- come on nutella is my favorite thing in the whole world! Nutella is really a trade name for a chocolate-hazelnut spread and you can read all about it here.

So how did I find it out this time- on my favorite blogs- Aparna’s My Diverse Kitchen and Deeba’s Passionate about baking, they participate almost every year! The mad dash to the finish line began at around 5:45 pm this evening. Nutella had to be put to good use- and it had to be done quickly enough!

Borne out of this mad rush- Tapioca pearl- nutella pudding!


1/2 cup tapioca pearls, soaked in water for about 30 min
1/2 cup water
1/2  cup almond milk, vanilla flavor
1 cup Nutella
2 tbsp vanilla sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 cup chopped pistachios, reserve some for garnish)


Cook the tapioca pearls in water, almond milk mixture until it turns translucent- it took a good 20 minutes and keep in mind- you have to stir almost constantly (while I was cooking dinner, the wise-guy was aced the art of mindless, mechanical stirring and in the end claimed he had made the whole thing!)

Once the tapioca is cooked, take off the heat- add the extract, nutella and pistachios.

Transfer to individual serving bowls, refrigerate it for about an hour.

Serve with the pistachio garnish!


Not too sweet- all the goodness of nutella and my favorite tapioca in one pot! And all this in a day of frenzied rush…now that is how much I love Nutella.