Thursday, 28 August 2014

Chocolate Caramel Bars

Am not really sure I have an answer for why there's been only one post all this month. I'd like to believe it's the weather, the excessively sticky humidity that holds the promise of rain but hasn't really delivered much of it this month. But then, I have pretty much used up all of my quota of complaining about the weather in the Summer. So, no, I don't why there haven't been any posts.

But, I am going to blame the weather for marring these chocolate caramel bars that I made yesterday. I figured these were perfect to shake off my baking ennui. Fuss free recipe, easy technique, readily available ingredients and basic flavours that you know you can't go wrong with.

And true to form, everything went according to plan. These bars have three layers - it starts off with a layer of shortbread, then a layer of caramel and finally, a layer of chocolate. I made all the layers and then I put them in the fridge to set the final chocolate layer. Once set, I pulled them out to slice them and that's when the difference in temperature spoilt the look of these bars. The high humidity meant that what should have looked like a shiny, glossy layer of chocolate was instead covered with droplets of water. Yup, that's what you are seeing in the photographs.

While it doesn't look great, those little droplets are harmless. They neither affected the chocolate nor did they affect the taste of these bars. Each of these layers consists of simple, basic flavours that on their own are typical and ordinary but combine the three layers together and it's a party for your taste buds! And each of these individual layers is quite rich, so a small piece hits the right notes. It would be ideal when you wanna serve up something sweet to a large group of people. I can't see how anyone can not like them. Give them a shot!

How's August been treating you?? Have you travelled to somewhere new or read an interesting book or seen a new movie?? Tell me!!

Tuesday, 5 August 2014

Roasted Peaches With Crushed Almond Praline

The seasons are changing. That's what the fruit stall is telling me. The mangoes have, except for a few langras and chausas, more or less left the market. And so have the cherries. The apples and pears have started making an appearance and even a few chikoos. And of course, there's also the last of the plums and peaches.
To be precise, more of the plums, the peaches have hardly made their mark this season. Since they come all the way from up north, you rarely find good ones. They are either all yellow on the outside with none of that beautiful peachy blush that one expects from them or they are absolutely lacking in taste. And yet, for some inexplicable reason, we picked up a few, only to have them lie around in the fruit basket with no one willing to eat them.

You then do the next best thing to make the fruit more palatable. You roast them! In this case with some cinnamon and brown sugar but you could also use honey, vanilla or even some orange juice. Normally, I would have served them with some vanilla ice-cream and be done with it. But I had seen this idea of crushed almond praline in the 'What Katie Ate' book that she serves with roasted peaches that sent me down that road.
The almond praline is easy to make. All you have to do is caramelise some sugar and then pour it over the roasted almonds. Once it sets, break it up into shards and then for this dessert, crush them into a crumble. Although the darker you caramelise the sugar, the more bitter it will be, so use your discretion on how bitter you would like it.

Roasting the peaches softens them down as they get cooked in their own juices and the sugar takes the edge of the tartness. The cold vanilla ice-cream contrasts beautifully with the warm, roasted peaches. And just when you think, it would all get a bit too sweet, the bitter, caramel flavour of the praline counters that as well as giving some much appreciated textural crunch.
However, I am left wondering if I should have added some kind of orange or lemon juice while roasting the peaches. That would have resulted in some sort of syrup which would be ideal to pour over the ice-cream.
Let's be clear .. this is not so much a dessert to wow the guests as more of a way to finish off the not-so-ideal fruit that is simply lying around. Having said that, since there is such little work to be done, it is a delightful, unfussy dessert for an informal week night dinner.
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