19th March was our anniversary. For my grandparents it falls on 20th. Confused? You can read more about that here.
20th March (today in the US) is my brother’s birthday.
The V in my blog posts stands for my husband’s name Vikram.
My brother’s name is also Vikram. (No, there isn’t a lack of names in India. It just happens to be that the two most important people in my life are named Vikram.)
The similarities don’t just stop in their names. Their heights are comparable. One is 6ft 3 (the husband), the other 6 ft 4. Personality wise they are alike as well. So are their looks. People have actually congratulated me and my brother for a happy married life during my wedding. Its not something every girl wants.
There is a difference though. While the Vikram I am married to will go for a spinach-celery-lettuce smoothie, the brother Vikram would go for a large oreo double chocolate shake with whipped cream on top and shaved chocolate added for good measure. Of course I go after my brother. After all he and I have the same genes- some call it the fat genes, I call it the only-way-to-live-life genes.
Since we are celebrating our anniversary and my brother’s birthday, I thought to write today’s post on the Vikrams in my life.
Actually, I have written before about the brother Vikram, you can check the post here if you want to know just how awesome he is. I might not talk about you today, but I know you know that I love you a lot.
Today, let’s just concentrate on the husband Vikram, or V as he is known on the blog, since I feel that V never gets too much of my attention.
Remember I did that 10 day Vipassana thing to get a more balanced approach to my life. Well, V was born with Vipassana already taught to him in his mom’s womb.
(I know I had promised a detailed description of my experience but then I figured my friend The Pious Hippie (remember her from the Guest post here?) had already done that, and explained it pretty well. So just head over to her blog and check what the whole deal behind Vipassana is.)
V is the most calm, non reacting person I know. No matter how he truly feels about anything he has never objected to what I want to do.
He has never once cribbed about the food I have made. There are times when I have refused to eat some experimental thing I made because it just wasn’t good, but he has always finished the stuff I put in his plate, maintaining that he actually liked it. I know I say that I wish he would be critical of my cooking so that I know how to improve it, but honestly his appreciation has helped me to experiment more, and as a result to grow more (not in size, but in experience).
He has patiently waited while I photograph our lunch for the blog, and he continues to wait patiently even when he is getting late for office, and even though the food is getting cold. If I apologise and tell him only a few more minutes, he tells me to take my time.
This blog, the reason I feel that I am not completely wasting my time in this small mining town, would not have been what it is had it not been for V.
And its not only blog related stuff. Even if I’m not feeling my pretty best he always finds me beautiful and loves to say ‘Chauhan, your skin is glowing’. I always discard his compliments as him being nice, (I know I need lessons in accepting compliments) but I know he honestly believes that I am beautiful.
I have told him stuff which probably any other husband could never understand but he always has.
He always lets me stay for as long as I want to in India, perfectly understanding that I need that for my sanity. There are issues that arise in his family about my plans but he always tries that I have my fun somehow. He has never complained about my long stays even though that means that he has to stay alone for months, cook, clean and go to work. He never makes me realise this when I am away, always telling me to enjoy myself when we talk long distance on the phone.
I am a careless person, goofing up now and then. But he has never lost his cool with me. I have been more harsh on myself for it, but he always calmly helps me find the solution, never scolding or saying that XYZ was my fault, even though its quite obvious that it was.
Now you know why I always say that I got the better deal in this marriage and V could have done so much better than me. But, as long as V doesn’t agree with me (which he surprisingly doesn’t), we should be fine.
Happy Anniversary, V! Let’s eat cake now, shall we!
I had thought of this cake during my Vipassana days.
Since 10 hours of meditation isn’t my ball game, once I had let go of things in the past, I started thinking of the cakes I wanted to make (I really am a fat girl deep inside- sometimes it shows outside as well, luckily these days its not!). One of the cakes I thought I would make was this one and I knew it would be made for the anniversary. I had seen the diamond mousse filled cake idea on Russell’s site Chasing Delicious. Check out his post to see how to get the diamond shape in your layer cake.
He had made a brownie cake with chocolate mousse. During my “meditation” I was enlightened with the idea of using that idea and replacing the chocolate mousse with a coffee flavored mousse. Because chocolate and coffee just seem right.
I found the recipe for a caramel coffee mousse and it sounded even better.
The recipe for the cake was taken from here.
The mousse did not turn out as smooth as I would have liked but it was probably because I replaced the creme fraiche with sour cream as that is all that I had on hand.
The cake though came out better than I expected, and perfect for our anniversary celebration.
- 4 oz unsweetened chocolate, finely chopped
- ¼ cup (3/4 oz) Dutch-process cocoa powder
- ½ cup hot water
- 1¾ cups (12¼ oz) sugar
- 1¾ cups (8¾ oz) all-purpose flour
- 1½ teaspoons baking soda
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1 cup buttermilk, at room temperature
- 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
- 4 large eggs plus 2 large egg yolks, at room temperature
- 12 tablespoons (1½ sticks) unsalted butter, cut into 12 pieces, at room temperature
- 1 cup sugar
- ¼ cup water
- ¼ teaspoon fresh lemon juice
- 2 cups heavy cream
- 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
- 2½ teaspoons instant coffee (3 single-serving packets)
- 1 envelope unflavored gelatin (about 2 teaspoons)
- Caramel (see above)
- ¼ cup crème fraîche
- 9 ounces bitterrsweet chocolate, chopped
- 1 cup heavy cream
- In a medium saucepan, combine the sugar with the water and lemon juice and bring to a boil over moderately high heat.
- Using a wet pastry brush, wipe down the side of the saucepan.
- Simmer the syrup undisturbed until it begins to brown around the edges, 4 to 5 minutes.
- Swirl the pan, then simmer until the caramel turns a medium-dark amber, about 3 minutes longer. Remove from the heat.
- Carefully add ½ cup of the cream in a steady stream. Stir with a long-handled wooden spoon to combine, then add the remaining 1½ cups of cream. Stir in the vanilla.
- Transfer the caramel to a bowl and refrigerate until very cold, at least 3 hours or overnight.
- Preheat oven to 350 F. Spray two 9-inch cake pans with nonstick cooking spray with flour (you can line the bottoms with parchment as well if you want. I used two tall 6 inch pans).
- Add the unsweetened chocolate, cocoa power and water to a heatproof bowl and set over a pan of barely simmering water. Stir occasionally until the chocolate is completely melted (the mixture will be thick). Whisk in ½ cup of the sugar until well combined and the mixture becomes glossy. Remove the bowl from the pan and set aside to cool slightly.
- In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, baking soda and salt. In a measuring cup, whisk the buttermilk and vanilla together.
- In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, combine the eggs and egg yolks. Beat on medium-low speed until combined, about 10 seconds. Add the remaining 1¼ cups of sugar and beat on high speed until the mixture is fluffy and pale in color, about 2-3 minutes.
- Remove the whisk attachment and replace with the paddle. Pour the cooled chocolate mixture into the mixer bowl and beat on medium speed until well combined. Scrape down the sides of the bowl.
- Add the butter, one piece at a time, mixing for about 10 seconds after each addition.
- With the mixer on low, alternately add the flour mixture (in 3 additions) and the buttermilk mixture (in 2 additions), starting and ending with the flour mixture. The batter may look slightly curdled. Beat until thoroughly combined.
- Divide the batter between the prepared cake pans, smoothing the top until even. Bake for 25-30 minutes (took longer for my layers to bake), or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out with just a few moist crumbs attached. Remove the pans to a wire rack and let the cakes cool for 10 minutes. Turn the cakes out of the pans and allow to cool completely, at least 2 hours.
- In a small microwave-safe bowl, dissolve the instant coffee in 3 tablespoons of cold water. Sprinkle on the gelatin and let stand until softened, about 5 minutes. Using an electric mixer, beat the caramel with the crème fraîche just until soft peaks form. Working quickly, microwave the coffee-gelatin mixture at 10-second intervals just until the gelatin is completely dissolved and hot to the touch. Quickly whisk the hot gelatin into the caramel.
- Using a sharp pointed serrated knife, cut a cone out of the center of both cake layers so that you have a cone-shapped recess in each cake layer. Be sure to leave enough cake around the sides and at the bottom otherwise it may not be able to stand. Also make sure the cones are the same sizes so when assembled a clean diamond mousse filling will form.
- Fill each recess with the mousse. Use an icing spatula to make the mousse level with the top of the cake.
- Place the mousse-filled layers in the fridge and let chill until firm, about 1 hour.
- Remove the layers from the fridge. Carefully invert one layer onto the other, making sure the edges of the cake, and the mousse line up. Remove the cake round from the top of the cake.
- Place the chocolate into a medium bowl. Heat the cream in a small sauce pan over medium heat. Bring just to a boil, watching very carefully because if it boils for a few seconds, it will boil out of the pot. When the cream has come to a boil, pour over the chopped chocolate, and whisk until smooth.
- Allow the ganache to cool slightly before pouring over the cake. Start at the center of the cake and work outward. For a fluffy frosting or chocolate filling, allow it to cool until thick, then whip with a whisk until light and fluffy.
- I made the caramel and cakes a day before, and just before assembling I made the mousse and scooped out the cakes.
- I dusted the top with some cocoa powder and put some coffee beans for decoration. Store in the refrigerator.