Category Archives: Chocolate

date truffles Novice housewife 1 Diwali, one of India’s biggest festivals, is right around the corner. Known as the festivals of lights, Diwali celebrations generally last 5 days, with Indians all over the world celebrating it in their own special way. Diwali signifies the triumph of good over evil, light over darkness.

Diwali is kind of like the Indian Christmas, with the days preceding Diwali marked by people cleaning their houses, lighting it, shopping new clothes and buying gifts/sweets for friends and family.

I had read somewhere that there is actually a scientific reason behind the cleaning of houses before Diwali. Since Diwali is celebrated somewhere between mid-October to mid-November, right after monsoons end, the cleaning makes sure all the germs and infestation that monsoons brought with them get eradicated with the whitewashing, and other pre Diwali cleaning activities. In fact a lot of Hindu traditions that we follow blindly these days are backed with a very logical reasoning that we are not aware of. date truffles-012 Growing up, Diwali for me meant new clothes, lighting candles and diyas, putting lights up, cleaning every nook and corner of our rooms because else the Goddess of wealth, Lakshmi won’t pay our house a visit, going to the Gurudwara to light candles and then bursting crackers at home.

I, being terrified of crackers, would just just burn the sparklers and be happy while my dad and brother would burst the more scary crackers. As we grew up and realized how terrifying the noise is for animals (we had a dog who had the toughest time during Diwali), besides the air pollution that crackers cause, we stopped bursting crackers altogether. Just to continue a little tradition we celebrate Diwali now by lighting a sparkler or two, and maybe an anar for fun. Besides that we just light the house and distribute sweets to our loved ones. And eat good food and lots of sweets!

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Sinful Chocolate Pavlova Recipe |The Novice Housewife

In our small mining town, we have a group of ladies who meet every Friday over coffee, drinks, tea and some cake, and cookies. It is a pretty eclectic group and had been my biggest support system in the US. For a short while we had an Australian in this group as well. I am sure I had tasted pavlova before, but it was the first time at her coffee that I truly started appreciating this meringue based dessert. She had made a traditional pavlova with strawberries and whipped cream and it was every bit lovely.

Ever since then I have wanted to try to make it at home, but somehow haven’t been able to. I have made something similar earlier (a msacarpone meringue layer cake) as well which was absolutely delicious, but that’s about how close I got to making a pavlova.

Sinful Chocolate Pavlova Recipe |The Novice Housewife

Even though an Australian/New Zealand dessert, it is named after the Russian ballet dancer Anna Pavlova, when it was made in her honor, probably during one of her visits to these countries.

For the most part Pavlova is an easy to make dish. Only tricky part is the low temperature long baking and of course the whipping of the egg whites.

Here are a few tricks and tips that I keep in mind whenever I whip egg whites:

  • Whenever you whip egg whites remember fat and water are the enemies. So make sure all utensils, tools that come in contact with the egg whites are grease free. Wipe your beaters, bowls completely dry. It always helps to take a paper towel soaked in a little vinegar and wiping your bowls and utensils with it to be doubly sure that it is grease free.
  • When you separate the eggs make sure no part of the yolk is in it. Separating cold eggs is easier than room temperature eggs. I always try to separate eggs the moment I take them from the refrigerator and then let them sit on the counter, covered, to come to room temperature. Always whip room temperature egg whites.
  • When separating more than one egg I recommend to keep 3 containers/bowls in front of you. Break the egg, separate the white and the yolk in two different bowls. And then transfer the clean, yolk-free white in the third bowl. Repeat process. This helps in cases where you screw up with one egg, and land a part of the yolk in the egg white while separating, you do not spoil the other separated egg whites.

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Chai filled makecarons-3

A few weeks back I had the opportunity to try Francois Payard’s “MakeCaron™” box, which contained the ever so elusive macaron shells.

The third-generation pastry chef, Payard, is a very well respected French pastry chef with pastry shops all over the world. Francois Payard has made macarons all of his life, just as his father and grandfather did. He introduced them to NYC in 1993 and now he wants America to take over the flavors.

Chai filled makecarons-2

Payard’s creation, MakeCaron, which launched in November last year, is basically the base cookie of macarons. After watching dozens of “make your own” macaron videos and reading articles online, Francois realized that macaron shells are very temperamental in the regular kitchen (I can vouch for that- with my own set of failures at attempting macarons and the occasional successes). Plus he felt there are plenty of steps and small details to take into consideration to achieve perfect consistency which might not be everyone’s ball game.

Chef Payard thinks that “if you make burgers, you don’t bake the buns”. So, why not have the same concept for macarons.

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