Before my grandparents moved to Mohali they were living in Jalandhar, a city in the northern indian state of Punjab. About ten minutes from our house in Jalandhar was this Gurudwara (the holy place where Sikhs worship) that my grandparents would go to regularly. Every afternoon, just a few feet away from the Gurudwara, a guy would come with his mobile cart and sell these amazingly thin, crispy yet soft Amritsari Kulchas. He would only come in the afternoon with the dough and filling prepared at home and would stuff and bake the kulchas in front of us, serving them in plates with his famous spicy chickpea curry. Our summer vacations were full of foodie adventures and my grandparents loved feeding us. These amritsari kulchas were a must on each of our visits.
Every afternoon, people would come during their lunch break and line up for a plate of this guy’s delicious Kulchas. He always came alone and stuffed the dough in front of you and baked it in his mobile tandoor to serve the dozens of people waiting next to his cart. Since he baked then and there, we would get piping hot kulchas laden with oodles of butter that would immediately start melting once placed on the kulcha. Not only were his kulchas to die for, but he made a delicious spicy chickpea curry and gave homemade pickle on the side. Eating them fresh out of his tandoor was the best option but generally we would get them packed for the whole family and eat at home. And stuff ourselves crazy. No wonder my brother and I would gain 5-6 kilos easily during the months of May and June.
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A conversation with one of my friends who is an excellent baker herself led to the discovery of this rich, fudgy chocolate cupcake recipe that I am sharing today. She swears by Martha Stewart’s ultimate chocolate cake recipe and told me to try it out as well. With Martha Stewarts ultimate chocolate frosting recipe on top.
Since I wanted to give the cake to a few people, I thought it would be best to make cupcakes out of the recipe, since they are always more easy to share.
Most cake recipes can be successfully converted to cupcakes without changing anything except their baking times (and of course the pan you using to bake). Cupcakes generally take lesser time to bake than cakes. According to the recipe instructions the cakes take 35 minutes to bake, but my cupcakes were done in 20 minutes, and might even take 18 minutes for you, so check for doneness around that time. They will be done when a tester comes out clean.
This recipe yielded 32 cupcakes for me, but depending on how you fill your cupcake pans you could get more or less. The frosting was enough to frost 32 cupcakes, with some frosting still leftover.
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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.
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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