Cherry Ripe truffles

If you are from Australia or lived in Australia, you will know about these chocolate bars called Cherry Ripe. They are easily available in Australia but are hard to come by even in the neighbouring country of New Zealand. These pleasurable bars contain a filling of coconut and cherries and an outer casing of chocolate. More recently, there has been a “Dark” Cherry ripe where the outer casing is made of dark chocolate and it is awesome. You might think a Bounty bar is the best thing in the world if you like coconut but you’ve tasted nothing until you’ve tasted a Cherry ripe.

Clearly, I have love goggles for this chocolate bar and being deprived of it in England makes me crave it even more. Of course, like most things, it isn’t for everyone. For instance, if you hate coconut or just dessicated coconut – this bar ain’t for you. If you hate candied cherries, yet again, this bar will fail you. Everyone loves chocolate (right) so I’m not going to bring up people who don’t (because they don’t exist) but if you are allergic to chocolate, then again, this isn’t for you.

I was going through a Cherry ripe craving and thought if I couldn’t find any here, I’d make them (the kind of attitude my maternal grandma has). I surfed the interwebs for some recipes and found inspiration in ones by Dan Lepard, Irena, Cadbury® (makers of Cherry Ripe)  and a clever truffle coating technique by Steph. Overall though, the dark chocolate cherry truffles are MY PRECIOUSES (insert Gollum voice here)…….Funnily enough, I enjoyed making them but I couldn’t get myself to eat one until 2 days later. I was in fear of being let down by my take on the legend that Cherry Ripe. I made them on New Year’s eve and they were all gone in the week and got the stamp of approval from my partner so I think I did fine.

Commercial and my cherry ripes

Commercial Cherry Ripe bars and my cherry ripe truffles

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Carrot halwa/halva or Gajar ka halwa/halva

WARNING!! This dish is not for the lactose-intolerant or those watching their waistlines. Once-a-year is about the right frequency for this dish. 

Halwa (or halva) is a kind of dense dessert that takes many different forms and is consumed in many different countries around the world. Wikipedia says that the following countries produce and consume some kind of halwa –  Albania, Argentina, Bahrain, Bangladesh, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Brazil, Bulgaria, Croatia, Egypt, Greece and Cyprus, India, Iran, Iraq, Israel, Jordan, Lebanon, Syria,, Libya and Tunisia, Lithuania, Palestine, Republic of Macedonia, Malta, Myanmar, Pakistan, Poland, Romania and Moldova, Russia, Serbia, Slovenia, Somalia, Sri Lanka, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan, Turkey and United States. This is pretty amazing given that for most of my life, I’d only met 2 types of halwa – carrot and beetroot. In Melbourne however, I met the Lebanese halwa made with tahini (sesame paste), ridiculous amounts of sugar and pistachios – yumm!

In most cases, halwa refers to a dense, sugar-rich and hence, calorie-rich dessert. My partner calls it “Diabetes-in-a-block” or “Heart-attack-in-a-bowl” but having grown up eating Indian halwa (amongst other sweets), I have a soft spot for halwa. When I was young, I remember mum making two kinds of halwa – one with carrot and one with beetroot. All I remember is that it would take her forever to make.  Much of the process involved reducing the vegetable, sugar and milk down to a thick sweet paste. The end result, in my opinion, was delicious and totally worth the wait. Perhaps that also had something to do with the fact that mum only made it once or twice a year, given it was such an arduous process.

When I moved to Melbourne to do my PhD,  I lived in an apartment on my own for the first year and a bit. There, I spent many an evening experimenting in my studio kitchen. This kitchen was equipped with 2 electric plates and a convectional microwave (One that can perform the task of a microwave and an oven). My heart almost stopped when I first saw that there was no regular oven but the convectional microwave yielded many a tasty cake and tart. Hooray for technology!

It was in this microwave that I made my very first halwa – a microwave carrot halwa and the recipe is one I follow even today. It doesn’t take as long as mum’s used to on the stove and is practically a one-pot dessert.  Given how rich it is, the serving sizes ought to be really small and hence this dessert can come in handy if you have a large number of guests. Hope you like it !

Carrot halwa

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Soft and gooey chocolate chip cookies

WARNING : This recipe is not for those watching their waist or intake of calories!!!

It’s been a while since I wrote about desserts which is unusual because I do (as does my partner) have a sweet tooth. It’s time to break my absence from the world of sugar and fat so here goes.

A few years ago, mum went to one of those evening classes run for adults. At the end of the 8-10 week session, they had a bring-a-plate party. I can’t remember what mum took to it but she did come back with a small serviette-wrapped bundle of chocolate chip cookies. She said that she’d taken one bite and decided that it was right up my alley so she’d wrapped up the rest for me. She went one step further and asked the lady for her recipe given how much I liked baking. I love you mum. This recipe remains my only and favourite chocolate chip cookie recipe. The thing I like most about this recipe is that the cookies are actually soft to the bite. This might not be to everyone’s liking but one can’t please everyone !

Without much adieu, let me give you the recipe. The pictures for this lot of cookies were taken as I baked a batch for my partner’s brother and friends who visited us recently.

Dark chocolate lava oozes out of a freshly baked cookie

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