Easy Microwave Chocolate Barfi

Microwave Chocolate BarfiThis is an easy recipe I got many years ago from a friend’s mom who said she got it from a yoga buddy. My trial batch, in my opinion, was not perfect, and I had no plans of posting it here. Turns out that when I met a few friends and offered them a taste, they all loved it and requested not only to take a few pieces home, but also that I definitely share the recipe. I have slightly tweaked the recipe since then to improve it. Hope you all enjoy these barfis too.

Easy Microwave Chocolate Barfi

(Makes 36 1-inch pieces)

  • 5 cups – Dry instant milk powder (You may substitute a 14oz packet of Milk Mawa Powder that is readily available at most Indian grocers.)
  • 2 cups – Heavy Whipping cream
  • 2 cups – Fine Confectioners Sugar
  • 1/2 cup – Chocolate Chips**
  • 2 Tbsp – Cocoa Powder

1) Line an 8X8 inch pan with parchment or wax paper (click here or here to see how – I don’t even spray or butter my pan). Alternately, generously grease the pan with butter and set aside. (I prefer the parchment paper method as it is sturdy enough to aid in removing the barfis from the pan to cut on a chopping board.)

2) In a microwaveable container that is atleast 2 quarts (8-10 cups) capacity, add the milk powder, cream and sugar, and mix thoroughly.

3) Microwave for 2 minute and stir well.

4) Repeat the microwaving and stirring another 3-4 times in 2 minute intervals (total cook time of 8-10 minutes). The mixture will get foamy and fluffy towards the end, so exercise caution when moving the bowl in and out of the microwave. Cook time will vary because of different microwave power.

5) At around 8 minutes cook time, drop a small ball of the mixture into a bowl of cold water and see if it sets into a relatively firm shape. If it is still soft, microwave an additional minute or two, stirring well and checking the consistency with each additional minute.

6) Pour 2/3 mixture into the pan and quickly smooth the top. Set aside on counter or in the refrigerator to chill and firm up, about 30 minutes.

7) Add the chocolate chips and cocoa powder to the remaining mixture and set aside at room temperature.

8) Once the barfi mixture in the pan is firm, reheat the chocolate mixture at 30 second intervals till it is well mixed and smooth, but do not make it hot or the chocolate mix will sink. Pour over the barfi mixture in the pan. You can spread the chocolate smooth & evenly on top, or drop spoonfuls  in a random designs so that the finished barfis will have an interesting contrast.

9) Cool completely and remove the barfis from the pan by holding the parchment paper. Set on a chopping board and cut into 36 pieces.

 

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Natural Flu Season Tonic

Flu Season Tonic

We are at the start of flu season and holiday binge eating. Bugs & calories are everywhere, and most of us will succumb to at least one of the two. I have to be honest – I’m not a big follower of natural remedies, but I’ve had this tea a few times in the last few days, and the sniffles I had  seem to have vanished. I also like the fact that it is refreshing, low calorie, and comes with a ton of health benefits.

Lemon juice is high in Vitamin C, which protects the immune system. Lemon juice is also known to help in fighting ulcer causing bacteria, and in aiding with elimination. WebMD also states that Vitamin C helps with cardiovascular disease, prenatal health problems, eye disease, and even skin wrinkling.

Honey is a natural cough suppressant that soothes itchy throats. Plus, it tastes great!

Ginger is known as the powerhouse of anti-oxidants and anti-inflammatory properties. Used to treat gastro-intestinal problems, it is touted as a safe cure for stomach issues such as indigestion and nausea. Asian natural remedies consider ginger as a “heat” food, and this might alleviate cough, cold and flu symptoms.

Finally, Turmeric is famous for its anti-inflamatory, anti-septic qualities. I remember getting small cuts and scrapes as a kid, and running to the kitchen to pour some turmeric on the wound. Not sure if it helped, but it never hurt. (We kids loved that it stained everything yellow.)

The ‘tea’ recipe below is just a guide; you may add more or less of each ingredient, and steep as long as you like to suit your taste.

Natural Flu Season Tonic

(Makes 1 serving)

  • 1 tbsp grated ginger (or 1 inch ginger sliced into thin slices)
  • 1 tbsp lemon juice (preferably fresh squeezed)
  • 1 tbsp honey
  • 1/4 tsp turmeric
  • 12 oz (1.5 cups) boiling water

1) Bring water to a boil in a non-reactive pan.

2) Add ginger and cover tightly to steep about 4-5 minutes.

3) Strain into a cup and add lemon juice, honey & turmeric. Mix well and sip, stirring as needed.

NOTE: I heard of and tried adding a pinch of cayenne powder to this tea to drink on an empty stomach first thing in the morning. It is supposed to provide all of the above benefits AND increase metabolism, enhance liver function, and assist elimination . It tastes pretty good, but I have stuck to my sweet, creamy chai for mornings. 

Flu Season Tonic

I’ve been reading  I Never Promised You  A Rose Garden by Joanne Greenberg – a classic from the 1960s. It is the story of a 16-year old who voluntarily gets committed to a mental hospital to treat her schizophrenia. The child Deborah creates an imaginary kingdom whose characters she imagines dictate her every move, so that she can escape from the realities and harshness of her real life. It was difficult reading, but I was struck by the way the author was able to see perspectives of the patient(s), parents, sibling, and psychotherapist, given that it was a time that had so little insight into mental health, and the stigma was especially high for the mentally ill. Very insightful book, and I highly recommend reading it. I think I finally have some understanding – however little – of what it means when we hear on the news about people who heard voices telling them to do unspeakable things.

Microwave Besan Ladoo (Sweet Chickpea Flour Balls)

Microwave Besan Ladoo

Here’s another easy and delicious recipe I got from my aunt. She hosts a dinner at her home each fall for about 100+ people, and almost always makes hundreds of these delicious ladoos, except in the traditional way. The key to success in the traditional way is to roast the chickpea flour just right – cook too long and  the flour burns in a flash; too little and the finished sweet ends up raw and bitter. I have ruined at least a handful of batches till I got this recipe. Now, I can whip up a fail-proof batch anytime I crave for them. This recipe and the Microwave Doodh Peda recipe have been really handy when I’ve had guests over on short notice.

I have made these with regular besan and with laddu besan. Both are equally good. If you like a slightly grainer texture, use ladoo besan. If you like a smoother texture, use regular besan.

If you use homemade ghee in this recipe, make sure that all the moisture has been cooked out of the butter. I will soon post a super easy way to make Ghee in the crockpot.

Microwave Besan Ladoo

(10 – 12 pieces)

  • 1 cup besan
  • 3/4 cup fine sugar (measure into your mixer jar and grind for a few seconds)
  • 1/3 cup ghee (clarified butter)
  • 1/4 tsp cardamom powder
  • few saffron strands
  • 2-3 Tbsp toasted & chopped almonds / pistachio (optional)

1) Mix the flour & ghee in a medium glass bowl, and microwave on high for 1 minutes. Remove and stir well.

2) Repeat thrice for a total of 3 minutes.

3) Reduce microwave power to 50% and repeat for another 2-3 minutes, stirring every minute. After third time, taste a tiny pinch to check if the flour tastes raw. If it has a nice nutty, toasted flavor, then it is done. If not, continue microwaving in 30 second intervals. Be careful not to let it burn.

4) Cool the flour mixture.

5) Add sugar, cardamom & saffron, and mix well. Shape into balls and press few nuts into one side as you roll them.

6) Store in an airtight container.

Microwave Doodh Peda

Here is an easy and tasty recipe for Krishna Janmashtami – the festival celebrating the birth of Lord Krishna. Considering he was such a lover of milk & butter, it is customary to make sweets rich in dairy. My mother-in-law used to make odd-number (3 or 5 types each) variety of sweet and savory dishes the morning of the festival; no rice served the whole day. Dinner was a plate full of snacks, and the kids loved it.

The recipe for Microwave Doodh Peda & Microwave Besan Ladoo was given to me by my aunt  years ago, and I have made it many times. It is fail-proof, quick, and really tasty.

Microwave Doodh Peda

(30-35 pieces)

  • 3/4 stick butter – 6 Tbsp (melted)
  • 1 (15oz) can condensed milk – about 1 3/4 cup
  • 2 cups milk powder – (the better the quality of powder, the tastier the pedas)
  • 1/4 tsp cardamom powder
  • pinch saffron (optional)

1) Mix the melted butter, condensed milk & milk powder well in a glass microwavable bowl.

2) Microwave for 2 minutes. Mixture will rise in container when heated. Remove from microwave and stir well.

3) Microwave for another 2 minutes.

4) Remove from microwave and stir in the cardamom powder and saffron strands. Stir mixture well again and let it cool slightly so it is easy to handle.

5) While mixture is still warm, grease palms lightly with ghee. Roll about 1 Tbsp mixture into balls, flattening slightly on top and bottom. Arrange on a wax paper lined tray to cool completely.

6) Store in an air-tight container at room temperature for a day or two. For longer storage, refrigerate.

NOTE: For a pretty presentation, you may press down nuts (sliced or chopped) on top of the peda before it cools. Another option is to leave out the saffron while cooking, and press a strand or two after rolling into balls. I have used a simple stamp (cleaned well, of course) to press a design on the top of the pedas too.

Nutella Cookie In A Cup

Just came across some fantastic recipes for single serve cookies in a mug on Pinterest. Considering it is the last day of school here, I made the Nutella  and the Peanut Butter versions for my boys. I must say they are DELICIOUS!! I didn’t have any cocoa for the Nutella cookie, but it still turned out great (and I’m not even a chocolate fan). Each serving in the recipe can easily serve two – it is so rich – although, my 16 year old had most of the Peanut Butter cookie AND most of the Nutella cookie! What I wouldn’t give for the metabolism of a teenage boy.

Follow the links below for these awesome recipes:

http://www.number-2-pencil.com/2012/05/11/nutella-cookie-in-cup/

http://www.number-2-pencil.com/2012/03/10/peanut-butter-cookie-in-cup/

NOTE: It is important to OMIT the egg whites and use only the yolk, as the recipe indicates.