Chocolate Covered Oreos

With some White chocolate drizzled over the oreos to look pretty!

Holiday seasons are the best for two reasons:

  1. You get to meet your family and friends
  2. You get to make/eat ridiculously yummy things!

Diwali is one of the biggest festivals for Hindus. On this day, it is said, the Lord Rama returned back to Ayodhya from his 14-year exile in the forest. To celebrate his return, the people of Ayodhya lit the entire city with lamps. To this day, the tradition of lighting house with oil lamps or diyas continues. It is one of the most beautiful sights in any city. There are so many lights and lamps and colors all around. All the shops are lit up, houses are beautifully decorated and there is a festive spirit in the air. Firecrackers burst every few seconds and in some cities, it is almost impossible to carry out a conversation because the noise of the firecrackers refuses to let you! Nevertheless, this is the time when family and close friends surround everyone. It is the perfect season to get dressed up – its not too hot nor is it too cold. I love wearing my brightest colored Indian wear and accessorizing with big earrings.

This is also the time when people visit each other and give each other gifts and wishes to celebrate the New Year. Sending something sweet – either Indian sweets, chocolates, dry fruits along with candles or diyas is the norm. I decided to make some chocolate covered Oreos to send across to some friends.

This recipe is easy and perfect to make with children. There is very little ‘cooking’ involved and you can change the basic recipe to suit your tastes. It hardly took me 30 minutes from start to finish these. After two hours in the fridge, these were ready to be eaten! I love the combination of peppermint and chocolate so I added some peppermint flavoring to the chocolate. I loved the flavors and will probably experiment with a few more flavorings soon! These are perfect to gift for any season, including Christmas.

All ready to spread the joy!

 Chocolate Covered Oreos 

(Adapted from a recipe from The Sunday Paper)

Ingredients:
  • 12 oz (340 grams) of semi-sweet chocolate
  • A package of biscuits (This much chocolate can coat about 40 cookies)
  • 1 tablespoon of Vegetable shortening
  • 50 grams of white chocolate chips, to drizzle on the finished biscuits
Method:
  • Mix the chocolate and 1 tablespoon of vegetable shortening and set over a double broiler.
  • Allow the entire chocolate to melt evenly.
  • In the meanwhile, prep a baking pan or cookie sheet with Aluminium foil or parchment paper
  • Remove the chocolate from the heat. Drop a cookie into the chocolate mixture and turn it in the chocolate using a fork.
  • Once the cookie is covered in chocolate, lift it from the mixture using a fork and tap it against the side of the bowl to get rid of excess chocolate.
  • Place the cookie on the prepared sheet.
  • Repeat for all other cookies.

Just out of the bowl – chocolate covered Oreos

  • Once the cookies are all covered in chocolate, refrigerate them for about 10 minutes.
  • While the chocolate-covered cookies are setting, melt some white chocolate with 1/2 teaspoon of shortening, if desired.
  • Pull the chocolate covered cookies out of the fridge. Using a cone or a fork, drizzle the white chocolate over the cookies and put the trays back in the fridge.

With some White chocolate drizzled over the oreos to look pretty!

  • The cookies should be set in about an hour in the fridge!

I never knew the difference between extract, essence and flavorings till I made this recipe.

  1. Extract: Real spices (like vanilla, chocolate) are infused in alcohol or a liquid base.
  2. Essence: Completely artificially created flavors meant to imitate extract.
  3. Flavoring: Spices infused in vegetable oils, made from natural or artificial substances. These are free from alcohol or water hence, perfect to use with melted chocolate.

If you want to know more about the difference between the three I recommend reading this article.

I had a great time making these. I tried most with peppermint flavoring and I am waiting to get my hands on some more flavorings so I can experiment making these with all kinds of flavors!

The chocolate covered oreos lightly drizzled with white chocolate.

Here’s wishing everyone a wonderful time making these with the family and sharing them with the ones you love!

Happy No-baking!

 

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Baked Falafels in Whole Wheat Pita Pockets with Lemon Tahini and Hummus

Falafel sandwiches are my favorite things in the whole wide world! A few years, I was with my family in Dubai. For the whole week, I ate nothing but falafel sandwiches for lunch and dinner! I was in heaven. I did not need anything more! Back home, I tried a bunch of places and the falafels were obviously slightly adapted to Indian standards.

Cream Center and New Yorker in Bombay are two absolutely legendary restaurants. They have been around for years & years and for a lot of Bombayites, the first taste of international food. They serve Nachoes, falafel sandwiches, pizzas, burritos, enchiladas and pastas. This is the place where I tried my first nachos, first pizzas and yes, my first falafel sandwiches. All the food here is adapted to serve the Indian crowd and it has its own unique appeal. I suspect it’s still super popular because a lot of people want to bask in their nostalgic days. My parents still talk about their samosas, Russian salad sandwiches and cold coffee.

A few years ago, Lebanese and Mediterranean food became big in Bombay just the way there is a Japanese food fad right now. Never the less, I am thankful for the Lebanese food boom because now I get to enjoy my favorite foods in a whole bunch of restaurants! A lot of places the falafel sandwiches are too dry, in other places, too soggy. I am pretty sure a lot of places skip on using tahini in their hummus or use less of it, but in either case, they accompany the sandwich with some delicious sauces. One of the best parts about falafels is the yummy pickled vegetable salad that comes along with it. I still have to figure out how to make it but I was super happy with my version!

I love bread, especially the smell of freshly baked bread. I had tried a few times to make bread at home and for some reason, I just could not get it right. I finally went for a bread making class where I picked up a few techniques. I always try to use whole-wheat flour and maybe that is one of the reasons I never got light and fluffy bread. Someone told me to use half all-purpose flour and half whole wheat flour instead of all whole wheat flour to give the bread a better texture. That’s exactly what I did for these pita bread and they turned out quite well. I have been looking for fresh yeast in my city, but none of the usual places I know have it in stock. So I’m using packaged yeast and am quite happy with the results.

Whole Wheat Pita Pockets

Adapted from The Fresh Loaf

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup whole wheat flour
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 tablespoon sugar or honey
  • 1 packet yeast. (About 2 tablespoons)
  • 1 ¼ cups – 1 ½ cups water at room temperature
  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil or butter

Method:

  • If you are using active dry yeast, follow the instructions on the packet to activate the yeast. Remember to reduce the quantity of water to be used in the flour mixture accordingly.
  • If you using instant yeast, like me, add the flours, sugar or honey, yeast and oil in a large mixing bowl. Gradually add the water, about 1 ¼ cups first and mix using a wooden spoon until all the ingredients are well mixed.
  • All of the ingredients should form a ball. If all of the flour does not stick to the ball, add some water gradually.
  • Once all the ingredients are incorporated in the ball, move the ball to a work surface like the kitchen counter or a large dish for about 10 minutes. If you are using an electric mixer, mix on a low-speed for 10 minutes.
  • The purpose of kneading is to thoroughly combine the ingredients and to break down the flour so that the dough will become stretchy and elastic and rise well in the oven. A simple hand kneading technique is to firmly press down on the dough with the palm of your hand, fold the dough in half toward you like you are closing an envelope, rotate the dough 90 degrees and then repeat these steps, but whatever technique you are comfortable using should work.
  • When you are done kneading the dough, place it in a bowl that has been lightly covered with oil.
  • Form a ball of the dough and place it in the bowl. Roll the ball  of dough around the bowl so that it is lightly coated with oil all over.
  • Cover the dough with a damp kitchen cloth and set aside until it has doubled, about 90 minutes.
  • When it has doubled in size, punch the dough down to release some of the air.
  • Divide the dough into 8 pieces. 
  • Roll each piece of the dough into a ball. Cover them with a damp kitchen cloth and leave aside for 20 minutes.
  • In the meanwhile, pre-heat the oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit or 200 degrees Celsius. Turn a cookie sheet upside down and place it in the middle rack of the oven to allow it to heat. This will be your baking surface. (I had never heard of this idea and it is totally fabulous!!)
  • After the dough has relaxed, roll each ball into 1/4″ thickness.
  • Open the oven and place as many Pita breads on the baking surface as you can and close the oven door. The Pita will need to be in the oven for 3-5 minutes.
  • Once the Pita bread is puffed and slightly browned, its ready!

Keep the pitas aside while you make the falafel.

I found this recipe for baked falafels and since I am scared of deep-frying anything, I was happy to come across this recipe. While making it from this recipe, I realized it is important to NOT cook your garbanzo beans. I used to make this mistake and always found my mixture to be very wet. To combat that and to help me create a proper falafel bullet, I would invariably add more flour to the mix. In short, it would be one heaping mess! This recipe is much easier and the falafel bullets taste perfect right out of the oven. However, these don’t stay well overnight or if re-heated. Make this and eat them immediately in my advice!

Baked Falafel

Recipe adapted

from Chow Vegan

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup dried garbanzo beans, soaked overnight.
  • 2-3 cloves garlic
  • 2 tablespoons dried parsley
  • 1 tablespoon fresh coriander
  • 1 teaspoon lemon juice
  • 1 teaspoon olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon dried coriander powder
  • 1 teaspoon cumin powder
  • 1 teaspoon red chilly flakes
  • 2-3 tablespoons whole wheat flour (add gradually)
  • 2-3 tablespoons water
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Method:

  • Preheat oven to 180o C (or 350o F)
  • Drain and rinse the garbanzo beans. Put in a blender and pulse till the beans are very coarsely grounded.
  • Put the coarsely grounded beans in a medium mixing bowl and add all the other ingredients except water. Add only 2 tablespoons of the at this stage.
  • Once the ingredients are thoroughly mixed, try to see if you can make a falafel patty from the mixture. If the mixture seems to dry, add a little water, 1 tablespoon at a time.
  • If the mixture feels too wet, add a little more flour.
  • Once you are happy with the consistency, form small balls of the mixture, about 1½ inches in diameter. Flatten slightly.
  • Place the balls on a well-oiled baking pan. 
  • Bake for 15 minutes on each side. With the baking process, only the side that touches the baking pan will be browned.

Once ready, keep aside.

Lemon Tahini

Recipe from Mollie Katzen

Ingredients:

  • 3/4 cup Sesame Tahini
  • 5 Tablespoons Lemon Juice
  • 1 small to medium clove of garlic
  • 3/4 cup to 1 1/2 cups of water (depending on desired thickness)
  • 1/2 teaspoon to 1 teaspoon of salt (depending on the amount of water being used)
  • a tablespoon of finely minced fresh parsley
  • 1/4 teaspoon paprika or Cayenne pepper

Method:

  • Place the tahini, lemon juice, and garlic in a food processor fitted with the steel blade. (You can also use a blender.) Begin to process.
  • Keeping the motor running, slowly drizzle in the water, checking every now and then to monitor the consistency. When it is as thick as you want it, turn off the machine.
  • Transfer to a medium-small bowl or container, and season to taste with salt, parsley, and cayenne. Cover tightly and refrigerate until ready for use. If you’re using this as a sauce for steamed vegetables, serve at room temperature over hot, freshly cooked vegetables (any assortment!) 

Hummus is my favorite dip. I love the fact that it is so healthy and I enjoy eating it with some sweet carrots. Many evenings, I crisp up some pita bread and sit down happily to eat my hummus. I have to confess, I love my hummus super-garlicky and that’s what I prefer to eat it all alone! Haha.

Hummus 

Recipe adapted from RoyHobbs

Ingredients:

  • 2 cloves of garlic
  • 1/2 cup dried gabanzo beans, soaked in water overnight and cooked the next day.
  • 4 tablespoons lemon juice
  • 2 tablespoons sesame tahini
  • 1 clove garlic, chopped
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 2 teaspoons cumin powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon crushed paprika
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2-4 tablespoons plain yogurt

Method:

  • Place all ingredients in a blender and blend until smooth.
  • Transfer to a bowl.

Assembling the Falafel Sandwiches

  • Take a pita bread and split it in half to create a cavity.
  • Take some hummus and spread it on the pita bread.
  • Next, take 2 baked falafels and place them in the readied pita pockets
  • If you like, place a cucumber slice and a tomato slice with a little lettuce in the pocket as well.
  • Finally, drizzle some of the lemon tahini sauce on the pita pocket.
  • Your super yummy falafel sandwich is ready!

I hope you enjoy these as much as I have. I know the pictures aren’t the greatest, but I think I am improving!

Happy cooking everyone!