Eggless pistachio Apricot thumbprint cookies


The visual impression of the cookies is just beautiful.The soft green from the pistachios imbedded in the cookies peeps out from the sugar rolled cookies,then filled with the pale orange of the apricot jam. I used a little almond extract and ginger to flavor these cookies plus light brown sugar for a slightly chewier cookie .These cookies travel well so they make ideal gifts to pack and send for the holidays or even mail to friends.Nothing beats a home-made cookie.

Photograph by Rahul Mahtani

2 1/3 cup all-purpose flour

1 tbsp rice flour

1/2 cup roasted,salted pistachio nuts chopped

1/2 tsp ground ginger

1/2 tsp salt

1/2 tsp almond extract

2 sticks ( 1/2 cup unsalted butter)

3/4 cup light brown sugar

Sugar for rolling cookies in.

Apricot jam for filling

Preheat oven to 350*F and line 2 baking pans with parchment paper. Set aside

Cream butter and light brown sugar just until combined.

Sift flour,salt and ginger,set aside.

Add almond extract to creamed butter sugar.

Stir in flour mixture followed by chopped nuts. Stir just to combine.

Using a tablespoon measure out 1 tablespoon of batter and roll into balls.Complete this with all the dough. Roll each ball in granulated sugar and place on the baking sheet.

Use your thumb or the back of a wooden spoon to make holes in the cookies,careful not to dip to the bottom of the cookie. Fill each hole with the jam and place in the preheated oven for 18 to 20 minutes until golden.

Cool.Serve

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Almond Orange flower water cookies


Almonds are my most beloved nut ever,I would add it to everything if my family allowed. I love it in salads and pasta and of course couscous,to name a few,but,as often as possible in my desserts. Perhaps it is the Maltese upbringing where all the best cookies and cakes contain almonds or thanks to my aunt in Morocco who sent me the most sublime cookies, made with,of course,Almonds!!! it is that recollection that prompted me to add the orange flower water (available at most Middle Eastern stores) . However in the absence just add the zest of one large orange as opposed to a medium one. These are buttery,light cookies to enjoy with a steaming cup of coffee or tea or…just on their own.

Makes 45

Photograph by rahul Mahtani

Preheat oven to 325*F and line 3 baking sheets with parchment paper.Set aside.

3  1/4 cups all-purpose flour

1/4 cup Rice flour

1/2 cup toasted blanched almonds,ground

1/4 tsp table salt

3/4 cup superfine sugar plus more for sprinkling

3 sticks unsalted butter,room temperature

Zest of 1 medium orange

2 tablespoons Orange flower water

1 tsp vanilla extract

A few tablespoons of toasted blanched almonds for topping cookies

Sift flour, rice flour, almond flour and salt together. Add salt and orange zest.Stir to combine. set aside.

In a stand mixer cream butter for a few minutes to aerate and butter turns light and pale ( about 3 minutes). With mixer on medium speed start to pour in slowly the sugar so the butter fully absorbs the sugar. Continue to mix for an extra minute. Add orange flower water and vanilla extract.Stir just to combine.

Turn speed to the lowest setting. Start to add the flour mixture slowly,but just to combine.Do not over mix or the cookies will be tough.

Roll the dough out between two sheets of wax or parchment paper to about 1/4 inch thick. Cut out desired shapes and place on prepared baking sheets.

Sprinkle on nuts and sugar.

Bake for 20 minutes per sheet until pale golden. Remove from oven and allow cookies to cool on baking sheet for about 5 minutes. Transfer to a cooling rack to cool completely before transferring to an airtight container.

Eggless Pasta Frolla with almond filling


Having just returned from Malta has left me salivating for many of the local foods and confections of the beautiful island. While visiting I often dine al fresco in Cafe Cordina,one of the premier cafe in the capital,Valletta. They serve some of the finest pastries I have tasted. Malta is famous for pastry and cookies containing ground almonds. They serve a “bar” cookie called simply Pasta Frolla,generally referring to the type of shortbread pastry,but this one has an almond filling,or frangipani. This is my version of that amazing cookie,so very dear to my heart.

Photograph by Rahul Mahtani

Makes one 9×13 sheet

PASTRY

2  1/2 cups all-purpose flour

1 tsp cornstarch

1/2 tsp salt

2 sticks unsalted butter,at room temperature

1/3 cup superfine sugar

1 tsp vanilla extract

1/2 tsp almond extract

2 tablespoons heavy cream plus 2 tablespoons unsweetened applesauce.

Sift flour and salt,set aside.

Cream butter and sugar. Add extracts and mix to combine. Slowly add in the cream applesauce mixture. Scape down bowl.

With mixer on lowest setting start to fold in flour salt mixture. Fold,just until combined.DO NOT OVER MIX or dough will turn heavy .

Scrape dough onto a piece of parchment paper and flatten into 2 disks. Cover and refrigerate while you make the filling.

FILLING

8 oz toasted blanched almonds,ground finely.

1/2 cup superfine sugar

2 tablespoons heavy cream plus 2 tablespoons unsweetened applesauce

1/2 tsp vanilla extract

1/2 tsp almond extract

zest of 1 orange

1/4 tsp salt

2 tablespoons melted unsalted butter

Combine all ingredients till well combined. Set aside.

Assemble

Preheat oven to 350*F

Roll 1 disk of dough thinly to fit a 9 by 13 baking pan with removable bottom. Line pan with cookie dough.

Pour over and spread the almond paste. Leave a 1/4 inch border filling free all around the perimeter.

Roll out the second disk of dough and place on top of filling. Press to seal edges. Dock top with fork and sprinkle on some granulated sugar.

Bake for 40 minutes, until golden. Place on cooling rack until completely cooled before cutting into bars.

Eggless raspberry squares


Raspberry squares are an amazingly delicious cookie for so many reasons.The buttery crust doubles up as the crumble topping with a raspberry preserve sandwiched in the middle. The crust has oats and nuts,giving it a fantastic crunch. The white and dark sugar combine to lend a complex flavor. i often have to double the recipe as once served they go so fast.

Americas test kitchen

Makes 25 squares

Photograph by Rahul Mahtani

1  1/2 cups ( 7 1/2 oz) all purpose flour

1  1/4 cups #  1/4 oz) quick cook oats

1/2 cup pecans or almonds,chopped fine

1/3 cup granulated sugar

1/3 cup light brown sugar

1/4 tsp baking soda

1/4 tsp table salt

12 tablespoons ( 1  1/2 sticks ) unsalted butter, cut into 12 pieces and softened

1 cup raspberry preserves

Adjust an oven rack to the lower -middle position and heat oven to 350*F.Line a 9 inch square baking pan with two pieces of foil and spray with vegetable oil spray.

Whisk the flour,oats, nuts, sugars, baking soda and salt together in a large bowl.In a standing mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat flour mixture and butter at low speed until well blended and the mixture resembles wet sand,about 2 minutes.

Transfer two thirds of the mixture to the prepared pan. Press the crumbs evenly and firmly into the bottom of the pan. Bake until just starting to brown, about 20 minutes. Using a rubber spatula, spread the preserves evenly over the hot crust;sprinkly the remaining flour mixture over the preserves. Bake until bubbling around the edges and top is golden brown,around 30 minutes, rotatating the pan halfway through the baking time. Cool on a wire rack to room temperature, 1 to 1  1/2 hours.Lift the bars from the baking pan using the foil extentions;Cut bars into 25 squares,serve.

Eggless Saffron cake with pistachio crust


This cake is simply the most sensational butter cake I have created. Everytime anyone gets a taste its an instant hit. The richness of the Pistachios coupled with the delicate saffron just melts in your mouth. I added a few gratings of freshly grated nutmeg to up the flavor ante, as a result…just trying being around while the cake bakes,the aroma will leave you salivating. The crust is made up of ground pistachio nuts and a little sugar,while caramelizes while baking making a great,crunchy crust.To me,this cake is perfect without any extra gilding,but feel free to decorate at will…maybe a little powdered sugar? your call.

Photograph by Rahul Mahtani

1 cup Buttermilk

1 tsp vanilla extract

1/2 tsp almond extract

1 tsp apple cider vinegar

good pinch saffron( I use Spanish saffron)

1 stick (1/2 cup ) unsalted butter,at room temperature

1  1/4 cups all-purpose flour

2 tablespoons cornstarch

3/4 tsp baking powder

1/2 tsp baking soda

1/4 tsp table salt

a few gratings fresh nutmeg

3/4 cup superfine sugar plus 2 tablespoons for topping

1/3 cup raw unsalted pistachio nuts ground

Grease a 9 inch cake pan.

Preheat oven to 350*F

Combine the ground pistachios with the 2 tablespoons of sugar. Sprinkle in the greased baking pan,swirl pan to coat evenly,set aside.

Remove 2 tablespoons of buttermilk from the 1 cup buttermilk. Place the 2 tablespoons buttermilk in a small microwave safe bowl and microwave to warm. Stir in the saffron. Set aside.

To the rest of the buttermilk,stir in the vinegar and both extracts. Set aside.

Combine the flour with the baking soda, baking powder, salt and nutmeg. Set aside.

Cream the butter and 3/4 cup sugar till light and fluffy.Alternate beating in the buttermilk mixture and the flour mixture.Just until combined. Stir in the saffron buttermilk mixture.

Scrape the bowl well to ensure everything is well mixed.

Pour into the prepared pistachio lined pan. Place in oven to bake between 25 to 30 minutes. Check doneness by inserting a toothpick in the center of the cake.

Remove from oven and allow to cool for 5 minutes before unmoulding and placing on a wire rack to cool completely.

Fresh Mango ice cream


This year I went Mango crazy,the aroma wafting from them everywhere fresh fruit is sold is intoxicating,so I bought and bought some more…sweet heaven!!! we have had fresh eggless mango mousse,yummy! followed by fresh eggless mango cheesecake and now, inspired by Show me the curry, Mango ice cream. As always, I felt the need to use the basic recipe to enhance the taste sensation. This is a phenomenal, make ahead,bowl your guests over dessert,promise I am not kidding.It is so easy to pu together we enjoy it weeknight,just because ( we have too many mangoes)

Photograph by Rahul Mahtani

Makes 2 pints

3 fresh ripe mangoes, peeled and pith removed.

1 eight ounce container Cool whip

1 Fourteen ounce can condensed milk

juice of half a fresh lemon

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1/4 teaspoon kosher salt.

Coarsely mash the mango pulp in a large bowl . Pour in the extract,salt and lemon juice.Mix.

Stir in the condensed milk and cool whip. Use an immersion blender or hand whisk to stir all together. Try not to incorporate any air,till will keep the ice cream smooth, creamy and slightly dense. Also will prevent the formation of ice crystals.

Pour into a freezer safe container. Cover tightly. Tap the container on a hard surface to remove any extra air bubbles .

Place in freezer and allow to harden for 6 to 8 hours.

Serve

Eggless fresh mango cheesecake


I was inspired for this desert by Dazzling Kitchen ,but felt it needed some tweaking to suit our family taste. I loved the idea of using Agar Agar as a binder and thickened yogurt instead of sour cream, it offered a very good contrast to the sweetness of the fresh,sweet mango puree. The original glaze was made of fresh, pureed mangoes, I used some mango preserves I found in the Asian market and simply warmed it with a little water to thin,tasted great.1 nine-inch spring form pan is the ideal size for this light, airy cheesecake.It is fresh and flavorful,perfect for those hot summer days.

Photograph by Rahul Mahtani

CRUST

1 nine-inch springform pan

1  1/2 cups crushed digestive cookies, crushed

1/2 cup (1 stick unsalted, melted and cooled)

Combine crumbs and cooled melted butter. Press evenly into base of springform pan. Refrigerate for at least half and hour while you prepare the cheese cake filling.

FILLING

1 cup superfine sugar

1  1/2 cup plain Greek yogurt ( I used low-fat, still tasted great )

1 eight ounce pack room temperature cream cheese ( regular or low-fat )

1  1/2 cups water

3 tablespoons powdered Agar Agar

1 cup Fresh mango puree ( About 2 mangoes)

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1/4 teaspoon salt

Boil water and cook agar agar according to package details. Set aside.

Using a stand mixer fitted with a paddle beat the cream cheese with the Greek yogurt , while slowly adding the sugar. Beat just till combined.

Combine the mango puree with the salt,vanilla,and agar agar solution. Pour into the beaten cream cheese combination , just to combine. Scrape the bowl from bottom to top to combine well.

Pour onto cold crust. Tap on a solid surface to ensure there are no air bubbles . Cover tightly with plastic wrap and refrigerate at least 8 hours.

Serve