sunbeams and sugardrops

Posts Tagged ‘Comfort

(c) thebigdurian

Sometimes, especially when the skies are like lead and the rain just won’t let up, or other times when it feels like winter inside you, a shot of hot, dark, delicious chocolate sets the world in order. As the warmth pools in your stomach and begins to slowly radiate through to your fingertips, on its way warming your heart and un-furrowing that brow,  this is love and warmth and a hug in a mug.

And it tastes darned good too. Good enough that you really shouldn’t save it for a rainy day. Hot chocolate needs to be shared – on cozy evenings in, days spent planning a project, sharing nervous revelations, exhilarating secrets, tentative self-discovery, a reward at the end of a really hard piece of thinking, or a quiet moment to kickstart your mind. Really when is NOT the right moment for a cup of hot chocolate!

The point I’m making is this. Hot chocolate needs to be had. And man I had a good cup made for me a while back I just can’t get off my mind.

Now there is no one way to make it but to make it good, you’ve got to start with good things. Good chocolate, real milk and not water…really! And just a little care. This cup I’m talking about was actually a mug filled with about 20g of good chocolate, 2-3 pieces. I like my cocoa dark so I would use a dark, semi sweet chocolate. (Another version I liked used one mini Mr.Goodbar and a mini dark Hershey’s piece). And god as I write this, I think I’m going to try my hot chocolate with a splash of gran marnier tonight!

The chocolate was then melted. In a Microwave which isn’t romantic but it’s easy and quick. So choose what you’re feeling and go with stove-top or microwave accordingly. No one needs to know. Now this next bit is key. The chocolate was whisked! A pinch of salt was added and whisked in with that melted chocolate. Warm milk was poured over the chocolate and then whisked some more.  Because the cup lost some of its heat, another 30 seconds in the microwave warmed it up perfectly.  I’d top it off with a dash of cream if the mood demands it but my god that cup was good to go. Frothy, deep cocoa flavor, salt just making it lovely and satisfying.

Now I know I’ve just gone on and on about hot chocolate which is beyond simple to make and not the least bit insightful for most but really, me, a passionate lover of chocolate,  I had no clue how to do this. All my previous hot cocoa attempts were either too wimpy or far too rich to be anything but sinful. This cup was almost wholesome!

It’s that time of the year when even in Bombay, wintry feelings start to envelope you and ideas of roaring fireplaces and cozy razais start floating around in your head. So, with images of Christmas and holiday planning and Christmas carols everywhere, I think a few cups of hot chocolate are definitely called for.

I promised myself I’d blog more often and I’d join a gym (this was in Feb). As with so many other resolutions, I haven’t done either. But I can never be too hard on myself. While yes, I admit, laziness may have been one of the contributing factors (it would be pointless to deny it), it is one of probably 10 other far more nasty factors. So really…I understand. In fact if anything, I feel quite the martyr to my circumstances. And that’s the official party line!

My cooking isn’t going quite as well as planned as I reach home later and later every day. So most nights, its either left-overs, home-delivery dinners or eggs on toast (the best!!). But yesterday, the planets aligned in my favor. I read a recipe at Steamy Kitchen that sounded easy and refreshing. I was craving some pasta. I happened to have some basil that needed using up. My husband stash of peanuts wasn’t depleted. And I also happened to – for no real reason – have bought some coriander the night before as if guided by some other-worldly power.

In other words, I had everything I needed and a good mood to boot. This resulted in one of the nicest dinners ever. It was fresh, tingly, zesty from all the lovely herbs and the lemon juice.

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It was unctuous and flavorful from the olive oil, garlic and cheese. The sauce coated the perfectly al-dente spaghetti just beautifully. And…as it’s my husband’s birthday week, I thought I’d show him how much I loved him by adding 2 things he loves and I am quite indifferent to – peanuts and peas!

My usual pasta attempts go down pretty well with A but with one constant that keeps him from rating them higher than a 7.5 on 10. No meat. But…as I was filled with all this love and other rainbows and butterflies feelings, I added some sausages and really…I know I’ve raved enough about this meal but it was just that good for me. And Him! He gave me a whopping 9.25 on 10 and loads of snuggles for the rest of the evening! Yay! I gave myself a 10 on 10 :p

Click here for the recipe

While the parched city waited for the weather to change, my body decided it wasn’t up to it. So while I coped with the flu and whined at A (The bum I’m married to) to my heart’s content, I also thought I’d make myself a really easy, and what I had hoped would be comforting, cake.

Since I’d been putting off eating some bananas for about 5 days, they’d started growing that mottled brown that usually means the bin. But this time, they were spared their sad fate. They came together with my desire for a warm gastronomic hug in the form of a delicious banana walnut loaf cake that was so easy to put together, even for a sick person.

And I found the perfect time to make it in…The silly T20 world cup finals which I was completely sick to death of courtesy A again (who watches pretty much all cricket and blogs about it rather well at outsideedge.wordpress.com) In any case…boring cricket = alone-time for both of us.

And that is when this warm banana cake took shape.

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Moist Banana Cake

2 cups flour

1 cup soft brown sugar

1 tsp salt

1 tbsp Baking powder

1/2 tsp baking soda

2/3 cup oil

3 eggs

3-4 over ripe bananas

1/2 cup walnuts, chopped

2 tsp raisins

Pre-heat oven to 160°C (325°F). Prepare an 8” or 9” round cake tin or a 9×5 inch loaf pan. Add sifted flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda and salt to a large mixing bowl. Add the oil and beat together till crumbly. Add the eggs and beat together till combined.

Meanwhile mash the bananas in a food processer, with a masher, with a fork – anything you like. I used a fork and made it pretty smushy. Throw in the chopped walnuts and raisins. Add this to the flour, oil, egg mix and beat till combined. Don’t worry too much about lumps.

Pour into your prepared tin and bake for an hour or until a skewer in the middle comes out clean. Let it cool in the pan for a while then turn it out on to a plate and let it cool further.

Or dig in when you please.

The loaf was wiped out in 3 days flat. We had it for breakfast, dessert after dinner, after-work snack. But we’re not all bad. I dropped off about half the cake at my mother-in-law’s place where it was rather well received. Even my sister-in-law and her anti-banana sentiments were pleasantly surprised by this winsome little thing.

The picture there is pretty much exactly how my cake looked – except the walnuts on top and the foil. Which brings me rather abruptly to my next point. Until I get better at taking pictures, I’m going to have to use images I find on the lovely internet. But I don’t know how I’m supposed to go about it. I definitely don’t want to seem like I’m stealing. I want to give credit for pictures I use, or ask permission for them before I use them. Or use pictures that no body minds my using without asking or telling. If anyone at all has tips on this, it would be brilliant.

Until then, this picture is a royalty-free image downloaded from Getty images where I couldn’t find any restrictions on downloading and using so I did and I am.


Sugar Droplets