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Christmas Recipes: Sangria, Cookies and Pudding

By TARUNA BAKSHI
December 16, 2020 13:09 IST
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We got your Christmas celebrations covered with Taruna Bakshi's impressive recipes.

Hibiscus Kinnow Sangria

Ingredients

For the hibiscus syrup

  • ¼ cup + 1 tbsp hibiscus flowers (dried)
  • ½ inch ginger, sliced
  • 5-6 tbsp sugar
  • 1 inch cinnamon
  • Half a piece of star anise

For the sangria

  • 500 ml kinnow juice, freshly squeezed
  • ½ cup green grapes, sliced
  • ½ cup black grapes, sliced
  • ¾ cup strawberries, thickly sliced (feel free to replace with fruits of your choice)
  • 1 lime, sliced
  • 1 orange, halved and sliced
  • Juice of 1 lime
  • Handful of mint leaves, cleaned and washed

Method

For making the hibiscus syrup

  • Mix together all the ingredients in a pan and bring to a boil.
    Reduce heat and simmer for 10 minutes.
    Switch off the heat and cover the pot.
    Let the flavors steep for half an hour.
    Strain the syrup and allow it to cool completely.

For making the sangria

  • In a large jar or jug, mix together the hibiscus syrup, lime juice and kinnow juice.
    Stir well.
  • Add fruits and mint leaves.
    Refrigerate for a few hours to chill.
    Pour in glasses along with fruits and top with ice.

Note: You can increase the amount of juice to 750 ml.
I added just a bit of rock salt to my sangria and it tasted good.
Feel free to use lemonade instead of orange or kinnow juice.
You can even use club soda or sparkling water instead of juice.
Since the kinnow I used was pretty sweet, I used less sugar for the hibiscus syrup.
Adjust the sweetness accordingly.


Floating Island Pudding

Ingredients

  • 3 large or 5 small egg whites
  • ½ l + 1 cup milk (it will reduce while poaching)
  • 2-3 tbsp custard powder (vanilla flavour)
  • 1 tbsp sugar (adjust to taste)
  • Zest of 1 orange (optional)
  • ½ tsp vanilla extract

Method

For the meringue

  • Pour milk in a heavy-bottom wide pot and heat it on low heat.
    Add orange zest, if using, and switch off the heat.
    Cover the pot and allow the flavors to steep for an hour.
  • When you place the milk for heating, whisk the egg whites till they become firm and glossy.
    Be careful not to overwhip as this will dry out the meringue.
  • Sieve the milk if you have used orange zest and return it to the pot.
  • Add sugar to the milk along with vanilla extract and stir to dissolve the sugar.
    Ensure that the milk does not come to a boil.
    It needs to be hot to poach the whipped egg white (meringue), but not boil at any point while poaching.
    If the milk begins to boil while poaching, remove the pot from heat.
    Continue poaching the meringue and return the pot to heat after a few seconds.
  • Using a spoon (to shape as quenelle) or an ice cream scoop, scoop the meringue and gently place it over the hot milk.
    Do not overcrowd the pan with meringues.
    Poach one side and then very gently flip and poach the other side.
    Poaching time will depend on the size of the meringue, but you can consider an approximate time of two-minutes each side.
    Poach till the meringues hold their shape and become firm.
    Once done, remove them on a moist plate.
    I prefer keeping them on parchment paper but, I believe a silicon sheet would work well too.
    Finish the whole batch of meringue in this manner.

For the custard

  • Remove the milk from the heat.
    Strain it if there are bits and pieces of meringue in it.
    The quantity of milk would have certainly reduced after poaching the meringue.
    Add more milk to bring the amount back to half a litre.
    Keep the heat at its lowest.
  • Take half a cup of milk (cold or at room temperature) and add the custard powder to it.
    Take 2 tbsp if you like thinner custard and 3 tbsp for a somewhat thicker one. I prefer the latter.
    Mix well and slowly add the custard mixture to the milk in a pouring stream.
    Keep stirring constantly till the milk begins to thicker. Cook for a couple of minutes and keep stirring continuously.
  • Once the custard is cooked, remove from the heat and let it cool.
    Keep giving it a stir every now and then to avoid the formation of a creamy crust on its top.
    Once it cools down, refrigerate the custard (or you can serve it at room temperature).
  • Serve the custard in individual glasses or small bowls, topped with the meringue.
    You can garnish it with finely chopped nuts or chocolate shards.
    You can even drizzle some caramel on the top.
    I sometimes sprinkle some cooled and crushed caramel pieces to add some texture.

Note: The meringues will swell when you poach them.
However they will certainly deflate somewhat in size after you remove them from the poaching liquid.
In case you want to poach the meringues and intend to serve later, do not forget to cover with cling wrap before you keep them to a refrigerator.
Do not keep them longer than a few hours in the refrigerator.


Spritz Cookies

Ingredients

  • 1 cup butter
  • 100 gm icing sugar
  • 1 large/60 gm egg
  • 2¼ all purpose flour
  • 1½ tsp vanilla extract additives, if desired

Method

  • Set the oven to heat at 180°C.
    Grease a baking tray (two if you have a larger oven) with butter and keep it in freezer for at least 15 minutes.
    Meanwhile, prepare the cookie dough.
  • In a bowl, whisk butter for a minute.
    Add sugar and whisk again till the mixture becomes light and fluffy.
    Add vanilla extract and whisk again till it gets incorporated.
  • Add the egg and whisk again till the egg gets incorporated.
    Add flour and mix till there are no dry bits (do not overmix the mix).
    Fill and pack the dough into the cookie press and force the dough through the press over the chilled baking tray.
    Bake the cookies for 12 to 15 minutes.
    I prefer 15 minutes because I like them crunchy. Remove from the oven and allow to cool before removing them over to a wire rack.
    Cool completely before adding any kind of glaze.

Note: I divided the batter in four equal parts and also the flour in equal parts.
Then I added different additives and gel colors -- for instance the green ones have finely chopped lemon zest, the red ones have cinnamon which I added to the flour, the ones dipped in chocolate have espresso coffee and the flowers have almond flavour.
For this recipe, to four different batters, I used half a teaspoon of cinnamon powder, one teaspoon of coffee, half a teaspoon of almond extract, zest of a lemon along with half a teaspoon lemon essence.
Feel free to swap the vanilla extract with almond extract.
Another option is to reduce the vanilla to one tsp and use spices of your choice, such as cinnamon or cardamom powder.
If you do not want spicy cookies, feel free to swap them with some lemon zest or orange zest.
Choose whichever flavour profile you wish to have.
You can even add some cocoa powder for chocolate cookies.


Chocolate Chia Mousse Tartlet

Ingredients

For the chia mousse

  • 2 cup coconut milk or any milk of your choice
  • 7 tbsp chia seeds
  • 4-6 tbsp sweetener (adjust to taste)
  • 5 tbsp dark chocolate chips, melted
  • 4 tbsp cocoa powder
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract

For the tartlet

  • 2 cup almond flour
  • tbsp softened butter/coconut oil
  • 2 tbsp coconut sugar or any sweetener of your choice
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract

To assemble and garnish

  • 2 tsp + 1 tbsp cacao nibs
  • 1-2 tbsp almond slivers
  • A few rose petals

Method

  • Powder the chia seeds in a spice grinder or a coffee grinder.
  • Add everything in a mixing bowl and whisk everything together.
    Or you can put everything in a blender and blend it well -- this is easier and faster.
    Transfer the contents in a bowl.
    Cover with a lid or a cling wrap and place the bowl in a refrigerator for at least four hours but preferably overnight.

For the tartlet

  • Turn on the oven and set it to heat at 180°C.
    Meanwhile, in a mixing bowl, mix together all the ingredients and bring them together by rubbing them with your fingers.
    Rub it well and ensure that there are no dry bits in the mixture.
    The mixture will be pretty moist in texture by now.
  • Divide the dough equally among 5 tartlet pans and using your fingers or thumb, pat it evenly in the pan.
    Pinch and crimp it against the sides as well, so that the thickness is even on the base and the sides.
    Remove any excess dough if required.
  • Place the tartlet pans on a baking sheet and carefully place it in the oven.
    Bake the tartlet crust for 20-25 minutes, depending on the thermostat of your oven.
    It took me 25 mins or till the crust turns golden.
    Carefully remove from the oven and allow to cool completely.
    Once cool, I placed them in the refrigerator for 30 mins before I slip off the outer ring.

To assemble and garnish

  • Once the crust is completely cool, fill it with chocolate chia mousse.
    I load the shells with the mousse.
    Scatter the almond slivers and cacao nibs over each tartlet and garnish with rose petals.

Note: You can refrigerate it again for an hour before serving it.

Taruna Bakshi is the creator of the food blog Easyfoodsmith.

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