Zucchini carrot soup

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I chanced upon this book The Perfect recipe for losing weight and eating right at the library and I decided to buy the book pretty soon after. The main reason for the purchase was the options which the book gives for making your own salad and soup. There is a section, ‘Create your own soup(or salad) combos’ in the book which had me hooked.

The author has divided the soup as a combination of herbs, meat, vegetables, starch and other flavorings. She lists out 10-12 items under each of these. So you can pick 1 or 2 herbs from the list, pick couple of veggies so that it adds up to 1 pound (1/2 kg), 1 or 2 starches  like black beans, rice or pasta and then flavor it the way you want. Its very similar to the ‘build your own’ salad my friend Swapna taught me to make, so that’s another reason I like the book :-).

True, I haven’t tried a lot of dishes from this book, but I have repeated the couple of recipes many times. So read for this version of Mexican Chicken and Black Bean soup,made in Instant Pot.

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Recipe adapted from: The Perfect recipe for losing weight and eating right

Ingredients:

  • 2 teaspoons oil
  • 1 large onion, finely sliced
  • 2 teaspoons chilli powder, or per taste
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • salt
  • 2 medium carrots, cut into circles
  • 2 medium zucchini, diced
  • 1 cup frozen corn
  • 1 cup cooked black beans or rajma
  • 1/2 cup elbow macaroni
  • 1 quart/liter vegetable broth (I used water)
  • 1 14.5 can diced tomatoes (or 5-6 tomatoes, pulsed in the mixer)
  • 2 handfuls of coriander leaves
  • 2 tablespoons lemon juice

Method:

  1. Heat oil in a pan. I used the electric pressure cooker here (Instant pot). Saute the onions and once it changes color, add the chillli powder, salt and oregano. Saute for a few moments, then add carrots and zucchini.
  2. Saute that for a couple of minutes and add everything else except the lemon juice.
  3. Cook in soup mode for 10 minutes. Let the pressure release naturally and add the lemon juice, if preferred and serve hot.

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This recipe goes to this week’s Cooking from Cook Book Challenge. Please follow the link to know more about the event.

Ulli-Mulagu Chammanthi

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BM # 72; Week 1, Day 3

Theme : Dips, spreads and chutneys

Dish: onions crushed coarsely with chillieso

It’s funny when you look at your blog at times. I mean, there are so many recipes here that I am proud of, but a lot of them are not everyday dishes. The more I dig into it, the less I find everyday stuff. 

Take this onion chammanthi for example,this was one of the regular dishes back at home. My mom would take some onions and some chilies, pulse it a couple of times in the mixer with salt, add a bit of coconut oil to it and serve with Dosa for my younger brother. It was, and is still, his favorite. I add a tomato too while pulsing and eat as a salad with rice. It’s heavenly for me. 

Food is always an acquired taste and the dish might be a turn off for many people out there (raw onions with chilies, really!?), but I like it…a lot. It was simple food at its best. Traditionally, this chutney is served with boiled tapioca (kappa puzhingiyathu). The onions are a little more crushed in my mom’s version, but i stopped mine here way before that. 

Anyway, I have to make an extra effort to get the everyday dishes in here. Until then, read on for the recipe for ulli chathachathu(crushed onions). 

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Ingredients:

  • 10-12 pearl onions or 1 red onion, chopped
  • 3-4 green chillies, or per taste
  • salt
  • 2-3 teaspoons coconut oil

Method:

  1. Pulse the chillies and onion with salt as needed in the mixer jar a couple of times. You shouldn’t grind it. The aim is to crush the onions and chillies together a bit, not to puree it. I used a mortar and pestle for this step instead of the mixie. 
  2. Remove the chammanthi to a small bowl, add in 2 teaspoons of coconut oil and mixing it in. Taste test and if you feel like it, add one more teaspoon of oil.
  3. Serve with kappa puzhingiathu(boiled tapioca), dosa or even with rice.

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Guacamole

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BM # 72; Week 1, Day 2
Theme : Dips, spreads and chutneys
Recipe : Guacamole

Given the fact that I had waited until the last minute for this week’s blogging and also that the theme was an easy one, I decided to prepare all the three recipes on the same day so that I can get the photo shoot done in a single session. That way I didn’t have to brave the cold outside three times.

The good part about the winter here is that its sunny even when its cold. In UK, the sun is overcast most of the time because of the frequent rains. The winter starts getting really gray and gloomy after sometime. But here its sunny, so its hard to be depressed even if its cold. Some silver lining, right?

Coming to the recipe here, its Guacamole. I love avocado and this is one fine way to enjoy it. The recipe is very simple with a few ingredients. Mash avocados, add a few things and tada…dish (dip) ready! We had it as a part of burrito bowl yesterday.

Read on for the recipe.
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Recipe source: All recipes

Ingredients:

  • 2 avocados
  • juice from 1/2 lemon
  • salt
  • pinch cayenne pepper
  • 1/2 red onion, chopped finely
  • 1 tomato, chopped very finely

Method:

  1. Mash the flesh of the avocados with salt and lemon juice using a fork. Add the cayenne pepper, finely chopped onion and tomatoes. Mix with a spoon. Serve immediately or refrigerate until the time of serving.

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Sriracha fry sauce

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BM # 72
Week 1, Day 1
Theme : Dips, spreads and chutneys

If passion can make people conquer mountains and swim through oceans, I should at least be able to brave the cold weather outside to get some good pictures for this week’s blogging, rt? So that’s what happened today.

To begin with, my house doesn’t receive a good amount of sunlight. And on top of that, I can’t seem to manipulate the little light that I get. With the winter season, clicking pictures is becoming more and more of a difficult task.

So today, I did what I have been doing all this while before winter disrupted it. I stepped into the balcony, set everything up for the photo shoot, clicked pictures and then came back inside. It doesn’t seem like much, but imagine doing that when its -14 Celsius outside. Yes, there is a minus there. My hands and legs were numb within the couple of minutes I was out there.

It snowed two days back, so it was a lot brighter. Snow reflects light and everything is a lot brighter. The pictures would have been a lot better in more capable hands, but right now, I will take what I got. So adventure of the day : 3 posts done, braved the weather to click pictures, edited and finally, posting on time…..Can someone give a medal, please :D?

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Recipe source: Life, a little brighter 

Ingredients:

  • 1/4 cup mayonnaise
  • 3 tablespoon ketchup
  • 1 teaspoon sriracha
  • 1 teaspoon apple cider vinegar
  • a pinch of paprika
  • salt, pepper, per taste

Method:

  1. Mix everything together in a bowl using a whisk until everything is well combined. Taste test, adjust seasonings if you need to. Serve with chips or fries.

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Fry sauce is a very simple dip, made with mayonnaise and ketchup. Some people add salt, pepper and vinegar to it. And this version has sriracha as well.It pairs well with French fries, chips and has a tangy, sweet and spicy twist to it.

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Coffee Pudding

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Mankind may survive without even love, but we sure won’t survive without coffee. That cup of Joe is needed every morning, Oh yes! And coffee doesn’t have just stop with that steaming mug in the morning. It is wonderful as a dessert option as well.

This recipe here, if you look at it, is just coffee made with cream thickened with corn starch. It was smooth, creamy and absolutely delicious. I tried this recipe from the book Puddin’ by Clio Goodman. I got it from the library sometime back.  I have already renewed the book multiple times and I get this feeling that I might end up buying it soon. I have tried couple of recipes from the book and it’s all been wonderful treats. The best part is that puddings don’t take a lot of time to make. It takes only about  ten minutes to prepare dessert for a group of six and a couple of hours of refrigeration for it to set. Clio apparently was running a dessert based restaurant Puddin’ NYC, but unfortunately the place closed down some years back. 

So, for this week’s Cooking from Cook Book Challenge, I thought I will feature the book’s coffee pudding recipe. Read on for this treat that is extremely easy to make.

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Recipe source: Puddin’ by Clio Goodman

Serves : 6

Ingredients:

  • 1 1/2 cups heavy cream
  • 2 1/2 cups milk
  • 1/2 cup light brown sugar
  • 3 tablespoon instant coffee powder
  • 3 tablespoons corn starch
  • 1 egg yolk*
  • a good pinch of salt

*I skipped it

Method:

  1. In a heavy pan, mix all the ingredients together using a wire whisk.
  2. Once you cannot see any dry flour lumps, start cooking this over medium flame. Stir continuously using the wire whisk all the time to avoid burning.
  3. In about 10 minutes, the mixture will start to thicken. Clio says that once you lift the whisk from the pudding and it leaves a faint shadow, it is done.
  4. Pour into 6 small glasses and once cool, refrigerate until the time of serving. I sprinkled with a bit of chocolate strands and sugar balls for a nice look.
  5. She suggests this pudding to be paired with caramel sauce, fudge sauce or brownies.

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Tiramisu Mousse Cake with mirror glaze

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Bakeathon 2016, Day 8

The Russian baker Olga took the baking world by storm with her stunning mirror cakes this summer. The baking world followed her steps and soon it rained mirror cakes and entremets all over the Internet. I too jumped into the wagon and this cake was my trial. It’s not much compared to the talent out there, but I was really happy with this cake. It’s one of the best cakes I have made so far.

This cake has multiple layers. Unfortunately, I don’t have any pictures of the inside layers. I wish I had taken the step wise pictures at least, so that its easier to explain. Its a tiramisu cake with mousse layers on top. The layers are inspired from this site.

Each layer of mousse need to be set completely before adding the next layer on top. That’s the most time consuming part. The waiting!!  Each step in itself is easy to make, but as the setting time is more, this cake needs to be started at least 2 days beforehand. A spring form pan or a pastry collar would make this a lot more easier, but I had to use my ordinary 9″ pan and line it with clingwrap and then with another layer of parchment paper. Its a good idea to freeze the cake for a couple of hours before trying to take it out of the pan.

Base is a 9″ sponge cake, cut into three layers with coffee syrup to soak the cake. I don’t remember the sources for any of the recipes. Sorry about that.

The layers go like this from bottom to top:

  • Sponge cake with coffee syrup
  • Tiramisu mousse
  • Sponge cake with coffee syrup
  • Chocolate mousse
  • Sponge cake with coffee syrup
  • White chocolate vanilla mousee
  • Chocolate mirror glaze
  • Chocolate collar to cover the sides

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Line a 9″ pan with clingwrap and then with parchment paper. Keep the first layer of cake. Sprinkle with coffee syrup.

Coffee syrup:

  • 1 cup coffee
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • Add the sugar to the hot coffee, let it melt. Cool and keep aside.

Tiramisu mousse :

  • 1.5 cups mascarpone cheese
  • 1/3 cup icing sugar
  • 3/4 cup heavy cream, whipped
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 cup melted and chilled  white chocolate
  • 1 envelope unflavored gelatin (about 2 1/2 teaspoons)
  • Bloom gelatin in cold water per the package instructions. When ready to use, microwave it to melt it. Mix mascarpone cheese with sugar, vanilla, melted gelatin and white chocolate. Fold in the whipped cream. Layer this on top of the cake sprinkled with coffee syrup. Refrigerate to set completely, 4 to 6 hours. Once its set, top with another layer of cake. Sprinkle with coffee syrup. 

Chocolate mousse:

  • 1 1/4 cup chocolate chips
  • 1 1/2 cups heavy cream, divided
  • 1 teaspoon unflavored gelatin + 2 tablespoon cool water
  • Bloom gelatin in cool water. Heat the chocolate chips with 1/2 cup cream in 30 sec bursts in microwave, stirring after each burst to melt the chips completely. Melt the gelatin in low power in MW and add it to the melted chocolate. Let it come to room temparature. Whip the remaining one cup of heavy cream and fold it into the chocolate mix.  Pour over the cake, refrigerate until it sets. Once it sets, add the third layer of cake on top.

Vanilla or White chocolate mousse:

  • 2 cups melted white chocolate
  • 1/4 cup honey
  • 1 cup heavy cream, whipped
  • Melt the white chocolate in microwave in 30 sec bursts, stirring to ensure that it melts completely and evenly. Add the honey and mix well. Let it come to room temperature. Whip the heavy cream and slowly fold in the white chocolate mix. Pour this over the third layer of cake and refrigerate to set. 

Chocolate mirror glaze, follow the link for the instructions. Pour the glaze on top of the cake.

Follow is link for the chocolate collar. 

NOTE: You can freeze the mousse layers separately to set and then assemble the cake and return to the fridge. But I took the hard route :D.

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This is part of the Bake-a-thon 2016

Semiya Kesari

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BM# 71: Week 3; Day 3
Theme: Make a meal
Dish: Semiya Kesari

Last month for the thali theme, my plan was to make it a Saravana Bhavan restaurant thali theme. I started off with my version of their Quick Lunch Meals, but ended up posting other thalis for the theme.  Right now, the thali is coming up again for the Semiya kesari recipe from there.

I am a big fan of sweets and I can never be left alone with anything sweet even for a short period. For this reason alone, I have not been making desserts for sometime now. But every now and then, in the name of blogging, I justify the kilos that creeps into my body. I don’t even justify if the category is sweets. Its the ultimate sacrifice from me for my blog ;-).

Scroll down for the recipe, this one is not as heavy on ghee.

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Recipe source: Sharmi’s Passion

Serves : 2

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup vermicelli
  • 1.5 cups water
  • 3/4 cup sugar (adjust according to your preference)
  • 1/4 cup ghee
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cardamom, optional
  • food coloring, optional

Method:

  1. Heat 1 tablespoon ghee in a thick non stick pan and shallow fry the semiya until it changes color.
  2. Add water and bring it to a boil. Stir in between and let it semiya cook completely.
  3. Once the water is completely absorbed, add the sugar. The sugar will melt and release liquid.Stir continuously until the liquid evaporates. Add the ground cardamom and food coloring, if using.
  4. Add the rest of the ghee and let it cook for a few minutes. Take off the heat, serve hot or cold.

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Peas Mushroom masala

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BM# 71: Week 3; Day 2
Theme: Make a meal
Dish: Peas Mushroom curry

We had frozen paratha with frozen readymade curry for lunch. And dinner was another short cut variety of food – not readymade, but not a wholesome thali as well. So looking at this thali, I feel jealous of the days where its a feast on a platter for us :-)). I had made this North Indian Thali for last month’s BM.

Anyway, today’s post is about one of the dishes in that thali – Peas mushroom masala. I learnt this single method curry from my friend long time back and till now that’s my go-to curry. You start off with ginger garlic paste and pureed tomatoes. Then its time for the masalas. The vegetable or cooked dry beans of your choice goes in next. And you round it off with cooked and pureed onions. The basic method holds well for any kind of mix of vegetables. Today its peas and mushroom’s turn.

Read on for the recipe.

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Serves 3 people

Ingredients:

  • 1 medium onion, roughly chopped
  • 1 teaspoon oil
  • 2 tomatoes, pureed
  • 2 teaspoon ginger garlic paste
  • 1 teaspoon chilli powder
  • 1 teaspoon coriander powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon turmeric powder
  • 1 teaspoon garam masala
  • 1 cup fresh or frozen peas
  • 1 cup sliced mushrooms
  • 1 tablespoon kasuri methi
  • salt

Method:

  1. Chop the onion roughly. Bring it to a boil in a separate small pan with enough water to cover the onions. Take off the heat once its cooked. Puree it once its cool enough to handle. Keep aside.
  2. Puree the tomatoes.
  3. Heat oil in a pan, add the ginger garlic paste. Saute it for a few seconds and add the pureed tomatoes.
  4. Let the tomatoes cook for 3-4 minutes. Now add the chili powder, coriander powder, turmeric powder and garam masala. Add salt as well and saute well to cook the masalas. Add a tablespoon of water if the masalas seem to burn or stick to the bottom of the pan.
  5. Add the sliced mushroom and saute until it releases the water. Once its soft and tender, about 4-5 minutes, add the green peas. Mix well and add about 1 cup of water. Cover and cook at a low flame for a few minutes.
  6. Its time to add the pureed onions. Add more water if needed to bring it to a consistency you prefer. Bring it to a boil after adding the onion puree. taste test, adjust seasoning. Add the kasuri methi and mix it in. Take off the heat and serve hot with rotis or rice.

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7 cupcake

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BM# 71: Week 3; Day 1
Theme: Make a meal
Dish: 7 cupcake

This post really is from far in the past. Its been sitting in the drafts folder for over an year. My mother in law prepared this when we had our friends over for lunch. She had prepared a full meals that was absolutely amazing. Except for a couple of dishes, she made the entire thali by herself.

7 cupcake was amma’s dessert of choice and she prepared it a day ahead. I have had my shares of burfi failures when I started out cooking, so this is not something I would try confidently. But since I took the stepwise pictures when amma was cooking, I thought it was a good idea to put it up here in case I feel like giving it a try down the lane.

The burfi was the melt in the mouth kind and we all raved about it for many days after the meals. She had made a big batch, but still it got over the same day itself. That’s the power of the burfi :-).

Read on for the pictorial.

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Pictorial

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Take 1 cup of gram flour (kadala mavu) in a thick bottom pan.

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Add 1 cup of milk.

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Pulse (don’t grind) 1 cup coconut in a mixie  to get evenly sized shredded coconut. Add this to the pan.

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Add 1 cup ghee.

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Sugar is 3 times the measure of the other ingredients. So 3 cups of sugar goes in.

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Mix everything well before switching on the gas. Try to get as much lump out as possible.

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Switch on the gas and keep mixing until it cooks to a dosa batter or cake batter consistency. This takes time, about 30 minutes.

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Yup. Its time to take off the heat.

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Keep stirring even after taking out of the stove.

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You are looking for the stage where you know its getting thicker a bit.

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Transfer to a greased tray. You can press the top with a greased dish to get a smooth top. This is optional.

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Let it cool for 15-20 minutes. Before it becomes a solid, cut it into pieces of your preferred size. Let it cool completely. Take off the pieces and store in an air tight container.

Recipe source: My MIL

Serves : about 75 small pieces when we used 1.5 cups

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup gram flour (kadala mavu)
  • 1 cup milk
  • 1 cup coconut, pulsed in the blender to smooth out a little bit
  • 1 cup ghee
  • 3 cups sugar

All together 5 ingredients and 7 cups. The proportion is 1:1:1:1:3. So you can change the measure accordingly.

Method:

  1. Add all the ingredients in a thick bottom pan. Mix and take out as many lumps as possible.
  2. Switch on the stove and start cooking this. Keep stirring until it starts reducing and thickening.
  3. You have to stop cooking when you reach a dosa batter or cake batter consistency. Around 30 minutes.
  4. At this point, take off the heat and keep stirring until thickens a little more.
  5. Transfer to a greased plate and after about 20 minutes, using a pizza cutter, cut into desired sized pieces. Don’t take out of the plate until its completely cooled and has become a solid.
  6. Once its set and has become a solid, take out and store in an airtight container.

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Oreo chocolate cake

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Bakeathon 2016, Day 7 

I have a few basic cakes that I repeat again and again for all my baking needs. I use this eggless chocolate cake as my base for a lot of recipes. The best part of this recipe is that it is kid friendly. That means if you are planning on a baking session with your kids or their friends, its the perfect recipe. This cake here, a small variation of the base cake, was baked by a 6 year old.

You don’t need any fancy equipment for this cake. A big bowl to mix everything in, a whisk and a sifter is all you need. Since the recipe calls for yogurt instead of eggs, its a lot easier on the kids. But the best part is the oreos of course. We have to taste test it multiple times to ensure good quality  ;-).

For decorations, we went with a small batch of buttercream. We made some zigzag lines on top by adding some buttercream in a ziploc bag and cutting a small opening to pipe it out. Some fondant decorations and oreos also went in to make it colorful.

Read on for the recipe.

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Ingredients:

  • 1 cup flour
  • 1/2 cup cocoa powder
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • a pinch of salt
  • 1/2 cup oil
  • 1/2 cup yogurt (or 1/4 cup each of milk and yogurt)
  • 1/3 cup hot coffee (1 tsp instant coffee pwd+1/3 cup hot water)
  • 4 oreo cookies, crumbled roughly with hands
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla essence

Buttercream recipe(small batch):

  • 1/2 stick or 50 gms butter, softened
  • 1 tablespoon cocoa powder
  • 1 – 1 1/2 cups powdered sugar
  • 2 tablespoon hot water
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla essence

Method: 

  1. Pre heat the oven to 350F/ 180C. Grease a 6″ pan with oil or butter and line with parchment paper.
  2. Sift flour, cocoa powder, baking powder, baking soda and salt in a big bowl to get rid of any lumps. Whisk well.
  3. Add the oil, yogurt (and milk if you are using yogurt and milk combination) , vanilla and hot coffee. Mix using a wire whisk so that no lumps remain. If the batter is too thick, add a couple of tablespoons of milk to thin it out.
  4. Crush 4 oreo cookies roughly with your hands. Add it to the batter and whisk it in carefully.
  5. Transfer the batter to the greased and lined pan. Bake for about 30-40 minutes or until a skewer comes out free of crumbs when inserted in the middle of the cake. Take the cake out of the oven, let it rest in the pan for about 5-10 minutes. Carefully, flip it over, take off the parchment paper. Cover it with 2 rounds of cling wrap. Return the wrapped cake back into the pan and let it sit undisturbed until its completely cool.
  6. If you wish, make a small batch of buttercream and decorate it with some cookies and candies. I have used fondant here for some color.
  7. For the buttercream, add the softened butter and cocoa powder in a bowl. Using a spoon, mix the butter and cocoa powder to get a smooth paste, adding 1-2 teaspoons of hot water. Now add 1 cup sifted powdered sugar and mix it in using the spoon, again using the hot water to help mix it. The buttercream should be smooth when you are done. Taste test and add half cup more if you need it. You can check out step wise pictures in this post. The recipe here is halved.

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This is part of the Bake-a-thon 2016