Chocolate and Date Lollipops

Some goodies take you right back to your childhood. When I was planning for a picnic party, I knew that I wanted to have lollipops in the dessert course. The very idea of eagerly opening the lollipop wrapper and tasting it thrilled me. I also happened to have a nice box of dates lying around and I decided to use it as as the base. I added chocolate and walnuts for taste and texture. The lollipops turned out to be delicious with none of the main ingredients overpowering each other. This is bound to be a hit with both adults and kids.

Recipe Details :
Makes: 8 lollipops
Time: 30 mins
Difficulty: Easy

Ingredients :

  • 1/2 cup dark chocolate chips
  • 6 seedless dates
  • 8 whole walnuts
  • 1/8 tsp vanilla extract
  • 2 tbsp hazelnuts crushed (optional)

Chocolate and date lollipops

Chocolate and date lollipops


Method:

  • In a mixer, pulse the dates, walnuts and vanilla extract to form a soft dough. Do not add any other liquid to this mixture.
  • Take some of this mixture in your hands and gently roll into a ball.
  • Once you are done rolling the entire mixture, place the lollipops in the fridge for some time to firm up.
  • In the meantime, take the chocolate chips in a bowl and heat them in the microwave for 75 secs. These 75 secs should be in steps of 30 secs, 30 secs and 15 secs. Stir the mixture using a small spoon in every step and ensure that the chocolate has completely melted. There should not be any chunks. Let it rest for 5 mins.
  • Roll the lollipops in the melted chocolate. If you find this hard to do, you can use a basting brush instead. For this, dip the brush in the melted chocolate and coat the lollipops evenly. This gives an even finish and does not smudge the chocolate.
  • When the chocolate coating is still wet, gently sprinkle or roll the lollipop to the finely crushed hazelnut.
  • Keep the newly coated lollipops on absorbing paper and solidify in the refrigerator for 3 hours.
  • To serve, remove from the fridge and skewer them. I wrapped them using cling wrap and tied them with an attractive coloured ribbon. If refrigerated, they can be stored for 4-5 days.

Tips :

  • While making the date-walnut dough, use the pulse setting.
  • Between pulses, make sure to scrape down the sides of the bowl.
  • If you find the mixture is too sticky to work with, add more walnuts and process or store in the fridge for a few minutes before rolling.
  • Be careful while melting the chocolate. Mixing the chocolate between the heating phases helps to create a smoothly melting chocolate.
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Cucumber and Carrot Pancakes

Most of the times we want a recipe for breakfast that’s quick to make and involves less prep work. This recipe fits those requirements to a T. Cucumbers are light on the stomach and healthy as well. I decided to use them as one of the main ingredients in a pancake batter. To give the entire dish some crunch and bite, I added in carrots as well. This recipe can be made into patties, which can be eaten plain or by keeping them in a sandwich along with some tomato ketchup. They can also be made in the bigger size which would be equivalent to a medium sized dosa. It turned out to be extremely delicious and it is one of my favourite breakfast recipes now. Sometimes I even make this for dinner along with a glass of buttermilk. I have tried this exact recipe replacing zucchini instead of cucumber and the result is equally fabulous.

Recipe Details :
Makes: 8 small pancakes or 4 large pancakes
Time: 30 mins
Difficulty: Easy

Ingredients :

  • 1 large cucumber, peeled and grated (approx 2 cups)
  • 1 large carrot, grated (approx 1 cup)
  • 1/2 cup Chickpea flour/ Besan
  • 1/4 cup rice flour
  • 1/2 tsp turmeric
  • 1 – 2 tsp coriander powder
  • 1/2 tsp cumin powder
  • 1 tbsp oil for 1 pancake for frying
  • Freshly chopped coriander
  • Salt to taste

Cucumber pancake small size

Cucumber and carrot pancake small size


Method:

  • Take a bowl and mix all the ingredients except the oil to make a batter. Keep in mind not to add water while mixing as the cucumber or zucchini will provide the required moisture.
  • Heat a non-stick pan on low-medium heat and grease its surface with a bit of oil.
  • Take 1/4 cup of the batter and place it on the pan. Press down on the batter gently with your fingers to spread it out in an evenly into a shape of your choice. Do not make it very thin. In case of a large pancake, do the same process using 1/2 a cup of batter.
  • Drizzle some oil on the top and sides of the pancake.
  • Cook until the base turns golden brown in colour.
  • Now turn the pancake over and cook on the other side and then remove it from the pan. Serve it along with toast, with accompaniments of chutney or ketchup (if required), and you are in for a delicious meal.
  • In case of a large pancake, it is heavy enough to serve as breakfast – even without toast. For an idea of the portion size, see the picture below
  • Cucumber  pancake large

    Cucumber and carrot pancake large size


Tips :

  • Do not sprinkle water while making the batter or while spreading the batter on the pan.
  • Don’t make the batter too early as the cucumber / zucchini will make the batter more loose as time passes.
  • If you do want to prep it in advance, use a little more besan and store it in the fridge.
  • Adjust the spices as per your taste levels. You can add finely chopped green chillies if you like it spicy.

Coconut and Jaggery Laddoos / Kamarkat / Kamarkattu

Festivals are a time to celebrate and the best excuse for making sweets & snacks. The festive season also takes you back to your childhood and the traditional savories mom used to – and hopefully, still makes. So I decided to make one of my favorite sweet munchies to connect back to that time. This dish is ideal for distribution during festivals and quite a hit with kids too.

Recipe for Coconut and Jaggery Laddoos / Kamarkat / Kamarkattu

Makes : 12-15 pieces
Ingredients :

  • 1 cup grated coconut (fresh/frozen)
  • 3/4 cup jaggery
  • A pinch of cardamom powder (equivalent to 3-4 cardamom pods)
  • 1 tsp ghee
  • 1 cup water
Coconut and jaggery laddoo

Coconut and jaggery laddoo / Kamarkat / Kamarkattu

Method:

  • Heat the water in a pan and add the solid pieces of jaggery. Mix well and stir continuously till the jaggery dissolves completely. Occasionally, some lumps or fine impurities may remain – so filter it after switching off the flame.
  • Clean the pan and transfer the filtered jaggery syrup back to the pan and heat it on a low flame. The syrup will start bubbling and turn aromatic. At this stage, check for the string consistency of the liquid. (This is that stage when the syrup can’t dissolve in water. It can be tested by taking few drops of syrup onto a spoon of water)
  • Add cardamom powder and grated coconut in the syrup. Stir well and keep monitoring till the coconut slowly absorbs all the syrup and becomes thick. Check the consistency by making a small ball. If you are able to roll it, switch of the flame and let it cool slightly.
  • The trick is to roll the laddoos when they are warm. Grease your palms with a little ghee and roll them. If the mixture cools down, you will not be able to roll them.

Tips :

  • If you are using freshly grated coconut, do not use the coconut shavings very near to the shell.
  • The colour of jaggery syrup is critical. If you overheat it, the laddoos might turn dark brown , hard and difficult to chew. I like the golden brown colour shown in the pic.
  • Jaggery can be of any type. If its fine, it becomes easier to dissolve.
  • If you are making large numbers, please make it in batches because the whole mixture will dry fast.
  • This has to be stored in a dry container and refrigerated for further use. It is advisable to consume within 4-5 days upon refrigeration.