Monthly Archives: December 2016

Star Anise Panna cotta with Khubani

This is where my Master Chef  journey began. A very close friend really pushed me to sign up for Master Chef Auditions. The auditions were on Saturday and Friday evening at 7:00 PM I had not idea what I would bring for the auditions. I decided to make this recipe which has been my family favorite. I walked into the auditions with the Panna cotta and heart beating fast.

Star Anise Panna cotta


 Panncotta is an italian word that translates to ‘ Cooked Cream’. It is such an easy to make dish and yet it is very easily customizable. You can change flavors, pair it with different things and the best part, it looks super fancy.
I tried quite a few recipes till I settled on this one.  It tastes just like the panna cotta served at Italian restaurants. I like to serve it with fruits or even chocolate sauce, or stewed fruits.
Today I have flavored it with one of my favorite spices, Star Anise & served with stewed apricots. In Hyderabad ( India) there is a sweet, Khubani ka Meetha, and my inspiration for  today’s dessert comes from that.

Panna Cotta



  • 1/2cup  milk
  • 1 (.25 ounce) envelope unflavored gelatin ( I used Knox powder today)
  • 2 1/2 cups heavy cream
  • 1/2 cup white sugar
  • 6-8 Star anise
  • 5-6 Whole black pepper


  1. Blooming the gelatin: Pour milk into a small bowl, and stir in the gelatin powder. Set aside.This will help gelatin absorb the milk and mix well
  2. Pound the spices in a mortar and pestle. Keep them coarse
  3. In a saucepan, stir together the heavy cream and sugar, and set over medium heat until it is lukewarm, and set it aside for 1 hour or so. Longer the better.
  4. Setting aside the cream helps the flavors of spices seep into the cream beautifully.
  5. Bring to a full boil, don’t let it over flow. Pour the gelatin and milk into the cream, stirring until completely dissolved.
  6. Cook for one minute, stir so the gelatin does not form a lump.
  7. Remove from heat, strain and pour into  individual ramekin dishes.
  8. Cool the ramekins uncovered at room temperature.
  9. When cool, cover with plastic wrap, and refrigerate for at least 4 hours, ideally  overnight before serving.

Stewed Apricots


  • 10-12 Dried Apricot
  • 1/4 cup white sugar
  • 2-3 Star anise
  • 2-3Whole black pepper
  • 1/2 cup water


  • Chop the apricots fine
  • Add sugar, water, spices and apricots in a small sauce pan
  • On a low flame cook till the apricots are softened and the water gets nice and syrupy.
  • Remove the spices before serving


Pistachio Rose caramel

Will Update the recipe soon.

To serve

Demold the pannacotta and serve with the stewed apricot. I also love to use candied Pistachio while serving.



Cardamom-Pistachio cookie

Cardamom-Pistachio cookie

I am not much of a baker. I love making desserts but baking is another beast which I hope to tame at some point. I make cakes, simple ones and I am always thrilled when they come out good. 🙂 I love trying new recipes if I get some inspiration. I love going to different ethnic grocery stores and looking for ideas, I am always amazed at the various new things I learn each time.

One of my favorite grocery store near my home is a Persian/middle eastern grocery store. Any time I go there, I come back with something new and that starts my experimentations.

It is holiday season and holiday means cookies and cakes and all those yummy treats. I wanted to make cookies but did not which one to pick, they are all so tempting. Traditional chocolate chip, oatmeal resin, Italian biscotti, indian nankhatai, german spice cookie to name a few. So I thought why not a take help from everyone and took  a poll on my facebook page.

And majority of you said that they wanted to see a recipe that is ‘something different’ or with ‘innovative flavors’. I thought of many ideas but somehow this one seemed perfect for the time.

Here I present my first Xmas Cookie ( there are man

Cardamom- Pistachio shortbread with orange blossom glaze


It stole my heart and the whole house smelt like heaven ( and  a lot like Haleh Bakery).

It is so easy yet looks very fancy and eclectic, you can make the dough ahead of time, keep it wrapped in the fridge. When you want, 15 minutes and you will have fresh batch of cookies.



  • 1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup powdered sugar
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 1/2 sticks chilled unsalted butter, cut into small cubes
  • 1/2 cup natural unsalted pistachios, lightly toasted, chopped
  • 1 large egg yolk ( you can use chilled milk instead)
  • 1/2 tsp cardamom


  • 1  cups powdered sugar
  • 1 egg white ( you can use 1 tbsp milk instead)
  • 3/4 tsp Orange blossom


  • In a food processor pulse the pistachios, cardamom and flour till the nuts are a little chopped
  • Add powdered sugar and pulse more
  • Add the butter and pulse till you get breadcrumb texture
  • Add the egg yolk/cold milk
  • Keep pulsing till the dough comes together


  • Take the dough and roll it into a log
  • Keep it in the fridge for a couple of hours for the dough to harden
  • Slice the log into about 1/4 inch thick pieces
  • Bake for 15-17 mins in a 325F
  • Let it cool completely


Mix all the ingredients to make the glaze.


Take the cooled cookies, top with a small amount of glaze, decorate cookies with sliced pistachios, dried rose petals, saffron strands.


Profiteroles with coffee cream and drizzled with coffee-chocolate sauce


It is my daughter’s birthday today. She is a smart, sweet and very caring  girl. She also has very diverse and sophisticated palette. So when I asked her what kind of cake she wants for her birthday, she said,” Mom, can I have profiteroles instead of a cake this year?”.

This is what prompted me to make the profiteroles today. I had watched Anne Burrell make these on one of her shows and had scratched  down her recipe, this is my take on her recipe. The ingredients are very simple, yet the result is a fancy pastry.

Profiteroles is a french pastry made with a french pastry dough, Choux Pastry

Choux pastry is an easy to make versitile dough. You can make many things like eclairs, cream puffs using this dough. It is light and airy and is perfect for filling it up with whipped cream or ice cream.



Equipment needed:

Food processor, a pot, wooden spoon, whisk, pastry bag with a large tip


1 cup of milk

1 stick of unsalted butter

1 cup flour

1 pinch of salt

4 eggs


For the filling:

1 cup heavy whipping cream

4 tbsp powdered sugar

1 1/2 shot of espresso


For the chocolate sauce:

6 oz semi-sweet chocolate chips

1/2 cup heavy whipping cream

1 shot of espresso


Take a sauce pan. Heat milk and butter till the butter is melted. While the mixture is heating, get the food processor ready and the eggs cracked in a bowl/cup. As soon as the butter is completely melted, add flour all at once and cook on low flame for about 2 mins. When the mixture starts sticking to the bottom of the pan, take it off the heat.

Transfer the hot mixture to the food processor and start it on a low speed. Add one egg at a time to the hot mixture and keep processing till a nice homogenous mixture. The dough will be sticky but don’t worry.

Preheat the oven to 425 F

Fit a pastry bag with a large tip, I have used a large star tip but round works just as well.

Fill the mixture in a pastry bag.

Take a baking tray lined with parchment paper. If you get pointy tips, with wet finger you can just gently tap it down.

Pipe some mounds on the parchment paper. The first time I made these I made them too flat, I would recommend making them taller so you can fill it up with a scoop of ice cream easily.


Now bake these in the oven for 20 mins. Once the baking is done, let them sit in the hot oven for another 7-10 mins. Take them out and let them cool.

I have seen some recipes where you bake them in a high heat oven like 425 for a few minutes, which helps form the crust and then bake in lower temp like 375 for 12-15 mins for it to cook through from inside. 


Once these are cooled,you can cut a slit and  they are ready to be filled with some yummy cream or ice cream.


For the filling:

Take a little bit of cream and make sure that all the sugar and the espresso are dissolved well in it. Now add the remaining chilled whipping cream and whip till you get a nice and firm cream.


In the meantime, in a microwavable glass bowl take the chocolate chips. Melt them according to the package instructions, mine asked me to heat it at 50% power for a min and then in the increments of 15 secs there on, stirring each time. Alternatively, you can also use a double boiler to melt the chocolate.

Once the chocolate is melted, add the espresso and cream to make a smooth chocolate sauce.


Now comes the fun part…

Take a puffed pastry and fill it up with the coffee whipped cream.


Drizzle with chocolate sauce and dust with some powdered sugar.



Yummy profiteroles are ready to be gobbled up.


If you are using a whipped cream for the filling, instead of making a cut in the pastry,  you can just poke a hole and fill up the cream.