Chocolate Kahlua Hazelnut Cake + BOXOFSPICE Turns Two

Chocolate Hazelnut Kahlua Cake

First off, two things. This has been a month filled with chocolate and I’m not even such a into-chocolate kind of girl. Don’t get me wrong, I do love it occasionaly but you will not find me stuffing my face with it at any given opportunity. So, where was I? Yes, this has been a chocolate filled month. What with the Chocolate Chip Cookies and then the Chocolate Cupcakes, Charlize’s Chocolate Cake and now this! It has been fun but I think I might chocolated (is that even a word!) out. :)

Second, after I had made this cake and slapped on the Boxofspice turns two label, I realised with horror (being somewhat dramatic here) that last year at precisely this time (September that is) I had made a Chocolate Hazelnut Cake as well! Now this could mean that either I haven’t changed at all (not such a good thing) or am ridiculously predictable (also not a good thing) or… subconconsciously associate my anniversaries with chocolate and hazelnuts! And then I suddenly thought, heck, anything and everything chocolate is always a good thing. Right? And, if the cake is stunning and very very different from the one a year ago, what am I panicking or complaining about? Therefore, nothing. My penchant for drama I suppose takes over, A LOT.

This was also the last of the baking in the saga of the birthday that was Charlize’s… And, I enjoyed it so very much. She just loves it that nothing she offers her friends is store bought. And she just showers me with compliments. Now isn’t that what we all live for?

Chocolate Hazelnut Kahlua Cake

Chocolate Hazelnut Kahlua Cake

Chocolate Hazelnut Kahlua Cake

Chocolate Hazelnut Kahlua Cake

Chocolate Hazelnut Kahlua Cake

This cake is originally made by the beautiful blog Bakers Royale.

140 grams dark chocolate
2 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 cup Dutch-process cocoa powder
1 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp baking soda
3/4 buttermilk
3/4 cup coffee, cooled slightly
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 cup unsalted butter, softened
1 1/2 cups sugar
1/2 tsp salt
4 large eggs
1/2 cup Kahlúa
3/4 cup hazelnuts, toasted and chopped roughly

to prepare
Heat oven to 350 degrees and line the bottom an 8-inch cake pan. For the two layers I had to do this twice but if you have 2 pans then go ahead and do them all at once!

In a double boiler, melt the chocolate and set aside. Let cool slightly.

Whisk together flour, cocoa powder, baking powder and baking soda in a bowl; set aside. In another bowl, whisk together the buttermilk, coffee, Kahlúa and vanilla; set aside.

In a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, or with a hand mixer (like I do) beat the butter, sugar and salt at medium speed until light and fluffy, about 2 minutes. Beat in eggs, one at time until fully incorporated. Turn mixer speed down to low, in 3 alternating batches beat in the dry ingredients and the wet mixture, scraping down the side down the bowl as needed. Fold in chocolate.

Pour batter into prepared pans and bake for 30-40 minutes, or until wooden skewer inserted in the center comes out free of wet batter.  Let the cake cool in pan for 20 minutes. Remove and transfer cake to a wire rack. Using a wooden skewer, poke holes in the cakes and brush Kahlua generously all over cakes.

In a double boiler, melt the chocolate and set aside. Let cool slightly.

Transfer the chocolate to a bowl and with a hand mixer and on medium speed beat in Kahlúa and heavy cream. Turn mixer speed to high and add butter in two tablespoons at a time and beat until the frosting is thick and creamy.

putting together
Transfer chocolate one cake layer to a serving platter or cake stand spread buttercream on top. Place second layer on top and spread frosting on top and sides of cake. Put the cake in the refrigerator after finishing with the spreading. You want the frosting to harden just a little bit. I let mine sit inside for about an hour.
Take handfulls of the chopped hazelnuts and press into the sides of the cake.

Charlize’s Chocolate Birthday Cake

Birthday Chocolate Cake

Dear Charlize, It only seems like yesterday that I was celebrating your 8th birthday and talking about how grateful I was that you chose to come to me. A full year has gone by while I seem to have stood still watching you grow as if in hyper speed. I so desperately want to freeze time so I can enjoy the little moments even more as they are happening.  Where did the time go? You will often see me stealing kisses and hugs from you because I know how fast the time is zipping past us. You are an old soul, baby girl, you are and at the same time so deliciously innocent. What kid of 9 can woof like a doggy and ask me what animal she is and in the next minute talk about the meaning of life?

I love how your face crinkles into a smile and the sun comes out and how quickly a dark cloud can appear when you get mad as hell!

Till you figure it out, I’m going to pretend I like birthdays!! :) Jokes apart, when September arrives, I do love the idea of choosing that one cake that you will love eating with your friends. And, since you art directed me all the way through, I sure hope you like what I came up with! ;) xx your slightly mad mama… (okay fine more than slightly mad!)

Birthday Chocolate Cake

This is a tall cake and as cakes go, pretty damn impressive. I am happy to report that the cake was a huge hit. It not only succeeded in the looks department but wow, was it delicious too. It is a chocolate cake that doesn’t overwhelm, because the cake is light and airy. Mix it with some frosting and bam! you got yourself a winner.

(This also means you can eat tons of it too!)

Birthday Chocolate Cake

Birthday Chocolate Cake

Birthday Chocolate Cake

cake adapted from here

for frosting (layers)
2 cup confectioners sugar
150 grams butter
2 tbsp milk

to prepare frosting for layers
In a bowl, combine the sugar, butter, milk and vanilla. Beat on medium speed until smooth and fluffy. Divide mixture in two and mix in whichever 2 colors you’d like.

for chocolate frosting
1 1/2 cups heavy cream
300 grams dark chocolate, broken into large pieces
8 tbsp unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
1/2 tsp vanilla extract

to prepare chocolate frosting
In a saucepan, bring the heavy cream to a boil over medium heat. Reduce the heat to low and simmer the cream for a few minutes. Be careful not to let the saucepan overflow. Remove from heat and stir in the chocolate and butter until they have completely melted. Stir in the vanilla extract.
Let the frosting cool completely, whisking every now and then during cooling.  (You can do this step in the refrigerator to speed up the process). Once completely cool, with a hand mixer whisk for 5-7 minutes until frosting is thick and creamy.

for cake
3 cups sugar
3 cups all purpose flour
1 cup + 2 tbsp Dutch-processed cocoa powder
1 1/2 tsp salt
2 1/4 tsp baking powder
2 1/4 tsp baking soda
3 eggs
3/4 cup vegetable oil
1 1/2 cup whole milk
1 1/2 cup hot coffee

to prepare cake
Preheat oven to 175°C/350°F. Grease, flour, and line the bottoms of three 8″ round cake pans. Or as in my case since I had only one pan, you’ll have to do it three times.
In a mixer bowl, combine the sugar, flour, cocoa powder, salt, baking powder, and baking soda. Mix to combine.
In a separate bowl, combine the beaten eggs, vegetable oil, and milk. Stir to mix. Then, with the mixer on low, pour the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients. Mix on low until evenly distributed.
Pour the hot coffee into the batter and mix on medium low until smooth. The batter will be soupy.
Divide the batter between the cake pans. Bake for 35-45 minutes. When a toothpick inserted into the center of the cakes comes out cleanly, the cakes are done. Remove from the oven and let cool completely.

putting together
Level the cakes (this is easier if they’ve been in the refrigerator for at least one hour beforehand).
Stack the cakes, spreading a layer of frosting in between each cake layer. Frost the outside of the cake with the chocolate frosting.

I usually let the cake sit in the refrigerator overnight so that the frosting has nicely set on the cake.


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Brown Butter Chocolate Chip Cookies

chocolate chip cookies

It’s that time of the year again…

My baby girl’s birthday. She is quite something special. And already has a mind of her own. I don’t remember having an opinion about anything at 9. But oh does she have an opinion.

Now cookies were on her list for treating her class. I had to text her pictures and get her approval! We (uh I mean she!) finally zeroed in on these. Changed the recipe up just a teeny bit. Browned butter for the first time which I might add is an event everyone should experience at least once. Licked shamelessly out the bowl… laughed endlessly… and fell in love with each other just that much more…

chocolate chip cookies

chocolate chip cookies

chocolate chip cookies

adapted from this Joy the Baker recipe

220 grams butter
1 cup granulated sugar
3/4 brown sugar
2 1/2 cups all purpose flour
1 tbsp vanilla extract
3/4 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1 large egg
1 large egg yolk
1 cup toasted coconut
1 cup chocolate chunks (with crunch – optional you can just use regular chocolate chunks)

browning butter (tutorial here)
Melt butter in a medium saucepan over medium heat.  The butter will begin to foam and crackle.  That’s a great sign.  That means that the water is evaporating from the butter.  Once the crackling subsides, keep an eye on the butter.  The butter solids will begin to brown.  You’ll smell the butter as it browns.  Once well browned, immediately remove the butter from the flame and place in a small bowl.  Removing the butter from the pan will ensure that it doesn’t continue to cook and burn in the hot pan.  Allow the butter to cool for a few moments.

to prepare
Preheat oven to 175°C/350°F.  In a pan, toast the shredded coconut.  Toast the coconut for about 3-4 minutes, until browned and fragrant.  Remove from the fire, place in a small bowl and let cool.

In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, baking soda and salt.  Set aside.

In the bowl of an electric stand mixer, fitted with a paddle attachment, measure granulated and brown sugar.  Add the brown butter and beat together, on medium speed, for about 2 minutes.  The sugar will still look grainy.  That’s ok. Add the egg and the egg yolk and beat on medium speed for 2 minutes.  The mixture should become silky smooth.  Add vanilla extract and beat some more.

With mixer on low speed, add the dry ingredients.  Beat until just incorporated.  Remove the bowl from the mixer and use a spatula to fold in the toasted coconut and chocolate chips.  If the dough is very thick, mix with your hands.

Cookies can be baked immediately, or the dough can be left in the refrigerator to chill for 30 minutes.

Spoon by the tablespoonful onto the prepared baking sheets. Form into balls in your hand. Bake for 10 to 12 minutes, until golden brown but still slightly soft in the center.  Remove from the oven.  Allow the cookies to cool on the pan for 5 minutes, before removing to a wire rack to cool completely.

Store cookies in an airtight container.


Mango Black Bean Quesadillas

mango quesadillas

Kabir is the first born of my lone sister and therefore my nephew. I have always claimed to not like kids but am pleased to admit I get along only with them. Its so cliched I know, to talk of a child’s innocence and their blind love to anyone that shows them some. Children are clear like water aren’t they? Grownups are not. It’s no surprise then how famously I have always gotten along with Kabir. (He may strongly object to this, but then again he is a teenager, he is supposed to counter everything you say, right?!)

I can remember as clear as day when he was born. He came into this world not without problems. He was just in so much of a hurry to be here. And when I saw him he looked no more than a human tadpole. So fragile, very premature and so alien to me. Yet he crept into my heart and never left. He is much like me, soft on the inside with a nice tough I-don’t-care, hard exterior.

Growing up he followed me around chanting my name much to the chagrin of his father! I liked that!

Like me Kabir is very different. He is intelligent and so different. Maybe that is why he endears himself to me. Not different for the sake of it but because he just is. There is a vital difference between him and me though. He is ridiculously focused, something I could never achieve. He works very hard, is super intelligent and never takes himself seriously. He is as eccentric as they come and is wonderfully comfortable with it. I used to not be. Its a powerful thing, being comfortable with yourself.

And the best thing about him? He laughs at himself freely. You will never catch him frowning if you make fun of him. He will laugh along with you. He is my nephew, and yes I am biased, but seriously Kabir if I had met you somewhere else, I’d try hard to be your friend. And congratulations on getting into Berkeley dude. We will all miss your incredible silliness but oh we are all so beaming with pride too!

Now I am told, as Kabir set foot in America for the first time, he fell in love with Mexican food. So this one is for you dear Kabir. I know you would’ve enjoyed these. Spicy quesedillas filled with one of your favorite fruit, the Indian mango, to remind you a little bit of home…

mango quesadilla

mango quesadilla

makes 1 quesadilla
2 tortillas
1/2 mango (I used an Indian one but you could use any sort as long as they are ripe. Cut into cubes)
2 jalapeno peppers (or as your taste buds allow, I like it spicy!)
1 tsp spicy paprika powder
1 tsp chili powder
1/4 green bell pepper (sliced thin)
1-2 shallots (sliced)
2-3 cherry tomatoes
1/4 cup black beans (drained)
juice of 1/2 a lime
50 grams grated cheese of choice
oil for frying
salt and pepper to taste
dollop of sour cream
some cilantro to garnish
avocado slices

to prepare
Heat some oil in a pan and fry the shallots, pepper, jalapenos, dry spices. Fry till the shallots are somewhat translucent. Add the black beans and cook for another 2-3 minutes.

Toss the mango cubes with some lime juice and salt.

Prepare the tortillas by laying one down in a flat skillet. Cover the tortillas with half the grated cheese. Top with the prepared black bean mix. Top with mango and finally sprinkle the rest of the cheese on top. Cover with the second tortilla and press down. Dry roast on high heat for about 2-3 minutes. Flip and repeat. The tortilla should be nice and brown.

Cut with a pizza slicer into quarters. Place a dollop of sour cream on each quarter, place some cilantro and place in mouth! Eat the avocado along with…

I apologise for the pictures in advance. I made these in a hurry as I gathered all my things to come be in India with mom that continues to struggle.



Spicy Raita with Cucumber

Choose the positive. You have a choice, you are the master of your attitude, choose the positive, the constructive. Optimism is a faith that leads to success.Bruce Lee

Spicy Raita

I’ve been gone for a few weeks. Mentally. To be very honest, I am sick of world news. I am sick of not being able to say anything without offending someone, sick of how un-private my life is because of social media but most of all I am sick of people not taking responsibility for their part in a conflict.

And, this is where it gets really hard when it comes to social media because I love technology and I kind of like the idea of keeping in touch with people but what I don’t like or should I say abhor is that as private as I may make my account, I leave myself open to being watched. I am I must admit fanatically private. But, I take responsibility for putting myself out there. I choose to put up ‘selfies’ (hate that word) and the like. I do that, no one else. But more than the whole social media fiasco that we cannot live without (also a choice), is my intense dislike for people not taking responsibility for their actions. You’re probably wondering how the two things are connected. Maybe they aren’t or… We all somewhat live our lives in the public space. We may not be Brad Pitt or an Angelina Jolie but lets be honest we seem to love leading our lives publicly like them. We love hating Facebook but seem to spend half our lives on it. We are all gurus spreading wisdom and advice to others and rarely look inside to ourselves.

Mom always said, “Its okay to be wrong. Its okay to make mistakes. How can anyone be always right? It’s not possible. But always think about what you do and take onus for your actions.”

That stuck like super glue. Oh I make mistakes. Big ones. Like the one where I decided to plaster my picture on social media. But thanks to some amazing people in my life, AND, what I believe to be personal development (because aren’t we all works in progress?), I think, I at least try and think of my part in any given situation. I am not shy of saying I am wrong and boy I seem to say that a lot these days. For me it is imperative I do, if I am. Its intensely human I keep telling my baby girl to make mistakes. In fact you must, to learn. What is an abomination is the lack of ability to not only not accept our mistakes but to also not learn from them.

‘True friends stab you in the front’, so true Mr. Wilde and I’m glad to inform you that I have true friends.

When I moved to Holland some thousand years ago, I felt like I was ‘the’ target of racism. I was miserable and the situation fed itself so out of control that I found myself wanting to leave. Till a dear friend said something to me that made so much sense. She said, “If someone does that, isn’t it more their problem than yours Rakhee? It’s them you should pity. Shrug it off and you take their power away!” Wow! Isn’t that so true? Yes, racism is not right, and no the victim is not to blame. BUT, I must take responsibility for feeding it. I must. There is a popular saying in hindi, ‘taali do haath se bajti hain, ek se nahi’ (you clap with two hands, not one). Makes sense? It does to me. I can tell you since then I have never felt racism even for a day. I just don’t see or feel it happening. And even if it does, I am oblivious to it. Kind of cool isn’t it? To neutralize someone so effectively? For years I suffered till I accepted my part in the whole situation. There is something to be said about emitting a positive aura, as cheesy as it may sound. When I felt negative I got negative back.

So, the past weeks, hours of self reflection, suffering and vehemently muttered cursed adjectives under my breath about why people are the way they are (me included), why there needs to be stupid wars, why if I can look inside, someone else conveniently chooses not to, I set myself free with that Bruce Lee quote I started with, Choose the positive. You have a choice, you are the master of your attitude, choose the positive, the constructive. Optimism is a faith that leads to success. And since I believe I and only I am responsible for my actions and my attitude, I choose (for now) the positive yet again.

Spicy Raita

I made a Raita today. Raita, made of yoghurt in India, is always used to balance the spiciness of the other dishes. It is sincerely meant as that dollop of freshness to cool your mouth. But, I made it spicy because I feel fiery despite my pledge to to be all positive. The white cold freshness of the yoghurt to balance and quell the fire in my belly. The raita, with the cool and the spicy is like the perfect alliance of opposites in constant battle inside my head.

And this dish, it does its job. Can be eaten on its own or with a hot naan (bread) as lunch. Deeply satisfying, its food for your tummy and for your soul.

Spicy Raita

Spicy Raita

Spicy Raita

2 cups yoghurt (plain or greek, I used plain)
1 red chili (sliced)
1 cucumber
1 tsp cumin seeds
1 tsp golden mustard seeds
1 tsp red chili powder
1 tbsp oil
salt to taste
handful of mint leaves
naan bread (optional)

to prepare
Place the yoghurt in 2 bowls and add the salt to taste and mix well.

Dry roast the cumin seeds about a minute on high heat. Crush and make into a fine powder. Set aside.

Take a cucumber and cut into half. Peel off the skin of one half and grate and mix equally into the 2 bowls of yoghurt. The other half cut into thin slices whichever way you like! I cut them lengthwise.

In a wok of pan heat the oil and add the red chili slices and the mustard seeds. Fry for about 2-3 minutes and immediately add to the yoghurt.

Decorate with the thin cucumber slices and some mint leaves and serve with hot naan bread or eat by itself.




Double Chocolate Banana Coconut Bread

banana chocolate bread

Today I’m going to reveal yet another crazy thing about me.

I don’t like weekends! Did I just hear you fall of your chair?! I kid you not. I dislike weekends. I always have. That part about it that is fun, unstructured, relaxed. Yes, that part. I dislike unstructured. I am deeply bonded to my routines and to being occupied. THAT relaxes me. So, when the weekend comes around and most people are lounging about, I am getting antsy. Now, I don’t have a full time job these days. I am a freelancer so work of my own schedule but it was hard getting to this point of being disciplined all by myself and in the time that it took me to get used to this, I did drive myself crazy. I still do sometimes. It’s hard, this self discipline business.

I like my own structure so much that it is hard for me to like anything else. Therefore the dislike for weekends. I mean I like how I take a shower every morning at the same time, or call a dear friend almost always precisely at the same time too. I like that. Offer this information and i get a stern finger and a lecture is not far away either! That its bad for me to isolate myself. But who’s to say they are right? Mondays are yay! days for me… :)

So yay today in honor of the much disliked Monday. You have one friend right here!

banana chocolate bread

This is an amazingly simple recipe and honestly who doesn’t have over ripe bananas at their house at any given time???

banana chocolate bread

banana chocolate bread

banana chocolate bread

adapted from smitten kitchen

3 medium very ripe bananas + some for decoration
115 grams butter, melted
155 grams brown sugar
1 large egg
1 tsp pure vanilla extract
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 cup coconut flakes + 1 tbsp for decoration
1/4 tsp salt
125 grams all-purpose flour
1/2 cup Dutch-process cocoa powder
170 grams dark chocolate ( I used 70%)

to prepare
Preheat oven to 175°C/350°F. Butter a 9×5-inch loaf pan and sprinkle with flour.

Mash bananas in the bottom of a large bowl. Whisk in melted butter, then brown sugar, egg, and vanilla. Place baking soda, salt, cinnamon (if using), flour and cocoa powder in a fine-mesh strainer and sift over wet ingredients.  Stir dry and wet ingredients with a spoon until just combined. Last stir in the coconut.

In a double boiler, melt the chocolate.

Pour the batter into a prepared pan. Pour on top the melted chocolate and swirl into the batter with the back of a spoon. Place sliced banana on top and sprinkle with 1 tablespoon coconut flakes. On top of it at all sprinkle with some cane sugar. Bake 55 to 65 minutes, until a tester or toothpick inserted into the center of the cake comes out batter-free. Cool in pan for 10 to 15 minutes, then run a knife around the edge and invert it out onto a cooling rack. Serve at room temperature. Tastes fantastic with some vanilla ice cream. Oh yum!

The banana bread will keep for up to 4 days at room temperature. But as the talented Smitten Kitchen says, it will definitely not last that long and she is not wrong!


4th of July Meringue Cakes

meringue cakes

I am not American but I have this huge connection with it. From the time I can remember I have wanted to go there. I guess we grew up on some American shows but they weren’t all that American that I somehow subliminally and inexplicably got attracted to the country. Yet, I always wanted to go there. The land of opportunities and boundless freedom. I’m Indian and there were always rules on what I could and couldn’t do. My mom raised us fiercely so I grew up fierce too, but even within her you’re-no-different-than-boys sphere, there were rules. I couldn’t understand it back then because if I was no different than a boy why then were there such inequalities. It was confusing. But still I grew up confident with who I was and had that insatiable need to change the world. I was always the one that made people uncomfortable or annoyed with my endless rants of challenging the norm. Yes, I was a pain to be around. I think I am still am! I always, always have my soap box with me. :) All grown up I realise that I cannot change the world all by myself, but I sure as hell can try. You could compare me to a dog with a bone, I will just not let it go… It’s exhausting and I make myself sick often with the why’s but its that need I have to change perceptions for my little girl just as my mom did it for me.

And maybe its the liberties that America affords its citizens that made my heart so attached to it. Having lived there for several years, I know that it isn’t perfect. It doesn’t need to be either, but, it was, and is perfect for me. And, I have never felt free-er than when I was there.

And of course no one celebrates the way the Americans do. It’s always so over the top and fantastic! The fireworks are unlike I have ever seen or ever will. It’s a magical day, this day, the 4th of July and I wish all my readers a fantastic and loved day! <3

meringue cakes

I saw this recipe here and immediately fell in love with it. I have done nothing to change it because it was so perfect as is. And, like a lot of my own recipes it is highly adaptable. The best kind of recipe therefore! You can add any flavor or fruit and instead of whipped cream you could add yoghurt. Just go to town with it. :)

meringue cakes

meringue cakes

meringue cakes

meringue cakes

recipe from here

for the cake
4 eggs separated
1 cup sugar
1 cup cake flour
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp vanilla extract (or any other of choice, e.g. almond or lemon)
pinch of salt

to prepare
Preheat oven to 180°C/350°F.

Grease a large rimmed baking pan, line with baking paper, then grease the paper.

Whisk the egg whites, gradually adding in half the sugar until you get stiff peaks. Around 3-4 minutes.

In a separate bowl, whisk the egg yolks and rest of the sugar until thick and pale.

Add the egg whites with the egg yolks and fold together gently until fully combined. Then sieve the rest of the ingredients and again fold in gently. Do not overwork.

Pour into the lined baking sheet, spread out evenly and bake for 15 minutes.

for the meringue
3 egg whites
3/4 cup sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
food coloring

to prepare
In a clean bowl, whisk the egg whites, gradually adding the sugar until you get stiff peaks. Whisk in the vanilla extract. Keep aside.

to prepare cake with meringue
Spread the meringue onto the cooked cake evenly. To add a swirl of color, dip the end of a spoon into the food coloring and swirl into the meringue. Repeat the dipping and swirling until you’re happy with the pattern.

Turn the oven all the way down to 100°C/215°F and bake for an hour until the meringue is dry and crisp on the outside. Leave the cake in the oven to cool off. 3-4 hours or overnight.

Serve when completely cooled. To cut the cake with the meringue, dip knife in cold water.

 to decorate
After you have cut your cake (whatever shape!), top with some whipped cream (store bought is just fine if you don’t want to whip your own!) and fruit of choice. Sprinkle shaved almonds (or nut of choice) and/or coconut flakes.

Have fun making it your own!

TIP: only do the toppings (if at all) once ready to serve otherwise your cake will turn soggy.