Repeat after me, Clafoutis!



A few months earlier this year, I received an email from Reem Falaknaz, an Executive Producer from Noor Dubai TV. To date, it is the most exciting email I have received from a visitor of my blog. She was planning on producing a series of cooking videos under 3 minutes, featuring desserts. These series were to be aired during the Holy month of Ramadan and the theme was desserts with a Middle Eastern take. I was boiling with excitement and called my husband at work right away. With his green signal, I promptly replied saying I would be thrilled to be a part of her project. I started devising ways to spin classic desserts the Middle Eastern way focusing on ingredients integral to Arab cooking. Walnut, tahini, rosewater, honey, figs – the list was endless. I proposed three desserts and Reem had the final say. She chose the dessert I had hoped she would – a dessert with dates.



Dates are perhaps, the most symbolic food of Ramadan and a staple food for the Middle East. As the Aza’an is sounded from the mosques at dusk, with a prayer on the lips, the fast is broken with dates. This stone fruit is highly nutritional and the UAE is abundant with its trees. My favorite kind are the dates which haven’t reached their full stage of ripeness. They are still firm and yellow on the top and are chewy, soft and ripe at the bottom. The texture and flavor is a delight being sweet with a hint of crunchy sharpness from the unripened part. Dates stuffed with almonds and pecans and Dibs, a syrup of dates so similar to molasses, drizzled generously on crispy hot Lgeimat is another favorite during Ramadan. I have my annual share of these fried dumplings at Global Village.



So what am I making with dates for my dessert? I am baking Clafoutis. Say it with me – Cla-Fu-Ti. I’d say pronouncing it is the easiest way to put a smile on your face. So what is Clafoutis? Native to France, an egg based pancake-like batter is poured over cherries and baked till puffy and golden, served warm with icing sugar sprinkled on top. Dates were the ideal alternative to a stone fruit that could replace cherries for my Middle-Eastern dessert. With just a few tweaks, I had on mind what could be the recipe for a successful Dates Clafoutis.





Since this was an experimental recipe which I would be making for the first time, I made a batch in individual size pie dishes. Honestly, this was one of the easiest recipes I have baked. The only process that might take a while is stoning the dates and chopping them. Clafoutis connoisseurs insist on leaving the seeds intact on cherries while baking as it enhances the flavour. Considering, the date seeds are much larger than cherries I deseeded them. I don’t like picking at forgotten or intentionally kept seeds in any kind of dessert. Imagine you are floating up and away relishing the sweetness and delight of this dessert balloon and then POP, a seed just rattles that experience and your’e jolted out of your sugary senses. At least, that’s how I feel. So no seeds it is. From then, a bit of flour, a couple of whisked wholesome eggs and a sprinkling of spices and the batter is ready for the oven. 



After four rescheduled dates, Reem came home to shoot my dessert. The series were being shot without head shots or voice. After half an hour of setup, we finally began shooting. I got a first-hand experience into the effort that is required for production and filming of cookery videos. However, it was an experience of a lifetime that had my heart singing, having achieved this milestone so early into my blogging days. For three hours, the soft-spoken Reem gave precise directions and simultaneously shot me preparing the Clafoutis amidst laughter and mock seriousness.



Among the perks of being one of the last videos to be shot is having the privilege of viewing videos that Reem had finished editing. I got to see a couple of Fooderati Arabia bloggers’ video and fell in love with Reems’ quiet  style of working and her choice of palette with soothing pastel colors. The second privilege I had was that I got to shoot my dessert straight out of the oven. The room wafted with the heady fragrance of cinnamon which was coincidentally a favourite for both of us. 



I would recommend Clafoutis as a great recipe for a lazy morning breakfast or a weekend brunch. If you prep the dates the night before, then more than half the work is done. While you leave it to bake you could prepare the other dishes, make fresh orange juice, your favourite coffee and set the table. The clafoutis will be ready and the wafting cinnamon will accompany a great meal and conversation. 

And here it is, my video on Date Clafoutis.

This is such a food-blogger-swelling-in-pride moment for me. I’d like to thank Reem for approaching me to be a part of her production. It was a pleasure working and watching her work. I wish her the very best for her future. 

P.S. There’s more! What next you ask? You’ll find out soon. For now, let me share my recipe with you. 

Happy Baking!

Date Clafoutis

Clafoutis batter adapted from Joy Of Baking

Serves 6-8

INGREDIENTS

  • 300g Fresh Dates, washed and pitted 
  • 60g All-Purpose Flour
  • 90g Sugar
  • 4 eggs, lightly beaten
  • 250 ml, Fresh Milk
  • 25 g Unsalted Butter, melted
  • 1 tsp Vanilla Extract
  • 1 tsp Ground Cinnamon
  • 1/2  tsp Ground Nutmeg
  • Icing sugar, to dust

METHOD

  • Preheat the oven to 180 degrees C. 
  • Brush a shallow ovenproof dish or pie plate with melted butter.
  • Slice the dates to bite size pieces.
  • Spread the dates into the dish in a single layer.
  • Sift the flour into a bowl, add sugar and make a well in the centre. Gradually add the combined eggs, milk and butter, whisking until smooth and free of lumps. DO NOT over mix the batter.
  • Combine the vanilla extract, cinnamon and nutmeg powders and mix well.
  • Pour the batter over the dates and bake for 40minutes or until the batter is risen and golden.
  • Remove from the oven and dust with icing sugar.
  • Serve immediately.

NOTES

  • For a zesty addition, drizzle 2 teaspoons of orange juice over dates before adding the batter. 
  • If you would like to bake individual servings as shown above, reduce the baking time according to the size of your baking dish. The ones pictured above took 25 minutes. The key is to make sure the batter has puffed golden and pulls away slightly from the sides.

Have a good food day!

Triumphant Two with Brownie Points – Chocolate Chip Cheesecake Marbled Brownies


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A very warm welcome to you. Do you like my new blog? My husband and I have been working (more him than me) on the new incarnation of my blog. My Mouth is Full is now self-hosted . We are celebrating this milestone with these brownies. Why don’t you cut yourself a slice too?

I have made brownies before. From the food-purist-unanimously-frowned-upon brownies from a box. I barely baked at home before marriage. When I would read brownie recipes on food blogs, I’d wonder why anyone would go through the troubles of weighing, whisking and washing a miniature building of soiled dishes when everything could be made in a single bowl. That changed when I made these brownies. My husband doesn’t like, order or eat brownies. No can do. When I would make box brownies he’d always pass. He loves cheesecake. It was the first thing I baked for him before we got married. My then future mother in law would visit Dubai during our courting days for trousseau shopping. On a particular visit, I sent back chocolate cheesecake. The local supermarket had run out of cheesecake tubs and I had to buy individual sized portions of cream cheese. I remember the kitchen looking like it had been invaded by The Tin Foil Wrapper Battalion and Umma’s harrowed looks of the amount of cheese my future husband was about to consume in the name of dessert. The moon eyed bride-to-be continued to weigh and whip and baked and waited for it to set. When we talk about fantasy desserts, once in a while, he gushes about that cheesecake. The cheesecake which he consumed all by himself. 



Then along came a brownie recipe that changed everything. My husband loves these brownies. He could polish them off straight from the pan. There was a month I had to make these brownies two weekends in a row. He’d have a slice or two after meals and he even took a few to work. This type of indulgence from a person who has a mild sweet tooth and hates brownies says a lot about this recipe.

So what’s the secret?


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Dollops of cheesecake batter. It is a delicious hybrid of two classic desserts, cheesecake and brownies. The result are these decadent bites of chocolate enriched fudgilicious brownie with glossy swirls of cheesecake sprinkled with bittersweet chocolate chips slightly melted into the batter. Drooling yet? And the texture, oh the texture, the right kind of rich without being gluttonous.


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So we completed two years! All the time and memories we have created with our travels, food and our lives has been terrific. So when I was thinking what to bake for our anniversary, I didn’t have to think at all. It would have to be these cheesecake brownies.

Cream cheese is possibly the only ingredient you would need to buy if you have a well stocked baking pantry. It’s a simple recipe, doesn’t need much time to prepare or in the oven and makes the kitchen smell like a dream. The process I enjoy the most is swirling the two batters. Feel free to go into a frenzy or use a delicate hand. Either way, they look pretty as a picture once they’re done. It helps to chill the brownies before cutting them to make super neat slices. I don’t like cold desserts but I love having these particular brownies chilled.


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Don’t they look beautiful?

These brownies will win everyone’s heart. I found this recipe on Smitten Kitchen. I am extremely excited that her book is out and I’m looking forward to many hours of blissful baking with my oven and her recipes.

Happy Baking 🙂

Cheesecake Marbled Brownies

Smitten Kitchen

Original recipe by Gourmet, June 2007

Makes 16 2-inch square, thick brownies

INGREDIENTS

Brownie Batter

  • 1 stick (1/2 cup or 4 ounces) unsalted butter, cut into pieces
  • 3 ounces unsweetened chocolate, chopped
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 2/3 cup all-purpose flour

Cheesecake batter 

  • 8 ounces cream cheese, well softened
  • 1/3 cup sugar
  • 1 large egg yolk
  • 1/4 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 1/2 cup semisweet chocolate chips

METHOD

  • Place oven rack in middle position and preheat oven to 350°F. Butter an 8-inch square baking pan.
  • Heat butter and chocolate in a heatproof bowl over simmering water (bain marie) over moderately low heat, whisking occasionally, just until melted. Remove from heat.
  • Whisk in sugar, eggs, vanilla, and a pinch of salt until well combined.
  • Whisk in flour until just combined and spread in baking pan.
  • Whisk together cheesecake batter ingredients in a small bowl until smooth.
  • Dollop over brownie batter, then swirl in with a knife or spatula. 
  • Sprinkle chocolate chips over cheesecake/brownie batter swirl. 
  • Bake brownies until edges are slightly puffed and center is just set, about 35 minutes.
  • Serve warm or at room temperature.

Slicing tip: Chilling the brownies until almost frozen ensures neat slices when you cut these brownies.  


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Have a good food day.