Nankhatai…Spiced Indian Shortbread from ChinsKitchen

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There is a lovely lady who I follow on Twitter called Chintal Kakaya, and she bakes the most stunning looking Artisan Indian inspired cakes imaginable. I have been drooling over the photographs of these cakes for some time now but sadly I don’t live close enough to go and buy one. Recently though Chintal opened an online shop selling Nankhatai, or Spiced Indian shortbread. She has spent months getting the recipes perfect, and now she feels ready to share them with us. As they are a new product, she kindly invited a few people to try some so she could get some honest feedback on them, and I was very lucky to be one of those invited 🙂

Just because I receive something for free to review, it doesn’t guarantee a favourable report. I believe in honesty at all times. Why mislead readers? It doesn’t help anyone. Luckily though I can honestly say I absolutely LOVE these delicious treats.

I received 3 flavours to try: Chai Spice, Peanut Butter, and Rose and Cardamom. They arrived beautifully packaged in red tissue paper (my favourite colour) and surrounded by bubble wrap to keep them secure. I don’t know what it is about tissue paper, but when I get a parcel wrapped in it, it instantly brightens my day. I see it as a sign that the contents are extra special, and in this case I was right. The Nankhatai were packaged in lovely brown paper bags with windows so you could see the yummy treats inside, and finished off with a very rich wine coloured ribbon with Chintal’s name and company name printed on it gold letters. This added to the feeling of something special waiting inside. Each packet was clearly labelled with the flavour, and on the back there was a label with ingredients, allergens, and the best before date. Perfect!

Those of you who know me will be shocked to read that I didn’t try the rose flavour first! As these are Spiced shortbreads, I figured that the Chai Spice ones would be the equivalent of a plain shortbread if you were eating a normal buttery shortbread. I wanted to try the “plain” one first so I could get a better picture of what an original one would taste like. Well, one thing I quickly discovered was that you can never use the word “plain” with these! They are anything but plain!

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The first thing that hit me was the texture. I’ve eaten lots of shortbread in my life but can honestly say I have never eaten any as light as these. They have a delicious crunch when you first bite into them, then they just melt in your mouth. And the taste!! Wow! I didn’t know what to expect but it was amazing! There is just the right amount of spice added to give the most heavenly taste. Not too strong so as to overpower it, but enough so you can taste it. Chintal says these recipes took months to perfect. Well, she has definitely mastered them! My partner Del and son Luke both tried some too. At this point I should tell you that both are terrible critics when it comes to food. I have wanted to dump many a dish on Del’s head when he has found fault with the slightest things! So I was keen to see what they both thought of these shortbreads. First there was silence. I held my breath waiting for the comments. Then they both grabbed the other packets to try those too. No comments, just an eagerness for more. I had to grab the packets off them so they didn’t get destroyed before I had chance to photograph them! They both said that they were the most delicious shortbreads they had ever tasted. In fact they went all Britain’s got Talent-y and said “It’s a yes from me”. Chintal, you got 3 yes-es! 🙂

After trying the Chai Spice one, I knew I would love the other two flavours too, and I was right. The Peanut Butter has delicious tiny chunks of peanut in which just adds to the amazing texture. Beautifully nutty and so irresistible!

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I don’t know how Chintal does it, but even with the addition of peanuts they still melt in your mouth.

And finally there was the Rose and Cardamom. It goes without saying that this was my favourite, but only by a tiny margin. I use rose water a lot, and I know it can be sooooo easy to get the amount wrong. Too little and you can’t taste it. Too much and you may as well be eating a bar of soap. Chintal has got it spot on! These ones also contain pistachios and dried rose petals for extra flavour and texture, but again this doesn’t affect how light they are.

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I should change the motto on my mug in the photo to “There’s always room for Nankhatai!”

I can whole-heartedly recommend these beautiful shortbreads to everyone. They are like little bites of heaven. Valentine’s Day is fast approaching, and these would make the perfect gift to tell someone you love them. Or for yourself! I will be placing an order today for more. I was sent sample packs… the packs you buy online hold twice as many so you really get a lot for your money! Chintal says on the labels on the back that these were Made with Love. You can certainly taste the love and attention that has gone in to making these perfect!

There are other flavours available too… Cranberry and Almond, Orange and Ginger, and Almond and Pistachio. They all sound equally delicious! You can buy them HERE.

I’m looking forward to trying the whole range of flavours. Now, where did I put my bank card!?

Peanut Butter and Jelly Thumbprint Cookies Recipe – Zombie Jelly Babies

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I seemed to enjoy PB&J treats this month! First the no bake cheesecake, and now these cookies. I was sent these Bassetts Jelly Babies in the September Degustabox (review for that coming later) and thought they would be perfect in a cookie. My first attempt went terribly wrong. I discovered that Jelly Babies have a knack of disappearing when you cook them, leaving a jelly stained hole where they had been. I refused to be beaten by a Jelly Baby though so I finally have the recipe for you. If you cook them whole, Jelly Babies vanish. Cut them into pieces and they just melt. Perfect! I wasn’t going to put a Jelly Baby in the melted jelly but my son Luke said it would look as if they were either melting or forming out of the jelly, so we decided we would call these Zombie cookies. As you can see by the picture though, the black ones had mostly already been gobbled up by this point so we only managed one black jelly zombie. Oops! Anyway, these are very quick and simple and great fun to make with children, and would be a perfect treat for Halloween. Here is the recipe:

PB&J THUMBPRINT COOKIES – ZOMBIE JELLY BABIES

70g unsalted butter, softened

70g golden caster sugar

1 large egg, beaten

200g plain flour, sifted, plus a bit extra to help roll the cookies

2 tablespoons smooth peanut butter

20 Jelly Babies

  • Preheat the oven to 180C. Line a baking tray with baking paper.
  • Cream the butter and sugar together until pale and fluffy. Add the egg and mix well. Add the flour and peanut butter and mix well until thoroughly combined. The cookie dough will be a bit sticky but stiff.
  • Knead the dough together briefly then divide into 8 portions. Dust your hands with a bit of extra plain flour, then roll each portion into a ball. Place on to the baking tray and lightly flatten each ball. Dip your thumb (hence the name) into water, then press into the middle of each flattened ball. You want a nice round hollow, but make sure you don’t go through the bottom of the cookie.
  • Cut 12 Jelly Babies into quarters, then place 6 quarters into each thumbprint hole. Place on the middle shelf of your oven and bake for 12-15 minutes, until lightly golden.
  • Remove from the oven and place one whole Jelly Baby carefully into the melted jelly of each cookie. Leave on the baking tray for 10 minutes, then cool completely on a wire rack.

If you do make these with children, please just remember that melted jelly is extremely hot and sticks to skin, so make sure little fingers are careful when placing the whole Jelly Babies into the baked cookies.

Happy Halloween!

No Bake Peanut Butter and Jelly Cheesecake Recipe with Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups

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I was lucky enough to receive another yummy Degustabox in September and one of the scrumptious food items was Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups. (We’re still getting through the other items but my box review will be up when we’ve tried it all).

I was lucky enough to receive 2 packets of these peanut butter cups, and each packet contained 3 cups. I must admit, I had never tasted them before so was excited to try them. Chocolate covered peanut butter… heaven! Well, I liked them so much I had to buy more for this recipe!

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I was wondering what I could make with them and decided that as Reese’s is an American company, I wanted to try the favourite American combination of peanut butter and jelly. I had to spend some time Googling this… should it be jelly like we eat in trifles, or jelly as in jam? What flavour should it be? I discovered that it is jamlike, and traditionally grape flavoured. However I couldn’t find grape jelly/jam anywhere here so I used strawberry. I think any berry jam would work just as well. In this recipe I used 8 peanut butter cups and the peanut butter taste was strong but delicious. If you want a more subtle taste I would use 5 or 6. You can always add more if you want it stronger. Also, I like quite a deep cheesecake as it’s a really indulgent creamy dessert, but if you like a thinner one, just use half of the ingredients. I made this in an 8 inch deep cake tin. Anyway, enough waffling, here’s the recipe:

NO BAKE PEANUT BUTTER AND JELLY CHEESECAKE

250g digestive biscuits

80g unsalted butter

1 tbsp caster sugar

560g cream cheese

250ml double cream

80g icing sugar

5 to 8 Reese’s peanut butter cups, depending on how strong you want the flavour

3 tbsp strawberry jam

  • Line a deep cake tin with foil, getting rid of any big creases by pressing them down. Blitz the digestive biscuits in a food processor, or crush in a sandwich bag until there are no big chunks left. Mix in the caster sugar.
  • Melt the butter and then pour on to the biscuit crumbs. Mix well and then transfer to the foil lined tin. Spread it all over the base and press down firmly with the back of a metal spoon. Place in fridge for 30 minutes to harden.
  • Place the Reese’s peanut butter cups in a heatproof bowl and either melt over a pan of barely simmering water making sure the bottom of the bowl does not touch the water, or heat in the microwave checking every few seconds so they don’t burn. Stir the chocolate and peanut butter mixture well until it is all combined and is one colour.
  • In a large bowl, beat the cream cheese until smooth. Add the icing sugar and continue to beat. Add the melted Reese’s cups and beat well until it is all combined. Add the cream and beat until the mixture thickens. Alternatively you can beat the cream in a separate bowl until soft peak stage, then fold it into the peanut butter cheesecake mixture.
  • Pour the mixture on top of the biscuit base and spread evenly.
  • Very gently heat the jam until it just starts to go liquidy, then sieve to remove any lumps of fruit. (You just want the “jelly”). Use a teaspoon to drop little blobs of the jam on top of the cheesecake, then use a cocktail stick or skewer to make a swirly pattern. Place in fridge and chill for at least 4 hours until set.
  • To remove, gently lift the foil out of the tin, peel away from cheesecake and serve.

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