Ohen I bake a vegan pastry, I don’t want to compromise on flavor or texture, and these cookies are a great example of that,” says Chetna Makan.
“The delicate flavor of cardamom and the richness of dark chocolate and pistachios make it a riot with every bite.”
Chocolate, pistachio and cardamom biscuit
120g softened vegan butter
170 g light and sweet brown sugar
Pinch of fine sea salt
275 g plain flour
1½ teaspoon ground cardamom
1 teaspoon baking powder
½ teaspoon baking soda
70ml almond milk
300 g vegan dark chocolate (70% cocoa), coarsely chopped
60g finely chopped pistachios
1. Preheat the oven to 180°C/thermostat 4. Line two baking sheets with non-stick parchment paper.
2. Put the butter in a bowl with the sugar and salt and beat it with an electric whisk until smooth and creamy.
3. Sift the plain flour into another bowl with the cardamom, baking powder and baking soda and mix.
4. Add the milk to the bowl of butter followed by the flour mixture then add the chocolate and pistachios. Fold the whole thing and bring it back into a soft dough.
5. Take a portion the size of a lemon, shape it into a circle and place it on a prepared sheet. Repeat to form all of the cookies, leaving enough space between them for the cookies to spread out when baked.
6. Bake for 15 minutes and let rest on the sheet for two minutes before transferring to a wire rack.
7. Store in an airtight container for three to four days.
Pineapple and elderflower cake
“I have a weakness for pineapple cake. It was the most popular cake in bakeries in Jabalpur: a light sponge cake without eggs, with fresh cream and pineapple on it,” says Makan.
“As with many ingredients, the cream in the UK tastes different to the cream you get in India. So, I made my own version.
For the cake:
100 g unsalted butter, softened, plus a little for the mold
220 g canned pineapple chunks, coarsely chopped
200g caster sugar
100g ground almonds
100g self-rising flour
½ teaspoon baking soda
3 large eggs
130g plain yogurt
2 tablespoons elderflower syrup
For the cream:
300 ml fresh cream
30g caster sugar
1 tablespoon elderflower cordial
Elderflowers to garnish
1. Preheat the oven to 180°C/thermostat 4. Butter two 20 cm round cake tins and line the bottoms with non-stick parchment paper. Spread half the pineapple in a box.
2. In a large bowl, using an electric whisk or a mixer fitted with the spatula, combine all the cake ingredients except the remaining pineapple and whisk for one minute until smooth and pale. Stir in the remaining pineapple chunks. Divide the batter evenly between the prepared pans and bake for 35 minutes or until an inserted knife comes out clean. Let cool completely.
3. Whip cream, sugar and elderflower syrup together in a bowl with an electric whisk until soft peaks form.
4. Put the cake without pineapple on top of a serving plate and spread all the cream on it. Place the second cake, pineapple side up, on top. If you can find elderflowers, place them on top of the cake and serve.
5. This cake can be stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator for three to four days. Bring it to room temperature before serving.
Honey and Black Tahini Pie
“I recently found black sesame paste and decided to make this pie. Dramatic and moody to watch, I’m sure there will be a lot of questions when you serve it,” says Makan.
“Hopefully the earthiness of tahini with the sweetness of honey and pastry will go well.”
For the pastry:
100g unsalted butter, softened
30g icing sugar
Pinch of salt
2 egg yolks
200g plain flour, plus more for dusting
180g unsalted butter
20g of honey
100g light brown sugar
3 large eggs, plus two large egg yolks, lightly beaten
125 ml fresh cream
2 tablespoons black tahini
1 teaspoon cider vinegar
Pinch of salt
2 tablespoons black sesame seeds
1. To make the batter, combine the butter, tahini, icing sugar and salt in a bowl. Mix with a wooden spoon until creamy and smooth. Add the egg yolks and mix again. Stir in the flour. Add one to two tablespoons of water to bring the dough together. Roll out the dough into a circle, wrap in cling film and refrigerate for two to three hours.
2. Roll out the dough on a lightly floured work surface into a circle 2 to 3 millimeters thick enough to line a 20 centimeter tart pan. You should have an extra two and a half centimeters hanging above the mold. Line the mold with the dough. Let stand and refrigerate for 30 minutes.
3. Preheat the oven to 180C/thermostat 4. Prick the bottom of the pie with a fork. Crumple some non-stick parchment paper, then smooth it out, put it in the mold and fill it with baking beans. Blind bake for 15 minutes. Remove the paper and beans and bake for another 15 minutes until golden brown. After 10 minutes, cut off the excess paper.
4. Meanwhile, prepare the filling by heating the butter in a saucepan until it begins to bubble and change color and the milk solids begin to brown. Transfer to a bowl and once slightly cooled, add the rest of the filling ingredients except the sesame seeds. Whisk well then gently pour into the bottom of the pie.
5. Sprinkle with sesame seeds and bake for 50-55 minutes, until the filling has puffed and is golden brown with a slight wobble in the middle. Let it cool completely, then remove it from the pan and serve.
6. Best eaten on the day you prepare it, after which the dough begins to soften.
‘Chetna’s Easy Baking‘ by Chetna Makan (published by Hamlyn, £20; photography by Nassima Rothacker), available now.