Tag Archives: dessert

3 Easy steps + 3 Tips for a creamy Blueberry Shrikhand

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Nutella, peanut butter, Dulche de leche, Speculoos, jams, lemon curd, flavoured butters or cheese, when it comes to spreads/dips, the list is indeed long. But I root for Shrikhand. A little dollop spread out on a chapati and rolled up along with a hot cup of tea makes a simple breakfast to fill my day. Shrikhand is basically sweetened hung yoghurt that has flavours added to enhance it. In India, the most popular ones would be Kesar-Pista Shrikhand (Shrikhand with saffron and pistachios) or Amrakhand (Mango Shrikhand).

While yogurt with fruit has been a fad lately, Shrikhand has been a part of the Indian culinary heritage. For breakfast with rotis or for lunch/dinner with Puris, or as an accompaniment – something cool and sweet along with the hot and spicy food, the perfect Yin-yang of Indian meals. Or just a little scoop for dessert.

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On a regular I’m missing home kind of a day, an expat like me, would probably rush to Lulu or Al Adil to get our comfort fixed. I did that once. But unlike in India, here in Dubai, you get the big packs for store bought Shrikhand. And since I’m the only Shrikhand consumer in my household, the pack stays longer in my fridge than it should. The next time I shared the thought of wanting to have some Shrikhand, I received an ultimatum that we won’t be buying it any more because a lot just gets wasted. Seemed right to me, but I had to find my way out. And so I decided to make it at home. That way I could not only make it in a smaller quantity, with the flavours I want, but I could also make it anytime. Win-Win situation right?

The recipe is so simple, that I actually found it funny. I don’t know why I had always thought of it as something so complicated. All you need is a little patience (since you need to strain the yogurt overnight). Here are 3 easy steps for making the Blueberry Shrikhand, followed by 3 tips that will ensure you have a nice deliciously creamy Shrikhand.

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Blueberry Shrikhand

Ingredients:

  • Hung yogurt 160 gms (I used 400 gms of regular yogurt, strained in a muslin cloth for 24 hours in the fridge that yielded around 160 gms of thick hung yogurt – See note)
  • Sifted Icing sugar 55 gms
  • Blueberries 80 gms

Method:

  • Whisk the hung yogurt and the icing sugar together, to get a smooth creamy Shrikhand base. Whisk it gently but firmly, you essentially need a lump free, thick and smooth texture. You can use the hand blender in short bursts. The important thing is not to over beat the yogurt, else it will be too runny.
  • Pulse or puree the blueberries in the mixer. Gently fold the puree in the Shrikhand. Serve chilled. Fruits which are sweet and slightly tart go well.
  • You can add chopped nuts of your choice. Add the nuts only before serving to retain the crunch.
  • You can store this Shrikhand in a clean, airtight jar, refrigerated for up to 7 days.

Note: For preparing the hung yogurt, I referred to this guide which has step by step pictures. I referred to it ONLY for the preparation of the hung yogurt, nothing other than that.

3 Tips for a deliciously creamy Shrikhand

  1. Use regular (non-sour) yogurt. The packaged ones we get in Dubai are anyways not sour. But local Indian dairy shops have really sour yogurt. The mass manufactured and packaged one is less sour so I suggest you use that.
  2. Use sifted icing sugar. This ensures two things – a) That the sugar is lump free, so that you wont have to whisk it much at the risk of making the yogurt runny. b) Icing sugar dissolves quickly compared to other sugars, again ensuring that you don’t have to whisk way too much than required.
  3. Gently fold in the fruit puree till well combined.

Sweet Coconutty Hand-pies

I am now slowly reeling over the indulgent and gluttony-behaviour inducing Christmas celebrations. It has been a good year. When I look back, I am thankful for all the blessings. Crossed many milestones, traveled, made new friends. This year has been close to my heart. I will treasure the memories forever.

I did miss celebrating Christmas back home and with family. But Dubai has given me a new home, new family. And because the year has been so kind, I wanted to make Christmas special and culminate the year on a sweet note. We decided to make all the Christmas sweets at home. Just like the way we do it back in India.

For me it was the first time I made the sweets by myself, with the man being sous chef 😉 And in my attempt to make these treats, I stumbled upon  a lot of tricks and techniques. More on that, I will share with you later.

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For this Christmas, I (or rather we) made and shared goodie boxes with all home-made sweets. We made a mix of modern and traditional christmas sweets. We made Christmas Cake, Marzipan, Tandlache ladoo (red rice ladoos), Date rolls, Shankarpala (or Tukdey), Kaliyo, Gingerbread cookies. And a special fusion item – Sweet Coconuty hand-pies.

I actually wanted to make the traditional Nevries, but like some magical influence, I was drawn towards baking. Well, it was no magic, I just didn’t want to deep-fry the cresent shaped treats and preferred baking instead. Et Voila!

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Sweet Coconuty Hand-pies

Makes approx 8 medium hand-pies that serve well as dessert or snack for high tea.

For the filling:

  • Jaggery grated 2-3 tbsps
  • Fresh Coconut (grated) 1/2 cup
  • Almonds, powdered 1 tbsp
  • Semolina/ Rava 1 tbsp
  • Nigella seeds/ Kalonji 1/2 tbsp
  • Sesame seeds/ Til 1tbsp
  1. In a pan, dry roast the sesame seeds, nigella seeds, semolina, almond powder till fragrant and keep it aside.
  2. In the same pan, dry roast the grated coconut till fragrant and the oil is released a bit. While this is still hot, add the above mix to it. Add the grated jaggery. Use a spoon to stir and ensure the jaggery has melted and combined well with the rest of the mix.
  3. Keep aside to cool.

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For the hand-pie dough:

  • Plain flour/ Maida 200 gms
  • Butter 100 gms, cold and cut into cubes
  • Icing sugar 2 tbsps
  • Egg yolk 1
  • Ice cold water (a few tbsps)
  1. Take the flour and sugar in a bowl, add the cold butter and using your fingers keep cutting through the butter and flour, till the entire flour resembles grainy sand like texture.
  2. Add the yolk and combine. Add a tbsp of cold water at a time, to bring the dough together. Stop, just till the dough comes together. You don’t need a well kneaded smooth dough, just need a lump come together.
  3. Refrigerate it for 30 mins. This will help the butter to remain intact and not melt away while rolling.
  4. After 30 mins, take it out and start rolling it between parchment sheets.
  5. Cut into rectangular shapes and add little bit of the filling ( a tsp maybe).
  6. To seal the edges, dip your finger in water and run through the edges. Fold the hand-pies and using a fork, crinkle them.
  7. Poke a few holes on the top with a fork.
  8. Bake at 175 degrees C for 10-12 mins.
  9. Take it out of the oven and brush with egg wash for a golden hue on top.
  10. Bake again with only top side heat for 5 mins.

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Bottle gourd, clove and yoghurt tea cake

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What would a cake be without the essence that uplifts it? The essence that renders a mellow yet significant depth of flavour. The essence that distinguishes bakes from merely being a lump of sugary/ floury substance. It is no wonder that vanilla forms an integral part of most bakes. Another powerful addition that renders it another dimension is that of spice.

Consider cinnamon, with its heady aroma, the woody sweet flavour and the sublime heat that it provides, makes it a favourite among most bakers. Or cardamom, that blends with bakes equally well to lend it another characteristic flavour profile. Or saffron, that enwraps any dessert with royalty. With such capabilities of making its presence felt even with the almost negligible quantity, the spice addition, I feel remains the unrecognized hero of the baked dish/desserts.

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Recently, I was toying with the idea of using spice for baking. But I had the desire to explore more rather than just going by the universal favourite, cinnamon. I must tell you now, that of all spices, Cloves are my favourite. And aren’t the little dried flower like things a pretty sight as well? Cloves are slightly more pungent compared to cinnamon or cardamom and so I was curious to find out details, from what I could bake using cloves to the different possible flavour combinations. Did you know cloves pair up excellently with bananas and oranges?

I took a few cloves in my hand, inhaled the aroma, popped in my mouth and rolled it around, while doing my research. And that led me to design this recipe. I baked this beautiful tea cake, with bottle gourd (since I had it at hand, and also something I wanted to try baking with) and yoghurt.

This mildly sweet cake, soft and moist, with a gentle hint of spice can be presented as a perfect accompaniment with tea. Below is the recipe for my Bottle gourd, clove and yoghurt tea cake.

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Recipe: Bottle gourd, clove and yoghurt tea cake
Serves 4 (I used a loaf mould – 8″x 4″)

Ingredients:
125 gms plain flour (maida)
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp powdered clove
100 gms butter
75 gms castor sugar
1 egg
1/2 tsp vanilla essence
75 gms plain yoghurt
100 gms bottle gourd (measured after grating)

Method:

1. Peel, de-seed and grate the bottle gourd.
Very very important note: On grating the bottle gourd, it secretes a brown bitter juice that discolours the grated bottle gourd and alters its taste. Ensure you rinse the grated bottle gourd 2-3 times under running water to wash the bitter juices away. Squeeze out any excess water and leave it to drain in a strainer/ colander.
2. Sift the flour, baking powder and powdered clove in a bowl and keep it aside.
3. In another bowl, beat the butter and sugar till light and creamy.
4. Add the egg and beat to incorporate. Add the vanilla essence and mix again.
5. Add the flour mixture and yoghurt alternately, folding it gently into the batter till incorporated. Starting and ending with flour; F-Y-F-Y-F.
6. Gently fold in the grated bottle gourd and add the batter in a baking mould/container lined with parchment paper. If you do not have parchment paper, you can grease the baking mould with butter and dust some flour on it. This is to avoid the cake from sticking to the container.
7. Bake at 175 degrees Celsius for 25-30 mins.
8. Once done, allow the cake to cool for 5 min and remove it from the baking mould on a cooling rack. Leaving it in the mould longer will make the cake soggy from the condensed steam.
9. Dust with some icing sugar and powdered clove. Cut and serve.

You might also want to check another modern Indian/fusion recipe: Pasta in spinach sauce

Quiche, Tart, Pie or Flan: Do you know the difference?

Sometimes you start to think that now you know it all, only to be bewildered by a question that arises out of the blue. Thankfully for me, it is not someone else asking, but my own curiosity.

I was only basking in the glory of being able to roll out and bake a perfect quiche when it suddenly occurred to me – Is it a Quiche or Is it a Pie? And what’s the difference between the two? So I decided to find out more, only to realize about some more variations – the Tart and Flan. It was only getting even more confusing, and embarrassing because although I was well acquainted with baking a quiche, a pie and a tart, I didn’t know the difference between them! Too much #facepalm, I know.

Have you ever wondered about this? I thought it might just be a case where people from different parts referred to the same dish with different names. And to a certain extent this is true, but it is only out of confusion, that people call a quiche, a tart.

After a little research, I found that there are 4 factors that form the basis of differentiation – Depth, crust, serving temperature and filling.

Dish Depth Crust Serving Temperature Filler
Quiche Shallow Single – Bottom only Warm Custard Topping (Egg and cream)
Tart Shallow Single – Bottom only Cold/Room temp May have custard based filling, not always
Pie Deep Double – Top & Bottom Hot/Warm No custard based filling
Flan Deep/Shallow May not have a crust Cold/ Room temp Custard

While figuring out the difference, I also stumbled on many interesting recipes for all of them. I even tried to develop a recipe, here it is – Chocolate & Kiwi Tart. Would love to hear your feedback on this, do leave a comment 🙂 (you will find a link at the top of this post, just below the title)

Chocolate and Kiwi Tart  (Serves approx 8)
Recipe adapted from Rose pistachio tartlets by Pooja Dhingra

White chocolate kiwi tart

Ingredients:
For the tart shell pastry
flour 180 gms
cocoa powder 20 gms
chilled butter 135 gms, cut into cubes
icing sugar 65 gms
egg yolk 1
For the filling
white chocolate 200 gms
cream 100 gms
whipping cream 75 gms
kiwi 1 (finely chopped)
Garnish
kiwi 1 sliced

Method:
1. Add all the ingredients for the tart shell in a bowl. Mix by cutting the butter using your fingers with the rest of the ingredients. You can use a blender instead. Mix the butter has fairly formed smaller parts and the dough comes together to form a ball. Once done refrigerate for 15-20 mins (do not keep it refrigerated longer, the dough will harden more than required.
2. Roll out the pastry between sheets of parchment paper. Place it over the tart moulds and trim off the excess. Blind bake at 165 degrees C for 10-12 mins.
3. Allow the tart shells to cool to room temperature.
4. For the filling, grate the white chocolate in a bowl. Set aside.
5. Put the cream in a sauce pan and bring it to a boil. When it starts boiling, turn off the heat and pour the cream over the grated chocolate. Whisk gently to form a smooth paste. Set aside to cool to room temperature.
6. Whisk the whipping cream till you get soft peaks. Add chopped kiwi and fold in with the cooled white chocolate mix.
7. Add the above mixture to the baked tart shells and refrigerate.
8. Garnish with kiwi slices just before serving. (Else the kiwi tends to go mush and changes colour slightly)

7 Tips for a Perfect Pavlova

After watching all those MasterChef series, I too wished to be a part of such cook-offs. The thrill of using your creativity and cooking knowledge to wow the judges, and all that in a limited time frame is just too exciting. As a culinary enthusiast, I love taking up a cooking challenge to learn something new. I found a perfect opportunity when Beacon Holidays organized the #TasteNewZealand cook off challenge.

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The challenge: To cook a New Zealand dish with atleast one of these ingredients – Lamb chops, Lamb mince and Kiwis. As soon as I read about the challenge, my baking instincts took over and I decided to bake a Kiwi Pavlova.

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Now I have made pavlova just twice and although a fairly simple dessert to whip up, the trick lies in getting the meringue right. So here is the recipe I used and a few tips to help you bake a perfect pavlova.

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Serves 4-5 people
Prep time: 15-20 mins
Baking time: 1 hour

Ingredients:

2 eggs
1/2 cup castor sugar
1 tsp vanilla essence
1 tsp white vinegar
1 tbsp cornflour
1 cup whipping cream/double cream
2 ripe kiwis
2 tbsp white chocolate ganache (optional)
milk chocolate for piping (optional)

Method:

1. Separate the eggs whites from the yolks and whip on high speed.
2. When soft peaks form, add sugar 1 tbsp at a time.
3. Once stiff peaks form, add vanilla essence, cornflour and vinegar. Fold in till combined.
4. Spread out on a lined baking tray. Bake at 140 degrees C for an 55-60 mins.
5. Allow to cool completely. Almost an hour.
6. Whip the cream till soft peaks are formed, add in white chocolate ganache, and half a kiwi, finely chopped – almost mashed to puree. (for the ganache, chop a tbsp white chocolate and add a tsp of really hot milk, stir till it melts completely)
7. Spread this mix on the cooled pavlova. Top it with kiwi slices and pipe on some milk chocolate.

Image credit: Shanti Padukone Image credit: Shanti Padukone

7 Tips for a Perfect Pavlova:

1. Egg whites…and just eggs whites! Not even a dot of yolk. Start with a clean bowl and separate the egg white one at a time. I use a different bowl to separate the eggs whites from the yolk and then transfer the egg whites one at a time. This is a very very crucial step because if you don’t get this right, the egg whites won’t whip up to the desired consistency.

2. Consistency: Stiff Peaks. Whip the egg whites with an electric hand mixer or a stand mixer on high speed. Initially, it will just froth up and you will be able to see bubbles and the runny liquid. Be patient, give it some time. After about 5-10 minutes, it will start getting white and gradually soft peak will form. Soft peaks is when the hand mixer moves you can see it leaving a trail of its movement. Start adding the sugar when you see the soft peaks. Once all the sugar has been added, the meringue will look glossy. Keep whipping it till stiff peaks are formed. Stiff peaks: when you lift the hand mixer out a stiff peak will be formed at the tip.

Another famous test is holding the bowl inverted above your head. When you tilt the bowl, if the meringue slides, its not ready yet.

3. Once it has baked, allow it to cool in the oven itself, keeping the over door slightly ajar. After a while you can keep it out to rest, but allow it to cool completely. Even though the surface seems cold, the inside takes a while to cool. It is important to let it cool completely else the whipped cream that you are going to top it with, will melt completely.

4. For mini pavlovas, when you hold it and gently knock on the base, will sound hollow. For a larger pavlova you might not be able to test with this method, but an hour in the oven should be just right for the pavlova to bake completely.

5. Avoid trying to transfer it while it is hot. It will fall apart into pieces. After its cold, you can gently lift it or just slide the parchment itself on the serving plate. Because of the weight of the cream and fruits, it is best to put on the toppings after you have transferred it to the serving plate.

6. Crack are normal. A proper pavlova will have cracks so don’t worry. You can cover it with whipped and fresh fruits.

7. Bake the pavlova in advance, top it with whipped cream and fruits just before serving.

Here is my prize from the cook off, a bottle of New Zealand wine, Sauvignon Blanc 🙂 Thank you Beacon Holidays!

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You can view the entire photo album of the cook off here – http://tinyurl.com/ounzxy2

Celebrating Mumbai Food Blogger’s Day with Chef Sanjeev Kapoor

The Mumbai Food Blogger’s form a versatile group of people from different backgrounds sharing a common passion for food.

Mumbai Food Bloggers with Chef Sanjeev Kapoor

Food writing, restaurant/product reviews, food styling, food photography, food consulting, cooking workshops are topics of interest on which you will usually find the members in their element.

6th November, we marked this day as the Mumbai Food Blogger’s Day. Thrilled as we all were to be invited by Chef Sanjeev Kapoor and his team to celebrate this day with them. Undeniably, this has been the best ever Food Blogger’s Meet so far.

The Chef is in the Kitchen!

We were in for a cook and chat session. Almost all of us were star stuck and with mounted eagerness to learn form the man who has spent years bringing a modern outlook towards Indian cuisine.

From here on, I summarize my key learnings from our rendezvous.

Creating an aura:
A spectacular dish produced is not just about tasty food. It needs an aura surrounding it, to be presented as a complete package that influences all the senses. The aroma, the flavours, the textures, of the dish together create an experience in itself.

Mushroom Risotto filled Puris with Tomato and Basil soup shots

Science and Art of cooking:
There is an underlying science when it comes to cooking. Like how gluten works in the dough to result in softer chapatis. One may or may not be able to explain the science. One needs to understand the science of cooking to then make it an art.

Focus on ‘art’ or beautifying a dish without understanding the science can have adverse effects on the resulting output.

Understanding ingredients:
Understand the use of ingredients. We have fixed associations in mind and recognise the ingredient by its association with a dish in which it is most commonly used.

For example, cardamom, the first thing that comes to mind will be to create a dessert. However, cardamom in itself has a distinct flavour. It is necessary to distinguish flavours of the ingredients in isolation.

Understand it in depth and detail, its preparation and taste. Learn its impact on the palate. Salt is used to add taste, a little more or less can affect the taste of the dish drastically.

Puris filled with Chocolate pearls with Vanilla coffee shots

Break the rules:
Do something differently, learn something new.
More importantly, to create something, always have an open mind.

Jamun Bhapa Doi

Wrapping up the session, Chef Sanjeev and his team spead out a lavish lunch for us.

A heartfelt ‘Thank You!’ to Rushina for organizing this for us.

Rushina M Ghildiyal with Chef Sanjeev Kapoor

P.S: Wanted to mention a little note stating what Rushina says about Food Blogger’s

Its important to understand that Food bloggers, do what they do out of passion on their time, at their expense & should be recognized as such.
They are not freeloaders who will write for free meals or a way to placate a client when print media does not carry your brand.

Won a Contest at Nature’s Basket … and made Tiramisù!

Each time I step into a Godrej Nature’s Basket (GNB) food store, I am transported to a different world. As I walk through the isles, my gaze drifts from one product to another. I actually feel like Alice in Wonderland. For a culinary enthusiast like me, who likes to experiment with food, it is a bit disheartening to be unable to do so simply for the lack of a single ingredient or two because it is not available at the local market. Fortunately, Nature’s Basket has put an end to that spell. They have a wide range of products from around the world. Not only that, GNB takes tremendous efforts to impart food knowledge through various workshops they conduct.

GNB

They are also on Twitter – @NaturesBasket
Sometime back, they had the Tiramisù contest on Twitter. And I won! Yayy! 🙂

They gifted me with a hamper with everything I needed to make the ultimate sensuous dessert.

Tiramisu ingredients

Tiramisù translated literally means ‘pick me up’. It is an Italian layered coffee based dessert, the most popular one actually. Deconstructed, the Tiramisù consists of 3 parts – Savoiradi biscuits/ Sponge fingers, Coffee solution and a creamy filling.

deconstructed tiramisu

1) Savoiradi biscuits/ Sponge fingers – Is the dehydrated version of a sponge cake. While some make these at home, others use plain sponge cake instead.

Savoiardi

2) Coffee solution – Freshly brewed coffee with addition of Kahlua (coffee liqueur). While Kahlua can be omitted to make a child friendly dessert, Dark rum is used as an alternative. I personally don’t like Dark Rum as it has a distinct strong flavour. I read that Port Wine can be used instead.

3) Creamy filling – Mascarpone cheese with eggs and sugar. The Eggless version would include whipped cream in place of the eggs (not the same quantity though). Zabaglione (Zabayon/Sabayon) is also used as the cream filling.

creamy filling

Tiramisù

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Tiramisù
Recipe source: Adapted from the recipe created for Nature’s Basket by pastry chef Kishi Arora
Serves 4

Ingredients:
1 cup strong brewed espresso coffee
30 ml Kahlua
2 eggs (separated)
250 gms mascarpone cheese
30 gms caster sugar (divided into 2 portions of 15 gms each)
10-15 Savoiardi biscuits
3 tsp cocoa powder
grated dark chocolate to garnish

Method:
1. Put the coffee and coffee liqueur together in a bowl and chill.
2. In a bowl, beat the egg yolks with 15 gms sugar, keep aside.
3. In another bowl, whip the egg whites till soft peaks form. Add 15 gms sugar, one tbsp at a time and whip till stiff peaks form.
4. Whisk mascarpone untill lump-free. Add this to the yolk mix.
5. Fold in half the egg whites gently till fully incorporated and then the remaining half.
6. Dip the sponge fingers in the coffee and liqueur mix and place about one third on the base of your serving dish.
7. Assemble: Cover with mascarpone mixture and repeat these layers until you have finished your ingredients, finishing with mascarpone mix on top.
8. Sieve the cocoa powder and dust the surface thoroughly. Garnish with grated chocolate.
Chill in the fridge for at least 3 hours before serving.

Tiramisu

Although I havn’t tried this, I have also mentioned the Recipe for an Eggless Tiramisù. Just in case you are looking for an eggless version to try, do let me know how it turns out.

Eggless Tiramisù
Recipe source: BBC Good Food
Serves 4

Ingredients:
1 cup strong brewed espresso coffee
30 ml Kahlua
30 ml cream
300 gms mascarpone cheese
100 gms caster sugar
60 ml dark rum
20 Savoiardi biscuits
3 tsp cocoa powder

Method:
1. Put the coffee and coffee liqueur together in a bowl and chill.
2. Whip cream until still in a separate bowl.
3. In another bowl, beat the mascarpone, caster sugar and rum till just blended. Don’t over-beat or it may curdle. Fold in the whipped cream gently to this mix.
4. Dip the sponge fingers in the coffee and liqueur mix and place about one third on the base of your serving dish.
5. Assemble: Cover with cream and mascarpone mixture and repeat these layers until you have finished your ingredients, finishing with cream on top.
6. Sieve the cocoa powder and dust the surface thoroughly.
Chill in the fridge for at least 3 hours before serving.

Notes:
1. I made Kahlua at home using this recipe – Making Kahlua
2. You can make every component of the from scratch like Shaheen from The Purple Foodie – Homemade Tiramisù
3. While Tiramisù is generally served layered, I came across this unique way of serving it – Deconstructed Tiramisù