Saturday, March 21, 2009

Project Ramekin.

This is an idea we came up with recently. And no it doesn't need any participation from anyone. We happen to be the only participants in this project ;) We're just two people and we are suckers for desserts. When we come across recipes on various sources, they invariably ask for cups of flour, lot of eggs, cream, sugar, so on and so forth. Initially, in order to learn baking and to feel more confident about ourselves, we followed the recipes to the T. Sometimes we ended up with some great stuff, but in huge amounts for just two people! And I personally think that desserts are at their best when consumed fresh. The longer they stay in the refrigerator, the less delectable they become. For instance, the hazelnut flour cake we tried came out great, but it was a LOT for just the two of us. And we're not Ina Garten to host parties almost every single day ;) So we end up consuming most, if not all of the goodies! So we decided to start scaling down recipes. This serves several purposes.

1) Less stuff to eat (or discard, if it doesn't succeed ;))
2) Is it really possible to scale down certain recipes? (Consider meringues and so on)
3) While scaling down, can we add or subtract some of the 'rich' ingredients and still retain the flavor of the dish? If the answer is yes, then it rocks! If not, then we're eating less of it anyway. So its a win-win situation ;)
3) Portion control. This is a key if you're on a diet and still want to indulge in small amounts. Also, sometimes its really cool to serve individualized desserts when you're hosting a few people.

With this in mind, the geek in me came up with Project Ramekin. That is to scale down and experiment with all the good desserts until I can get them into a ramekin...or 2 at the most ;)

The first successful recipe that we're posting is that of a chocolate hazelnut torte. Its different from a muffin as it doesn't necessarily require flour so you get a nice, dense chocolate flavor. Or as I like to say: "more bang for your buck' ;)

Here's the original recipe I followed. As you can see, it needs a ton of stuff. 1 cup (equals 2 sticks!) of butter, so on and so forth. Lot of fats, to be honest ;) And note that it prepares four servings according to them.

I scaled down the recipe to use just one egg. So here's mine:

1 large egg
2tbsp butter
1/8 cup semi sweet chocolate chips
1/5 cup toasted, de-skinned hazelnuts (I used about 6 individual nuts)
1/4 cup brown sugar, packed (this is less than their prescribed amount)
1/2 tsp cocoa powder
1/2 tbsp unbleached all-purpose flour

When you're baking at 10 PM in the night, you really don't have patience to take out that hand beater and use it and clean it. So, in a small blender (called mixi in India :D), pulse the butter and sugar. Scrape the sides and add the nuts. Pulse a few times. Add the chocolate chips and pulse a few more times. Finally, add the egg, cocoa powder and the flour and pulse it a couple of times. The idea is not to overbeat the eggs.

Pour it in the ramekin and bake it at 350 F until a skewer comes clean, about 23 mins. in my case.

The amount of batter was actually less than 1 ramekin but I didn't fill up to the brim, the whole ramekin because I feared that the rising will cause things to overflow. So I filled about 2/3rd of the ramekin and was left with a tbsp or two of batter which I ended up discarding. So their 4 servings would actually amount to five of our servings...something that worked to our advantage ;)

I've never baked a torte before so I chose to add a little bit of flour to be on the safer side. I guess I might try to make a flourless one in future :) But this came out really well! At first, it looked a touch crusty on the outside. But when we dug into it, we could clearly see (and taste) the dense, rich chocolatey goodness inside :D We devoured this in a couple of minutes :)

What do you think of this project? We plan to post frequently on experiments in our kitchen. These are not dishes no one's tried before, or very unique or tough dishes. They are 'our' experiments in 'our' kitchen. So, it could be a success or like a lot of times, failure! Let us know!


Nags said...

i do this with two desserts, my fave apple crumble recipe that's super easy and also my tried and tested choc cake recipe. I scaled it down to match one egg, just like you guys did :) it just takes too long to make the entire batch and this works well. nothing like warm cake eaten right out of the ramekin. would love to try other scaled down recipes from your list soon :)

Elyse said...

What a fabulous project! I actually do want to participate!! I think this is such a great idea. My boyfriend and I often run into the same problem--too much delicious dessert lying around for too long. These little tortes look fabulous. I can't wait to try out the recipe! And I love that it's made in a blender. How easy.

Arch said...

This one looks lovely and the ramekin idea is great !! Its perfect for 2 people - good idea A and N !!

Uma said...

Looks great! Mouth-watering pics.

Cham said...

Could u come up with choco recipe! My son eats only a small piece and we both never touch any sweet/ dessert.I always try to scale down cake recipes, sometimes I don't know how to cut off 3 eggs , i end up with one. Ur idea is great! flop or sucess I would like to hear it!
Ur recipe for 1/2 tbsp of flour, 2 tbsp of butter sounds really fatty? Gosh u made only ramekin size!

PG said...

wonderful! Keep poting I'll be there to chekc :)
The pictures tell it all. looks delicious!
You know, I'm the other way round. I rather have a dirty hand beater than a dirty mixi to clean :D

Priya Sriram said...

Wow, pictures look too good! Wonderful clicks!

SJ said...

I hate scaling down esp. when the recipe says 1/4 tsp. What is the half of 1/4? what is the half of 1 egg? Post more of these "just for 2 people"desserts ;D

Donna-FFW said...

This is an awesome project. I hate waste and it happens all too often. Usually I send extras in with my husband to work, but this is an amazing alternative. Love the whole premise!

Jaishree said...

A fabulous project!good idea A & N !! Mouth-watering pics..Looks great!

delhibelle said...

yes please!

Burp and Slurp~! said...

wow! I LOVE this idea! I'm always cooking for myself, and I find that the baking recipes always produce WAY too much and I get anxious over not having to end up dumping most of them! I'd love to read more about your great experiments!

Cynthia said...


Soma said...

That indeed is a great idea.. considering u guys bake "everyday" :-) BTW that dessert loks lovely. I still have some hazelnuts left.

Uma said...

Thanks for trying out tomato gravy! Hope you guys liked it! Can't wait to get a feedback from you with fingers crossed :)

Elle said...

Brilliant to scale it down to a remekin size. This hazelnut chocolate cake seems like a great way to start and pretty delectible.

Natashya said...

I think it is a great idea to scale down to the size you need. There is a book out there called small batch baking or something like that that works on the same priniple.

Indhu said...

this is a lovely idea... I have the same problem... in fact more of a problem coz I am just one person in the house and whenever I bake, I end up distributing it to colleagues and friends... not that I don't like doing it... but sometimes I forget to take it to work and it just gets wasted... would love to try out recipes from this Project :)

meeso said...

I love this idea! I was just thinking today that dessert recipes produce too much dessert and I won't have it gone by the next day... Which means I will keep eating it all week long, which I don't want... What a great recipe... Keep it up :)

Pooja said...

Nice idea..dessert is looking delicious...

Vibaas said...

that's a great idea and i'll be frequently checking your blog :D

Uma said...

Thanks for updating me! I am so glad you liked it. Adding jalapenos is a nice idea. I will do it next time I make this. :)

Priti said...

Very's so difficult sometime and imagine how much we endup eating more ;)...inbtw it looks so fab and delicious

Uj said...

This project will really help us ;).. I too try to scale down the recipes a lot since we are two of us and the portion size is usually huge. Looking forward for more recipes like this :D
Looks yummy

Varsha Vipins said...

1st of all pat on backs for u 2..Great clicks,you guys are really on the road of grt photography..:)
Yeah,we too have the same prob,cos of not having major sweet tooth..So basically we dont bake desserts at all..:D..When we have the craving,buys a small slice of Tiramisu from Freddy's..or else chocolates are always in stock..This is really helpful n great idea..:)

DEESHA said...

I totally agree with you, the longer it stays, the less delectable it becomes. This is really gonna help us cuz we are not that much into desserts .. good job .. that looks sooper delish btw

Rosa's Yummy Yums said...

That looks mighty good! A delightful dessert!



The Caked Crusader said...

I find most recipes scale ok, you just have to remember to adjust the cooking times.
It's a good idea!

Ingrid said...

I think that's a terrific idea. While it wouldn't work for me (family of 5 plus the kids' friends that come over looking for goodies) it is perfect for a household of 1 or 2 people. Good for you that you are experimenting. I'll be checking back to asee how it's going.

Madhuram said...

That's really a very good project. I also feel the same while trying some recipes. Luckily I have a couple of desi neighbors and give it to them. Sometimes scaling down the measurements doesn't work though. I'm glad that this torte came out well. You could also try Small Batch Baking book. I forgot the author's name. I found it in the library but yet to try recipes.

Deepa Hari said...

Thats a wonderful idea...i tried doing, it worked for some recipes and not all...i am sure its going to be very useful for us...looking forward to more recipes.

aTxVegn said...

This is a wonderful idea. I love small batch cooking, and recipes with tiny amounts of butter and eggs are very easy to veganize for me and my family.

Lisa said...

Gorgeous! Fantastic photos. I just love playing around with my ramekins.

Usha said...

Excellent idea and the result is absolutely fantastic ! Looking forward to many more such successful experiments from you both :-)

Maria said...

I love mini desserts, great portion control and they are so cute!

TBC said...

What a fantastic idea! I will watch this space closely for more of your successful experiments. :)

A_and_N said...

@ Nags: I have scaled down a recipe to half an egg...wait till I post that :)

@ Elyse: It'll be great if you could give it a shot sometime and let us know how it turned out...thanks :)

@ Arch and Uma: Thanks a lot guys :)

@ Cham: You think that is fatty....check out Paula Deen's recipe :) I guess this is a decent chocolate recipe (if you can tolerate eggs in your dessert) to start.

@ PG: Well, I LOVE getting my hands dirty too...its just that when you're scaling down recipes...the utensils become so small that sometimes you are unable to use a hand beater and other fancier equipments :)

@ Priya Sriram and SJ: Thanks a ton :) We hope to post more successful recipes in the future :)

@ Donna, Jaishree, Delhibelle, Burp-nSlurp: Thanks for the encouragement :) We hope to post more stuff soon :)

@ Cynthia: Thanks a lot Cynthia :)

@ Soma: It'll be great if you could try it out sometime :)

@ Uma: Oh the gravy came out very well :) We added some garlic and jalapenos in ours (because we didnt have green chillies :) ).

@ Elle: Thanks for the encouragement :)

@ Natashya: Thanks...I'll try to find out a bit more abt the book.

@ Indhu, Meeso, Pooja: thanks a lot for pepping us up :) We will certainly try out more stuff in the future :)

@ Vibaas, Priti and Uj: Yes, minimizing waste is also one of the main reasons I wanted to try to scale down as many recipes as possible. Thanks guys :)

@ Varsha: Thanks a lot! Well, ordered desserts are great but I guess there is something very special about baking that i've found out recently...try to give it a shot when you can...its really fun, trust us!

@ Deesha and Rosa: Thank you so much :)

@ The Caked Crusader: Thanks for that tip. That is very true :) Will keep an eye for cooking times :)

@ Ingrid: Lol....and thanks :)

@ Madhuram: Thanks for the idea...will find out more about that book.

@ Deepa Hari and a TxVegan: Thanks a lot guys :)

@ Lisa: Its fun, isnt it? :)

@ Usha, Maria and TBC: Thanks for the encouragement :) Yes, portion control is probably the main goal behind all this :D Its tough to resist them so might as well make it less ;)

Hannah said...

I love making single servings like this- Makes it seem much more special when I get to eat a "whole" cake myself! ;)