Today is Valentines day. I'm not sure how much Indians celebrate this holiday of romance but the advertisers of India use it to sell everything from jewelry to health club memberships.
I attempted to celebrate by making "French Breakfast Muffins" for breakfast. This is a long time favorite of Donna and I have made them many times before. Like most of my attempts at western cooking in India the results we close but not exactly.
For one thing vegetable shortening does not seem to be available in Bangalore. (If you know where to get it please leave a comment and tell me.) I substituted ghee. I'm not sure exactly what ghee is but it appears to be butter which was not churned quite long enough to become butter.
Another subtle difference is sugar. You can get nice white sugar in any supermarket and most days even in the tiny market a block from our apartment. The difference is in the size of the crystals. Sugar naturally forms crystals. In the US white sugar comes as roughly cubic crystals a fraction of a millimeter in each dimension. In India it's the same except the crystals are about 2 mm in each dimension. This means the crystals do not fully dissolve in your baked goods. There's also the issue of baking powder here not being quite as effective as what you buy in the US but I compensated by adding extra (yes Donna I actually measured it.)
When made with US ingredients these muffins raise high above the rim of the muffin tin and form a conical peak. They are very light and a bit crumbly. This morning they arose quite well but either because of the ghee or the undissolved sugar rather than forming a peak they flowed out over the surface of the muffin tin forming a flat cap on the muffin. When I attempted remove them from the tin (I have not found paper muffin liners over here either) the caps broke off, then broke into pieces. I tried turning the muffin tin up-side-down to no avail. By standing the muffin tin on edge, carefully prying under the edge of the cap and wiggling the muffin I did get three of the dozen out in one piece.
Then there was the issue of dipping them in melted butter and then cinnamon sugar. I thought the sugar as it was would be too crunchy so I put sugar and cinnamon in the blender and voila, powdered sugar, also not exactly the texture I wanted. Anyway they were too crumbly to dip in anything so I brushed on some melted butter, sprinkled with powder sugar and invited Donna to come have some nice warm crumbs with me.
She insisted that they were delicious. It's the thought that counts. Anyway, what can I give to the woman who literally traveled to the end of the earth to be with me. I love you Donna, happy Valentines Day.
Donna and Joe have finished their assignment in India. Occasionally they still travel somewhere.