Tutti Frutti Cookies

Tutti-frutti Cookies

Back when I was surfing the net, trying to find uses for my giant can of custard powder, I happened upon a bunch of lovely Indian cooking blogs. It seems that there are a lot of varieties of custard powder over there and they make their way into all sorts of baked goods, such as cookies and cakes. Another ingredient that kept showing up on the Indian cooking blogs was a mysterious one called tutti frutti.

I think I first saw tutti frutti as an ingredient sprinkled liberally on top of a loaf cake. The name “tutti frutti” made me think at first that it must be a brand of candy, and it was so colourful it did look a little like it could have been finely chopped gumdrops. But when it started to show up in fruitcake recipes, I thought that tutti frutti must be glace fruit, those little colourful bits of cherries and citron peels that sometimes make their way into North American baking.

I was wrong on both counts. Tutti frutti, it turns out, is dried papaya.

I’ve never baked with dried papaya before. My only previous experience with it was as the tiny bits of ultra-sweet papaya that are sometimes found in trail mixes. I remember loving it but only in small amounts since it was too sweet even for my taste buds – which is saying a lot, since generally I have the sugar threshold of a five year old.

I went to the Indian grocery store in my neighbourhood in search of tutti frutti, but was unable to find any at all. Chinese grocery store to the rescue:

Papaya

Not one, but two brands of dried papaya. I bought both, since each was a different colour and the multi-colours of tutti frutti appealed to me. I was going to make tutti frutti myself!

Papaya chunks

The orange papaya slices on the left are the Dan-D-Pak brand, and the yellow chunks are the R&M brand. The main differences seem to be that the Dan-D-Pak papaya have food colours and sulphur ingredients added, which some of the health foodies may be averse to. But I’ll eat pretty much anything if it isn’t an animal, so I tasted both to see if I could determine any other differences.

I was surprised by how mild both brands of papaya tasted. Neither were as sweet as the type I used to get. I was also surprised by how much softer the R&M papaya was than the Dan-D-Pak – I thought the chunks would be chewier, but they were soft and easy to slice with a knife. The Dan-D-Pak papaya was chewy, though, and kept sticking to my knife as I tried to dice it.

But I managed:

Papaya bits

Mixed papaya bits

Now that I had my “tutti frutti”, it was time to bake something. I had the perfect thing in mind, too. Eggless Tutti Frutti Cookies from SailusFoods. I altered the recipe just a little.

Tutti Frutti Cookies

1 cup all purpose flour
1/2 cup powdered sugar
1/4 cup custard powder
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 cup oil
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/4 cup liquid (water or soymilk, etc)

Chopped bits of papaya or other dried fruit

Preheat the oven to 350 Fahrenheit. In a bowl, mix all dry ingredients. Add wet ingredients and mix into dough. If the dough is too dry, add a bit more liquid. If the dough is too soft, chill it for a bit. Using hands, form the cookies by rolling between the hands and flattening slightly.

Garnish with the dried fruit; I brushed the cookies with almond milk first to help the fruit stick better.

Bake for 8 – 10 minutes, until lightly browned on the bottom. Cool on a wire rack. Nom happily.

Yielded 24 small cookies

Tutti-frutti Cookies

Custard Powder Snack Cake

Custard powder snack cake

By now you may have figured out that I have quite a sweet tooth. I also have a huge can of Bird’s Custard Powder in my pantry, and when I spotted the recipe for Eggless Custard Powder Snack Cake over at Easy Cooking: Divya’s Cookbook Blog, I knew I had found the perfect thing to do with it. Divya, by the way, found the recipe at Aparna’s Blog, My Diverse Kitchen. This cake is making the rounds.

Custard powder snack cake

Now, I tend to think that custard powder is a very under-utilised ingredient in North American baking. And perhaps it is with good reason; all it is is a mixture of cornstarch, salt, food colouring, and perhaps some artificial flavouring. It might not sound very exciting and perhaps you could just add those ingredients separately to your baked goods, but I find the flavour to be unique and I am in love with the colour-change magic that happens when you use custard powder; you take the white powder, stir in some liquid, and boom! Sunny bright yellow happiness.

In fact, I wish I had better lighting and a better camera, or at least some better photoshop skills, so that I could share with you just how vibrant this cake really is.

Custard powder snack cake

Imagine this is bright yellow. And in focus.

Anyhow, if the thought of using custard powder squicks you out (or if you simply can’t find it, wherever you are), simply replace it with cornstarch and add a dash more vanilla. You’ll have a white cake, but I suppose you could dump in some food colouring if you really wanted to.

I cut the recipe in half to make a petit little 6-inch round by 2 inch high cake, which is the perfect size for two or three people who just want a snack. I also tweaked it a little bit for my vegan sweet tooth tastes. Check out the full size recipe at the other blogs if you’d rather feed more people and/or have leftovers.

Custard Powder Snack Cake

3/4 cup all purpose flour
1/4 cup + 2 tbsp of custard powder (vanilla or “original” flavour)
1 heaping tsp baking powder
1 tsp vanilla extract
75 grams of Earth Balance or another hard vegan margarine (or I guess butter, if you swing that way), melted
1 cup of soymilk, with 1/2 tsp vinegar mixed in to thicken it
1/2 cup of sugar

Pre-heat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Grease and flour a 6 inch wide cake pan.
Mix all of the dry ingredients in one bowl. Mix the wet igredients in another. Combine the two and stir until just mixed, then pour into the cake pan and bake until a toothpick or skewer poked into the cake comes out clean. This took 30 minutes for me, but may take longer if you use the full-size recipe.

Cool on a rack. Serve. Be happy.

Custard powder snack cake