We have struggled with making cheesecakes in the past—the child and I. They have either emerged too dense, too mealy, too eggy, you get the drift? However, just earlier this month, we had a breakthrough with the No Bake Cashew Cheesecake from A Cookbook for Special Days, Special People by Shivesh Bhatia. It turned out to be a rather comforting dish, to celebrate the cusp of winter, with a crust of date-walnut mixture and filling of berries. The recipe offered very little scope of error, and each step was beautifully illustrated and explained well.
The book, published by HarperCollins Children's Books, is the latest in a series of publications by the 26-year-old baker and digital content creator—and his first for kids. Bhatia, who is a social media star with the following equivalent of the population of a small country, has just released another book as well, Eggless Baking with Shivesh. However, A Cookbook for Special Days, Special Persons is truly special, as the delicious recipes appeal to both little bakers and their parents—who don’t need to fret over complicated processes and a long list of ingredients.
The book features 42 recipes for 21 special days. The cheesecake, for instance, is one of the two dishes listed under ‘Vegan Day’ in November. There are special preparations like the chocolate and vanilla cake trifle for Father’s Day or peanut butter puppy biscuits for Pet Day. The idea is to create new memories with people (and pets), who matter the most. Bhatia has added a fun touch by putting in recipes for World Emoji Day. My daughter chortles each time she reads about the poop emoji vanilla cupcakes mentioned in that section. The exquisite illustrations by Maitreyee Namjoshi add to the understanding of the process.
Also read: 5 methi recipes that taste of winter
You could turn this into a project, or sorts, testing a recipe each weekend or a holiday. We tried Ghost White Chocolate Truffles on Halloween, and they looked scary enough (but tasted good) to say Booo with! Make sure that you and your child go through the ‘Helpful Kitchen Guide’ before starting out. Instructions on ways to melt chocolate and how to ‘fold in’ whipped cream come in handy. A few recipes feature knives and stoves, so kids need to keep in mind that some of the processes might require supervision.
Bhatia’s interest in baking goes back to childhood. When I had interviewed him in 2018, he had talked about his nani being an avid baker. “Whenever we would visit, there would always be two cakes sitting on the counter. And she would make everything at home, from the ketchup to the garnishes and ice creams," he had said. His mantra has always been fresh and organic, and that is reflected in the book as well. For each month, he has included seasonal ingredients, which would be easily available at the time. The book is Bhatia’s effort to get children started on their discovery of the pleasures of being in the kitchen and making something from scratch.