Showing posts with label dessert. Show all posts
Showing posts with label dessert. Show all posts

Nov 9, 2016

Pistachio, Rose, and Cardamom Snowballs

snowball cookie pistachio rose cardamom recipe vegan christmas vegetarian eggless

A classic American Christmas cookie gets a flavor makeover with rich pistachios, delicate rose, and spicy cardamom! Buttery, tender, and eggless these snowball cookies are always a hit no matter what the occasion. These beautiful treats can easily be made vegan and would be a delicious addition to any holiday platter.

snowball cookie pistachio rose cardamom recipe vegan christmas vegetarian eggless

By now you've probably figured out that rose and cardamom are two of my favorite dessert flavors. Yes, it's true! From kulfi, to kheer, to cake, to cookies - I love this flavor combination! Throw in some pistachios or coconut and I'm in heaven. So it's probably no surprise that I took my beloved snowball cookie recipe from my old 4-H cookbook and made it with pistachios instead of walnuts or pecans. And what better flavors to compliment pistachios than rose and cardamom? You don't have to make these the festive (or lurid) green that I did. You could make them brilliant pink with a few drops of red food coloring or simply leave the coloring out altogether. These cookies can easily be made vegan by substituting a good quality margarine in place of the butter.

3/4 C pistachios/pista, coarsely chopped
1 C butter, softened to room temperature (or a good quality margarine)
3/4 C powdered sugar
2 & 1/4 C flour/maida
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 tsp ground cardamon (or the seeds from 8 cardamom pods ground coarsely)
2 tsp rose water
1 tsp vanilla or pistachio extract
A few drops green food coloring
Extra powdered sugar for rolling the cookies in

Here's what to do:

1) In a large mixing bowl combine together pistachios, butter, powdered sugar, flour, salt, flavorings, and green food coloring. Chill dough covered with cling film for at least 4 hours.

2) When ready to bake preheat oven to 325F/165C. Roll chilled dough by tablespoonful into 1 inch balls. For a little extra flavor place a few drops of rose water on your hands before rolling the dough. Place on baking sheets lined with parchment paper or silicone mats about 2 inches apart.

3) Bake for 20 to 25 minutes or until bottoms of cookies are browned lightly. Immediately remove with spatula and allow to cool on rack.

4) If desired, roll the cookies in powdered sugar while still warm. Makes 24 cookies. Store in an airtight container for up to 1 week.

Helpful Hints:
Add a little extra flavor by sprinkling a few drops of rose water on your hands before rolling the dough.

Sep 12, 2016

Labaniah (Saudi Milk and Pistachio Candy)

Labaniah Saudi Milk and Pistachio Candy recipe easy simple no bake

From Saudi Arabia comes this sweet treat. Indian Muslims on Hajj brought milky mithai with them on their pilgrimage to Mecca. The Saudis liked the traditional Indian sweets so much they made their own version! Humble milk powder is transformed into delicious bite sized candies with the rich flavors of saffron, cardamom, and pistachios in this easy recipe.

The best milk powder ever!
(No, Nestle did not pay me to say this nor provide any products in this recipe.)
When I first tasted labaniah as a gift from a friend who had visited Saudi Arabia I thought they tasted a lot like doodh peda or kalakand (the traditional Indian fudge like milk sweets.)  A little research proved I was right! Labaniah was most certainly inspired by milk sweets brought Indian Hajj pilgrims to Mecca. I found the original recipe for this candy on Nestle's Saudi Arabian website. I thought it was a bit too sweet so I halved the sugar. I also wanted to make it a bit luxe and a tad more Indian so I added some Kashmiri saffron. The result was delicious! So simple to make but elegant enough to serve with afternoon tea, as dessert at a posh dinner party, or for Eid al-Adha tommorrow.

1 C sugar
1/2 C water
1 tsp lemon/nimbu juice
Seeds of 5 green cardamoms/elaichi, ground finely
8 to 10 strands of saffron (optional)
1/4 C pistachio nuts, chopped finely
4 C  full cream milk powder
Extra whole pistachios for garnishing

Here's what to do:
1) Place sugar, water, lemon juice, cardamom, and saffron in a medium saucepan. Stir and bring to a simmer over medium heat low heat for 4 minutes or until it turns into a thick syrup. Remove from heat and set aside to cool.

2) Add 2 C of milk powder and chopped pistachios to cooled syrup and stir until well combined.

3) Gradually add the rest of the milk powder and stir until a stiff dough forms. Add more milk powder if necessary.

4) Form the dough into small smooth balls. (I used a tablespoon sized scoop as you can see in the photo to get uniform amounts of dough.) Garnish by pressing one whole shelled pistachio into each ball. Keeps well in an airtight container in the refrigerator or freezer for up to one week.

Helpful Hints:
Labaniah tastes like doodh peda but has a slight chewy texture, not fudgy like kalakand or malai burfi. 

To make the labaniah taste even more Indian try wetting your hands with a few drops of kewra or rose water when rolling the dough.

Jun 10, 2016

Date and Crispy Rice Laddoos

dates puffed rice cereal sweet dessert ramadan easy laddoo balls recipe

"Laddoos" or "laddus" are ball shaped sweets popular in South Asia. Easy, eggless, and no bake these laddoos are a quick and delicious treat to make! Dates are simmered into a rich caramel then combined with crunchy puffed rice for a delicately crisp and divinely sweet indulgence. Perfect for Ramadan or any other holiday featuring lots of decadent goodies.

Here I've taken an old fashioned American recipe and "Desi-fied" it a little with cardamom and ghee. Variously called "humdingers" or simply "date balls" these tasty treats graced many a Thanksgiving and Christmas platter in my home when I was growing up in the US. For some reason we Americans love breakfast cereal in our sweets. Dates and rice are familiar favorites to the Desi palate so these are sure to please all around. 

Truly a crowd pleaser, this recipe was originally from my 1970's 4H cookbook. However, I've been making this for so long I know it by heart. From what I understand this recipe has been around with minor variations since the 1920's in the US. In the US you can buy 8oz bags of pitted dates that measure to about a cup which is what this recipe was written for. Pitted dates are not available in South Asia so I'd recommend using "wet pack" dates as shown in the above photo. They are fairly inexpensive and are very good quality for use in baking and cooking. I do have to pit them myself which is a bit of a sticky chore. The bag you see in the photo is the standard 500g package available here which yields about 2 cups of chopped and pitted dates. When using the 500g bag as shown in the photo I simply double the ingredients in the recipe below. If you wish to make these vegan just substitute coconut oil or a good quality vegetable margarine for the butter or ghee. These are so yummy and in less than an hour you can easily whip up about 48 to 50 laddoos for any special occasion or just an after school treat!

1/2 C butter, ghee, or coconut oil
3/4 C sugar
pinch of salt
1 tsp vanilla (optional)
7 - 10 green cardamoms/elaichi, seeds removed & coarsely ground (optional)
1 C dates, chopped & pitted
3 C rice crispy cereal
1 C desiccated coconut or 1/2 C powdered sugar

Here's what to do:
1) In a large heat safe mixing bowl measure out rice crispy cereal.

2) In a heavy bottomed saucepan combine sugar, dates, salt, vanilla, cardamom, and butter or ghee.

3) Over medium heat bring to simmer while stirring constantly. Allow to simmer for 3 minutes,  keep stirring constantly so the mixture does not scorch.

4) Remove cooked date mixture from heat, immediately pour over pre measured rice crispy cereal in heat proof bowl. Mix well with wooden or silicone spoon. Allow mixture to cool for about 10 minutes.

5) When mixture has cooled roll by tablespoonful into walnut sized balls. I use a tablespoon sized cookie scoop to get uniform amounts.

5) Roll the balls in desiccated coconut or powdered sugar as desired. A round cake tin or shallow bowl works well for this. Keeps well in a sealed airtight for up to two weeks. (But they only last about two days around our house because everyone eats them.)

Helpful hints:
If you wish to make these vegan just substitute coconut oil or a good quality vegetable margarine for the butter or ghee.

Jun 1, 2016

Easy Rose, Coconut, and Cardamom Laddoos

cardamom, cardamom. Rooh Afza, coconut, condensed, Desi, dessert, easy, Indian, laddoos, milk, mithai, Recipe, rose, simple, sweetened,

These delicately flavored laddoos are elegant enough to serve as a dessert at a posh dinner party or holiday gathering yet easy enough to make for an after school treat. The classic Indian pairing of light rose, aromatic cardamom, and rich coconut is combined with milky sweetness in this dainty treat!

sweetened condensed milk mithai Desi sweet diwali eid

I first saw this recipe on a Nestle website featuring recipes for kids. It looked so easy I doubted it would really taste like mithai or the traditional milk-based sweets of South Asia. Was I ever pleasantly surprised! The can of sweetened condensed milk makes these taste just like the traditional laddoos made by the time-consuming process of reducing milk. This is such a great recipe to make with children, depending on age they can help with the brief cooking and mixing steps as well as have tons of fun rolling the mixture into balls and dredging them with coconut.

1 can sweetened condensed milk (390g)
3 C desiccated coconut
1 tsp butter or ghee
2 TBS rose syrup (or Rooh Afza)*
seeds of 9-10 green cardamoms, ground coarsely
1 drop coconut flavor (optional)
1 drop red food coloring (optional)
extra desiccated coconut to roll laddoos in

Here's what to do:
1) Combine 3 C desiccated coconut, can of sweetened condensed milk, rose syrup, ground cardamom seeds, coconut flavor, and butter or ghee in large heavy-bottomed skillet or kadhai and mix well.

2) Heat pan with mixture over a low flame stirring continuously. Keep stirring until mixture pulls away from the pan and forms a mass clinging to itself. This should take about 7-8 minutes at the most.

3) Remove pan from heat and transfer mixture to a heat proof bowl. Allow mixture to cool to room temperature or place in airtight container in the refrigerator for an hour. (I usually put it in the fridge as my family tends to "sample" whatever's out on the counter. I am told it is for "quality control" purposes. :::eye roll:::)

4) When cooled form tablespoonfuls into balls. I use a cookie scoop to get uniform amounts. Coat your palms with butter, ghee or coconut oil if mixture sticks to your hands.

5) Roll laddoos in desiccated coconut if desired. Refrigerate finished laddoos in an airtight container for 30 minutes before serving to set. These will keep for up to a week in an airtight container in the refrigerator. This recipe made 20 tablespoonful sized laddoos.

mithai traditional dessert sweetened condensed milk desiccated coconut

Helpful hints:
*If you don't have rose syrup or Rooh Afza you could use 1-2 drops of rose essence or 1 teaspoon of rose water plus 1 drop red food coloring for flavor. If you're not familiar with the iconic Desi sharbat syrup of Rooh Afza there's a post on my blog about it here.

If using freshly grated coconut increase amount to 4 cups and omit ghee or butter.
You can make many variations in flavors and colors with this recipe. I've made them with pistachios and saffron threads soaked in 1 TBS water for 20 minutes which came out a brilliant yellow. I've made them pure white by adding no flavor except for coconut essence. I've even made blue laddoos by adding curacao syrup.

May 5, 2016

Mexican Polvorones (Anise & Cinnamon Cookies)

Happy Cinco de Mayo! Yes, it's Mexican independence day so it's time for a south of the border treat. "Polvo" means powder in Spanish which makes these cookies the powdery ones. Tender in texture and richly redolent with the sweetness of cinnamon and anise, these cookies are are "Que delicioso." This eggless recipe can be made vegan and are so simple to make. Try them as a elegant tea time treat or a tasty addition to any holiday platter. 

Mexican polvorones anise cinnamon cookies recipe cinco de mayo easy

Well, I didn't have a serape or even a pretty Mexican plate to style these cookies on so a lovely gaillardia blossom will have to infer all the vibrancy and festivity of Cinco de Mayo. These cookies get most of their flavor from the spices so be sure to use the best quality cinnamon and anise you can find. I prefer to use whole ground anise or anise oil as they are superior in flavor to the extract. The fat used plays an important role in both the texture and flavor of these cookies. Traditionally lard gave these cookies their powdery texture but I prefer butter, a high quality margarine, or vegetable shortening. Ground pecans or walnuts are also a traditional ingredient of polvorones depending upon region so you can add a cup of those also for extra rich cookies.

1 C butter, margarine or vegetable shortening
1/4 C powdered sugar
1/2 tsp cinnamon, ground
1/2 tsp ground anise or anise extract, or 1 drop anise oil
1 tsp vanilla
pinch of salt
2 C flour/maida
1 C ground pecans or walnuts (optional)
1/4 C granulated sugar mixed with 2 tsp ground cinnamon for dredging

Here's what to do:
1) In a large mixing bowl cream together butter, powdered sugar, cinnamon, anise, vanilla, and salt.

2) Gradually mix in flour. Add pecans if using.  Dough will pull away from the mixing bowl and cling to itself when ready.

3) Chill dough wrapped in cling film or Ziploc bag for at least 3 hours or overnight,

4) When ready to bake preheat oven to 350F/180C.  Roll dough by tablespoonfuls into balls. Place on parchment or silicone mat lined baking sheet about 2 inches apart and slightly flatten with palm of hand.

5) Bake cookies for 18 to 25 minutes turning baking sheet halfway through baking time.

6)  When cookies are baked through and slightly browned on the bottom remove from oven. Allow to cool for 5 minutes before removing from baking with spatula.  If desired roll in 1/2 C granulated sugar mixed with 2 tsp cinnamon.  Store in an airtight container for up to 2 weeks. Makes 20 cookies.

Helpful hints:
You don't have to chill the dough. However, chilling does improve the flavor and will make the dough easier to handle and less likely to spread when baked. Less spreading and perfectly shaped dough will make for prettier cookies. You can also keep this dough frozen for up to a month until ready to use.

Feb 28, 2016

Shortcut Gulab Jamun

Who doesn't love a gulab jamun?
Making this traditional sweet treat is a snap with this shortcut recipe. This simple recipe using bread and milk to make gulab jamuns was all over the internet a few years back, so I am not sure where it originated. I've embellished it a bit by infusing the milk used for the gulab jamuns with Kashmiri saffron. The saffron not only imbues the gulab jamuns with it's rich flavor and color, but also lends it's golden hue to the syrup as the gulab jamuns steep. 

bread sweet Indian cardamom saffron.

2 C water
2 C sugar
7 green cardamoms, bruised in mortar and pestle
1 loaf sliced white bread
1/4 to 1/3 C milk
20 strands of saffron (optional)
4 C cooking oil
4-5 drop kewra or rose water (optional)

Here's what to do:
1) If using saffron, heat milk in a saucepan until almost boiling. Remove from heat. Place saffron strands in milk and allow to steep for at least 20 minutes. (Try to use as little milk as possible, I used 1/4 C on a small 12 slice loaf of bread.) If not using saffron skip to step 4 and use plain milk,

Come on little strands of sunshine, do your thang!
2) To make the syrup heat water, sugar, and green cardamoms in a medium saucepan until boiling.  Reduce heat and let simmer for 5 minutes. Remove from heat and set aside.

3) Chop crusts off of bread slices.

4) Place a small bowl of water nearby. Drizzle each slice of bread with the saffron infused milk and squidge into a ball. Try to use as little milk as possible. Squeeze out as much milk as you can to form a dense ball. Get the outside of the ball of dough as smooth as you can by dipping your hands into the bowl of water as you roll them. If you have any cracks in the surface your gulab jamuns will be pockmarked and bumpy.

5) Heat cooking oil in a deep saucepan or kadhai over medium high heat until 300F/150C. Test the heat of the oil by frying a cube of bread, if the bread bubbles and turns brown in 30 seconds the oil is ready.
That  looks more like a fried caterpillar than a bread crust.
6) Place 4 balls in hot oil at a time, they will sink to the bottom at first but slowly rise to the surface. Allow them to fry for about 4 minutes, gently turning them until they are deep brown on all sides. Remove the fried balls with a slotted spoon or tongs and transfer to a napkin or paper towel on a plate to drain off excess oil.

7) When all the balls have been fried place them into the prepared syrup. Warm the syrup for about 5 minutes over medium heat. Remove pan from heat. Add kewra or rose water if using. Allow your gulab jamuns to soak for at least 2 hours. Serve warmed or at room temperature. These can be kept in an airtight container in the refrigerator up to one week, allow them to come to room temperature before serving.

Helpful Hints:
Day old or stale white bread works well in this recipe too. You could probably think of this as the Indian version of "pan perdue."

Jan 27, 2016

5 Minute Cowpat Cookies

simple no bake cocoa peanut butter oats cookie veg vegan

Yes, I did write "Cowpat Cookies." When you look at these cookies you can see why. Not the prettiest things, are they? I do promise these are the quickest, tastiest, no bake cookies you'll ever eat though! Kids absolutely love them. What's more fun than eating a cookie that looks like a cowpat? They're eggless (and therefore properly "veg" in the Subcontinental sense) and make a great tea time or after school treat.

1 C sugar
1/4 C milk
1/4 C butter or ghee
2 TBS unsweetened cocoa powder
pinch of salt
1/4 C peanut butter
1/2 tsp vanilla
1/2 C shredded coconut (optional can use nuts, raisins, M& M's or any other chopped dried fruit too )
1&1/2 C rolled oats (or quick cooking oats)

Here's what to do: 
Measured oats & coconut in bowl.

1) In a bowl measure out oats and coconut, set aside.

Measured & ready to boil.
2) In a heavy bottomed sauce pan combine sugar, milk, butter or ghee, unsweetened cocoa powder, salt, peanut butter, and vanilla. Over medium heat bring mixture to boil while stirring frequently. Allow mixture to continue to boil for 1 minute while stirring continuously. Remove from heat.

It's boiling!
Keep stirring!

3) Pour bowl of pre-measured oats and coconut into pan with hot mixture. Stir hot mixture, oats, and coconut with until they are evenly combined.

Mixed & ready to scoop.

4) Scoop mixture by tablespoonful onto waxed paper or silicone mat. Cookies will be soft while warm but will firm up when cooled. (If you can stop eating them until they are cool that is.) Makes about 15 cookies.


We tried rolling some into balls like laddoos.
The mixture became too crumbly as it cooled though.
I guess you could call these "laddon'ts?"

Helpful Hints:
This recipe works well with other cereals besides oats. I've made these with equal amounts of crispy rice cereal, bran flakes, and even muesli. You could say I'm a "cereal entrepreneur." It's all good!

Not fond of coconut? Use a 1/2 C of any sort of nuts, raisins, M& M's or any other chopped dried fruit that you think will go nicely with chocolate. Or a mixture of all of the above!

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