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Milk (Doodh) Peda is a traditional Indian sweet made by cooking milk and ghee together until it forms a soft dough. Flavorings like saffron and cardamom powder are then added before the warm dough is rolled into balls and flattened or given attractive shapes using decorative molds before being topped with chopped nuts or dried fruit. This recipe, from  Honest Cooking, will easily give you a small batch of milk pedas with a nice chewy, almost fudge-like texture, using full cream milk powder and condensed milk. Decorated with a single pistachio, they are commonly offered as prasad to Lord Krishna on the special occasion of Janmashtami.

MILK {DOODH} PEDA

Ingredients:

1 can condensed milk

1 3/4 cup milk powder

1 tablespoon pure ghee

1 tablespoon liquid milk

Pinch of cardamom

Pinch of saffron strands

1/4 cup pistachios

Method:

  • Chop the pistachios into halves and set them aside. Warm one tablespoon milk in the microwave.
  • Add the saffron and cardamom powder to milk and give a quick stir and let it sit to infuse flavors.

  • In a heavy based cooking pan add the condensed milk and milk powder. Mix and whisk till smooth.
  • Add the milk with saffron and cardamom and mix well until there are no lumps. Switch on the heat.

  • Cook this mixture on medium low heat, stirring intermittently until the mixture starts leaving sides.
  • Now add ghee and keep mixing till it turns into a doughy ball. The mixture will thicken as it cooks.

  • Allow to cool for 5-10 minutes or until you can easily handle it. Roughly divide into 20-25 portions.
  • Apply some ghee to your hands and roll into a smooth ball. Press between palms to flatten it a bit.

  • Add a halved pistachio to the center. Allow them to cool completely, they will solidify as they cool.
  • Store in airtight container. Makes 20-25 pedas. Stays good for up to one week in the refrigerator.

Milk Pedas with Pistachios

While it might be easily mistaken for its semolina counterpart Basbousa, this lovely coconut cake known as Basseema is also of Egyptian origin. An easy one-bowl recipe from The Big Sweet Tooth, Basseema is indeed “rich and best enjoyed in small bites”. Soaked in sugar syrup, the cake has a tender crumb which readily takes up the taste of condensed milk and rose water to create a memorable combination of flavors without detracting from the main ingredient, coconut. While I made my first Basseema with desiccated coconut, I hope to give it another try with freshly grated coconut as I always seem to have loads of leftover coconut in the fridge.

BASSEEMA – EGYPTIAN COCONUT CAKE

Ingredients:

For the Coconut Cake

2 cups desiccated coconut

1/2 cup all purpose flour

1/2 cup milk powder

3 tablespoons custard powder

1 tablespoon baking powder

1/2 cup caster sugar

3 eggs, room temperature

1 cup heavy cream

3/4 cup plain yogurt

1/2 cup vegetable oil

For the Sugar Syrup

3/4 cup caster sugar

3/4 cup cold water

1 tablespoon rose water

1/2 tin condensed milk

Method:

  • For the syrup, combine the sugar and water in a saucepan and cook for around 15 to 20 minutes.

  • Remove from heat, whisk in condensed milk and rose water. Allow to come to room temperature.

  • Preheat oven to 180 degrees. Mix all ingredients for the cake in a large bowl until well combined.

  • Grease a large glass pan and pour the batter. Bake for 30 to 40 minutes until the sides are cooked.

  • Remove cake and immediately pour syrup over hot cake. Sprinkle it with more desiccated coconut.

  • Leave the cake undisturbed for 1-2 hours or overnight till all the syrup is all soaked up by the cake.

  • Once the syrup is well absorbed and the cake surface appears dry, cut cake into squares and serve.

Egyptian Coconut Cake

Ever since the Tres Leches cake became my signature bake, I’ve had requests to make it for every single celebration I’ve been invited to. It, therefore, only made sense that I would do a Tres Leches cake on my own birthday but with a twist. While I remain convinced that the Tres Leches is best baked as a whole in a large pan, I was curious to see how the cupcake version would fare. The Kitchen Mccabe recipe makes 12 regular sized coconut cupcakes but I filled the batter into 7 jumbo muffin cases though I guess I overfilled them slightly to give them that puffed up, bakery-style look. I would admit that I did make the soaking process a tad more complicated so it would be probably best to fill them just up to 2/3 capacity to make way for the cakes to rise to the rim of the baking cups.

For the milk mixture, I swapped half the amount of heavy cream for cream of coconut so it should have been, on all accounts, a quarto leches cake but let’s not worry about that. While these were slightly more dense than my go-to recipe, they did manage to soak up most of the milk sauce without going soggy; I have a good mind to skimp on the butter next time to see if they turn out to have a more absorbent texture. Overall, my birthday cupcakes happened to be quite photogenic, exactly as I pictured them – with a swirl of whipped cream and a candied cherry on top!

TRES LECHES CUPCAKES

Ingredients:

For the Milk Mixture

1 14 oz. can condensed milk

1 12 oz. can evaporated milk

1/2 cup heavy cream

1/2 cup coconut cream

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

For the Cupcakes

2 cups all purpose flour

1 1/2 teaspoon baking powder

1/2 teaspoon kitchen salt

8 tablespoons butter

1 cup fresh whole milk

4 eggs, room temperature

2 cups granulated sugar

2 teaspoons vanilla extract

For the Cream Topping

2 cups heavy whipping cream

1/4 cup granulated sugar

1/2 cup shredded coconut

16 Maraschino cherries

Method:

  • For the milk mixture, pour condensed milk into a large, microwave safe bowl. Microwave 12 minutes.
  • Remove and stir at 3 minute interval. Stir in evaporated milk, heavy cream, coconut cream and vanilla.

  • For the cupcakes, preheat the oven to 325 degrees. Line two cupcake tins with regular cupcake liners.
  • In a mixing bowl, stir together the flour, baking powder and salt. Place butter and milk in a saucepan.

  • Heat on medium till the butter has completely melted. In a large mixing bowl, beat together the eggs.
  • Add sugar and beat together till glossy and pale, for about 5 minutes. Add in half of the flour mixture.

  • Add in half of the milk mixture and mix in. Add in the remaining flour mixture and then milk mixture.
  • Mix until just combined. Divide the batter between the liners, make sure to keep them under half full.

  • If they are filled more than half full, the batter will overflow when cooked. Bake in the preheated oven.
  • Bake cakes for 12 to 15 minutes until a toothpick inserted in the center of the cupcake comes out clean.

  • Let cool for a few minutes, then poke a large amount of holes in each cupcake, using a wooden skewer.
  • The more holes, the more milk will be able to soak. Pour a few tablespoons of milk mixture over each.

  • Let each spoonful soak in before adding more. Divide the milk mixture evenly between the cupcakes.
  • Refrigerate the cupcakes and allow the milk to really soak into the cupcake, at least 3 hours or more.

  • Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Spread the shredded coconut in an even layer over a baking sheet.
  • Place the baking sheet on the top rack of the oven and watch closely. The coconut will brown quickly.

  • When most of the coconut is a light brown, remove from oven and allow to cool to room temperature.
  • Place heavy cream and 1/4 cup sugar in a mixing bowl and beat on high speed until stiff peaks form.

  • Place the whipped cream in a piping bag and pipe a swirling of cream on top of each chilled cupcake.
  • Coat sides of  whipped cream with toasted coconut and top with a maraschino cherry. Serve chilled.

Happy Birthday to Me!

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PrerrnaMirchi
Mauritius

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