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With Diwali just round the corner, I was hard pressed to do a post on an Indian mithai/ sweet and I could not think of a single one I had not yet blogged about over the past many years. Besides the poor diabetes control rightly linked to the aftermath of this national festival of light [and sweets] convinced me to go for something healthier than the traditional burfi, gulab jamun or gato patate. Here’s a big thumbs-up for the dry fruit laddoo, which restored my faith in the unique taste of this humble Indian sweet.

Dates are the most important component in this no-cook recipe by FoodVedam as no extra sugar or sweetener is added. Try to use good quality dates of Medjool variety, if possible, as they are large and soft and therefore easier to process into a paste. The shelling, roasting and chopping of the nuts should be done ahead as it is the most time-consuming step. Once you have the nut mixture ready, the assembly hardly takes 15 minutes and you have a deliciously different laddoo to add to your sweet box and share with your loved ones on the blessed occasion of Diwali, Festival of Lights.

DRY FRUIT LADDOO

Ingredients:

200g dried dates

50g dried figs

30g almonds

30g cashew nuts

30g pistachios

15g golden raisins

15g black raisins

1/4 piece nutmeg

1 teaspoon sesame

3 green cardamoms

1 tablespoon ghee

Method:

  • Remove seeds from the dates and chop them coarsely. Chop dried figs and keep them aside separately.

  • Coarsely chop almonds, cashew nuts, pistachios. Grind cardamom seeds and nutmeg to a fine powder.

  • Put chopped dates and dried figs in a mixer grinder and make into a coarse paste. Melt ghee in a pan.

  • Add cashew nuts, almonds, pistachios, raisins and roast for 2 to 3 minutes. Add dates and figs mixture.

  • Stir in nutmeg powder, sesame seeds and mix well. Turn off flame and let it cool down for few minutes.

  • Divide mixture into equal parts. Apply a little ghee to palms each time to bind laddoos. For 12 pieces.

Happy Diwali 2018!

Kulfi, often likened to ice cream, actually bears subtle differences which completely sets it apart from its American counterpart. This, you will notice, as soon as you start making your own kulfi at home. Firstly, kulfi does not use eggs, which makes it safe and accessible to a larger group of foodies. The process of making this traditional Indian dessert will need you to be patient as you wait for milk to come to a slow boil; it should be thick enough to coat a spoon like a custard. The texture will remain somewhat coarse and grainy, and even more so if you plan to add ground almonds, as kulfi is not churned to get rid of ice crystals as it is done for ice cream.

This delightfully easy mango kulfi, from Cooking from Heart, works best with freshly plucked, fragrant mangoes though you can also use frozen or canned if they are not in season. This year, we have unfortunately not been blessed with a long mango season and good quality mangoes have been rare and rather expensive but do not let this keep you from trying homemade mango kulfi. If you happen to have any leftover mango pulp after this, you can always whip it with some plain yogurt to make mango lassi, a refreshing summer drink.

MANGO KULFI

Ingredients:

1 1/4 cups milk

1/4 cup cream

1/4 cup sugar

1/4 cup almonds

3 tablespoons pistachios

2 green cardamom pods

3/4 cup mango pulp

Method:

  • In a mixer jar, add 1/4 cup of almonds along with 2 cardamoms and grind to a fine powder.

  • In a bowl, add milk and bring it to boil. Next add fresh cream and let it heat on a low flame.

  • Add ground almond powder and mix well before it turns lumpy. Cook till mixture thickens.

  • Add sugar and mix until completely dissolved. Remove from heat and cool down completely.

  • Mix mango pulp with milk mixture. Sprinkle pistachio slivers at the bottom of kulfi molds.

  • Pour cooled mango mixture into prepared molds and sprinkle more pistachio slivers on top.

  • Refrigerate for 3 to 4 hours until set. Gently push an ice cream stick halfway into each kulfi.

  • Dip the molds in warm water to release the kulfi and serve immediately. Makes 6 servings.

Mango Kulfi

The classic financier, made with finely ground almonds, is something I bake every time I have extra egg whites left over from homemade custards or ice cream. Very basic in its ingredient list and baking method, the only lengthy step you will encounter is to brown a few knobs of unsalted butter to create the aromatic beurre noisette, which highlights the nutty flavor of this delicate loaf-shaped friandise.  For a twist, I switched the almond meal in Weekend Bakery‘s recipe to a good measure of ground pistachios with a light sprinkling of chopped nuts on top and they were as good as the traditional almond financiers. I am further encouraged to try them with other nuts like pecans or cashew nuts just to see which one I like best.

PISTACHIO FINANCIERS

Ingredients:

30 g pastry flour

50 g pistachios

25 g almond flour

150 g icing sugar

Pinch of kitchen salt

1/8 teaspoon almond extract

3 egg whites, room temperature

100g unsalted browned butter

20g pistachios, chopped

Method:

  • Shell the pistachios and grind them to a fine powder along with one teaspoon pastry flour.

  • In a bowl, combine sugar, salt, pastry flour, almond flour, pistachios and almond extract.

  • Add egg whites and stir with a whisk until you have a smooth mixture, 1 minute is enough.

  • Add browned butter in a steady stream, whisking continuously. Transfer it to a piping bag.

  • Put it in the fridge for one hour. Preheat your oven to 200 °C / 390 °F conventional setting.

  • Now fill the prepared financier molds and sprinkle the tops with roasted chopped pistachios.

  • Bake for 15 to 20 minutes until golden brown. Leave in pan for 5 minutes before turning out.

  • Cool completely on a wire rack. Financiers are best eaten while fresh. Makes 12 financiers.

Pistachio Financiers

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