I am 3 days behind schedule on posting my daring bakers post of this month but if you watch the news you may know why . The drums of war are resonating through out the middle east. Being glued to the TV is something you can’t help, no matter how painful or stressful the news may get and it is getting worse by the minute!
Everyone is worried. Memories of the gulf war are vividly coming back. I was 13 at the time and I remember the evacuation drills in school. Windows taped to prevent them from shattering in case of bombs. The news being the one and only topic that everyone is discussing. All that and Jordan was not directly involved in it all as it seems to be this time. Everyone around you hopes and prays that this too shall pass without us “becoming the news” instead of watching the news..
To keep my head from exploding I am trying to re-focus on simple things, things that bring me joy. The new school year, blogging, photography, anything and everything that can keep me away from the TV and the gloomy news coming out of it. One of those simple things that I truly enjoy is doing my daring bakers and cooks challenges
Aparna of My Diverse Kitchen was our August 2013 Daring Bakers’ hostess and she challenged us to make some amazing regional Indian desserts. The Mawa Cake, the Bolinhas de Coco cookies and the Masala cookies – beautifully spiced and delicious!
Mawa (also known as Khoya/ Khoa) is made by slowly reducing milk (usually full-fat) until all that remain is a mass of slightly caramelized granular dough-like milk solids. Mawa is used in a wide variety of Indian sweets like Gulab Jamun. Mawa is pronounced as Maa-vaa; Khoya is pronounced as KhOh-yaa.
In this cake, Mawa lends a rich and a caramelized milky taste.The cake is slightly dense and reminiscent of a pound cake.The cardamom taste is subtle in the baked cake but it definitely sets it apart from a plain cake. We all loved it with a cup of tea, it also goes beautifully with coffee because of the cardamom in it.(I am not a coffee drinker but still I love the combination of coffee and cardamom, it is one of those unbeatable matches like cinnamon and apples!) Typically mawa cakes are made with cardamom and cashews but you can also make it with blanched almonds like me. I baked my cake in an 8 inch round pan but next time I plan on trying it in cup cake form.
For the Mawa:
1 liter (4 cups) full fat milk
For the cake:
1/2 cup (1 stick) (120 ml) (4 oz) (115 gm) unsalted Butter (soft at room temperature)
3/4 cup (180 ml) packed crumbled mawa
1-1/4 cups (300 ml) (10 oz) (280 gm) castor sugar
3 large eggs
5 to 6 cardamom pods, powdered, (about 1-1/2 tsp powdered cardamom)
2 cups (500ml) (9 oz) (260 gm) cake flour
1 teaspoon (5 ml) (5 gm) baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup (120 ml) milk
1 teaspoon (5ml) vanilla extract (optional)
Cashew-nuts (or blanched almonds) to decorate (about 18 to 20)
1. First make the “Mawa”. Pour the milk into a heavy bottomed saucepan, preferably a non-stick one. Bring the milk to a boil, stirring it on and off, making sure it doesn’t stick to the bottom.
Turn down the heat to medium and keep cooking the milk until reduces to about a quarter of its original volume. This should take about an hour to an hour and a half.
2. The important thing during this process is to watch the milk and stir it frequently to make sure it doesn’t stick to the sides or bottom of the pan and get burnt. The danger of this happening increases as the milk reduces and gets thicker.
3. Once the milk it has reduced to about one fourth, 1/4 quantity, lower the heat to low and let cook for a little while longer. Keep stirring regularly, until the milk solids (mawa) take on a lumpy appearance. There should be no visible liquid left in the pan, but the mawa should be moist and not stick to the sides of the pan.
4. Remove the pan from heat and transfer the mawa to a bowl and let it cool completely. Then cover and refrigerate it for a day or two (not more) till you’re ready to make the cake. It will harden in the fridge so let it come to room temperature before using it.
You should get about 3/4 to 1 cup of mawa from 1 liter (4 cups) of full-fat milk. My mawa turned out to be light in color and I only got 1/2 a cup of mawa. The mawa quality and quantity differs with the type of milk you use
5. Now start preparations for the cake by pre-heating your oven to moderate 180°C/350°F/gas mark 4. Beat the butter, the crumbled mawa and the sugar in a largish bowl, using a hand held electric beater, on high speed until soft and fluffy.
6. Add the eggs, one at a time, and beat on medium speed till well incorporated. Add the vanilla and milk and beat till mixed well.
7. Sift the cake flour, baking powder, cardamom, and salt onto the batter and beat at medium speed until the batter is well blended. If you cannot find cake flour, place 2 tablespoon of cornstarch in the bottom of your 1-cup measure and then fill it with all-purpose (plain) flour to make up to 1 cup.
8. Grease and line only the bottom of an 8 inch (20 cm) spring form pan. Pour the batter into this and lightly smooth the top.
Place the cashew nuts (or blanched almonds) on top of the batter randomly. Do not press the nuts down into the batter. A Mawa Cake always has a rustic finished look
10. Remove from oven and allow it to cool for 10 min in the tin. Release the cake, peel off the parchment from the base and let it cool completely.
You can make the “Mawa” a day or two ahead of making the cake and store it in an airtight container in the fridge. When you take it out, it will look dry and a little lumpy because of the fat in the milk solids. This is alright. Just let it come to room temperature before you use it to make the cake.
The Mawa Cake is usually served as it is, without any other accompaniment, as a snack with coffee or tea.
Bolinhas de coco
Bolinhas are cardamom flavored coconut and semolina cake like cookies from the Indian state of Goa. When they come out of the oven, they are a little crisp/ crunchy on the outside and soft on the inside. When they cool, their texture changes into a melt-in-the-mouth cloud of coconut and semolina with the wonderful taste of cardamom whispering from the back ground
What is unusual about these cookies is that they are made entirely with semolina and fresh grated coconut . There is no flour in them. To make them you have to allow the batter an overnight rest so that the semolina can soak up liquids. That is what results in the irresistible melt in your mouth cake like cookie. The process of this overnight rest reminds me of semolina maamoul another heavenly semolina based cookie
Bolinhas de coco
This recipe makes 4 dozen cookies and it can be halfed
2 cups (500 ml) (5-1/3 oz) (150 gm) fresh grated coconut, packed
1-1/2 cups (360 ml) (9 oz) (250 gm) semolina
1-1/4 cups (300 ml) (8-3/4 oz) (250 gm) granulated sugar
3/4 cup water (180ml) (6 oz) (175 gm) water
A pinch of salt
2 tablespoons (30 ml) (1 oz) (30 gm) ghee (clarified butter) or melted unsalted butter
2 large eggs
8 to 10 pods cardamom, powdered (about 1-1/2 teaspoon)
1. Run the grated coconut in your processor or the small jar of your blender a couple of times so that the flakes are smaller and uniform in texture. Do not grind into a paste. Keep aside.
2. Put the semolina in a pan and toast/ roast it, over low to medium heat, until it starts giving off an aroma, and looks like it’s about to start changing colour. This should take a couple of minutes. Do not brown. Transfer the semolina into a bowl and keep aside.
3. In the same pan, pour the water and add the sugar to it. Place it on medium heat and keep stirring until the sugar dissolves completely. Once the sugar has dissolved, keep stirring the solution and let it cook for about 2 minutes. Turn off the heat. The sugar solution should just begin to start forming a syrup but is still watery. Do not cook until it forms a thick syrup.
4. Add the toasted/ roasted semolina and mix well. Then add the coconut, salt and ghee (or melted butter) and mix well. Put the pan back on the stove, and over medium heat stir the coconut mixture until it is really hot and easily forms a thick clump. This should take about 2 to 3 minutes.
5. Take the pan off the heat and let the semolina coconut mixture cool to room temperature. Transfer this into a bowl or container, cover and refrigerate for at least 8 hours, ideally overnight. For really fluffy biscuits/ cookies, the overnight rest is recommended.
6. The next day, take the dough out of the fridge and let it come to room temperature. Separate the yolks from the egg whites.(See notes) Lightly beat the yolks with a fork to break them and add to the dough. Also add the powdered cardamom and mix well with a wooden spoon or fork.
7. Whisk the egg whites by hand until frothy and add to the dough. Mix well till incorporated.
8. You will now have a slightly moist and sticky dough. Refrigerate this dough for about half an hour so it firms up a bit.
9. Pre-heat your oven to moderate 180°C/350°F/gas mark 4. Line your baking trays with parchment or grease them well with some ghee or melted butter.
10. Take the dough out and pinch off walnut sized bits of dough. The dough should be firm enough to handle without difficulty. If the dough is sticking to your palms, lightly dust your palms with flour before shaping the dough. Roll the bits of dough into balls and then flatten them very slightly.
11. Decorate the top by marking criss-crosses (3 equidistant lines one way and another 3 crossing them at right angles), with a table knife. Press down a bit but not too deep or right through the biscuit/ cookie. Use up all the dough this way.
12. Place the shaped dough on the baking trays leaving a little space between them. Bake in a preheated moderate oven for about 20 to 25 minutes until they’re a golden brown and done. Let them cool on the sheets for about 5 minutes and then transfer to racks to cool completely.
13. Store the biscuits/ cookies in airtight containers. This recipe makes about 4 dozen Bolinhas de Coco.
- Once the first part of the dough has been made it must be refrigerated for at least 8 hours. About 10 hours to overnight is even better, because this allows the semolina to absorb moisture and become soft. It also produces fluffier cookies.
- If you can find fresh grated coconut, please use that as it gives you the best taste and texture. If you’re using frozen grated coconut let it come to room temperature before using it.
- If using dehydrated shredded coconut or desiccated coconut, please look for the unsweetened kind. Also re-hydrate your coconut by adding about 1/2 cup warm water to 2 cups of dehydrated/ desiccated coconut and let it sit for about half an hour. After half an hour, drain off any excess water, if any and then use in the recipe. You should have moist coconut not wet coconut.
- The first time I made these I made them following the recipe and separated the egg white from yolk. The second time I forgot that step and actually ended up having cookies that rose more in the oven and were better in texture