David is not the most adventurous eater, so when I was able to get him to try Indian (and me...I had never had it!) in London while we were on our honeymoon I was excited! I was even more thrilled when he said he liked it. He then commented that I should bake something Indian since I like to bake. However, there aren't really any "classic" Indian desserts that are common knowledge. So, when the challenge this month for the Daring Bakers was to make two Indian desserts I was excited. 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!
I decided to make the Mawa cake and Bolinhas de Coco cookies. The cake was really good. David liked it...without the decorative almonds! I took it to work as well. They enjoyed it a lot. Someone even made the comment "you can really taste the milk." I hadn't thought about it but you could. It just tasted creamy!
I had a bit of trouble with the Bolinhas cookies as I couldn't find semonlina. Semolina flour yes, semonlina...no. So, I used grits.
For the Mawa:
1 litre (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)
Cashewnuts (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
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 litre (4 cups) of full-fat milk.
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 and 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
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 rather than a decorated look.
9. Bake in a preheated moderate oven for about 1 hour until the cake is a
golden brown and a skewer pushed into the centre comes out clean. Do
not over bake the cake or it will dry out. If the cake seems to be
browning too quickly, cover it will aluminium foil hallway through the
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
Bolinhas de Coco
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
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. 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
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
13. Store the biscuits/ cookies in airtight containers. This recipe makes about 4 dozen Bolinhas de Coco.