Christmas Fruit Cake – dark, rich and boozy

A good, rich, dark and sometimes boozy Christmas Fruit Cake is a must-have on every Christmas platter. Studded with dry fruit soaked in rum and spiced with beautiful holiday flavours, this recipe is sure to win you over.

Christmas Fruit Cake
Christmas Fruit Cake

In most Christian homes along the south west coast of India, a good Dark Fruit cake makes an appearance at Christmas and all special occasions like engagement parties, weddings, anniversaries, Communion celebrations and so on. It also holds a very prominent spot on a typical Christmas platter, or what is locally referred to as a Kuswar platter. (Kuswar=Christmas sweets)

Most people I know enjoy a good fruit cake, but very often, find it too tedious to make one at home. They settle for a commercially made cake, which very often has a number of additives including caramel colour to give it a deep, dark colour.

Today, I’m sharing with you, my favourite Fruit Cake recipe. This recipe is a little longer than most other cake recipes. However, I can assure you it is a fairly simple process and the end result is so good, it’s well worth all the extra effort. To help make the process easier, I’ve broken this recipe down into a few parts. Some of them can actually be done days before you’d like to bake this cake. The best part is, this cake tastes best if it’s allowed to rest for a couple of days, so it’s a perfect one to make ahead.

Step 1 – Soaking the fruit

This recipe calls for 500gms of mixed dry fruit. In my assortment, I’ve used raisins, sultanas, currants, mixed peel, candied / glacéd cherries and candied ginger. You can use any dry fruits of your choosing, in the proportion you’d like them. It just needs to add up to about 500 grams all together.

Dry fruit assortment
Dry fruit assortment

Chop the larger pieces of fruit down to make slicing your finished cake easier. Doing this also makes for a better eating experience, in my opinion. Place all the fruit in an airtight glass jar, top it off with some rum and set it aside in a cool dark place. The fruit needs atleast 24 hours to soak and rehydrate. The longer is steeps in the rum, the better the results. This can be done upto a year in advance.

Soaking the fruit
Soaking the fruit

Step 2 – Making the caramel

The 2nd step is making the caramel. There are many ways to make a caramel. For this recipe, you’re looking for one that gives you a slightly more fluid consistency. I’m using a 2:1 ratio – 2 parts sugar to one part water and I find that this gives me the perfect results for this recipe. You can make this caramel even a few days before you want to bake your cake. Simply let it cool down completely and store in an airtight glass jar. If you’re making this the caramel, the day that you’re baking the fruit cake, make sure the caramel has cooled down completely before you add it to the batter.

Christmas Fruit Cake - Making the caramel
Making the caramel


Step 3 – Making the cake

Making the batter is a very simple process. It’s just like making any other cake. You need to ensure all your ingredients are at room temperature. In this recipe, I’m using dark brown sugar to help lend a darker colour to the cake. If you can’t find dark brown sugar, regular white sugar will work too. Just make sure you use a fine grain sugar or simply powder your regular white sugar before adding it to the batter.

Sometimes, you find that the fruit in a fruit cake like this one isn’t evenly distributed. Mix the fruit into the flour – baking powder mix to ensure that the fruit doesn’t sink to the bottom of the cake.

Also, in this recipe, I’m using treacle to darken my cake and give it an added boost of flavour. If you can’t find treacle, use some molasses instead. I’m not using any artificial colours. A lot of the commercially available dark fruit cakes use caramel colour. If you’d like to, you can add some to the batter.

Mixing the fruit and flour
Mixing the fruit and flour
Christmas Fruit Cake - Adding the fruit to the cake batter
Mixing the batter
ready for the oven
Ready for the oven

I’m going to feed this cake only once with some dark rum, just as it comes out of the oven. This will help the cake soak up all the rum.

Feeding the cake
Feeding the cake

While you can cut into the cake as soon as it cools dow, for best results, I recommend atleast letting it stand overnight before you cut into it.

Once all the Hard Yakka’s out of the way, sit back and enjoy your stunning Fruit Cake.


Christmas Fruit Cake - Sliced
Christmas Fruit Cake – Sliced

Christmas Fruit Cake

Recipe by Trisha VazCourse: Cakes, Cakes, Cookies & Desserts, RecipesDifficulty: Medium
Yields

1.8

kilos
Prep time

50

minutes
Cooking time

45

minutes
Soaking time

24

hours (min)

This rich, dark and boozy Christmas Fruit Cake is studded with dry fruit and is beautifully spiced to make it the perfect cake for the Holidays.

Ingredients

  • For soaking the dry fruit –
  • 100g sultanas

  • 100g raisins

  • 100g currants

  • 100g mixed citrus peel

  • 50g candied / glaced cherries

  • 50g candied ginger

  • 240ml dark rum

  • For the caramel –
  • 1 cup sugar

  • 1/2 cup hot water, from a recently boiled kettle

  • For the cake –
  • 200g butter, at room temperature

  • 200g dark brown sugar

  • 4 eggs

  • 1 tsp Vanilla bean paste / vanilla extract

  • 2 tbsp Treacle

  • 120ml Caramel (recipe included)

  • Zest and juice of 1 orange

  • 250g all purpose flour

  • 1 tsp baking powder

  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon

  • 1/2 tsp ground ginger

  • 1/4 tsp ground nutmeg

  • 1/8 tsp ground cloves

  • Dry fruit, previously soaked as per directions below.

  • 50g cashew nuts, chopped

  • 45ml dark rum

Directions

  • Soaking the fruit –
  • Chop all the dry fruit into smaller pieces. I try and keep them evenly sized, like the size of the currants, which are the smallest in the assortment.
  • Place all the chopped fruit in an airtight glass jar. Top with rum. Mix well. Cover and steep for a minimum of 24 hours in a cool, dry place. You can leave this fruit to steep for upto a year. Shake the jar or stir the ingredients every once in a while.
  • For the caramel –
  • Place 1 cup sugar in a large vessel. Let it melt and caramelise on medium heat till all the sugar has dissolved. Do not stir the sugar. Swirl the pan, as needed.
  • Once all the sugar has completely dissolved and it caramelised, pour 1/2 cup hot water down the side of the vessel. It is important to do it in this manner to prevent the caramel splashing on you.
  • Let it heat through for about another 10 seconds or till both liquids have mixed well. Give it a light stir to ensure they have mixed through.
  • Set this aside and leave to cool completely before adding to the cake batter.
  • If you’re making the caramel ahead of time, after is had completely cooled, store in an airtight glass jar in a cool, dry place.
  • To make the cake –
  • Mix the flour and baking powder in a bowl to combine well.
  • In a larger bowl, place the soaked dry fruit after draining out any excess rum. Do not discard this rum. You can top the jar up with more fruit and rum and leave to steep for the next time you make this cake.
  • Add the cashewnuts to the fruit and mix well.
  • Add the flour and baking powder mix to the bowl and mix the flour and fruit thoroughly, and stir through to break up any larger clumps of fruit.
  • Preheat your oven to 170C and line a 9 inch square cake tin with baking paper and grease it.
  • In the bowl of your stand mixer, place the butter and brown sugar and beat till it is light and creamy and all the sugar has dissolved.
  • Add the eggs, one at a time, mixing between each addition.
  • Add the vanilla, orange zest and juice, caramel, treacle and all the ground spice powders. Mix well till combined.
  • Lastly, add the fruit – flour mix and fold it into the cake batter.
  • Bake for 40-45 minutes or till done.
  • Immediately, pour the rum all over the top surface of the cake.
  • Let the cake cool down in the cake pan itself.
  • When it has completely cooled, it is ready to serve or store. For best results, let it rest overnight before cutting. Store carefully wrapped in a couple of layers of baking paper.
  • When you’re ready to serve, cut into slices or bars and enjoy!

Recipe Video

Notes

  • Make sure all ingredients are at room temperature.
  • The fruit should be soaked for a minimum of 24 hours or upto one year in an airtight glass jar. The longer they steep, the better.
  • Make sure the caramel has cooled down completely before adding to the batter. The caramel can be made a few days ahead. Simply let it cool down completely and store in an airtight glass jar till ready to use.
  • For best results, let the cake rest atleast overnight before cutting into it.

Rose Cookies – Kokkisan

With Christmas fast approaching, today I thought I’d share with you a recipe for Rose Cookies. Rose Cookies, Kokkisan or Achu Murukku – these are a few names these little treats go by in different parts of the South of India. If you’ve not had these before, imagine amazingly crisp, deep-fried, sweet cookies. They are so more-ish. Which is why it’s a good thing this batch yields quite a few cookies.

Rose Cookies
Rose Cookies

Let’s move on to the cookies themselves, shall we? While they’re not difficult to make, the batter can be very temperamental and finicky. This is one Kuswar treat I personally find the most trying. The most important part of this recipe is the batter. It takes a little patience and tweaking to get it to just the right consistency. But boy, once you do, churning these cookies out is a breeze.

The batter –

Are you ready to give these a try. Let me walk you though the process. Putting the batter together initially is a very simple process and it just a matter of whisking all of the ingredients together. The one thing you need to watch out for, is the amount of liquid that goes into it. You’re looking for a batter that isn’t too thick or too thin. It’s a Goldilocks kinda situation; you have to get it just right. A huge saving grace is that the batter is forgiving and can be easily fixed.

Rose Cookies - batter
Rose Cookies – batter

If its too thick, it wont cling to the cookie iron at all. When this happens, gradually add small amounts of coconut milk (if you’re out of coconut milk, you can use water) and whisk it in. On the other hand, if its too thin, it’ll stick to the iron and won’t release into the oil, even after you try to separate it using a fork or a skewer. To fix this, simply add a little all purpose flour to the batter, a little at a time and whisk it through and try frying it again.

The frying process –

Now that you have you’re batter sorted out, you need to keep a few things in mind while frying these cookies. Once the oil heats up, maintain it by using a medium to medium low heat. If the oil is too hot, the cookies will brown too quickly. The cookie iron needs to be heated well for it to release the cookies into the oil. The first few cookies are like a tester batch. You may have to sacrifice a couple of them while you figure out the right consistency.

Take the cookies out of the oil when they’re a little lighter than you’d like it. They tend to darken as they cool.

With these pointers in mind, you are now equipped to make a beautiful batch of these Rose Cookies.

Rose Cookies

Course: SnacksCuisine: IndianDifficulty: Difficult
Servings

500

grams (approx.)
Prep time

10

minutes
Cooking time

1

hour 

Rose Cookies are amazingly crisp, deep-fried, sweet cookies that make an appearance on a lot of Christmas Kuswar platters. They are so addictive, they can be enjoyed any time of the year.

Ingredients

  • 1 egg, at room temperature

  • 1/3 cup of sugar (fine grain or ground to a powder)

  • 1 cup all purpose flour

  • 1 cup rice flour, fine

  • 1 tsp Vanilla extract / Vanilla bean paste

  • 1 – 1 1/2 cup coconut milk

  • A pinch of salt

  • 1 tsp black sesame seeds

  • Oil, for deep frying

Directions

  • To make the batter –
  • Crack the egg into a large mixing bowl. Whisk lightly.
  • Add the sugar and whisk to combine.
  • Add the salt and vanilla and mix.
  • Add the all purpose flour and rice flour and mix lightly.
  • Add the coconut milk and whisk to form a batter. The batter shouldn’t be too thick or too thin. Use more coconut milk/water or all purpose flour to adjust the consistency as needed.
  • Stir in the sesame seeds.
  • To fry the cookies –
  • Heat the oil in a deep, heavy pan for deep frying.
  • Place the cookie iron in the hot oil for about 30 seconds or till it has heated.
  • Shake excess oil off the iron and insert in batter about 3/4 of the way. Immediately place the iron in the oil. In a few seconds, lightly shake the iron to release the cookie or use a fork to help take it off the iron. Please watch the video to see the technique in action.
  • When the cookie has lightly browned, carefully flip over to fry it on the other side. When golden brown, drain any excess oil and remove the cookies onto a tray lined with absorbent kitchen paper to drain the excess oil. Take the cookies out of the oil when it is still on the lighter side. They will continue to turn slightly darker once taken out of the oil.
  • Continue frying the rest of the cookies.
  • When the cookies have cooled down completely, serve up or store in an airtight container.

    Enjoy!

Recipe Video

Notes

  • The consistency of the batter is very important. You may need to adjust the consistency of the batter as you fry the first few cookies to hit the right consistency. If it is too thick, add a little water or coconut milk and whisk in. If it is too thin, add a little all purpose flour and whisk through.
  • We don’t like our sweets overly sweet. Feel free to add more sugar to suit your preferences. Fry off a couple of cookies and taste them, adjust sweetness, if needed.
  • Take the cookies out of the oil when it is still on the lighter side. They will continue to turn slightly darker once taken out of the oil.


If you’re looking for more Kuswar recipes to make this Christmas, here are a few of my favorite recipes you might enjoy too –
1) Kulkuls
2) Date Rolls
3) Baath / Badca
4) Coconut Toffee
5) Milk Cream
6) Coconut Ladoos
7) Guava Cheese / Perad
8) Nankatais (Eggless)
9) Marzipan (Eggless)
10) No-cook Almond Marzipan
11) Marzipan – My favorite recipe
12) Chocolate Hazelnut Fudge
13) Chana Doce

My favourite Marzipan recipe

This version of marzipan is made using cashew seeds and is shaped into little colorful bites. It is the crowning glory of every Indian Christmas platter.

Marzipan
Marzipan
 
Today, I want to take a minute, right at the onset, to say “Thank you” from the bottom of my heart for all your support on my YouTube Channel. I am overwhelmed that so many of you want to watch my videos and try my recipes. A lot of you lovely folks have asked me to share my Marzipan recipe. 
 
The recipe that I’m sharing with you today, is my absolute favourite. Typically, Marzipan is made using Almonds. But in Goa(and India, in general), Cashew nuts / Cashew seeds are more easily and abundantly available than Almonds. So the Goans / Indians have simply swapped one for another. And the results are pretty spectacular. I always make my version using cashew seeds. You can use this recipe to form little shapes like you will see me do today, you can cover a cake with it, and I’ve also made Marzipan tarts in the past. The possibilities are endless. 
 


Marzipan
Yields: 1/4 kilo or 250g Marzipan
 
125g Cashew Nuts 
200g Sugar
1 egg white
1/2 tsp Almond essence
1/4 cup water
Food colours, as required
 
Soak the cashew nuts in some (room temperature) water for about 10 minutes. Drain, run some fresh water through the nuts, and drain them again.
 
Grind the cashew nuts, egg white and water to a fine paste.
 
Pour the ground paste, the almond essence and sugar into a large heavy pan. Place the pan on low-medium heat and stir to combine.
 
Cook the paste on a medium low heat, stirring continuously till it thickens and starts coming away from the pan. 
 
Use the water test to check if it is ready. Place some ice cold water in a small bowl and drop a 1/2 teaspoon of the sweet on it. If it firms up on cooling it is done. If it is still soft or too sticky, it needs more cooking.
 
As soon as it has cooked, pour the marzipan on a large plate and spread it out a little and leave it to cool down a little. Knead it to a dough while it is still warm.
 
Portion and colour the marzipan as desired. 
 
You can now shape it as needed or use it in any recipe that calls for it. 
 
If you making little shapes with the marzipan, once you de-mould it, place it on a plate and leave it to air dry for a while till it sets and is slightly firm to the touch. You can then place it in an airtight container and store. This should last you a couple of weeks if stored well. 
 
If the temperature is too high where you are, consider refrigerating it till needed.
 
Enjoy!!!

 

My favourite Marzipan recipe

Recipe by Trisha VazCourse: DessertCuisine: GoanDifficulty: Medium
Servings

250

grams
Prep time

15

minutes
Cooking time

15

minutes

This version of marzipan is made using cashew seeds and is shaped into little colorful bites. It is the crowning glory of every Indian Christmas platter.

Ingredients

  • 125g Cashew Nuts

  • 200g Sugar

  • 1 egg white

  • 1/2 tsp Almond essence

  • 1/4 cup water

  • Food colours, as required

Directions

  • Soak the cashew nuts in some (room temperature) water for about 10 minutes. Drain, run some fresh water through the nuts, and drain them again.
  • Grind the cashew nuts, egg white and water to a fine paste.
  • Pour the ground paste, the almond essence and sugar into a large heavy pan. Place the pan on low-medium heat and stir to combine.
  • Cook the paste on a medium low heat, stirring continuously till it thickens and starts coming away from the pan.
  • Use the water test to check if the Marzipan is ready. Place some ice cold water in a small bowl and drop a 1/2 teaspoon of the sweet on it. If it firms up on cooling it is done. If it is still soft or too sticky, it needs more cooking.
  • As soon as it has cooked, pour the marzipan on a large plate and spread it out a little and leave it to cool down a little. Knead it to a dough while it is still warm.
  • Portion and colour the marzipan as desired.
  • You can now shape the marzipan as needed or use it in any recipe that calls for it.
  • If you making little shapes with the marzipan, once you de-mould it, place it on a plate and leave it to air dry for a while till it sets and is slightly firm to the touch. You can then place it in an airtight container and store. This should last you a couple of weeks if stored well.
  • If the temperature is too high where you are, consider refrigerating it till needed.

    Enjoy!!!

Recipe Video

Notes

  • Cooking times can vary greatly. This depends on the size and thickness of the vessel used to cook the marzipan, the heat level used during the cooking process and the quantity being made. Please refer to the video, for my recommended water-test to check if your marzipan is ready.
  • The prep and cook time does not include the time required for this to cool down and mould into shapes. This time depends on your climate and the designs you are working with.
  • These marzipan can be served immediately after shaping. To store, please allow a couple of hours for the pieces to set after they are taken out of the moulds.

Eggless Nankatais

Its December folks! Anyone who knows me, knows I’m a bit Christmas crazy. I love everything about the Holiday season. I’m going to kick off this years Christmas recipe posts with a lovely little cookie – the Indian Nankatai. This is an eggless recipe and is so easy to put together. What you end up with is a delicate and really delicious little treat. I like making a big batch of Nankatais closer to Christmas. I add these on my Christmas platter of sweets to share with family and friends and I also have some in the cookie jar to serve up with some tea.

Let’s talk about the dough for a bit. It is such a ridiculously simple recipe, you will be surprised at how tasty the nankatais turn out. I find that this dough can be a little finicky and it usually works beautifully on a slightly warm day. While that works beautifully for us in Australia and anyone in the Southern Hemisphere, it could be a challenge in the Northern Hemisphere, where its the middle of winter. If its cold where you are, you might find that the dough ends up a little crumbly and you may have a little difficulty shaping it into a cookie. When that happens, I pop the dough in an ovensafe bowl and pop it into a slightly warm oven (about 100 degrees) for a couple of minutes. This helps the ghee warm up and helps bind the dough.

Nankatais
Yields: 1/2 kilo (approx 30 cookies)

1 1/3 cup all purpose flour
1/3 cup besan (chickpea flour)
1 cup sugar (superfine. You can also powder larger grain sugar and then use it in the recipe)
2/3 cup of ghee (clarified butter)
1/4 tsp baking soda

Preheat your oven to 180 deg. Celsius and line a baking tray with some baking / parchment paper.

Mix the ghee and sugar till it is light and creamy. Scrape down the edges and bottom of the mixing bowl halfway through the process.

Add the rest of the ingredients (baking soda, all purpose flour and chickpea flour) to the mixing bowl and continue mixing till it forms a dough.

Shape into little cookies by rolling portions of the dough into a little ball and flatten it slightly. Place the cookies on the lined baking tray.

Bake for 12-15 minutes or till done. Your looking for a light colour on the edges.

Take it out of the oven and leave the cookies to cool on the tray itself.

When completely cool, store in an airtight container.

Enjoy!

You can watch the video recipe here –

Dodol – The quick and easy way

** This post contains affiliate links.

Goa, renowned for its beautiful beaches and people is an idyllic getaway for many. Every school holiday meant a trip to Goa to spend time with family. Along with beautiful weather and some of the most amazing produce, what I enjoy most are the traditional Goan sweets. Since moving from Bombay, these sweets are no longer within easy reach for me. So over the last few years, I’ve done the next best thing – learn to make them myself. A lot of these sweets make an appearance on the Goan Christmas platter also called Kuswar (pronounced koos-wahr). So far, I’ve had brilliant luck with quite a few and I will list them along with links to their recipes at the end of this post. I’m hoping to get a few more of them up earlier this year. So check back soon.

Today, after a long wait, I’m happy to share with you a recipe for Dodol. Dodol is almost a jelly like sweet made using Goa Jaggery, coconut and rice. Traditionally made, it is a very labor intensive recipe, but the results are so worth it. You use coconuts, freshly grated and juice extracted, the rice roasted and ground and after the jaggery is added you cook it long and slow, stirring continuously.  Unfortunately for me, I don’t have access to Goa Jaggery in Sydney. But I was told that I could use Molasses instead. So on my last grocery shop, I picked up a bottle of Molasses. I decided I was going to try a few short cuts to cut down on time involved and used rice flour and a can of coconut cream. I’m happy to report that the whole prep and cooking process that usually takes hours, took be about half an hour from start to finish. The hardest part was leaving it overnight to set. You may not need to leave it that long, but I made the dodol in the evening and it was too warm to cut into after dinner.

But when I did cut into it, it was soft and delicious, just like I remember. I would recommend refrigerating it for a while before serving. It cuts a lot easier when cold. So if you’ve been putting of making Dodol because you can’t find jaggery, go get some molasses and get making. When adding the molasses, don’t go by the color of the mix, but taste for sweetness.

Dodol


1 1/2 cup rice flour
1 can (400ml) coconut cream
350-400g molasses
3 tbsp roughly chopped cashew nuts
1 tsp ghee to grease the loaf tin and knife
Water, as needed

Grease a loaf tin with a little ghee and keep aside.

In a large pan (I use the 12″ Kitchenaid Stainless steel skillet) measure out the rice flour. Add enough water and make a batter (almost like a thick pancake batter). I use a whisk for this as it mixes the flour well without any lumps.

Pour in the coconut cream and whisk till dissolved.

Add the molasses and stir.

Now, place the mix on a medium heat and let it cook, stirring continuously.

When it starts thickening, drop the heat to low and continue stirring. I find that you may still find lumps in the mix even inspite of stirring. Use a whisk and break them up. It returns to a smooth consistency very quickly. I had to do this about 3 times.

As it thickens, it gets harder to stir. Add the chopped cashew nuts and keep stirring.

After about 20 minutes, here’s what my mix looked like.

Continue cooking till the mixture starts leaving the sides of pan and looks a little glossy. I cooked the mix down for about another 5 minutes, stirring continuously.

At this stage, you need to work quickly. Pour into the greased loaf tin and flatten it down using the back of a spoon or a spatula.

Leave to set and cool completely. Once it has cooled you can either refrigerate it for later use or demould it to serve. To demould, just place a plate, slightly larger in size than the loaf tin, on top and tip the tin over the plate. A slight shake of the tin and plate should be enough to loosen the dodol and let prop it on the plate.

Slice and serve.

Enjoy!!!

Pin now and try later.

Other Goan sweets and Kuswar –
Perad / Guava Cheese (using canned guavas)
Perad / Guava Cheese (using fresh guavas)
Kulkuls
Coconut Toffee
Milk Cream
Jujups
Baath
Marzipan

Perad or Guava Cheese … made with Canned Guavas

** This post contains affiliate links.

Guava Cheese or Perad is a quintessential Goan sweet that makes an appearance at Christmas time. Its flavourful and lightly chewy like a Guava gummy candy.

It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas!!!

 
Christmas decorations have started going up all over the place, Christmas merchandise is in every store. And it’s probably just me, but when I see this, my mind starts to wander towards Christmas sweets (mind you that doesn’t take much). Yup, before we know it, Christmas will be upon us. I must admit, this is my absolute favorite time of the year. 
 
Let’s talk sweets now, shall we? What’s your favorite? Me, I love them all. Old school, traditional Kuswar, new age desserts and sweets, the whole lot. But of all of them I think that my favorite is the Goan Guava Cheese (almost like Guava gummies or candy, but better) known as Perad. I have previously posted a perad recipe using fresh guavas here. But here, in Sydney, I haven’t been able to get my hands on any fresh guavas, especially this time of the year. So imagine my joy when I came across this on one of my weekly grocery shops at my local Supermarket.
 
 
Ofcourse, I grabbed a couple of tins and knew that I had to try making Perad with them. (I have also used the “Koo” brand with the same great results.) I mean, I knew it wouldn’t be like using fresh guavas, but how different could it really be? So I tweaked the recipe a tiny bit and crossed my fingers while the perad cooked and set. To my delight, this was the best Perad I had ever made or eaten. So it’s safe to say from now on, while I can get my hands on these canned guavas, I’m going to stick to using it for my Perad.
 
 
 
 
Place some of the ghee on a large metal cookie sheet / baking pan and spread on the bottom and sides and keep this aside.

 

Drain the guava halves and reserve the syrup.

Scoop out the seeds and set aside.
 
Puree the halves till smooth and put the puree in a heavy bottomed vessel. Now Goan sweets are notorious for taking ages to cook, but I have found if you use a wider vessel, its cooks a lot faster because of the increased surface area. So I use a stainless steel 12″ Kitchenaid Skillet for all my sweets and it drastically reduces the cooking time.

 

Now place all the seeds, that were previously scooped out, in a strainer, add a couple of spoons of the reserved syrup from the cans and stir through the strainer to extract all the guava puree from the centres. You may need to do this a couple of times adding a tiny bit of syrup each time to extract all the guava. Add the extract to the pan and now discard the seeds.

I usually end up with about 370g pulp from the halves and about 250g from the centres. In all about 620g of guava pulp. Other recipes call for a lot more sugar, but since these are canned guavas in syrup they are sweeter than the fresh ones, so I’ve cut down on the amount of added sugar in the recipe.

Add the cloves and the sugar to the pan.

Place the pan on medium heat and stir continuously using a wooden spoon with a long handle. The guava mix tends to sputter and spit while cooking and the long handle will prevent the mix splashing on your arms. Make sure that when you stir, the spoon gets to the edges of the pan to prevent it sticking to the bottom of the pan and burning. If the mix sputters too much, lower the the heat and continue cooking.

When the mix thickens, extract the cloves carefully and discard. Continue cooking till it leaves the sides of the pan. Keep stirring.

Test to see if done. (Use water test – Place some icy cold water in a small bowl and drop a teaspoon of the sweet on it. If it firms up on cooling it is done. If it is still very soft or too sticky, it needs more cooking). 

When done, pour the mix into the greased pan. Using the back of a large spoon that has been greased with some ghee spread the mix to form an even slab and set aside to cool.

When it has cooled down a bit, using a knife that has been greased with some ghee, cut into cubes. You may need to grease the knife a couple of times while cutting to prevent it sticking.

When it has completely cooled, store in an air tight container. If you are making this ahead of time, or if it summer like in our part of the world, refrigerate till you are ready to use.

Enjoy!!!

 

Perad – Guava Cheese

Recipe by Trisha VazCourse: DessertCuisine: GoanDifficulty: Medium
Prep time

30

minutes
Cooking time

30

minutes

Guava Cheese or Perad is a delicious, flavorful candy found in Goan homes

Ingredients

  • 2 cans Guava Halves, in Syrup (each can is 410g)

  • 3-4 cloves

  • 500g sugar

  • 1-2 tsps ghee / clarified butter

Directions

  • Place some of the ghee on a large metal cookie sheet / baking pan and spread on the bottom and sides and keep this aside.
  • Drain the guava halves and reserve the syrup.
  • Scoop out the seeds and set aside.
  • Puree the halves till smooth and put the puree in a heavy bottomed vessel. Now Goan sweets are notorious for taking ages to cook, but I have found if you use a wider vessel, its cooks a lot faster because of the increased surface area. So I use a stainless steel 12″ Kitchenaid Skillet for all my sweets and it drastically reduces the cooking time.
  • Now place all the seeds, that were previously scooped out, in a strainer, add a couple of spoons of the reserved syrup from the cans and stir through the strainer to extract all the guava puree from the centres. You may need to do this a couple of times adding a tiny bit of syrup each time to extract all the guava. Add the extract to the pan and now discard the seeds.
  • I usually end up with about 370g pulp from the halves and about 250g from the centres. In all about 620g of guava pulp. Other recipes call for a lot more sugar, but since these are canned guavas in syrup they are sweeter than the fresh ones, so I’ve cut down on the amount of added sugar in the recipe.
  • Add the cloves and the sugar to the pan.
  • Place the pan on medium heat and stir continuously using a wooden spoon with a long handle. The guava mix tends to sputter and spit while cooking and the long handle will prevent the mix splashing on your arms. Make sure that when you stir, the spoon gets to the edges of the pan to prevent it sticking to the bottom of the pan and burning. If the mix sputters too much, lower the the heat and continue cooking.
  • When the mix thickens, extract the cloves carefully and discard. Continue cooking till it leaves the sides of the pan. Keep stirring.
  • Test to see if done. (Use water test – Place some icy cold water in a small bowl and drop a teaspoon of the sweet on it. If it firms up on cooling it is done. If it is still very soft or too sticky, it needs more cooking). 
  • When done, pour the mix into the greased pan. Using the back of a large spoon that has been greased with some ghee spread the mix to form an even slab and set aside to cool.
  • When it has cooled down a bit, using a knife that has been greased with some ghee, cut into cubes. You may need to grease the knife a couple of times while cutting to prevent it sticking.
  • When it has completely cooled, store in an air tight container. If you are making this ahead of time or if it summer like in our part of the world, refrigerate till you are ready to use.

    Enjoy!!!

Recipe Video

Notes

  • Always use a heavy pan to cook this Guava Cheese. It keeps it from burning easily. If possible, use a wide pan. A wide pan, increases surface area and decreases cooking time.
  • Cooking time will vary depending on a number of factors like amount of liquid used, heat level used during cooking, size and thickness of the pan, width of the pan etc. It took me half an hour in total. Like most Goan sweets, its hard to time the cooking process. You need to go by what you see and feel. My step-by-step video will help with this.

Kulkuls – Step by step recipe

UPDATE: I’ve finally had an opportunity to take new pictures. The recipe used is still the exact same one. You can watch the entire Kulkul making process in the video at the end of this post. Enjoy!
(I will still keep the old pictures on the post as it shows you the step by step process.)
 
 

Kulkuls

As Christmas comes closer, I see so very many posts of Christmas cookies and treats pop up all over the place. A lot of the treats that you now see have evolved over the years. In the last couple of years, I have seen and tried out a few that are brand new to me and I wouldn’t have known of if it wasn’t for the internet. These were so much easier and quicker to make than the kind of Christmas sweets I am used to making, not to mention absolutely delicious. Today, however, I’m going to share with you a Christmas treat that I’ve grown up with, these gorgeous Kulkuls. This is a traditional Goan sweet and if you haven’t had them before these are little deep-fried, sweet, pastry bites. 

This sweet called Kulkuls (cuhl-cuhls), is something I’ve grown up with. Every year, at around this time the family would gather to make these little treats. And yes, it is a family affair. This little bites of fried, sweetened pastry take a while to make. Since, many hands make for light work, my Grandma, my Mum, my Father (whenever he was on leave from work), my brother and I would sit down to make these sweets. We’d make a massive batch of this every year and it would take a whole evening from start to finish. That being as it is, we’d make Kulkuls every single year. These little fried dumplings can be sweetened to your liking and they have a long shelf life. The batch that we used to make around this time, would last till the end of Jan. In all honesty, they’d probably keep much longer, but they are so tasty and addictive, they’ll be finished long before that.

Most of my family recipes, the old Goan ones have been handed down from one generation to another. The weird part is almost all of these recipes, never had fixed quantities of ingredients mentioned. The recipe is very forgiving and I’ve managed to chart down some quantities for reference. This quantity is a much more manageable batch size than what I’m used to, but you could cut it down further, if you need to. The process should take a couple of hours but I think its all worth it. While I did manage to get step by step pictures of the process, I didn’t manage to take a picture of the batch after it was done frying. So for the time being, I am putting up a picture of our platter of traditional Goan Christmas sweets from last year which has some kulkuls on it. I”ll try and get a better one this year.

L-R: Date Rolls, Nankatais, Kulkuls, Chonya Doce, Perad, Milk Cream 

Kulkuls


1/4 kg Semolina (rava)
1/4 kg All purpose flour (maida)
1 egg
A splash of milk
3 tbsp clarified butter (ghee)
1/3 can coconut cream (400ml can) (You could also use about 150 ml freshly extracted coconut juice)
2 fat pinches of salt, or to taste
Superfine (or powdered) sugar, to taste (Start with a couple of heaped tablespoons and add more as needed)
Oil, for deep frying

Knead all the ingredients to a dough using milk as needed.

Kneading the dough once its done, should leave a slight trace of ghee on your hand, but only just. If your dough is on the dry side, add a little more ghee and knead again. This ensures that the dough doesn’t stick to the forms we’re using to shape the kulkuls.

Taste a little pinch of the dough for sweetness. I tend to not make these too sweet so that it cuts through all the other sweetness on the plate. If you think you want the kulkuls sweeter, add some more sugar and knead into the dough.

Cover the dough with a damp cloth and let it rest for about half and hour.

To shape the kulkuls, you can use a variety of things. We now use these paddles that are specifically used for kulkuls. If you don’t have these paddles, you can use the back of a fork or a new, clean haircomb.

Work with a small portion of the dough at a time. Keep the unused dough covered with a damp cloth while you work with the rest. Roll into a long sausage shape and cut into pieces.

Working with one piece at a time, place the piece of dough on the paddle.

Using your thumb, flatten the dough into a rectangular piece as shown in the pictures below.

Starting with the end closest to you, gently life the dough and roll away from you, keeping the roll fairly tight.

Lightly press the edge of the roll to seal it up so that it doesn’t open up while frying.

Adjust the size of the pieces of dough to suit the size of the kulkuls you need.

Repeat with the rest of the dough. As you shape the kulkuls, keep them on a flat tray. I turn a cookie sheet upside down and use the back of the tray.

When they are all done, heat some oil for deep frying.

Test that the oil is hot enough by gently dropping a small bead of dough into the oil. If it bubbles in the oil, instantly and comes to the top, the oil is hot enough.

Keep the oil on medium heat.

Gently tip the kulkuls into the oil. Don’t overcrowd the pan. Fry them in small batches as the oil may froth a little and bubble up and spill over. Start with the ones that were shaped first.

When the kulkuls are golden brown, drain using a slotted spoon and place on some kitchen paper to drain off any excess oil.

Repeat with the rest of the kulkuls until they are all fried up.

When the kulkuls have completely cooled down, store in an airtight container.

Enjoy this lovely addition to your Kuswar platter.

** I’m hoping to get more pictures this year and will add them to this post.

If you’re looking for other Kuswar recipes, you can find them here –

1) Marzipan
2) Date Rolls
3) Nankatais
4) Chaklis
5) Baath / Badca
6) Peraad
7) Coconut Toffee
8) Milk Cream
9) Jujups
10) Coconut Ladoos / Coconut Snowballs

Kulkuls – Step by step recipe

Recipe by Trisha VazCourse: SnacksCuisine: GoanDifficulty: Medium

Kulkuls – a traditional Goan Christmas sweet. These are little deep-fried, sweet, pastry bites that grace every Indian Christmas platter.  

Ingredients

  • 1/4 kg Semolina (rava)

  • 1/4 kg All purpose flour (maida)

  • 1 egg

  • A splash of milk

  • 3 tbsp clarified butter (ghee)

  • 1/3 can coconut cream (400ml can) (You could also use about 150 ml freshly extracted coconut juice)

  • 2 fat pinches of salt, or to taste

  • Superfine (or powdered) sugar, to taste (Start with a couple of heaped tablespoons and add more as needed)

  • Oil, for deep frying

Directions

  • Knead all the ingredients to a dough using milk as needed.
  • Kneading the dough once its done, should leave a slight trace of ghee on your hand, but only just. If your dough is on the dry side, add a little more ghee and knead again. This ensures that the dough doesn’t stick to the forms we’re using to shape the kulkuls.
  • Taste a little pinch of the dough for sweetness. I tend to not make these too sweet so that it cuts through all the other sweetness on the plate. If you think you want the kulkuls sweeter, add some more sugar and knead into the dough.
  • Cover the dough with a damp cloth and let it rest for about half and hour.
  • Work with a small portion of the dough at a time. Keep the unused dough covered with a damp cloth while you work with the rest. Roll into a long sausage shape and cut into pieces. Working with one piece at a time, place the piece of dough on the paddle. Using your thumb, flatten the dough into a rectangular piece. Starting with the end closest to you, gently life the dough and roll away from you, keeping the roll fairly tight. Lightly press the edge of the roll to seal it up so that it doesn’t open up while frying. Adjust the size of the pieces of dough to suit the size of the kulkuls you need.
  • Repeat with the rest of the dough. As you shape the kulkuls, keep them on a flat tray. I turn a cookie sheet upside down and use the back of the tray.
  • When they are all done, heat some oil for deep frying.
  • Test that the oil is hot enough by gently dropping a small bead of dough into the oil. If it bubbles in the oil, instantly and comes to the top, the oil is hot enough. Keep the oil on medium heat.
  • Gently tip the kulkuls into the oil. Don’t overcrowd the pan. Fry them in small batches as the oil may froth a little and bubble up and spill over. Start with the ones that were shaped first.
  • When the kulkuls are golden brown, drain using a slotted spoon and place on some kitchen paper to drain off any excess oil.
  • Repeat with the rest of the kulkuls until they are all fried up.
  • When the kulkuls have completely cooled down, store in an airtight container.

Recipe Video

Chaklis – Savoury Indian rice crakers

For quite a few months now, I’ve been yearning for some good Chaklis (Savoury Indian rice crackers). I have made them at home in Bombay using my late Mother-in-law’s recipe and they are fantastic. I bought a couple of different packets from the Indian grocery stores here in Sydney, but it just never hits the spot. So why am I not making them here? I didn’t have this – 

I know for those of you who haven’t seen this before, it must look like something straight out of an alien space craft but just wait till you see what you can do with it. This is what it looks like on the inside – 
In some ways it is similar to a spritz cookie press. You slide in a plate from the assortment on the right into the barrel. For this recipe I used the one with the single star shaped perforation. Place your dough in the barrel and top it with the spiral press. All you do it rotate the lever on the top and that lowers the press and presses out the dough through the perforation. If that doesn’t make sense yet, don’t worry, it will shortly.
My dear blogging friend Manu of Manu’s Menu had posted some recipes featuring this press. So I asked her where she got her’s from and she very kindly directed me to the shops in Harris Park. So last weekend that’s where we went and finally bought one. I’ve hunted for this press for so long here and am so thrilled that I now have one. No more buying those unsatisfying packets of cruchy, but still hard like stone chaklis from the store for me. 
The very next morning, we set out making a batch of chaklis. The dough comes together quick and easy and makes a decent sized batch. Stored in an airtight container should give us something to much on for atleast a week with a cup of afternoon tea. And that thought makes me very happy indeed.
Chaklis

3 cup rice flour (fine)
1/2 cup all purpose flour
1/2 cup ghee
1 tsp salt, or to taste
1 tsp. red chilly powder
1/4 tsp turmeric powder
1 tsp sesame seeds
1 tsp cumin seeds
Oil for deep frying
Place all the ingredients in a large bowl and rub the ghee into the flour till everything is well mixed.
Gradually add little water to knead to a dough.
Heat the oil. Test with a tiny pea sized piece of dough. When added to the oil, it should rise to the surface quickly. If it browns really fast, the oil is too hot and needs to be cooled a little. If it settles to the bottom, the oil is not hot enough and needs to be heated a little more. 
The oil temperature is important, if its too hot, the chaklis will brown but stay raw on the inside and if the oil is not hot enough, it tends to absorb a lot of oil and wont have the right texture.
Take portions of dough and add to the chakli press.
Shape the chaklis on some baking paper.
That’s my wonderful husband cranking out the chaklis while I fry them, just incase you were wondering if that was my hand 😉
Carefully using a flat spatula, life the chaklis off the paper and place into the oil. Let it cook on medium flame till golden brown. Drain on some absorbent kitchen paper.
When it has cooled completely, store in an air tight container.
Enjoy!!!

Baath / Badca – Traditional Goan Coconut Cake

A while ago, a reader had requested for a traditional Goan Baath recipe. That was a while ago, but eventually I got around to getting a picture of this delicious cake before it disappeared. So I’ve taken the opportunity to share the recipe with you. Baath or Badca – whatever you are used to calling it, is a delicious traditional recipe for a Goan coconut and semolina cake. Its not your run of the mill light fluffly sponge cake, but a more dense and rich one. A good baath cake should not be dry and should be mildly flavoured with ground cardamom. We typically make this for Christmas and it is a part of our Kuswar (Christmas platter).That being said, there is absolutely no reason you can’t eat this any time of the year. It goes down an absolute treat with a cup of tea / coffee.

This is a simple cake to prepare and does not require you to bring out the heavy equipment. A mixing bowl and wooden spoon should suffice. You start of by making a sugar syrup and cook off the coconut and dessicated coconut in it. Then add the eggs and bake.

Baath


200g dessicated coconut
2 cups water
2 cups semolina
2 cups sugar
6 tbsp ghee (clarified butter)
6 eggs
1 tsp baking powder
A generous pinch cardamom seeds, crushed  (Seeds from about 6 large pods)

In a heavy bottomed pan, bring the water to a boil.

Add the sugar to the pan and let it melt.

Once the sugar has melted, add the coconut and the ghee and let it come to a boil, stirring frequently.

Add the semolina and let it cook for 5 minutes, stirring frequently.

Add the crushed cardamom seeds.

Take off the heat and cool.

After the mix has cooled

Preheat the oven to 180ºC and line and grease a baking dish / cake pan.

When the mix has cooled, add the baking powder.

Just before baking, add the beaten eggs. Mix well till the eggs have been incorporated well.

Pour the batter into the prepared pan and bake till done. (Till a skewer pierced in the center of the cake comes out clean.)

If the top starts to brown too quickly, cover the top with some aluminium foil.

Cool down and enjoy!!!

NOTE – Add the eggs only just before you bake the cake and not in advance. Preheat the oven in time to bake the cake.

Watch the video recipe here –

How to make Marzipan from scratch!!!

Over the last couple of weeks, I’ve received numerous requests from readers for my marzipan recipe used for my Easter goodies. Its taken me this long to post it as I’ve got it scribbled on a tiny piece of paper and I haven’t had much time to hunt for it or type it out. But I finally managed to track it down and type it out. That too, just in time for Easter. So this post is for all of you who’ve waited so patiently for it.

This Easter, why don’t you try making some goodies at home. Marzipan is a little finicky to get right but I’ve used this recipe that specifies exact time for cooking it. That makes it easier to handle. I’ve used this for years now and find it easier compared to some of the other recipes. I know that traditionally marzipan calls for almonds to be used, however, cashew nuts are more abundant here than almonds are so this recipe uses cashew nuts. 
Marzipan

200gms Cashew nuts, ground to a powder
400gms Sugar
150ml Water
½ tsp Almond Extract
Melt sugar in the water over the fire on high heat.
After the sugar melts, add the powdered cashew nuts and stir on low
heat for exactly 7 minutes.
Remove on a flat dish and add the almond essence.
Allow it to cool by stirring with a spoon or spatula.
Bind into a dough, color and use as desired.
Note:

 – If the marzipan turns too dry add a couple of drops of rose water and knead till it reaches desired consistency.
 – If the marzipan is slightly moister than you’d like, knead with some icing sugar till it reaches the desired consistency.
 – If the dough is too moist, put in back on the fire for a minute or so and stir. This step is usually not needed. I had to do this just once when using a different stovetop and the lowest flame was way to low than what you’d find on a regular stove top.