Besan Ladoo

These are, I’m told, a staple sweet during many festivities and celebrations in India. I don’t know of any similar dessert to compare these with; they’re certainly unlike anything in most American menus. They are a bit dry and are something of an acquired taste. (That said, my toddler would happily gobble them up by the plateful if I let her.)

1-1/2 cups + 4 Tbsp besan (chickpea) flour (can be found at Indian groceries and at some large chain grocery stores)
1/2 cup Ghee
3/4 cup sugar
1 tsp ground cardamom (or equal parts ground coriander, ground nutmeg, and ground cinnamon)
4-5 tbsp almonds, finely chopped
1 tbsp raisins

Melt the ghee and add the raisins. Keep at low heat – just melted. Roast the flour until fragrant, but not browned or burnt. Add ghee/raisins and stir until well combined. Turn into a bowl and allow to cool down; it should still be warm, but not hot. Add sugar, spices and almonds and combine. Roll into small balls and allow to cool completely.

Maple Bacon Cookies

My kids eat a lot of bacon, and so there is a lot of bacon fat left over. You shouldn’t just dump it down the drain, as it can clog pioes something awful, and not so many generations ago people used bacon fat instead of throwing it away. I came across a cookie recipe not too long ago and adjusted it some. They came out pretty good, especially since the preferred bacon flavor in my house is maple.

3/4 c maple bacon fat, chilled
2 c white sugar
1/4 c brown sugar
2 tsp sea salt
4 tbsp molasses
1-1/2 tsp cinnamon
3/4 tsp cardamom or nutmeg
1/4 tsp black pepper
2 eggs
2-1/2 c flour

Heat oven to 350. Cream together fat, sugars, molasses, and salt. Add eggs, one at a time, and beat until stiff peaks form. Add spices and flour. Drop by tablespoons onto an ungreased cookie sheet and bake 8-10 minutes.

Candied Rose Petals

Fresh organic rose petals, white trimmed off, rinsed and dry (but not dried!) I’m partial to red petals, but pink varieties are good too. White and yellow petals tend to turn an unappealing shade of brown. This will also work for other types of edible flower petals.
Vanilla Cinnamon Simple Syrup (recipe follows) or regular simple syrup
Powered sugar for dusting (optional)

1 cup sugar
1 cup water
(for regular syrup, stop here. For vanilla cinnamon syrup, add the following)
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 tsp ground Ceylon cinnamon (you can use another kind if you want, but I like Ceylon best for this because it’s sweet by itself and not bitter at all.)

Combine sugar, water, vanilla, and cinnamon in a small pot. Bring to a low boil over medium heat. Boil until sugar dissolves. Remove from heat and allow syrup to cool for a few minutes. It should be cooled slightly so it doesn’t wilt the petals but still warm. While you wait, line a cookie sheet with wax paper or parchment paper, spray the paper generously with cooking spray and set your oven to the lowest possible setting. My oven has a “warm” setting that’s below 200 degrees F and is perfect for drying.

Once cooled, dip each petal in the syrup and place on the cookie sheet. (Leftover syrup can be stored in the fridge and used in coffee, tea, or in anything else that calls for simple syrup.) Dust with powdered sugar if desired and “bake” petals for 40 minutes on warm. (If your oven doesn’t go below 200, you may need less time.) After 40 minutes, turn the petals over and let them bake another 20 to 30 minutes (more or less). The goal is dried, crisp petals with a shiny glaze.  Because they are dried, the colors will be darker and more muted than the fresh petals.

Remove petals from the oven and allow them to cool completely. Carefully remove them from the wax paper, using a toothpick or thin spatula. Some of them may stick; be gentle, as they are fragile and will tear. Store them in a Tupperware container in the fridge or on the shelf.

They supposedly keep for a week, but they never last that long here! You can eat them as they are, or use them as toppings for ice cream or edible decorations for cakes or other desserts.

Enjoy!
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S’mores Cupcakes – White Chocolate Version

I have a friend who loves s’mores, but hates chocolate and always substitutes white chocolate instead. I didn’t want him to feel left out of dessert at our recent neighborhood cookout, so I adapted the S’mores Cupcakes again to make a white chocolate version.

Recipe adapted from S’mores Cupcakes, which was adapted from Homemade by Holmans, who adapted it from Annie’s Eats

Crust:
4-5 cups graham crackers (approx. 3 pkg out of the Honeymaid box)
3/4 cup sugar
15T (just shy of a cup) unsalted butter, melted
6 oz white chocolate, chopped
125 or so mini marshmallows

Heat the oven to 350 degrees. Line muffin cups with paper liners.
Crush graham crackers until they are fine crumbs. I just put them in a big Zip-loc bag and went at them with a rolling pin. Add sugar and melted butter and mix until well combined. Add approximately 1 tablespoon of crumbs to the bottom of each liner. Press the crumb mixture evenly into the bottom of each liner. Bake for 5 minutes and remove from the oven.Divide the chopped chocolate evenly among the cupcakes. Add approximately 4 marshmallows to each tin.

Cake:
2 cups plus 2 T sugar
2 1/2 cups all purpose flour
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1 1/2 tsp baking soda
1 tsp salt
2 large eggs
1 cup whole milk
1/2 cup canola oil
2 tsp vanilla extract
6 oc white chocolate, chopped
1 cup boiling water

Melt white chocolate in a stainless steel mixing bowl or a double boiler until smooth. Set aside, but keep it warm.
Sift together flour, cocoa powder, sugar, baking powder, soda and salt in your mixing bowl. In a small bowl, add eggs, milk, oil and vanilla and whisk together. Add to dry ingredients and beat on low speed until just incorporated. Add melted white chocolate. Increase speed to medium and beat 2 minutes. Add boiling water and beat on low until just combined. Spoon batter evenly into cupcake liners, filling each about 3/4 of the way full. The marshmallows will float to the top. Bake approximately 18 – 20 minutes until a toothpick inserted in the center cupcake comes out clean. Cool for about 5 minutes in the pan and then remove to a wire rack to cool completely.

Frosting:

1 c mini marshmallows
1/4 whole milk
1 c whipped cream
2 tsp vanilla extract

In a clean stainless steel mixing bowl or double boiler, melt marshmallows and milk togeer until smooth. Cool 30 minutes. Stir in whipped cream and vanilla.

Mini s’mores:
8 Honey graham crackers
30 mini marshmallows
1-2 White chocolate candy bars (I used the big ones you can find in the candy aisle)

Break the graham crackers into quarters and then cut the quarters in half. I used a knife to keep them roughly the same size, but you could just break them. Break the chocolate bar into rectangles, and cut the rectangles in half. Use a lighter or a kitchen torch to warm the bottom of a chocolate piece just until it’s glossy. Put a graham cracker on it and set it on a plate, graham cracker down. Warm the top of the chocolate and put a mini marshmallow (or two) on the chocolate, then toast the marshmallows. Put the other graham cracker piece on top. Place one mini s’more on each cupcake.

S’mores Cupcakes

I made these for a Labor Day BBQ a few years ago, and they were a HUGE hit! I re-adapted them to make a white chocolate version too!

S’mores Cupcakes
Recipe adapted from Homemade by Holmans, who adapted it from Annie’s Eats

Crust:
4-5 cups graham crackers (approx. 3 pkg out of the Honeymaid box)
3/4 cup sugar
15T (just shy of a cup) unsalted butter, melted
6 oz chocolate chips
125 or so mini marshmallows

Heat the oven to 350 degrees. Line 30 muffin cups with paper liners.
Crush graham crackers until they are fine crumbs. I just put them in a big Zip-loc bag and went at them with a rolling pin. Add sugar and melted butter and mix until well combined. Add approximately 1 tablespoon of crumbs to the bottom of each liner. Press the crumb mixture evenly into the bottom of each liner. Bake for 5 minutes and remove from the oven.Divide the chopped chocolate evenly among the cupcakes. Add approximately 4 marshmallows to each tin.

Cake:
2 cups plus 2 T sugar
1 3/4 cups all purpose flour
3/4 cup cocoa powder
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1 1/2 tsp baking soda
1 tsp salt
2 large eggs
1 cup whole milk
1/2 cup canola oil
2 tsp vanilla extract
1 cup boiling water

Sift together flour, cocoa powder, sugar, baking powder, soda and salt in your mixing bowl. In a small bowl, add eggs, milk, oil and vanilla and whisk together. Add to dry ingredients and beat on low speed until just incorporated. Increase speed to medium and beat 2 minutes. Add boiling water and beat on low until just combined. Spoon batter evenly into cupcake liners, filling each about 3/4 of the way full. The marshmallows will float to the top. Bake approximately 18 – 20 minutes until a toothpick inserted in the center cupcake comes out clean. Cool for about 5 minutes in the pan and then remove to a wire rack to cool completely.

Frosting:

1 c mini marshmallows
1/4 whole milk
1 c whipped cream
2 tsp vanilla extract

In a clean stainless steel mixing bowl or double boiler, melt marshmallows and milk togeer until smooth. Cool 30 minutes. Stir in whipped cream and vanilla.

Mini s’mores:
8 Honey graham crackers
30 mini marshmallows
1-2 Chocolate candy bars (I used the big ones you can find in the candy aisle)

Break the graham crackers into quarters and then cut the quarters in half. I used a knife to keep them roughly the same size, but you could just break them. Break the chocolate bar into rectangles, and cut the rectangles in half. Use a lighter or a kitchen torch to warm the bottom of a chocolate piece just until it’s glossy. Put a graham cracker on it and set it on a plate, graham cracker down. Warm the top of the chocolate and put a mini marshmallow (or two) on the chocolate, then toast the marshmallows. Put the other graham cracker piece on top. Place one mini s’more on each cupcake.

Carrot Halwa

This recipe takes some time to make; prep work is tedious. No, really. Tedious. Grating 3 lb of carrots took me about an hour by myself. Whenever possible, get the thickest carrots you can find, because it’s ridiculously difficult to grate the skinny little ones or the ones that taper down to a point so fine you could write with them. I grated them in batches and kept them in a Ziploc bag in the fridge till I was ready to cook them. Also, your hands and fingernails may be orange-yellow for a day or two; you may want to wear gloves to prevent this.  

3-4 Tbsp ghee (clarified butter – can be found in your local Indian grocery store or you can make it) or light cooking oil, such as vegetable or coconut oil  
3 lb carrots – washed, peeled, and grated
2 cups whole milk or heavy cream
4 cups sugar
2 Tbsp raisins
3/4 to 1 tsp cardamom seeds, crushed (or use 1/2-ish tsp cardamom powder)
(optional) 3 tsp ground almonds, pistachios, cashews, or any combination
(also optional) slivered, sliced or chopped nuts for garnish
Soak raisins in water to soften them. Set aside.
Heat ghee in a heavy pan. Add carrots and cook until the carrots have cooked down by about half. Add milk and cook until about 3/4 of the milk has cooked down. Add sugar and cook until the rest of the liquid is absorbed. Drain the raisins. Stir in raisins, cardamom, and ground nuts (if using).
Remove from heat and put into serving dish(es). Garnish with slivered nuts (or don’t). Serve hot, room temperature, or refrigerate until cold, depending on your taste.

Store leftovers in the fridge. I don’t know how long it will keep, because it’s usually gone in a day or two around here.