August 24th is Raksha Bandhan. This is a Hindu festival celebrating the bond between a brother and a sister. In short, the holiday is marked by the tying of a thread (rakhi) by the sister on the brother’s wrist and an offering of sweets. In return, the brother promises to continue to look after her and often offers her a gift.
Well, every year I try to make my own decorative threads and of course the sweets! This year I decided on chocolate burfi. Burfi is traditionally made with milk and sugar. It is most often flavored with nuts and cardamom. The milk is dried by boiling and reducing it to a semi solid stage. In India, this milk product is available in markets and is known as khoya or mawa. Outside India, it is very difficult to find such a product with the same flavor. In this recipe, I’ve used one of the many alternatives to khoya that are out there.
At first, I went the condensed milk route using a recipe that I found online for chocolate burfi. Sadly, I was very disappointed in this recipe because the product tasted more like a fudgy undercooked brownie than a burfi. (Still yummy! Just not what I was going for!) So I used the ricotta cheese method for making my burfi.
This recipe may seem a little odd since halfway through I went a little non-traditional by using my electric mixer and adding a sugar syrup. Understand that this recipe was completely experimental and I was just trying to get the flavor and texture right so I did whatever my pastry mind was telling me to do. I may have to change the method to something easier but for now this works!
Recipe (makes 24 1.5inch squares)
15 oz ricotta cheese
2 cups dry milk powder
3 Tbs sugar
3/4cup of sweetened cocoa (I used Ghirardelli sweet ground chocolate and cocoa)
1tsp ground cardamom
1 1/2 cup almond flour
1/4 sugar + water
gold luster dust
Cook the ricotta cheese for about 10 minute in a nonstick pan. Stir constantly over a medium to low flame. Add the butter, 3Tbs sugar to it and the dry milk powder. Keep on stirring constantly, until it reaches a thick crumbly consistency, about 7 more minutes on medium heat. Keep stirring to even out the consistency. There should be no clumps of milk powder. It should look like crumbled cheese. Add the cocoa powder and stir until combined over low heat.
Transfer the hot mixture to an electric mixer bowl with a paddle attachment and mix on medium speed to even out the consistency. Add in the almond flour and cardamom. While it is mixing, mix the sugar with a very small amount of water in a saucepan (just enough to wet all the crystals). Boil the sugar to a softball consistency (about 245°F). Turn the mixer to a low speed and add the sugar syrup slowly. Turn the mixer to medium and mix for another minute.
Transfer the mixture to a large cutting board covered with parchment paper. Roll out the mound to a 1/2 thickness in a square shape. Roll out the marzipan separately to the same size but make it 1/8 inch thick or slightly less. Carefully lift the marzipan and place it over your burfi. Smooth out any air bubbles. Trim the sides to make a nice even square and then proceed to cut smaller squares.
Decorate with luster dust and whole almonds. Store in an air tight container in the refrigerator.