October 20, 2014

Choco-Nut Laddus

It is that time of the year when people all over the world start the holiday season. Indians celebrate Diwali irrespective of which part of India they come from, or which part of the world they live in. Different parts of India have different versions of the legends behind the celebrations and the traditions associated with it. One that is common to most must be celebrating Diwali with sweets. There are a variety of sweets made for Diwali depending on geography and the local resources. This time my Diwali sweet has a global touch to it as it has ingredients that come from different parts of the world. Almonds from California, organic peanuts from India,  organic cashews from Vietnam, organic dates from Tunisia, organic coconut palm sugar from SE Asia and a pure form of organic cacao paste from Peru.. yes I made laddus with cacao this time. I was in fact a little afraid if it might turn out to be more of a truffle than a laddu, but I am very happy with the end product. It is a good mix of western and desi flavors :-)

Here's wishing all my friends and readers A Very Happy, Healthy and Peaceful Diwali !!!



Now to my Laddu recipe:

Ingredients:
  • Almonds - 2 cups 
  • Peanuts - 1 cup
  • Cashews - few (optional)
  • Dates - 2 cups (chopped and packed)
  • Raw cacao paste - 1 cup (loose shavings from the block)
  • Coconut palm sugar - 1 cup 
  • Cardamom - 4-5 (skin removed)
Directions:
  • Toast the nuts either in oven (350 degrees for 10-15 minutes) or on medium heat on a pan. Let them cool down. 
  • Once the nuts have cooled down completely, add them to a high speed blender or food processor and process till they are coarsely chopped. 
  • Add dates and continue pulsing till everything starts to flow freely and becomes a coarse meal. You will be a able to hold them to shape at this point. Transfer to a bowl.
  • Powder the coconut sugar and cardamom to a fine powder. Add to the nut mixture.
  • Melt the cacao shavings on warm water till you get to a creamy liquid consistency.
  • Now you can start making the laddus. The trick with good laddu is to roll it to shape while the mix is still warm. So do the next step in batches. 
  • Keep the cacao cream over warm water so that it stays warm and liquidy. Divide the nut mixture into different batches, add cacao (proportionately), mix and immediately start rolling them into walnut sized balls. I apply a little pure homemade ghee on my palms so that my laddus get a nice desi aroma :-)
  • Optionally you can add a few pieces of chopped roasted cashews to each laddu while rolling them.
  • This will make around 30-35 laddus. 
  • Enjoy and Happy Diwali!! 


PS: You see some white laddus in the picture - they are the white versions of the same laddus - just replaced the cacao paste with cacao butter and omitted the dates.



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