Friday, August 10, 2012
IT's hard to resist an Indian sweet treat. I don't really have a sweet tooth but each time I go past an Indian restaurant and catch a glimpse of the array of sweets on display, I stop and stare. No, really I stare. I don't buy these treats much because, well, they're terribly sweet, but whenever I get one at a wedding or party (they're traditionally distributed at weddings and festivals), I never refuse. Especially if it's barfi (or burfi), a milk-based candy.
I've tried my hand at making burfi several times, each time following a different recipe and each time coming up short. After I think about a half a dozen attempts (and going through a couple of litres of milk, lots of sugar and way too much ground almonds), I decided to throw in the towel. It wasn't that I wanted to eat the burfi so badly, I just wanted to be able to make it.
I hate failure, you see. And then I found a recipe that I instinctively felt would work. Instinct is a strange thing.
The recipe seemed almost too simple to be real. But, like I said, I had a gut instinct. Unlike some of the other's I tried, this one didn't call for condensed milk. This already won some points with me. Real sweetened condensed milk is a wonderful thing but it's hard to come by here in Malaysia. What we get here is a bastardised version of the original: a sweetened creamer that is palm-oil based. (Incidentally, I read on Wikipedia that one can make condensed milk by adding sugar to evaporated milk and heating it until all the sugar dissolves and then cooling the mixture. Haven't tried it but perhaps one day soon I will). I haven't had great success baking with the creamer and so I try to avoid recipes that call for condensed milk.
Back to the Burfi. I was surprised that this recipe required very little milk. Just a few tablespoons. What? I began to doubt my instinct but decided to give the recipe a go.
Guess what? I ended up with a batch of delicious candy. Really delicious. I was pleased. Clap, Clap, Clap. I have my doubts about how authentic this recipe is (I tweaked it from the one I spied) but the result was fantastic and I am happy.
Now the good thing about making your own candy is I get to adjust the sweetness to a level I am comfortable with. The recipe called for close to two cups of sugar (for just two cups of ground almond which will yield about 30 pieces of candy). I reduced it by a little more than 1/2 cup. I was worried initially that the reduced sugar would make it difficult for the candy to set but thankfully, though the burfi was a little soft, it set quite nicely.
2 cups ground almond
5 tbsp whole milk
11/4 cup sugar
1 tsp ground cardamom
Grease a rimmed baking sheet or square baking pan (a 6 or 8 inch pan is fine) and set aside.
Sieve the ground almond and add the milk, bit by bit and mix until the mixture becomes like a paste.
Place the almond paste, the sugar and cardamom in a saucepan and heat on low fire, stirring as the sugar melts and the mixture thickens and comes off the edges to almost form a ball.
Remove from the heat and quickly transfer into the greased pan. Flatten it with a wooden spoon till it's about 1/4 inch thick, making sure the sides are nice and compact. Smoothen the top with aluminum foil and leave it to cool, covered by the foil, for at least a couple of hours.
When cool, cut. Store in the fridge.