Saturday, June 11, 2011

Halwa Cupcakes with Kulfi and Cashew-Lime Cookie Toppers

Sometimes you have to take a flavour profile by the horns and run with it. Our favourite profile comes from the unique tastes and smells that are born from Indian cuisine. Thanks to my new Flavour Bible, I could rattle off a real long list of that would make any Indian dessert perfect.

Or I could just show you.

halwakulfi_rt (3)
As I mentioned before, Kulfi is one of Mr. C's favourite desserts. He blames his childhood in Pakistan and Nepal, I blame his impeccable good taste in food. For those of you who haven't had the pleasure, kulfi is a lovely form of ice cream that is spiked with pistachios, cardamom, and rosewater. The ice cream itself isn't churned like it's North American cousin, but left in the deep freeze to get frosty. The result is a frozen treat that's just the right amount of creamy, but not as heavy as your regular Ben and Jerry's. There's something absolutely refreshing about it - especially on a hot summer's day.

What could be better that kulfi? Kulfi with a big plate of halwa, another one of those classic Indian desserts. Spiked with cardamom and ghee, this stuff is like carrots on crack. The only problem is, it's more of a pudding than a vehicle for kulfi.

So we turned it into a cupcake.
halwakulfi_rt (2)

A halwa cupcake with cardamom, carrot, ghee, and cashews. Kulfi with pistachios, rosewater, and cardamom. And, to top it all off, a cookie topper spiked with lime and (guess what) even more cardamom. The combination is seriously something special.

We'll be entering this super special cupcake into Cupcake Project's and Scoopalicious' Ice Cream Cupcake Contest. If you're a fan of cupcakes and ice cream (like we are) you've got to check out Cupcake Project's Facebook page for a preview of the other entries. They make me want to forget my qualms about dairy and just dig right in.

Halwa Cupcakes
adapted from Cupcake Bakeshop

Makes about 16 cupcakes

1/2 pound carrots (about 1 and a half large carrots)
1 1/2 tablespoons ghee (clarified butter)
1/4 cup water
1/2 cup milk
2 teaspoon ground cardamom
1/4 cup sugar

1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 teaspoon ground cardamom

1 large egg + 1 egg white
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
3/4 cups sugar
1/4 cup vegetable oil
1/4 cup milk
1/2 cup roasted cashews (chopped)

1) To make the halwa, grate the carrots with a fine grater. Place them in a saucepan and cook down with the ghee for about three minutes. Add the water, bring to a boil, and let cook down for another three minutes on simmer. Remove lid and stir a bit too cook off any extra water. Add the milk and cardamom, simmer for about fifteen minutes. Add the 1/4 cup of sugar and stir to dissolve. Simmer for about five more minutes and then take off the heat to cool to room temperature.

2) Heat oven to 350 degrees. In a medium bowl, mix together the flour, baking soda, baking powder, salt, and cardamom. In a large bowl, mix together the cooled halwa mixture, egg, egg white, vanilla, 3/4 cups sugar, vegetable oil, and milk.

3) With a wooden spoon, stir the dry ingredients into the wet ingredients until just combined. Add the roasted cashews and stir to evenly distribute. Scoop into cupcake papers and bake for about 20 to 25 minutes, or until they've reached a golden colour and your cupcake tester comes out clean. Set out to cool.

Cashew Buttercream
1/2 roasted cashews
1-2 tablespoons peanut oil
1/4 cups butter
125 grams of cream cheese (just over 4 ounces)
1 1/2 - 2 cups confectioners sugar

1) In a food processor, finely chop up your roasted cashews. Add your oil, a bit at a time, until you've reached a texture very much like chunky peanut butter.

2) In a large mixing bowl, whip together the butter and cream cheese. Add your cashew butter and mix. Slowly mix in your confectioner's sugar, a half cup at a time, until you've reached your desired stiffness/sweetness. Pipe on top of your cooled cupcakes.

Pista Kulfi
1 litre (4 1/4 cups) milk
1/2 cup sugar
3 tablespoons unsalted pistachios, crushed
1/2 cup heavy cream
1 tablespoon rosewater
1/2 teaspoons ground cardamom

1) Bring the milk to the boil in a large, thick-bottom pan and cook for 25 minues to reduce to about 3 1/4 cups. Put the sugar in a heatproof bowl, add 1/4 cups of the hot milk and stir until smooth. Pour the sugar mixture back into the rest of the milk, then and cook over low heat until thick and creamy. Add the crushed pistachios and cook for 1 minute, then remove from the heat and allow to cool completely.

2) Whip the cream in a large bowl until smooth and thick, but not stiff. Mix the cream, rosewater, and cardamom into the milk and pour into cone-shaped containers or any other small molds, leaving about a 2 1/2 cm space at the top (the frozen kulfi will expand!). Seal firmly with lids and freeze for 8-10 hours, or until frozen.

3) To serve, hold the molds under hot water briefly, then plop it right out into place. Kulfi must be served semi-frozen, and not soft like ice cream!

Cashew-Lime Cookie Toppers
Makes about one and a half dozen

1/4 cup toasted, unsalted cashews
1 cup flour
1/4 + 1/8 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoons salt
1/2 teaspoon lime zest
1/2 tablespoon fresh lime juice
1 teaspoon ground cardamom
1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1/4 cup unsalted butter, softened
1/4 cup packed light brown sugar
1 egg

1) In a food processor, pulse cashews with 1/4 cups flour until the nuts are very finely ground. In a bowl, whisk to combine the cashew mixture with the rest of the flour, the baking powder, salt, zest, cardamom, and cayenne pepper.

2) In a separate bowl, beat together the butter and brown sugar with an electric mixer until fluffy. Add the lime juice. Place the egg in a small bowl and whisk up so that the yolk and white are evenly distributed. Add 1 1/2 tablespoons of the mixed egg into your butter mixture (You don't  need the rest of the egg - cook it up and have a little bit of scrambled eggs!) and beat until combined. With a wooden spoon, stir in the dry ingredients until just combined.

3) Plop dough onto plastic wrap and roll into a 1-inch thick log. Chill for at least 30 minutes, then slice about a quarter to a half of an inch thick. Bake until golden on the edges and bottoms - about 10 to 13 minutes. Let cool completely

Lime Glaze
1/4 cup confectioners' sugar
1/8 teaspoon lime zest
1 tablespoon lime juice
Red or Green mukhwas (Indian coloured spice blend)

1) In a small bowl, whisk together the sugar, zest, and juice together. Dip the tops of the cooled cookies in the glaze and sprinkle with mukhwas.

Halwa Cupcakes with Kulfi and Cashew-Lime Cookie Toppers

Pipe the cooled cupcakes with the cashew frosting. Place a piece of kulfi on top of the frosting and set in the freezer for a few minutes. Take out quickly, top with a small blob of more cashew frosting and a cashew-lime cookie. Serve immediately.


Katie said...

YUM! These cupcakes look so beautiful. I'm not familiar with a lot of the flavor combinations, but you described them perfectly so I have a better sense of them now.

Lora said...

These are so original and such interesting flavors. I am digging the frosty kulfi. And that cashew buttercream - WOW!

Lina Thomlinson said...

Yet another wonderfully creative idea from you! I am intrigued by this combination of flavors but most especially by the cashew buttercream. I've never seen anything quite like that before! As always I'm impressed by how much thought and effort you put into your creations. Great entry!

Monet said...

You are always coming up with the most inventive cupcakes. I know that when I want something special...I need to come to you! Thank you for sharing such an inspiring recipe. I want to get into my kitchen now. I hope you are having a beautiful and bountiful Monday!

Sara said...

Ooooh, this cupcake looks so, so good - what a great combination of flavors! I'm super into the Flavor Bible too - such a great source of inspiration! :)

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