Not too long ago, I tried to make a decadent Rasmalai cake that was created by the very talented Melissa Clark. It was a work of labor and love. More recently, looking at the aisles of Rosogolla in the Indian store sparked an interesting thought. What would happen if I somehow weaved store brought Rosogollas into a tres leches style cake batter with some rasmalai flavors infused in?
That is the experiment that went down in my kitchen tonight. I started with making a tres leches cake base, swapping in cardamom for the vanilla. When the cake batter was ready, I folded in sliced Rosogollas (I squeezed out their sugar syrup first), baked the cake and gave the final touch – a soak in a tres leches (three milks) concoction flavored with saffron, cardamom and crushed pistachios.
My parents were over the moon happy, their neighbors delighted with this unexpected gift and me? I was just beaming because yet another idea came to life beautifully! Here’s how this cake came together.
- 1.5 cups all purpose flour
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- 2 tsps cardamom
- 12 small store bought Rosogollas (I bought a can of Bikaner mini Rosogollas)
- 1 stick (1/2 cup) butter, softened
- 1 cup sugar
- 5 eggs
- 1/2 cup half and half
- 1/2 cup 2% milk
- 1 can condensed milk
- 4 strands of saffron, crushed
- 1/8 cup shelled pistachios, toasted and crushed
- 1/2 tsp cardamom
- 1 tbsp ghee or butter for prepping pan
- 1 tbsp flour for prepping pan
1.Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Brush a 9×13 inch pan with one tbsp of ghee or butter and dust it with the tbsp of flour.
2. Whisk the flour, baking powder and cardamom (two tsps) in a bowl.
3. Slice the Rosogollas in half, gently squeeze out the sugar syrup and set it aside.
3. Cream the butter and sugar together until nice and fluffy. Add the eggs one at a time and beat till blended.
4. Slowly add the flour mixture to the egg mixture, and mix till the ingredients are blended.
5. Fold in the Rosogolla slices into the cake batter.
6. Transfer the batter to the prepared pan and bake for 30 minutes, or till the top of the cake is light brown and a cake tester comes out clean.
7. Remove the cake from the oven, poke holes all over the cake with a wooden skewer or toothpick and set aside to cool.
8. Prepare the tres leches mixture by mixing the half and half, 2% milk, condensed milk, saffron, pistachios, and 1/2 tsp cardamom in a bowl.
9. Pour the tres leches mixture over the cake.
Enjoy every milk infused crumb and be transported to flavor nirvana!
We all have rituals that make us smile. For my husband, it is the act of eating a single piece of the Indian sweet Rasmalai which never fails to put a smile on his face. So when Melissa Clark from the New York Times converted this sweet into a cake for a good friend, I absolutely had to recreate it in my kitchen.
Just a quick primer on Rasmalai. It literally translates into “Ras” meaning juice and “malai” meaning cream. It’s a dessert made with homemade cheese and served in a milk-based syrup flavored with rosewater, cardamom and sometimes saffron.
What Melissa did is absolutely brilliant and I continue to learn and be inspired by the art and science of this creation. Mirroring the inspiration is accomplished through the beautiful art of layering flavors. The cakes are subtly flavored with cardamom and rose water, then get a soak of milk that is infused with cardamom, followed by a sandwiching process with rose water flavored ricotta filling and a final, stylish flourish of creamy, mascarpone frosting that has a subtle flavor of rose water.
And here’s the final end product staged with a topping of dried rose petals and pistachios. A sight to behold and a beautiful treat to devour.
As you might have guessed by now, you’ve got to tell yourself the calories are not real and simply a figment of your imagination:)
If you’d like to recreate this, here’s the link to the recipe I followed.
PS. I do want to thank all the readers/experimenters of the original recipe who generously shared their learnings. This was instrumental in turning my creation out beautifully!
I’ve expressed this form of love before and here I go at it again. Yes, it is Yotam Ottolenghi yet again along with his baking partner Helen Goh who have me in raptures. Well, it is not really them, but their “Pistachio and Rose Water Semolina Cake” that was just featured in the New York Times that has me all excited.
Just reading the list of ingredients (pistachio, rose-water, lemon juice, almond meal and more) had me in the car on an assembly spree.
And this afternoon, as the pistachios whirred in the food processor and the smell of rose-water wafted in my kitchen, I almost felt like I had been blessed with a virtual visit from the talented powerhouse of Goh and Ottolenghi.
If one could describe the ideal dessert as one where beauty makes a connection with the soul, this has got to be it.
Just a few words of warning!
This does not follow my penchant for light dishes.
True to its middle eastern origin, the cake is sweet and blends in many an exotic flavor. So if you want to get on a magic carpet and take a ride with a subliminal blend of tastes, here’s the way to get on this trip.
Pistachio and Rose Water Semolina Cake