Robert Wemischner is the author of The Dessert Architect. He teaches baking and pastry at Los Angeles Trade Technical College.
Ros Malai, Indian Creamy Curds, with Cardamom Milk Sauce, Pistachios, Served in an Edible Nutted Florentine Cookie Bowl
Yield: 24 –36 quenelles, depending on size, enough for twelve servings,
2 to 3 pieces for each serving
7.68 kg (2 gals) Whole milk
6 oz Fresh lemon juice, sieved
36 Whole square sugar cubes, each weighing 2 grams
In a large deep saucepan, bring the milk and lemon juice to the boil and cook for several minutes, stirring constantly with a wooden spoon until the curds rise to the top of the pot. Using a ladle, scoop the curds into a cheesecloth-lined sieve, set over a bowl. Squeeze cheesecloth to remove excess liquid. (The resulting liquid is called whey, which may be used as an enrichment in yeast breads, fruit smoothies or discarded, as desired.) Knead the compressed cheese briefly on a clean surface and form into quenelle shaped ovals, each weighing approximately 1 ounce. Pinch off pieces of the cheese, each weighing approximately ¾ ounce to 1-1/4 ounce, and wrap the cheese around a sugar cube, making sure that the cheese covers the sugar completely. Set aside, refrigerated, and lightly covered until ready to poach in the sugar syrup below.
Spiced Sugar syrup
2 Bay leaf
6 Cardamom pods
7 oz Granulated sugar
32 oz Water
In a large saucepan, place the spices, sugar and water and bring to the boil. Reduce to a simmer and carefully lower the paneer quenelles into the syrup and simmer for about 5 minutes. Allow the quenelles to cool in the syrup, and then using a slotted spoon, carefully remove to a sheet pan lined with absorbent paper. Discard the syrup after poaching the cheese. Store the cheese, refrigerated and covered, on a Silpat lined sheetpan.
Yield: approximately 16 ounces, twelve servings, 1-1/3 ounces each
32 oz Whole milk
5 Whole pale green skinned cardamom pods
Tip: Taste the sauce to be sure that it tastes clearly of the cardamom. If not, continue cooking and/or add a few more cardamom pods, tasting to confirm that the flavor of the spice comes through.In a heavy saucepan, bring the milk to the boil with the cardamom pods. Reduce the heat to a simmer and cook the liquid to reduce by half, stirring constantly and thoroughly with a flat edged wooden spoon, scraping the sides and the bottom of the pan frequently to be sure that the mixture is not burning. When satisfied that the flavor of the cardamom comes through clearly, remove the pods from the liquid. When chilled, the mixture should be thick enough to coat the back of a spoon. If it is too thin, simply return the mixture to the heavy saucepan and continue to cook, stirring constantly, until it reduces slightly. Set the mixture over an ice water bath, stirring to cool. Check for thickness when cold.
Pistachio florentine “bowls”
Yield: twelve bowls, each weighing approximately 2-3/4 ounces each, varying slightly from cookie to cookie, depending on how thickly the batter is spread
8 oz Unsalted Butter
4 oz Granulated sugar
4 oz Honey
8 Egg whites, from large eggs
4 oz Pistachios, ground
4 oz All-Purpose Flour
For garnish on top of the florentines:
2 oz Pistachios, ground
In the bowl of an electric mixer, outfitted with the paddle attachment, cream the butter, sugar and honey until blended. Add the egg whites and mix until incorporated. Add the first quantity of ground pistachios and flour and mix only until incorporated.Using a flat metal spatula, spread the batter for four cookies at a time onto a Silpat lined sheet pans, in a thin, but not translucent, layer shaped in a circle, measuring approximately 4 inches in diameter (approximately 2-3/4 ozs. of batter is used for each cookie).Tip: Alternatively you may use a tuile template with a round cutout measuring approximately 4 inches in diameter. Place the template on the back of a Silpat-lined sheet pan and spread the batter through it in a thin but not translucent layer, removing the template and then repeating the process. It’s best to bake only a few of these at a time as they need to be warm to be shaped into the bowls that will contain the ros malai mixture.Sprinkle ground pistachios on each cookie. Bake one sheet of the cookies at a time in a preheated 375 degree F. oven for approximately 6 minutes. Remove from the oven and immediately, while still pliable, form each cookie over the bottom outside curve of a small bowl, measuring approximately 3 inches in diameter. You may need to reheat the florentines to soften them enough to curve. Continue baking and shaping until you have made twelve perfectly shaped florentine bowls.
12 Pistachios, shelled, roughly chopped
12 Whole or chopped cashews
Plating and Assembly:
For each serving, place a pistachio florentine “bowl” on a dessert plate. Pour approximately 1 1/2 ounces of the milk sauce into each florentine bowl. Then place 2 or 3 quenelles of paneer into the sauce. Garnish with pistachios and cashews. Serve immediately with a spoon, knife and fork for each serving.