August flew away in a snap! I was caught up neck deep in many things. Then towards the end, I realized I haven’t blogged enough about summer recipes. So, I wrote and shared half a dozen sweet treat recipes last month. Summer isn’t just about sweets. I agree. It is rather about the sunshine, butterflies, lots of warm smiles and happiness.
Being a mom of a boisterous and ever-busy 6-year old, I continue to learn and do my best to give in to my child’s unceasing request for “refreshing and energy-rich” treats for the gang of friends during their frequent breaks as they play under the sun. And by ‘refreshing’ my little girl means something yum and delicious. And by ‘energy-rich treats’, her mom understands that she needs to provide anything that has at least a teensy-weensy bit of glucose to jumpstart the bunch of little batteries on the playdate! And a small amount of simple carbohydrate isn’t bad at all for kids — not for these little active goody bags that never run out of energy. They quickly metabolize and burn out much more calories than what their bite of the sweet snack may have had!
My kitchen being on the snack-making-mill mode that it was, during the official end of summer season, my blog became a temporary reflection of the sweet knick-knack recipes that I churned out. And as soon as I thought my blog was done bidding a “sweet” adieu to August, here it was time for another sweet occasion — the mighty festival called Ganesh Chaturthi. I am more spiritual than religious. And whilst at most times, I am not able to organize Puja (Hindu worship) at home or get a chance to visit temples, I often find myself caught up with the intriguing wonder of Indian seasonal and festival foods.
It is customary to prepare Modaks on Ganesh Chaturthi. Making Modaks, the traditional Marathi sweet stuffed dumplings is otherwise an intricate method. One would need to steam rice-flour mixture and stuff them or deep fry, to make the classic steamed/fried modaks. I had two problems today. One, I do not have a Modak mold with me here. Nor did I have the patience to painstakingly fill, shape and seal each of sweet with my fingers. Two, we were to leave for our Labor day weekend trip tomorrow, which didn’t leave me with much luxury time today!
And because I decided to do Modaks anyways today, I had to shift my focus chocolate modaks — the quickly made yummier version. I recently purchased a pyramid chocolate mold from Amazon. Though the 4-sided pyramid was far from the usual conical or flat-bottomed tear drop shape that Modaks are, the mold gave my batch of modaks a rather modern look and finish. It was easy. For a surprise twist, I used a new paint brush to draw a simple Ganesha face on my modaks. And that’s what I call a “complete dedication”!!! The sweets turned out fab. Very chocolaty and rich (Yes, I used my favorite dark chocolate), with a very soft, gooey and flavorful core-full of delightful filling. Then the Ganapati drawing took the modaks to a whole new level of visual-delightfulness — they were such a treat to eyes! Plus I had my modaks ready in less than half hour. It just all adds up to the beauty of making these — makes it so worthwhile!!! Believe me, you would prepare them time and again after you do make your first batch — some tasty tempting treats in life can’t wait for a special occasion. They must keep coming often! 🙂
There are 4 more days to go for Ganesh Chaturthi. And I have hanged my chef’s apron and hat….and packed my bags for a thrilling extended weekend trip starting this evening. It was long been planned and finally the much deserved break I need! This post and then more food stories when I return next week. In the meantime, Happy Ganesh Chaturthi for all those who celebrate and a bright beautiful rest of the week for everyone!
To make nuts and coconut filled chocolate Modaks, you will need⇒
Yields a dozen 1.5″ x 1.5″ x 0.75″ inch Modaks (quantity will vary based on size and shapes of madaks)
- 6.8 oz or 192 gm Chocolate bar of your choice — I used 1 Hershey’s giant special dark (and mildly sweet) chocolate
- 1 tsp sweet cream or regular butter
- 1/4th cup (about 2 oz or 50 gm) sweetened condensed milk
- 1 to 2 tsp Rooh Afza for flavor — **Optional
- About 5 tbsp finely powdered desiccated coconut
- 1 heaped tbsp mixed nuts and raisins of your choice — I used almonds, pistachios and golden raisins
- 1/4 tsp fresh ground cardamom — **Optional
- Chocolate mold with deep-filling cavities (preferably conical, pyramid shaped or flat bottomed tear drop shaped). Chocolate molds with rather flat cavities/shapes aren’t desirable for this recipe.
To Paint on the Modaks we need (**Optional)⇒ A clean, new and fine paint brush, 1/2 tsp melted white chocolate or white cake icing/frosting, and a few drops of gel color of choice. [I used what was available with me — 1/2 tsp of white cake icing + a few drops of Wilson’s Yellow gel food color]
- Pound the nuts in a mortar and pestle and reduce them to a coarse mix. Chop the raisins or leave them whole if you prefer.
- In a mixing bowl, add coconut powder, sweetened condensed milk, ground nuts, chopped raisins, Roof Afza and cardamom powder. Mix to bind them all together. If you find the filling mixture too soft and sticky, add more desiccated coconut to adjust the consistency.
- Shape and make small round balls out of the sweet coconut mixture. Make as many balls as the number of chocolate modaks you plan to make. The size of each ball should be approximately a little less than half the size of chocolate mold cavity.
- Set the chocolate mold ready for use. Brush/grease minimally with butter as per the mold’s package instructions. (Mine was a non-stick mold, so I didn’t have to grease.)
- In a microwave safe bowl, add butter and broken chocolate bar pieces (the butter helps in a smoother modak finish). Heat for 15 seconds on high power. Take out and stir well with a spoon to soften/melt/mix the chocolate. Place it back in the microwave and heat for another 10-15 seconds or till most of the chocolate pieces have softened. Stir with a spoon to obtain a smooth melted chocolate mixture. Alternatively, place the bowl with butter and chocolate on a boiling water bath (taking care so no water gets into the bowl) till the chocolate melts. However, do not heat the chocolate too much (on microwave or stove-top) — that will result in burning and lumpy charred chocolate!
- Half fill each of the mold cavity with melted chocolate mixture. Gently push down one sweet-filling ball each into the cavities. Then fill the the remaining of the cavities with melted chocolate. Do not overfill. It is ideal to fill up to just a teensy bit below the cavity brim. The sweet balls should be covered and dipped in the chocolate completely.
- With both hands, hold the mold sheet from the two ends or sides. Gently tap the mold a couple times. This helps in getting rid of any trapped air bubbles, and also facilitates the chocolate mixture getting into every corner of it’s cavity and evenly distribute.
- Place the mold sheet carefully into a freezer and let freeze for about 10-15 minutes, till the chocolate modaks are all firm, hard and well set.
- Gently get the modaks out of the mold. Gently melt the white chocolate and mix gel food color drops to form a smooth paste. Or mix a couple drops of the color in white cake icing/frosting (if not using the chocolate). Using a new clean paint brush, outline what you’d like on your modaks. Chill the modaks in the refrigerator for the “paint” to set in. Or you could skip the painting part and pop-in a modak just like that!!!
- Offer Ganapati Bappa’s favorite modaks to him on Ganesh Chaturthi and be blessed. Serve them slightly chilled and when tooth friendly. You can store them in a cool place in air tight containers/ziploc bags and away from heat and humidity, so they do not melt and stick to each other. Best if consumed within the first 2-3 days (chocolates get a white coat/layer called chocolate bloom due to humidity on prolonged storage that renders it aesthetically less appealing without altering it’s nutrition quotients or edibility).