Kaju Katli/Cashew Fudge

Nik Sharma

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Kaju Katli/Cashew Fudge

One of my favorite Indian sweets is kaju katli or cashew fudge which carries a mild sweet scent of rose water and cardamom. This is a dessert that is served on special occasions at Hindu festivals like Diwali. Cashews are ground to fine grainy powder very similar to the texture of fine-grade semolina and then cooked in sugar syrup and a little ghee.

  • Yield: 24

Ingredients

2 Tbsp ghee or unsalted butter plus extra to grease the dish

2 cups/280 g raw whole cashews

1 cup/240 ml water

1 cup/200 g sugar

¼ tsp ground green cardamom

½ tsp rosewater

For the garnish

Varak (sheet of edible silver), Crushed roasted pistachios, pumpkin seeds, edible silver or gold pearls

Instructions

  1. Grease and line a 9 in/23 cm square baking dish with butter and line it with parchment paper.
  2. Grind the cashews to a fine grainy powder in a food processor. Pulse at short intervals to prevent the cashews from heating up and releasing their oils, or they will turn into cashew butter. Sift the ground cashews to remove any large bits. Return the large bits to the food processor and grind them down. Combine the ground cashews.
  3. Heat the water, sugar, and cardamom in a medium saucier or saucepan over medium heat until it reaches 230F/110C. Reduce the heat to medium-low, stir in the ground cashews with a silicone spatula and cook until the mixture starts to thicken, about 5 to 6 minutes, and starts to come off the sides. Add the 2 Tbsp of ghee; the mixture should resemble a thick paste that quickly leaves the saucier’s sides. Fold in the rosewater and remove the saucier from the stove. Pour the mixture into the greased pan and level with an offset spatula. To prevent the cashew mixture from sticking to the surface of the spatula, dip it in hot water. Leave it out at room temperature to cool and firm up. If using varak, layer the cashew fudge with the silver sheet now. If nuts or edible pearls are used for the garnish, top after the cashew fudge is cut. Once firm, run a knife along the edges of the pan to help release the cashew fudge. Cut into 1 in/2 cm or 2 in/5 cm squares or diamonds. Store in an airtight container wrapped with parchment paper to prevent the slices from sticking in the refrigerator for up to 1 week.

Notes

  • Using parchment paper to line the base of the pan will make it easier to lift the fudge out. But parchment paper can slip easily while the fudge is hot. If you decide to skip the parchment paper, grease the bottom of the pan very well. Once cooled, dip the base of the pan in hot water to loosen the butter, which will help the fudge come out.
  • Instead of using the square pan, another easy alternative is to roll the cooked cashew mixture between sheets of parchment paper till it is about ¼ in/6 mm thick.
  • The sugar syrup is heated to 230F/110C, the thread stage. If a drop of the hot syrup is pressed between the tips of your fingers and then pulled, it will form a thin sticky thread, and this helps the cashew take on its characteristic soft grainy fudge texture.
  • Traditionally, this dessert is covered with a sheet of edible silver, but you can garnish it with nuts and even edible gold or silver pearls. If you decorate with varak, do this immediately after the cashew fudge is rolled out. If using nuts, add those after the cashew fudge is cut.
  • The serving sizes are a little loose here because they will vary depending on how you decided to lay the fudge out and how big you cut them. My suggested serving size is an estimate.

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