A. Essentially, laddos are a form of mithai (generic name for all Indian confectionery), inherently spherical (laddoo means round/spherical), always sweet and dry (not to be mistaken with rasgollas, which have the same shape, but are wet/sticky with sugar syrup).
As all my friends know, I don't have a sweet tooth. A bite of dark chocolate is my sweet quota for a week. But the hubby felt like dessert, and I remembered these not-too-sweet laddoos from my childhood, and so off I went cooking! I loved coconut laddoos when I was a kid- but it was so hard to get them! "Milkmaid" condensed milk laddoos w/ coconut were extremely popular in my childhood, but I never recall my mom making those ... Making my own version was especially great since I could make the laddoo as light as I wanted to!
1/2 lb bag of dried grated coconut
1 small can of sweetened condensed Dulce de Leche style condensed "milk"
12 pods of green cardamom
- Extract the black-brown seeds from the green cardamom pods, discarding the outer skins.
- Pound the seeds to a rough powder (my very cute and little [but also very heavy- these should never be light] mortar and pestle came in handy here- you have complete control on the consistency of the powder).
- In a big mixing bowl, add all the dried coconut, with the exception of a cupful that you should keep away for final assembly.
- Sprinkle in the cardamom powder (bits and all) with your left hand as you mix with your right- please use your hands (wash well please!)- the mixing is just better.
- Then dribble in the "milk" with your left hand, as you gently mix with your right. You could of course use the mixer for all this, but I just believe that the texture is better if this is all done by hand- takes 5 minutes, and you have fewer appliances to clean. Also at this point you could add more sugar/sugar substitute- the sweetness from the condensed milk is enough for me, so I didn't.
- After gently mixing together everything for about half a minute, you should have a not-too-sticky mixture/dough.
- Spread the reserved coconut powder on a plate. Take a small lump of the mixture, and rotate between your palms to get a dense ball- about the size of a small key lime.
- Dredge the sticky-feeling ball with the coconut powder.
- Repeat until the mixture/dough finishes and you are left with about 40 laddoos.
The whole thing took me 30 minutes, from beginning to end. You want to chill these in the fridge before eating, and can store them in the fridge for about 10 days without spoilage.