WARNING! You may want to book an appointment with your dentist before making this. Just saying.
MILK TOFFEE! *jazz hands*
This sweet meat is not too dissimilar to fudge in taste, just slightly more crumbly – like a cross between fudge and Indian barfi. It’s usually filled with cashews and raisins, but this time I opted out of the raisins for Ang’s sake. Yeah, she’s not their biggest fan.
I made this in April for the Sinhalese and Tamil New Year. Odd timing for a New Year you say? Well, when you really think of it everything bursts in to life in spring… the flowers, the chicks, the lambs…. so it kind of makes sense to celebrate a new beginning!
During New Year everything happens at its own auspicious time, even the day before is governed by this. All participating households would put out the hearth/fireplace, and only ignite it the next day. Not unlike most celebrations food plays a huge role. When the food table is arranged it is a thing of beauty! The oil cakes (kavum), kokis (batter thats fried whilst still on a mould) and other sweet meats arranged meticulously on large platters. The day follows with more traditions, all done in the hopes of what is done today will continue through till next year.
Fireworks are set off announcing the time to reignite the hearth/fireplace, and a pot of milk is symbolically boiled till it bubbles out of the pot, to represent overflowing prosperity. Kiri Bath (milk rice) is cooked and brought to the main table ready for the first morsels to be eaten. Whats follows after is what I consider the main event – food is shared with people in your neighbourhood or street. It’s not uncommon to find kids dutifully scurrying about with plates laden with New Year grub, then quickly running home to sneak another mung kavum (oil cake made from mung beans), before setting of again. I speak from experience.
Thankfully, these days New Year means a lot less running, and this year I decided to indulge in making milk toffee to accompany my meagre portion of milk rice.
Make sure you use a heavy bottomed pan to ensure that it heats evenly.
If you are unaccustomed with working with sugar you can still try this on a low heat – it will probably take twice as long but at least you won’t be left with some crazy caramel rock at the end of it! I still don’t know what to do with mine. Yeah, my first attempt was… interesting, and I may have lost some of my photos. So you’ll notice that halfway through the photos the pistachios change to cashews… just pretend they are cashews. MAGICAL CASHEWS!
Be super careful as it’s essentially molten sugar, please try not to get any of it on you!
397g condensed milk
200g caster sugar
200ml cold water
30g salted butter
1tsp vanilla extract
2 cardamom pods, crushed to a fine powder
50g cashews, roughly chopped
Grease a nonstick baking tray.
Place the sugar and water into a large saucepan and heat without stirring till the sugar dissolves.
Pour in the condensed milk, and prepare for a lifetime of stirring!
The mixture will begin to bubble and boil, so keep stirring and make sure it doesn’t develop a life of its own and try to escape the pan! Add the butter, vanilla extract, and ground cardamom.
As its continues to bubble away you will start seeing a subtle change in colour from the pale creamy condensed milk to more of what I like to think of a ‘weak cuppa tea’ colour. As it thickens it will start to come away from the sides of the pan.
Keep stirring. Switch arms if you need to. You can do it.
Once it becomes a ‘strong cuppa tea’ colour (or a builders brew!), stir in the MAGICAL CASHEWS and take off the heat. To check it’s ready you could drop a tiny amount into a cup of cold water and see if it solidifies.
Swiftly pour into previously prepared tray.
Let this cool completely for a few hours. Cut (with a sharp knife!) into little 2x2cm squares.
Be warned that one square is probably enough to fix any sweet tooth cravings… it’s super sweet, but so goooooood!