The NYTFood came out with a photo a couple days ago of this delicious Ras Malai Cake made by the talented Melissa Clark. And of course like any Desi Foodie, I jumped out of my seat wanting to make it in an instant.
For those who may not know, Ras Malai is a poached milk dumpling, popular in South Asia. I don't think there is a single South Asian wedding that doesn't have these on the dessert menu. Made from freshly made/dried ricotta then poached in a sweet milk, infused with cardamom, rosewater, and saffron. It only made sense to turn it into a cake.
So here's my take on a mouth watering delight!
Scroll all the way to the bottom for the written recipe printable!
You want to start out with TWO 9 inch round cakes. I'm using a light, airy, fluffy egg white Angel Food Cake, but you can use any light sponge or yellow cake of your choice. Ras Malai is delicate and airy so you want a nice soft cake to melt in your mouth. Add 1/2 tsp of Ground Cardamom Powder to your batter to give it an extra kick...or you can just make due without. :)
Next you will want to make the glaze. This step is similar to making a Tres Leches Cake where we are going to soak the baked cakes in this delicious sweet glaze.
You will want to add a can of evaporated milk, 1/2 a can of condensed milk (more or less depending on taste), 1/2 cup of half & half, and 3 green cardamom pods to a sauce pan and bring it to a simmer. Once brought to a simmer, remove from heat and cover. This will let the cardamom steep and infuse its flavors into the sweet milk.
Now lets make the filling. Of course Ras Malai is made from Ricotta Cheese so it only makes sense we use this for the filling of the cake. I used about a pint of fresh ricotta, but you can use whatever you find. In a separate bowl mix a tbsp of your reserved sweet glaze with a pinch of saffron. Let it steep for 5 minutes then whisk it into your ricotta and set aside. Because the cake, glaze and icing are all sweet, I wanted to balance it with an unsweetened rich cream like ricotta.
The last thing before assembly is the Icing on top. We are essentially going to make a cream cheese buttercream frosting but infusing it with rosewater. I'm using mascarpone cream instead of cream cheese because its lighter and has a more tart flavor which I love, but you can use either or. Using an electric mixer, cream a stick of butter, 8oz of mascarpone (or cream cheese), 1/2 a can (more or less depending on your desired sweetness) of sweetened condensed milk, and a splash of rosewater. Let it all combine and come together and set aside.
Now we are ready to assemble! You want to lay your first 9 inch round cake down onto your cake stand.
Then using a fork prick it all over to make holes for the sweet glaze to soak in.
Now using a pastry brush, gently dab in the sweet cardamom infused glaze you had set aside. Add enough until you see that the cake has soaked up most of it, because this is what's going to keep the cake moist. (This cake can be made a couple days in advance due to this soaking method of keeping it moist.)
Now spread your saffron infused ricotta filling on top of the soaked cake.
Top it with the second cake round...
Followed by pricking with a fork again, then using a pastry brush to soak the second cake. Then let it chill in the refridgerator for ATLEAST 30 mins before icing. This ensures that the cake isnt too soft and allows you to apply the icing easily.
**Note: You will have at least half the glaze left over, turn it into Sheer Khurma (using this recipe) or turn it into good ol' "Doodh Patti Chai" (Milk Leaf Tea) to go as a side with this cake. ;)
After about 30 minutes, remove it from the fridge, frost it with the rosewater infused buttercream frosting, and then garnish with chopped pistachios.
...and some edible, dried rose petals.
Cut yourself a slice...
And enjoy this East meets West South Asian fusion of delicious Ras Malai, turned cake!
Don’t want a whole cake?! No problem!
Turn them into delicious Ras Malai Cupcakes! Follow the same steps for making the filling, basting the cake and frosting. Just use vanilla cupcakes instead of angel food as angel food cake usually sticks. Using a piping bag and tip, insert tip into middle of vanilla cupcake and squeeze in some filling. Baste the top of the cupcake with the sweet filling then frost and top with garnishes. Enjoy!