Toasted Coconut Balls
Coconut balls, or laddo, are a tasty little dessert found frequently at Indian festivals or street fairs. Coconut laddo are often made for Diwali, a celebration of the Goddess of wealth and fortune, Lakshmi. Diwali is a festival of lights, and the power of light over darkness, as well as knowledge over ignorance. People celebrate this festival, which is also sometimes called Deepavali, by preparing delicious, elaborate foods weeks in advance and sharing them with family and neighbors. They gift each other with sweets and small presents, and an impressive shopping season begins with this holiday.
This is not an overly sweet dessert, as it is predominantly made of coconut, with just a tiny hint of cardamom. You can flavor these with other things if you’d like something other than coconut to flood your mouth. We made ours traditionally, with just the cardamom, but vanilla, cinnamon, or lemon zest would be excellent.
The flavor is incredible. It is strange though, you have to really love coconut to enjoy eating these. Jeff was kind enough to toast some extra coconut and roll the balls in it for an even more coconutty flavor, but that’s optional.
These keep quite nicely in the fridge for a few days. They are not the kind of treat you have to worry about overindulging on as they are the perfect level of sweet to satisfy a sweet tooth but not overwhelm the brain into craving more. If you wanted them a little sweeter, you could dip them into dark chocolate for a bit of added sugar and a welcome bitterness that compliments coconut well.
- Place coconut in food processor and pulse a few times or until the consistency of coarse meal.
- Crush seeds of cardamom with mortar and pestle, set aside.
- In a skillet over medium-low heat, toast coconut until golden (about 5 minutes). Stir to avoid burning.
- Add coconut milk and cardamom and cook for 2 minutes.
- Add sugar and salt, increase heat to medium and cook for 15 to 20 minutes, or until the mixture absorbs the liquid and does not leak any moisture when squeezed or pressed.
- Cool to room temperature, then shape into balls and serve.
- Can be refrigerated up to a week.