Chocolate Sandesh is a “new-age” ‘Shondesh’ that took the Calcutta sweet shops by storm when it was discovered that freshly made ‘chhana’ (ricotta cheese) and chocolate, when combined, could do wonders even for an Indian mithai.
Festivities are in full swing and my heart is in my birthplace and hometown, Calcutta. Winter is magical with fresh seasonal vegetables, fruit and plum Christmas cakes, lots of lunch and dinner invites with friends and families, but the one thing that remains constant is carrying a box of ‘shondesh’ or sweets when you go to someone’s house or offer guests sweet treats. (Here’s my post on Kolkata and it’s delicious homemade food.) Keeping the chilly air in mind and the festive hearts, I made the easy version of Chocolate Shondesh for my friends here in the US. (Shondesh is traditionally made by making fresh chhana or cheese at home. Find my recipe of fresh ‘chhana’ here and my recipe of Rose Sandesh here.) However, with ingredients so readily available in abundance with lesser time in the kitchen, that this recipe seemed super doable. And the taste is not compromised at all.
Ingredients for cooking:
32 oz or 907 gm whole milk ricotta cheese
5 tbsp unsweetened cocoa powder (I used Ghirardelli)
¾ cup sweetened condensed milk
¼ tsp vanilla essence
2 tbsp crushed pistachio
1 tbsp clarified butter or ghee
Method for cooking:
- Heat a large pan. Add the ricotta cheese and start stirring it to smoothen the texture.
- Once it’s evenly heated, add the condensed milk and start to mix this well. The mixture will loosen up in a couple of minutes.
- Cook this mixture for a good 10 mins.
- Add cocoa powder and mix this well. The cocoa will bring this mixture together.
- Add vanilla essence. Keep cooking this till it’s no longer a loose fluid-like consistency and turns dough-like. (You can always taste the mixture and add more sugar if you like. If you do, then cook a few more mins)
- Turn off the heat.
- Follow either of the two steps below to make the final Chocolate Sandesh.
- Take a square or rectangular baking dish. Grease it with clarified butter or ghee on all the sides well.
- While the sandesh mixture is still hot in the pan, pour it into this dish and spread it out evenly with a spatula.
- Sprinkle the pistachios on top and press them down very gently into the sandesh with a flattened spatula.
- Take some ghee and brush the surface of the sandesh gently with it. Or use two fingers to gently dab in some ghee on the sandesh. Let this cool. Then set it in the refrigerator until set.
- Cut into desired pieces and serve!
- Cool the sandesh mix in the pan for a couple of minutes. Don’t let it cool completely. While the sandesh mix is still warm, take a tablespoon full in your palms and roll the into a ball, flatten from both side and lastly, make a little dent in the middle of it with your finger. Make however many as you wish.
- Add crushes pistachio in the center (the dent).
- With your fingertips, take some warmed ghee and just dab it on the sandesh, all over, to keep it moist. The ghee also adds the flavor and gives it a shine. Let this cool. Refrigerate if needed.
Ghirardelli Unsweetened Cocoa Powder gives a very rich chocolate flavor that I love. I got mine from Amazon.
Just now the rains stopped. It has been a wet day so fa. With the late afternoon sun sparkling through my window onto my study desk, it’s time for some hot cup of tea. Reminds me of the three days I spent in Arkansas with rain, sun, fall colors, and lots of tea.
Hope you all have a wonderful weekend.