Redolent with the richness of cashews and the perfume of cardamom, fudge-like kaju barfi is a favorite South Asian sweet. Cooked-down milk, sugar, and ground cashews are combined into a concentrated paste that is seasoned with spices, then pressed into a pan and cooled.
This recipe replaces the milk and sugar with canned sweetened condensed milk and soy paneer (tofu). The modern Indian approach reduces cooking time and adds extra nutrients without compromising flavor and texture. Finely grating the tofu allows it to seamlessly merge with the other ingredients. Edible silver foil typically covers kaju barfi, but it remains gorgeous with the simple pistachio garnish.
Click here for 5 Unusual Ways to Use Tofu.
Line an 8-inch-square pan with parchment paper to cover the bottom and one side. Set aside.
Wipe the tofu dry, then finely shred it using the smallest hole on the grater. Transfer to a bowl and set aside.
Put the cashews in a small or full-size food processor and grind to a texture resembling breadcrumbs or fine cornmeal. Add to the grated tofu and toss to combine.
To cook the fudge mixture, use a medium pan, such as 2-quart sauté pan. It’s easier to evenly cook the ingredients in that kind of shallow pan. Pour in the sweetened condensed milk. Add the tofu and cashew mixture. Over medium heat, stir the ingredients together. Cook the mixture for about 15 minutes, stirring occasionally at the beginning as things heat up, and then frequently, and, eventually, constantly. Prevent scorching by scraping the bottom and sides as you stir. The mixture should not boil, but just thicken at a moderate speed. The mixture will transform into a rough mass resembling very thick, rough oatmeal. When stirring results in the mixture pulling away from the sides or slightly lifting off the bottom of the pan, it’s done.
Remove from the heat and stir in the cardamom, then transfer the fudge to the lined baking pan. Spread it out evenly, then pat it flat. Sprinkle on the pistachio nuts and gently press into the mixture. Set aside to completely cool. Because this fudge is on the soft side, cover and chill for a few hours or overnight to make it easier to cut; if you’re in a hurry, freeze until cold, about 15 minutes. The resting time also develops flavor.
Use the parchment paper on the side of the pan to help you remove the fudge. Place it on a cutting board and cut it into 36 small squares for bite-size portions. Or, aim for 16-20 large ones. Take liberties with shapes; triangles are easy to achieve, and diamonds are lovely and traditional.
Serve at room temperature or chilled. This fudge keeps well, covered, for up to 5 days in the refrigerator. You can freeze it for up to 1 month but it loses a touch of its oomph. I often eat the fudge as I cut it.