This is a fairly ancient Gujarati sweet, traditionally made using fresh coconut and milk that has been reduced for hours. As coconut trees don't readily grow where I live now, and there's no need to spend hours reducing your own milk, we make this with desiccated coconut and condensed milk—two readily available pantry ingredients.
What's even more satisfying is that the fudge can be made within minutes (depending on your ball-rolling skills) and looks impressive, so it will stand you in good stead for last-minute dinners, bring-a-thing to work days, picnics, bribes, and village fète offerings.
Excerpted from Made in India (Flatiron Books 2015).
1 1/2 cups sweetened condensed milk
2 1/2 cups unsweetened desiccated coconut, divided
1/2 teaspoon ground cardamom (or finely ground seeds from 6 pods)
Step 1Pour the condensed milk into a nonstick saucepan and put it on a gentle heat. Stir frequently so that the milk doesn't stick to the bottom. (If it does burn, the burned bits can taste quite nice, but it's a fine line between nice and horrid.)
Step 2When the milk comes to a simmer, add 2 cups of the desiccated coconut and the ground cardamom. Keep stirring over a low heat until the mixture starts to look like dough. To test whether it's ready, pinch a piece off and let it cool for a minute before you see if you can roll it into a ball. If you can, take the pan off the heat and transfer the fudge to another bowl.
Step 3While you wait for the fudge to cool enough for you to handle it, get a bowl and put the rest of the desiccated coconut into it (to roll the fudge in) and another clean plate on which to put the finished fudge.
Step 4When the fudge is cool enough to touch, roll a bit into a small ball (roughly 1 1/4 inches in diameter). Roll it around in the desiccated coconut and put it onto a plate. Repeat with the rest of the fudge.
Step 5You can keep these in a clean tub in the fridge for up to a week.
Step 6Tip: As a treat for my grandma (who loves a Mounds bar), we sometimes melt some good-quality chocolate and dunk the fudge into it, using a cocktail stick, then set them in the fridge until hard.