This post mourns the sad passing of a friend. My Cuisinart SmartDuet Blender / Food Processor. A constant companion since I first became my own woman (i.e. moved out of my parents' house in Canada to fend for myself here in the US). At least it went out with a bang. Well, more like a slow burn. But at a MOST inconvenient time.
Let me recap for you, dear readers, the last few moments of its very productive life.
There's this Almond-Semolina Halva (Roat Halwa) recipe that's been in my family for decades, if not centuries. The original dessert is very popular all over the subcontinent (India-Pakistan-Bangladesh), and most families have their own take on it. My mother passed it on to me, but she got it from an older cousin of hers, who got it from her mother, who definitely got it from her own mother (or mother-in-law or family cook). So this recipe originates from an era way before my birth-country Pakistan was even created, back when my ancestors were nawaabs and princesses who lorded over the royal state of Hyderabad, India. Huh, no wonder, only they could've afforded to use all the saffron that goes into this recipe! Oh, and on a separate note, I'm sending this recipe in to Scrumptious at In My Box, who is hosting Sugar High Fridays for this week, with the theme "Test Of Time".
Anyway, so halfway through this recipe, I'm supposed to blend the whole fragrant mixture of ground almonds, semolina, saffron etc. Silly me goes ahead and tries to blend all of it at once, instead of half at a time. That's when IT happened. In just a few seconds of turning the blender on, I start getting this metallic burning smell. At first I'm in denial as to where it's coming from. Then I start to see the actual smoke, slowly seeping out from the base of the blender. *Groan* ... what should have been a cheerful whizzing sound became a melancholy buzz that faded into nothingness. And that's all she wrote.Ignore the dirty floor, ok?
After multiple futile attempts (mainly me jabbing every button on the machine) at starting it up again, I knew this was the end of my blending / food-processing days with this little guy. However, that still left me with a whole lot of lumpy Almond-Semolina Halva. So out came the hand-mixer, and what should've taken me a few minutes with the blender, took me an HOUR with the hand-mixer! Coagulated cooked semolina takes a loooooooong time to mix properly. On the bright side, my right arm is now quite well-muscled. (owee, typing hurts)
Hyderabadi Almond-Semolina Halva (Roat Halwa) - thanks Mom ... see, I'm giving props to my heritage!
Serves a crowd
Serves a crowd
10 oz semolina (sooji)
22.5 oz confectioners/powdered sugar
5 oz almonds (boiled for a minute, peeled then ground)
8 oz unsalted butter (melted) OR ghee
2 cups milk
15 oz milk powder (mixed in a 5oz glass of water)
1/2 tsp saffron, or more if you like
1. Bring milk to a slow boil with the saffron sprinkled in, then slowly add the semolina, stirring continuously. When all the milk is absorbed and the semolina cooked (it turns color from a greyish-white to a pale gold), take it off the heat and let it stand for at least 2 hours.
2. Add all the rest of the ingredients to the now-cold semolina mixture. Blend it in a blender, in parts, till you no longer see any lumps. NOT all at once like I did! Taste to check for satisfactory sweetness and saffron flavor - add more if needed.
3. Preheat oven to 350 F.
4. Pour the mixture into a 9" springform pan (slightly smaller or bigger is fine too). Place it on a baking sheet, then put it in the middle shelf of the oven for 45 minutes. It may need more time, depending on your oven. You're looking for the edges to turn a golden brown and come away from the edges of the pan. I like to brown the top as well, so I turn on the broiler for a few minutes at the end. (the original recipe doesn't use the oven obviously)
5. When it's done, take it out of the oven, let it cool then refrigerate it overnight. The next day you can take it out of the pan, and cut it into 1-inch pieces (it's pretty rich). It can keep in the fridge for almost 2 weeks, so it'll keep your sweet tooth happy for a long time!
Verdict: This dessert is quite rich and decadent. But I love it. No let me rephrase that, I luuuuuuuuuurve it! The edges turn crispy, the inside is tender and buttery. The saffron and almond flavor is pronounced and just permeates all your senses. You just want to place each piece on your tongue and let it melt slowly. But the minute you put it in your mouth, it's gone because you gobble it up in less than a nano-second! *sigh* ... I don't know what makes me sadder (more sad? saddier?! Oh f--- it), the death of my Cuisinart or when I see the last piece of this dessert.
Oh, this story has a happy ending. Lookie lookie ...
My new baby, the KitchenAid 9-cup food processor (with a mini 4-cup attachment)!