Showing posts with label camel milk. Show all posts
Showing posts with label camel milk. Show all posts

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Camel Milk Caramel Basbousa #CreativeCookieExchange

Basbousa are little squares or diamonds made with semolina dough that are traditionally topped with almonds and then soaked with rose flavored syrup when hot. For a twist to the typical recipe, I’ve soaked mine in caramel syrup made out of camel milk. 

Sometimes for these Creative Cookie Exchange posts I have a recipe in mind – sometimes even baked - weeks ahead of time because our organizer, Laura from The Spiced Life reveals the theme several months in advance, to help us plan. But this month, with the delicious theme of caramel, I just wasn’t finding inspiration anywhere. Until my fellow CCE member, co-creator of Bread Bakers and friend, Renee from Magnolia Days asked the following question in the group: “Does dulce de leche count as caramel or is it strictly caramel for the May event?” This set off a flurry of comments where several of us defended dulce as absolutely a caramel and got me thinking about the camel milk cajeta or dulce de leche sitting in my refrigerator. It does keep for months, but why not use some of it in a cookie? So the wheels started turning.

Camel milk caramel can certainly be put in any cookie. But wouldn’t it be fun to find an Arabic one to use it in? Hence, the basbousa. With their traditional sugar syrup, I’ve always found basbousa too sweet – and I’m not a fan of rose water and rose essence, which taste like eating soap to me – but with the addition of the sweet and slightly salty camel milk caramel, they are perfect. Another treat entirely.

So, with my apologies to the Arabic world in general, and Egypt in particular, I've adapted from this recipe from  Do watch the video if you are making the original, because the instructions differ from the written recipe. I’ve written mine to include the half hour rest, for instance.

1 1/8 cups or 215g coarse semolina
3/4 cup or 50g freshly grated coconut
1/2 cup or 100g sugar
1/4 cup or 30g flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
2/3 cup or 100g thick yogurt or crème fraîche
7 tablespoons or 100g unsalted butter, melted and cooled
16-30 whole almonds, depending on how small you cut your basbousa.

For the caramel syrup:
1/2 cup or 120ml dulce de leche, cajeta or thick caramel. I used a camel milk version, instructions here.
1-2 teaspoons milk

Grease an 8x8 in or 20x20cm baking pan and set it aside.

Mix the semolina, coconut, sugar, flour, baking powder and salt together in a large bowl.

Add in the yogurt and melted, cooled butter and mix well.

Your dough should be fairly stiff but pliable.

Spread the mixture with your hands into your greased baking pan. Make sure to get it right up to the sides and nice and even.

Cover with a towel and let rest for half an hour. When the time is almost up, preheat the oven to 350°F or 180°C.

Cut the dough into diamond shapes then press an almond into each one. I chose to cut mine pretty small, but you can certainly cut yours larger. You just won’t need as many almonds then.

Bake in your preheated oven for 20–25 minutes or until golden brown. While it's baking make the caramel syrup.

Put the stiff caramel in the microwave in a microwave safe bowl and warm it slightly, just to loosen it. Add a little milk to make it even more runny and stir well till the milk is completely incorporated. You are looking for the consistency of maple or chocolate syrup.

Right when the hot cake comes out of the oven, pour the caramel syrup over it.

It sits there for a few short minutes.

Then it sinks in, leaving the almonds with a lovely shine.

Cool to serve and use a sharp knife to cut through again and lift them out.

Enjoy! Basbousa is a term of endearment in Arabic meaning something like "little sweet," so make these for your basbousa.

Are you looking for more caramel cookie goodness? Here you go!

If you are a blogger and want to join in the fun, contact Laura at thespicedlife AT gmail DOT com and she will get you added to our Facebook group, where we discuss our cookies and share links.

You can also use us as a great resource for cookie recipes - be sure to check out our Pinterest Board and our monthly posts. You can find all of them on our home page at The Spiced Life. We post all together on the first Tuesday after the 15th of each month!


Monday, May 18, 2015

Creamy Camel Milk Caramel

Cooked in the traditional long slow simmering way of dulce de leche or cajeta, this rich caramel is made with camel’s milk, said to be a healthy alternative to cow’s milk and better tolerated by folks with allergies. Here's one fact: It is deliciously creamy. 

I have been known to do a little happy dance when the farmer’s market in Houston still has some goat’s milk left because usually all of their bottles are spoken for, by regular customers. But sometimes I get lucky. And one of my favorite things about living in Singapore was the goat farm where I could go and buy the milk directly from the, ahem, producers. Homemade soft cheese made with goat’s milk is the best. When we moved to Dubai a couple of years ago, I discovered that one could buy camel’s milk in the grocery store, which intrigued me but somehow I never got around to buying any.

Then, a couple of weeks ago, at the first birthday celebration of Food e Mag dxb, an online magazine to which I’ve been a contributor (It’s gorgeous! Do go have a look!) I met a Dubai-based cookbook author who has a weekly show on local talk radio. I regularly listen to Suzanne Husseini  on 103.8 FM Thursday mornings from 10 a.m. – noon, because her topic is one of my favorites, food! Since the party was on a Wednesday evening, nosy parker that I am, I had to ask what the focus would be for the next day’s show. And because she’s a sweet person, Suzanne didn’t tell me to buzz off. She said it would be camel milk.

That's Suzanne in the hat, and me, on the right, with our Food e Mag dxb's editors Debbie Rogers and Ishita B Saha.. 

I learned so much from that show! Do you know that the farmer cannot separate the camels from their calves, as we do to cows, or they’ll stop producing milk? Also, the top producers only make between 5 and 20 liters a day vs. 40 liters from top producing cows. Camels are not mature enough to be mated until they are four years old and they carry their babies for more than 13 months before giving birth. Compare that to cows that can mate at 13-15 months old and have a gestation of nine and a half months. Or goats that can be bred at seven months old and that give birth after only five months! So, why would a farmer choose to raise camels for milk? It will come as no surprise to learn that camels are uniquely suited to the dry environment here and, while they don’t produce as much milk, they also don’t need as much water as other dairy animals would.

Camel milk doesn’t coagulate as easily as goat or cow milk so I decided that cheese would not be my first foray into using it. Instead, I decided to try making cajeta – that sticky sweet caramelized condensed milk usually made with goat’s milk. Or if bought in a can as dulce de leche, cow’s milk. Make this on a slow day when you are going to be home for a few hours anyway because it has to cook long and low. Mine took almost three hours.

Adapted from this recipe on Pati’s Mexican Table.

Ingredients – yields about 1 1/4 cups or 300ml creamy camel milk caramel
4 1/4 cups or 1 liter camel milk
3/4 cup or 175g demerara sugar
1  1/2 teaspoons  vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon flakey salt or 1/4 teaspoon fine sea salt or to taste

Pour your sugar, vanilla and baking soda into a large thick-bottomed pot with the milk and heat gently over a medium flame, stirring until all the sugar is dissolved.

Let it come to a slow boil and then turn it right down, or add a diffuser under the pot. I had other things going on at home that day and I was afraid the milk might scorch so I used the diffuser.

These are great for making sure the rice at the bottom of the pot doesn't burn either. 

If you are a thermometer-using type, I kept one in the pot and the temperature stayed between 165-180°F or 74-82°C.

Cook slowly, stirring occasionally, until the milk reduces by at least half and starts to turn a warm golden color.

Keep a closer eye on it now and stir more often. The camel milk caramel is done when a spoon pulled through the liquid shows the bottom of the pot for a few brief moments before running together again. It should be a deep golden color.

Put a metal teaspoon in a clean jar and pour the caramel in. Remove the spoon and seal tightly.

Still pourable

The caramel will thicken considerably when refrigerated and will keep for several months.

Cold, it's pretty stiff.
This is great over ice cream or spread on bread or simply eaten with a spoon. Tomorrow I'll be sharing an Egyptian cookie recipe using it as well.


Update: Here are the basbousa using the camel milk caramel!