Monday, March 7, 2011
Cascaron is a Filipino dessert that my mom often made for get-togethers when I was growing up. It's fairly simple to make, though I had a hard time figuring out how to make it for myself as my mom never uses a recipe, and most of her instructions to me were pretty vague. For example:
Me: How much coconut milk am I supposed to add?
Mom: Oh, you know, you want to put enough, but you don't want to put too much.
Me: How long am I supposed to cook it?
Mom: Oh, I don't know - just be sure to take it out before it explodes.
I eventually figured out that the dough should be similar to cookie dough and that if you cook the dough in medium-high heat until the outsides are golden brown, the insides should be sufficiently cooked. Thankfully, cascaron is pretty forgiving, and you don't need the exact measurements required in most baking.
So by now, you're probably wondering, "What the heck is cascaron?" The best way I can explain them is to say that they are like fried coconut mochi balls. And now you're probably wondering what mochi is. Mochi is a Japanese cake, traditionally made by pounding rice into a paste and molding it, but can now be made with mochiko flour, which can be found in the Asian section of most grocery stores. Most people have had it in the context of mochi ice cream, and if you live in Southern California, you've probably seen it as a topping option in most frozen yogurt shops. It's hard to describe the texture, but I'd say it's denser than a marshmallow, but lighter than gummies, but even then, that doesn't fully capture the essence of mochi. I guess you'll just have to try it for yourself! :)
1 box mochiko flour (it will look like this)
1 13.5 oz. can coconut milk (I like Chaokoh brand best)
1/2 - 1 cup sweetened shredded coconut
2/3 cup light brown sugar
1/4 cup water
In a wok or wide pot, pour vegetable oil until it's about 3-4 inches deep. Set the stove to medium-high heat.
Line a pan, tray, or large plate with paper towels
Combine the mochiko and shredded coconut in a large bowl. Slowly add the coconut milk - you might not need the entire can - and mix until it's the consistency of cookie dough. If you use the full 1 cup of coconut, you might need to add more liquid - in that case, add some water to the empty coconut milk can, swirl it around a bit so it picks up some of the leftover traces of milk, and slowly add more water to the dough.
Roll the dough into 1-inch balls and fry it in the oil until golden brown. Don't overcrowd the cascaron - they expand as they cook. The balls might start to crack, which is okay, just make sure to take them out before they explode ;) When done, transfer to paper towels to cool.
In a small saucepan, combine the sugar and water. Cook until it reaches the soft boil stage. You can test whether it's ready by placing a drop of syrup in cold water - if it retains its shape and is soft, then it's ready.
Place the cascaron in a pan or tray lined with wax paper (I recommend a 9x13 pan). Drizzle the syrup evenly over the cascaron, and gently stir them around so that they're fully coated.
Note: I tried to do this in a bowl, and it didn't work out to well - the syrup hardened before I could finish mixing them.
Let cool before eating.