My father-in-law loves Indian sweets, so we make gajar halwa (carrot Indian sweets) very often at home. There was still leftover by the end of the day, and you know my motto: "waste not, want not!". I've made a carrot cheesecake recently using halwa. This time, I was inspired by the pistachio galettes des Rois I made earlier this year. I addded ground pistachios and kewra to keep the Indian-themed ingredients and folded the halwa mixture as if I was making a tarte amandine, using a different type of nut cream. I finally wrapped the carrot cream in puff pastry, empanada-style and can be served with powdered sugar or drizzled with kewra syrup.
These little puff pastries pair perfectly with hot mint tea. Next time you have friends over for tea, this is the perfect treats that are both so unique and reminiscent of oriental sweets. Enjoy!
Set of dough presses.
Servings: 12 pastries
½ cup granulated sugar
3 tablespoons roasted, unsalted pistachio nuts, shelled
4 tablespoons unsalted butter, soften to room temperature
½ teaspoon kewra (optional)
1/8 teaspoon salt
1-½ cups carrot halwa
(click on the link for the recipe), tightly packed
12 (5 x 5-inch) rounds puff pastry dough (store-bought)
1 tablespoon powdered sugar
Preheat the oven to 375°F.
For the pistachio mill:
Line a cutting board with plastic-wrap. Place all the pistachios onto the cutting board. Cover them with another layer of plastic wrap. Slightly crush the nuts using a meat tenderizer mallet. Transfer them to a blender, a food processor or spice grinder. Make sure you stop before it turns into nut butter. I use the VitaMix Dry Blade Container (you could also grind the pistachios manually using a mortar and pestle). The result should be a fine mill.
For the nut cream:
Using a handheld mixer, whisk 1 egg yolk with ¼ cup sugar until it's pale, yellow. It will take about 5-6 minutes. The consistency must be very airy. Add kewra if you're using it. Set aside.
Cream the butter with another 3 tablespoons of sugar. Pour in the egg mixture. Add the pistachio mill. and the carrot halwa. Mix until the batter is smooth. Add salt.
In a separate bowl, beat 1 egg white and whisk until it forms soft peaks. Add the remaining tablespoon of sugar and beat for another 30 seconds. Using a silicone spatula, mix 1/3 of the whipped egg whites with the halwa mixture to soften it. Add the rest of the whipped egg whites and gently fold in the creamy mixture to get an airy batter.
For the egg wash:
Using a fork, beat the remaining egg yolk with a tablespoon of milk.
Place a puff pastry dish in a 3-¼"-diameter empanada maker. Spoon about 2 teaspoons halwa in the center of each disk. Fold and seal the puff pastry by firmly pressing on the empanada maker (You can also manually fold the pastry dough and create the folds with your thumb around the pistachio cream to ensure the empanada is sealed well). Create 12 empanadas. Reserve the puff pastry remnants for appetizers (see tips)!
Line 2 baking sheets with a silicone mat or a sheet of parchment paper. Place the smaller-sized puff pastries onto the baking sheets. Gently prick the dough with a fork. Lightly brush the top with egg wash.
Chill in the refrigerator for about 15-20 minutes prior to baking.
Bake for 5 minutes at 375°F, then lower the temperature to 350°F and bake for another 15 minutes until the top is golden.
Allow the sweet pastries to cool for a few minutes before eating. Dust with powdered sugar.
You can skip the step with the egg wash if you like, and brush the puff pastry dough with only water or melted butter. The egg wash gives a finished golden, glazed look and shine to the pastries. It also helps the dough sheets to stick to each other. You can also replace milk with cream, half and half or water.
You can find kewra extract in any Indian stores.
I didn't want to add more sugar to the dessert but you could also drizzle with syrup (instead of dusting powdered sugar) over the dessert empanadas right after you take them from the oven. For the syrup, combine ¼ cup sugar, with ¼ cup water, 2 tablespoons honey and 1/8 teaspoon kewra extract. Simmer for about 15-20 minutes until thickened. The dessert will resemble a baklava.
Don't discard the remnants of puff pastry. Make savory goat ricotta cheese puffs, parmesan puff pastry knots or cheese twists the next day!
Check out more desserts using nut cream and puff pastry.