A refined sugar-free and vegan rasmalai alternative: a traditional Indian dessert consisting of soft cottage cheese balls in a sweet creamy cardamom and saffron sauce.
1. Blend all "cheese" ball ingredients in a high power blender until completely smooth. Pour this mixture into a nut-milk bag (over the sink), place the nut milk bag onto a small strainer over a bowl, gently twist the top of the nut milk bag closed, and refrigerate overnight (or for at least 8-10 hours).
2. Once the "cheese" is ready, pre-heat the oven to 350F. Line a small baking sheet with some parchment paper and set aside. When you open the nut milk bag you should have a formed soft ball of "cheese" at this stage and some liquid drained into the bowl underneath the strainer (the liquid can be discarded). Using a small cookie scoop (or can just use a spoon), scoop out about 2 tbsp of the "cheese" mixture and gently form into a ball with your hands. Place this ball onto the prepared baking sheet. Repeat with the remaining mixture (spacing the balls on the tray at least an inch apart) -- you should end up with 7 balls in total. Bake in a pre-heated oven for 15 mins, then remove from the oven and place on a cooling rack.
3. While the "cheese" balls are baking, prepare the "rabri" sauce: place a pinch of saffron in a cup of freshly boiled water and allow to sit and steep for a few minutes (to infuse the water with the saffron flavor and color). Place this saffron water infusion (including the saffron strands) in a power blender. Add all remaining "rabri" ingredients and blend into a creamy smooth sauce.
4. Once the "cheese" balls are baked, they can be enjoyed with the sauce. You can either divide them into small serving dishes and cover with the "rabri" sauce, or can place all on one larger dish (or glass storage container). Garnish with pistachios and rose petals. Enjoy right away or allow the balls to sit in the "rabri" sauce in the fridge for a few hours to become more infused with the flavor of the sauce. Refrigerate leftovers.
*To pre-soak cashews: place in a glass bowl, cover with water, and leave to soak for 4 hours (or overnight in the fridge). Then strain and discard the water. For a quick pre-soak, cover with boiled water and soak for 15 mins, then strain and discard water. (Note: this technique doesn’t preserve the nutrition of the recipe as well as the traditional soaking technique above). Note: the purpose of soaking the nuts is to re-hydrate them and plump them up for blending into a smooth, cheesecake-like consistency. Proper soaking techniques also maximize nutrition and digestibility. If you’re interested in learning more about nut soaking and other dessert prep tips and tricks, I delve into these subjects in detail in my book Unconventional Treats.
**Lightly crush the pod shells and extract the round seeds inside (discarding the shells).