Here's a fun party trick: Put out a platter of jewel-shaped pieces of this fudge, and make people standing nearby guess what's in it. In this recipe, tofu is used as a substitute for the cooked-down milk in traditional kaju barfi, which shaves off cook time and makes an easier-to-work-with confection that doesn't need to be kneaded or rolled out. Recipe from Asian Tofu: Discover the Best, Make Your Own, Cook it at Home (Ten Speed Press, 2012). —Genius Recipes
36 small pieces
3 1/2 ounces
unsalted raw cashew pieces or whole nuts
Line an 8-inch square pan with parchment paper to cover the bottom and one side. Set aside.
Wipe the tofu dry, then finely shred it using the smallest hole on the grater. Transfer to a bowl and set aside. Put the cashews in a small or full-size food processor and grind to a texture resembling breadcrumbs or fine cornmeal. Add to the grated tofu and toss to combine.
To cook the fudge mixture, use a medium pan, such as a 2-quart sauté pan. It's easier to evenly cook the ingredients in that kind of shallow pan. Pour in the sweetened condensed milk. Add the tofu and cashew mixture. Over medium heat, stir the ingredients together. Cook the mixture for about 15 minutes, stirring occasionally at the beginning as things heat up, and then frequently, and, eventually, constantly. Prevent scorching by scraping the bottom and sides as you stir. The mixture should not boil, but just thicken at a moderate speed. The mixture will transform into a rough mass resembling very thick, rough oatmeal. When stirring results in the mixture pulling away from the sides or slightly lifting off the bottom of the pan, it's done.
Remove from the heat and stir in the cardamom, then transfer the fudge to the lined baking pan. Spread it out evenly, then pat it flat. Sprinkle on the pistachio nuts and gently press into the mixture. Set aside to completely cool. Because this fudge is on the soft side, cover and chill for a few hours or overnight to make it easier to cut; if you're in a hurry, freeze until cold, about 15 minutes. The resting time also develops flavor.
Use the parchment paper on the side of the pan to help you remove the fudge. Place it on a cutting board and cut it into 36 small squares for bite-size portions. Or, aim for 16 to 20 large ones. Take liberties with shapes; triangles are easy to achieve, and diamonds are lovely and traditional. Serve at room temperature or chilled. This fudge keeps well, covered, for up to 5 days in the refrigerator. You can freeze it for up to 1 month, but it loses a touch of its oomph.
Genius recipes surprise us and make us rethink cooking tropes. They're handed down by luminaries of the food world and become their legacy. They get us talking and change the way we cook. And, once we've folded them into our repertoires, they make us feel pretty genius too. Watch for new Genius Recipes every Wednesday morning on our blog, dug up by Food52's Creative Director Kristen Miglore.