Sweet and just a touch salty with a faint thrum of cardamom, these adorable little ladoos are well suited for any celebration, from Diwali to Valentine’s Day, or simply for serving after a weekend lunch. In India, ladoos encompass any confection rolled into balls small or large. They range from bright orange ladoos made with sweetened drops of fried chickpea flour batter to raw versions full of crunchy nuts mortared together with a dried fruit paste. Chewy coconut ladoos happen to be my favorite. These are loosely based on a recipe by Meera Sodha that employs a technique similar to Brazilian brigadeiros where condensed milk cooked down to a fudge provides both sweetness and structure. A nonstick skillet simplifies the cooking and cleaning. Should you not have one, stir and scrape the pan like a dervish to prevent any sticking. —Shilpa Uskokovic
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Makes about 24
14-oz. can sweetened condensed milk
cups (120 g) unsweetened shredded coconut; plus more for decorating (optional)
Tbsp. unsalted butter, cut into 1″ pieces
tsp. Diamond Crystal or 1¼ tsp. Morton kosher salt
tsp. ground cardamom
Finely chopped toasted pecans or pistachios (optional) and sprinkles (for decorating)
Cook one 14-oz. can sweetened condensed milk, 1½ cups (120 g) unsweetened shredded coconut, 3 Tbsp. unsalted butter, cut into 1″ pieces, 2 tsp. Diamond Crystal or 1¼ tsp. Morton kosher salt, and ½ tsp. ground cardamom in a large nonstick skillet over medium-low, stirring constantly with a heatproof rubber spatula, until mixture is fudgy and resembles a soft dough that pulls together into a blob (an instant-read thermometer should register 200°), 8–10 minutes. Scrape coconut mixture onto a small rimmed baking sheet or large plate and let cool until comfortable to handle, about 30 minutes.
Scoop 1 Tbsp. (19 g) coconut mixture into your hands and roll into a ball between your palms. Place on another rimmed baking sheet. Repeat with remaining coconut mixture.
Place some unsweetened shredded coconut and/or finely chopped toasted pecans or pistachios in a small bowl. Place some sprinkles into another small bowl. Working one at a time, roll ladoos between damp hands (this will help the garnishes stick), then toss in coconut and press tops of some ladoos into sprinkles (ladoos will flatten in the process; reshape into balls). Place in small paper cups or on a platter as you go.
Do ahead: Ladoos can be made 3 days ahead. Store airtight at room temperature.