Recipe for how to make Gluten-Free Milk Cream?
Little drops of heaven that melt in your mouth, that’s what we think they are. But some people just call this the East Indian milk cream or traditional vanilla cream, one of the many delicious East Indian sweets. Little melt in your mouth pieces made of milk and sugar, better than toffee, better than candy, better than fudge, better than anything else out there!
And as easy as it is to make, it is also one of the most tedious Christmas dishes. If you want whiter milk cream or vanilla cream, you need to reduce your milk on the lowest flame. And you spend about 1.5 to 2 hours working on your arm muscles; or rather stirring continuously. Anyways, here’s how to make the traditional East Indian vanilla cream. Did you know that this vanilla cream is also gluten-free and vegetarian? A good thing for some people I know.
Ingredients for the glutenfree traditional East Indian Vanilla Cream
1 litre milk
175 grams sugar
1 tablespoon butter
3 drops vanilla essence
Optional: 100 grams grated cashewnuts (We don’t use this)
How to make East Indian vanilla cream?
Start by bringing milk to a boil on a low flame in a nonstick or thick bottomed pan and letting it reduce until it’s nearly half the quantity. Next, add in the sugar and stir with a wooden spoon. Why do we use a wooden spoon to make East Indian sweets? Because granny said so. Haha! Okay, why do we really use wood in East Indian cooking? Because wood is an insulating material. That means you can stir for hours and not get your hands burnt or not need to wear cooking gloves. Wood is also strong, so we can stir that tough marzipan or walnut fudge or cashew rock without breaking the spoon. Wood is soft too, so that means you can scrape the sweets off the sides of the pot as many times as you want without causing scratches or damaging the finish. Yay for wood!
Once the sugar melts, add in the butter. Keep stirring continuously till it thickens.
When it’s quite dry, add in the vanilla essence and continue stirring till it leaves the sides. Now, when you add in the vanilla essence, some people also add in about 100 grams of grated cashewnuts. This helps the milk thicken faster. We don’t do this. Although we end up having to stir longer, we prefer pure vanilla cream like granny used to make.
How do you know when the vanilla cream is ready to be taken off the flame? Well, you need to keep a teaspoon ready. Just take out a bit of vanilla cream and let it cool. Butter your fingers and try to make this vanilla cream form a small ball. If you can form a ball, the milk cream is ready. If you can’t form a ball, keep stirring and try again after a few minutes. Repeat this procedure until a ball is formed.
Once the ball forms, turn off the flame, and pour the vanilla cream into a thalie greased with butter. Yep, thalie is an Indian word. What I mean is pour it out from your nonstick pot onto a large flat bottomed dish or flatboard that you’ve greased with butter. Then give the pot to the kids to scrape the remainder of the vanilla cream. That was one of the most fun things about Christmas as a kid. Cleaning out the bottoms of all the sweet dishes, or quality testing stuff while mom made it. Actually, it still is! There’s always one of us scraping out the leftovers from the bottom of the pan to eat. 😉
Form little balls and put into the moulds to create shapes. Turn the mould over and hit it on the back with a wooden spoon so that the vanilla cream comes out.
Place the pieces on a thalie or plate or tray and leave out to dry for a few hours or overnight. And that’s it! The vanilla cream is ready to eat or to gift to your relatives. This recipe will make about 80 vanilla cream, give or take a few depending on the size of your moulds.
Now, the rubber or silicon moulds that we East Indians use are usually available from Arife La Mould in Crawford Market, Mumbai and their branches across the city. They’ve been selling everyone baking and sweet goods since 1912. The address of their main branch is Shop No. 556, Crowford Market, Opp. Sadanand Hotel, Mumbai, Maharashtra 400001.
I found it really difficult to find these types of moulds outside India though. So if you can’t find them, use any other silicon moulds shaped like Christmas trees or stars or other Christmas items and you’re good to go.
Why shouldn’t you stir slowly or use a high flame?
If you want to know why you shouldn’t set the flame on high? Or why you need to stir continuously, look at this next image. The result is more of a fudge look than an East Indian vanilla cream! Comprends? Understood? So don’t turn the flame on high!
Still tastes yummy, but the point is to get it white! Really white like in the next pic! Of course, the gluten-free cream-colored vanilla cream tastes pretty good too! It’s a lot sweeter than the glutenfree Christmas cookies, but who cares?
Traditional East Indian Vanilla Cream Recipe
- Silicon Moulds
- Non stick Pan or Thick Bottomed Pan
- Large wide-bottomed pan or flatboard
- Wooden Spoon
- 1 l Milk
- 100 gm Sugar
- 1 tbsp Butter
- 3 drops Vanilla Extract (or Vanilla Essence)
- 100 gm Cashewnuts Optional (Grated, if using)
- Grease a large wide bottomed pan or flatboard with butter and leave aside.
- Boil the milk in a thick bottomed or non-stick pan till it reduces to around half the amount.
- Add in the sugar and allow it to melt.
- Once the sugar has melted, add in the butter and start stirring continuously with a wooden spoon.
- Once it's quite dry, add in the vanilla essence (and the powdered cashewnuts if you want to.)
- Stir till it starts leaving the sides of the vessel.
- Take out a bit in a teaspoon and test it. Butter your fingers, and try to make a small ball from the vanilla cream in teaspoon. If a ball forms, it's ready to be taken off the stove. If it doesn't, continue stirring and try again after some time. Repeat this step every few minutes till you can form a ball. (But don't forget to keep stirring.)
- Once the bit you've taken out forms a ball, pour the vanilla cream into the large shallow pan or on a flatboard.
- Massage the vanilla cream and form it into a large ball.
- Make smaller balls and fit them into the Christmas shaped silicon moulds. Turn the moulds over and hit them on the back with a wooden spoon so that the vanilla cream comes out. Collect the pieces and place on trays or plates to dry. Continue this till you've finished all the vanilla cream. This recipe will make about 80 vanilla cream, give or take a few depending on your mould sizes.
- Leave the vanilla cream out to dry for a few hours or overnight before serving or gifting it to your relatvies. That's it!