The festive season is here and we can’t think of celebrating without a platter of sweets. Isn’t that true? Festivals like Ganesh Chaturthi and Onam are incomplete without feasting on decadent treats including modak and payasam. However, gorging too much on sweet treats can never be guilt-free. Packed with refined sugar, these sweets, if eaten excessively, can affect your health. But who said you can’t have decadent sweets and enjoy the festivities? You can simply make them healthier! 

Sweets can be made healthily by substituting a few ingredients with the healthy ones, and you can enjoy guilt-free. Almonds, for instance, are a powerhouse of nutrients, and are often used in desserts. Proteins, omega-3 fatty acids and fibre are some of the nutrients that make almonds a must-have our diet. In fact, the low glycaemic index in almonds makes them ideal for diabetics too. Isn’t that a perfect reason to include them in desserts? And thanks to Almond Board of California, we’ve got some amazing festive recipes right here that you can prepare at home. 

1. Almond and Amaranth Ladoos 

Serves: 14 - 15 nos 

Preparation time: 5 - 7 minutes 

Cooking time: 10 - 12 minutes 

Ingredients: 

  • Popped amaranth seeds - 50 g 
  • Jaggery melted - 50 ml 
  • Almond slivers (unpeeled) - 30 g

Method: 

  • Add popped amaranth seeds, almond slivers and melted jaggery in a bowl. Mix well. Make small firm balls from the mixture. 

 2. Almond Halwa Tart

Serves: 4-5 

Ingredients 

  • Unsalted butter 100 gm 
  • Castor sugar 60 gm 
  • Khoya 120 gms
  • Almonds 300 gms 
  • Desi ghee 90 gms 
  • Mascarpone cheese 50 gms

Method

• Cream unsalted butter and sugar together in the machine bowl of planetary mixer with paddle attachment, until thick and creamy. Alternatively, you can use a wooden spoon and a bowl to cream butter and sugar. 

• Add the flour and mix well. This pastry is for the tart base, refrigerate in the fridge for about 4-5 hours or overnight. 

• Grind the almonds to a slightly coarse powder. 

• Heat desi ghee in a heavy bottom pan, add the almond powder and cook on low heat. 

• Cook till slightly brown, add the sugar and cook for further 5-10 mins. 

• Add the khoya and cook for 10-15 minutes. The almonds and khoya should bind together. 

• Roll out the pastry in to a 9 inch round and line an 8 inch tart shell with the rolled pastry. 

• Bake at 180 degree Celsius for about 15-20 mins till the pastry is fully cooked and golden in colour. 

• Mix the almond halwa with mascarpone cheese and fill the tart with this mixture evenly. 

• Garnish with sliced toasted almonds and serve warm with a scoop of vanilla ice cream (optional). 

3. Almond Coconut Barfi 

Serves: 4 – 5 people 

Ingredients  

  • Freshly grated coconut 1 cup 
  • Grinded, Almonds blanched 1/2 cup 
  • Sugar (fine/ breakfast) 1 cup 
  • Desi ghee 1/3 cup 

Method 

• In a non-stick pan add ghee on a low medium heat and add coconut & almond mixture. Stir to mix well and keep on stirring to prevent the mixture from sticking to the pan or getting burnt, until it begins to leave the sides of the pan, lumping up as one mass. Add sugar and fold it well. 

• Apply ghee onto a baking sheet and keep aside. 

• Reduce heat to low and continue stirring for a few more minutes until the residue sticking to the sides of the pan starts to look opaque and dry, which means the consistency is nearing almost right for solidifying. 

• Remove onto the greased plate / sheet. Mix the dough with greased hands, pat it flat into a neat square with a greased rolling-pin to 1/4 inch thickness. Smooth out the surface if needed. 

• As it has cooled partially, cut into equal squares with a knife. Once completely cooled (about an hour or so), separate out the barfis with a flat spatula and store in an airtight container