Coconut-Covered Sweet Cheese Logs (Cham Chams)
Frequently colored in hues of pink and yellow, these oblong treats are covered in coconut powder and often feature creamy ricotta or nut paste fillings. Note that if coconut powder is unavailable, coconut flakes can be ground in a grinder. Cham chams are best served chilled.
- 4 cups water
- 2 cups sugar
- 1 teaspoon rosewater optional
- 6 cardamom pods optional
- Few strands saffron optional
- ⅛ teaspoon pink or yellow food coloring optional
- ¼ cup ricotta cheese
- 1 teaspoon cardamom powder
- 2 teaspoons sugar
- 2 ounces coconut powder
- In a large pot, bring water to a boil. Add sugar, and stir to combine. Keep mixture boiling until sugar is completely dissolved. If desired, add rosewater, cardamom, and saffron for extra flavor and aroma. Turn off heat.
- Remove prepared chhana from cheesecloth, and turn onto a clean surface or cutting board. If desired, add food coloring. With your palm, gently knead together chhana and food coloring until it forms a smooth, slightly moist dough. Add a touch of water if the dough feels dry. Continue kneading for about 3 to 5 minutes.
- Break dough into 6 to 10 equal pieces. Keep in mind that the pieces will increase in size when cooked. Form each into ellipses about 2 inches lengthwise and 1 inch in diameter by rolling in your hands. If small cracks appear, use a little water to smooth dough (but don’t worry too much, as coconut will later cover the surface).
- Bring syrup back to a boil. Add cham chams, and cover. Lower heat so the syrup stays at a simmer. Cook 10 minutes, flip them over, then cook for another 5 minutes. Turn off heat, and remove lid. Let cham chams cool and absorb syrup for 2 hours. Using a slotted spoon, remove from the liquid.
For Cham Chams without filling
- Roll cooked cham chams in a few ounces of coconut powder until completely coated.
For Cham Chams with filling
- Combine ricotta, cardamom powder, and sugar in a bowl. Taste, and adjust sweetness using extra sugar as desired. The consistency should be thick enough to spread. Next, cut open a cham cham lengthwise. Apply about a tablespoon of the filling, and top with the other half of the cham cham to create a sandwich. Repeat with the remainder of the cham chams. Roll each in coconut powder until completely coated.
- Place in refrigerator to chill. Serve cold alongside hot tea on any occasion.