Rasmalai is one of my all time favorite Afghan desserts, and so when the New York Times came out with its hit recipe, I could not wait to make my own adjustments and make this cake a staple in my own home. Rasmalai is a traditional dessert shared across many cultures, including Afghanistan. It's a baked ricotta cheese, served in a sweetened creamy milk, filled with cardamom, creating a light and airy delicious taste in your mouth.
This cake marries those flavors together, inspired by the original NYT recipe, to make a delectable fusion cake that my family enjoys on so many holidays now. This cake has been remade in many different iterations, but after baking it for years, the recipe below is my personal favorite way of making this an easy and accessible cake for all who would like to try their hand at it.
You can find tools used to make this cake here.
Rasmalai Cake Recipe
Sponge Cake Ingredients:
6 egg whites
1/2 cup sugar
6 egg yolks
1/2 cup sugar
1 cup flour
1/3 cup powdered sugar
Sponge Cake Instructions:
Preheat oven to 375 degrees F with rack in center of oven
Whisk egg whites to fluffy, adding in sugar slowly. Finish whisking when egg whites have soft peaks
Whisk egg yolks separately, adding in sugar slowly, until you have achieved a fluffy pale yellow color.
Add in 1/3 of the egg white mix into the egg yolk mixture, folding in slowly. Add in remaining egg white mixture, 1/3 of a batch at a time, continuing to fold.
Sprinkle in 1/4 cup of flour at a time into the eggs batter, folding gently until well incorporated
Grease two separate 9inch cake pans thoroughly. Split half the batter into each cake pan
Bake cakes for 8-13 minutes, until a toothpick comes out clean from the cakes.
Remove cakes from pans onto a clean towel sprinkled with powdered sugar
Poke holes into the cake with a toothpick, knife, or sharp fork all over. Set cakes aside.
Milk Syrup Ingredients:
14 oz sweetened condensed milk
12 oz (one can) evaporated milk
1 cup half and half
1/4 tsp cardamom powder, or 2 cardamom pods cracked open
Milk Syrup Instructions:
Add your ingredients into a sauce pan, on low medium heat, allow it to come to a simmer, watching closely to ensure the bottom of the milk does not burn.
Allow to simmer for approximately 5 minutes to get the cardamom infused into the milk. Set aside off of stovetop to cool
Once cooled, sift out all of the pieces of your cardamom pods if you used whole cardamom pods
Cake Filling Ingredients:
1 pint (15 oz) ricotta cheese
1 tbsp milk syrup
Cake Filling Instructions:
Once your milk syrup has fully cooled, add in 1 tbsp to your ricotta cheese. Gently combine until well incorporated.
1 stick (8 tbsp) butter
7 oz sweetened condensed milk
1 tbsp rose water
8 oz cream cheese
Place butter and cream cheese out on countertop to come to room temperature, this will take 1-2 hours to soften.
Combine softened butter, cream cheese, condensed milk, and rose water in a bowl. Gently mix until well incorporated into an even frosting.
Rasmalai Cake Assembly:
Slowly pour in 1/3 cup increments your milk syrup on to both cakes. Allow the cakes to absorb the milk syrup before continuing to pour more. Continue pouring the milk syrup until both cakes are completely soaked evenly. Refrigerate the cakes for an hour to allow them to fully rest
Remove cakes from refrigerator, place one cake on top of a revolving cake stand. Gently using a small portion at a time, using a flat sided spatula, add your ricotta cake filling on top of the cake.
Evenly spread your filling mixture on to the cake, flatten out the top.
Add your second cake on top of the filling mixture. Using a spatula, slowly add your frosting, continuing to add until the cake is well covered. Use a flat angled spatula to even out the frosting.
Optional: top with crushed pistachios and edible flower petals.
Chill for 30 minutes in refrigerator after assembly before serving.