Laddu is a gluten-free Indian cookie most commonly prepared in small balls (laddu literally means small ball in Sanskrit). Although laddu can be spiced with anything, mine were flavored with orange, cardamom, and a touch of nutmeg and were drizzled with a chocolate coconut ganache.
Laddu are prepared differently than most American cookies. The process begins by roasting chickpea flour with ghee or butter (use ghee if you can get it as it will give the cookies a richer flavor). You then mix in the spices, honey for sweetness, and a touch of powdered milk. Roll the batter into balls and you’re done – no need to touch the oven.
Laddu has a Mexican wedding cookie-like texture – it’s hard on the outside, but when you bite into it, it crumbles in your mouth as if you were eating a ball of refrigerated cookie dough.
I got the recipe for this laddu from Pure Vegetarian by Lakshmi. Her blog is gorgeous and her laddu look like works of art. If you are an artsy type, go check out her post to see how pretty laddu can look. The recipe below is her recipe, but I’ve translated it to U.S. measuring units and added my own notes.
Yield: My only complaint about this recipe is that it made a very small number of laddu (about 6 big handfuls of small balls). If I made it again, I would double or even triple the recipe.
- 1/2 cup unsalted butter or ghee (I used ghee because I love the flavor of ghee, but butter would definitely work.)
- 2 cups chickpea flour (you may see this called garbanzo bean flour or besan flour)
- 1/2 teaspoon ground cardamom
- 1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
- finely grated zest of one large orange
- 1 tablespoon powdered milk
- 1/4 cup honey
- Melt the butter or ghee in a small saucepan on medium-low heat.
- Add the chickpea flour and mix well to make sure there are no lumps.
- Roast for 10 minutes, mixing regularly to prevent burning.
- Mix in the cardamom and nutmeg.
- Roast for another five minutes. Lakshmi said in her instructions to look for a “golden color” and a “pleasant aroma.” I didn’t notice much of a color change and I didn’t smell anything (this could be because I had a cold), but the laddu still came out just fine.
- Remove from the stove and mix in the orange zest, powdered milk, and honey.
- As soon as it is cool enough for you to touch, roll the laddu into balls.
Chocolate Coconut Ganache Recipe
Although laddu isn’t traditionally frosted, I adored the taste of this chocolate coconut ganache Lakshmi suggests topping the laddu with. I did a light drizzle, but you could also completely cover the balls with the ganache (cake ball style). If you plan to cover the balls in ganache, you may need to make more than the recipe below calls for.
- 1/4 cup coconut butter, melted
- 3 tablespoons powdered sugar
- 1/3 cup cocoa powder
- 1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
- Mix all of the ingredients.
- Drizzle ganache over laddu or dunk laddu into the ganache.
- Fill your cheeks with as many balls as you can fit in them and eat them throughout the day (see this hamster video below if you need some pointers on how that works).
What to Do With Leftover Chickpea Flour?
I was excited to discover laddu because it was a great use for my leftover chickpea flour (purchased when I made gluten-free chocolate cupcakes – which are still some of the best chocolate cupcakes I have ever made). If you want to try laddu and are worried about buying chickpea flour and never using it again, I highly suggest that you try those chocolate cupcakes – whether or not you are gluten-free.
You could even use laddu to top the chickpea flour cupcakes (or any cupcakes) – they would make cute cupcake toppers! You could make the laddu more festive by dyeing them with food coloring or rolling them in sprinkles.