Spread Happiness and Cheer This Diwali With Coconut Laddoo

Spread Happiness and Cheer This Diwali With Coconut Laddoo

Coconut laddoo (laddu) are soft, white, round treats made mainly with coconut, milk powder, and sugar. Coconuts are very auspicious in Hinduism and are widely offered as prasad (an offering) at most temples. On Diwali, everything is a tad more special, as is the prasad and that’s probably how coconut laddoo became so popular.

Making Laddoo for Diwali

In my family, laddoo hold an extremely special place and are my favorite Diwali treat. Pre-Diwali when we are swamped with preparations and cleaning, not only do these delicious treats serve as the ultimate reward for the exhaustive cleaning process, but they were also mum’s way of making me feel included. As a child, I loved watching mum and granny make Diwali snacks but hated that I could not participate.

Mum would prepare the laddoo mix, then we all gathered on our patio and rolled the laddoo. I felt included and loved this activity, as we all sat there yapping, laughing, and sneaking a bite or two. I love them not only because they’re so delicious but also because the process of making them is a cherished core memory that always warms my heart.

What Do You Need to Make Laddoo?

The ingredients for making coconut laddoo are quite simple, but the type of ingredients can vary. For example, we use desiccated coconut for this recipe, while some people prefer to use freshly grated or frozen coconut instead. 

Similarly, we use sugar as the sweetener, but jaggery or even condensed milk are other common sweeteners. I prefer to make them with desiccated coconut, milk powder, and sugar since that’s what mum has always used and the ingredients are usually already in the pantry.

How To Make Laddoo

Making coconut laddoo is a fairly easy process. Begin by gently roasting a mixture of coconut and milk powder, then incorporate sugar syrup and thoroughly mix it. After shaping the laddoo into balls, finish them off with your preferred garnish.

The Many Kinds of Laddoo

Coconut laddoo are just one of the umpteen laddoo varieties in India. We also have Motichoor laddoo, made with boondi (small fried chickpea flour balls); Besan laddoo, made of gram (chickpea) flour; and rava laddoo, which are made with semolina flour. 

Methi laddoo are made with flour and fenugreek (these are on the bitter side); Gond laddoo feature wheat flour and edible gum; and Til laddoo contain sesame. The latter are crispy as are Murmura laddoo, which are made with puffed rice. There are many more laddoo variations, but coconut laddoo in particular are a Diwali specialty. 

Tips for Making Coconut Laddoo

  • Dried coconut is easiest—While many choose to use freshly grated coconut, it is easiest to use desiccated coconut, as it is a lot quicker.
  • Use molds instead of hand rolling—If you find rolling laddoo tricky, use readymade molds.
  • Make them the same size—To ensure all laddoo are of the same size, use a standard measure to equally divide the mix. A portion scoop is a good option, or weigh the mixture with a scale.
  • Prevent sticking—Grease your palms with a couple drops of oil or ghee before you start rolling laddoo to ensure an even shape. This also helps avoid the mix sticking on your hands. 

Make Ahead

Coconut laddoo can be prepared up to two days in advance. However, making them too far in advance can lead to them drying out.

“The coconut laddoo were easy to make, and the recipe worked well. They were chewy and delicious! I cooked the syrup to 224 F, which worked perfectly. Make sure you let the coconut mixture cool slightly before you start shaping the laddoo.” —Diana Rattray

Coconut Ladoo/Tester Image A Note From Our Recipe Tester

Ingredients

  • 2 tablespoons ghee

  • 2 1/2 cups dried (desiccated) shredded unsweetened coconut, divided

  • 1/4 cup milk powder

  • 1 1/2 cups water

  • 3/4 cup granulated sugar

  • 1/3 cup broken cashews, optional

  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cardamom, optional

  • 12 to 15 whole roasted cashews or pistachios, for garnish, optional

Steps to Make It

  1. Gather the ingredients.

    Ingredients to make coconut laddoo

    The Spruce Eats / Bahareh Niati

  2. Melt 2 tablespoons ghee in a large skillet over medium-low heat. Add 2 cups of the dried shredded unsweetened coconut and 1/4 cup milk powder and toast until it takes on a slight pink hue and releases a fragrant aroma, 2 to 4 minutes. Transfer the mixture to a large bowl. Set aside. 

    A pan with ghee, unsweetened coconut flakes, and milk powder

    The Spruce Eats / Bahareh Niati

  3. Combine 1 1/2 cups water and 3/4 cup granulated sugar in a medium saucepan over medium-high heat. Stir until the sugar dissolves. Continue to heat the syrup without stirring until a thermometer registers about 224 F, about 12 minutes.

    If you don't have a thermometer, to determine the readiness of your syrup, take a drop between two fingers (let it cool slightly first) and press them together. Upon separating them, the syrup should form a string.

    A pot of bubbling sugar syrup with a thermometer reading 224 degrees Fahrenheit

    The Spruce Eats / Bahareh Niati

  4. Gradually stir the sugar syrup into the coconut mixture, adding it bit by bit. The quantity you need may vary based on the quality of the coconut. It also depends on how sweet you would like the laddoo to be. The mixture should stick together when you squeeze some of it in your hand.

    A large glass bowl with a spoon mixing the coconut-milk powder mixture with the sugar syrup

    The Spruce Eats / Bahareh Niati

  5. If desired, add 1/3 cup optional broken cashews and 1/2 teaspoon optional ground cardamom. Mix the ingredients until they are thoroughly combined, resulting in a clumpy texture. Let the mixture cool slightly.

    A large glass bowl of coconut-milk powder and syrup mixture with ground cardamom and broken cashews

    The Spruce Eats / Bahareh Niati

  6. Divide the mixture into equal portions. You could use any standard measurement to divide the mix, however 2 tablespoons each would be apt for medium sized laddoo. 

    A parchment paper-lined baking sheet with 12 equal portions of the coconut laddoo mixture

    The Spruce Eats / Bahareh Niati

  7. Take one portion in your hand and delicately shape it into a round by lightly compressing it.

    A hand holding a perfectly round portion of the coconut laddoo mixture, over a parchment paper-lined baking sheet of portioned dough

    The Spruce Eats / Bahareh Niati

  8. Once the desired shape is achieved, roll each laddoo in the remaining 1/2 cup dried shredded unsweetened coconut, ensuring the coconut adheres completely to the laddoo’s surface. 

    A small bowl of unsweetened coconut with a round ball of coconut laddoo dough in it, with a plate of coated coconut laddos

    The Spruce Eats / Bahareh Niati

  9. Top each laddoo with an optional whole roasted cashew or pistachio, if desired, pressing it lightly until it adheres.

    A plate of coconut laddoos, each topped with a whole, roasted pistachio

    The Spruce Eats / Bahareh Niati

How To Store

Laddoo can be preserved in an airtight container for 5 to 7 days, but be aware that they start to lose moisture beyond that point. For extended storage, refrigeration is an option; however, this leads to a firmer texture rather than the desired moister consistency, so bring the laddoo to room temperature before serving.

Feeling Adventurous? Try This:

  • Use sweetened condensed milk—For a simpler variation, opt for condensed milk instead of milk powder and sugar syrup.  Add 4 to 6 tablespoons sweetened condensed milk after slightly roasting the coconut and mix well until the mixture holds together. The rest of the steps remain the same.
  • Change up the garnish—Enhance the laddoo’s presentation by garnishing it with roasted cashews, pistachios, or delicate dried rose petals. Gently press the garnish onto the laddoo to secure it in place.
  • Make coconut barfi with the same mixture—You can also create coconut barfi by pressing this mixture into a greased tray or plate with raised edges. After pressing it into the pan, cut it into squares as you won’t be able to do it once it hardens and the barfis will break. Allow it to sit for 4 to 6 hours until it becomes firm. Then, remove the squares and relish.  

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