Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Turkish Delight Ice Cream

I've never liked roses. Not the flower (I'm more a peony kinda girl) and certainly not the taste. Maybe it was an over-flavoured Indian dessert that I ate as a child—restraint never having been a virtue in my greedy life, I bit off a huge chunk rather than nibbled to taste, and the heady flavour of the flower exploded in my mouth. To this day, when faced with a rose-flavoured anything, I balk, images of a colourful Indian street flooding my mind, a firm warning that should I so much as lick the food in question, my mouth would fill with that potent sweet essence and linger there until the sacred cows on my imaginary Indian street amble their way home.

So imagine my surprise when I decided to throw caution to the wind and make a Turkish Delight ice cream with a whole 50ml of rose water, and ended up loving the delicate flavour of it.

Incidentally, I can't admit to being a fan of Turkish Delight either (must be the rosewater component, you think?), but this ice cream, part of a composed dessert by the always affable chef Geoff Lindsey at his Melbourne restaurant Pearl, was just too pretty not to attempt.

The dessert encompasses the ice cream strewn with vanilla Persian fairy floss and served with bits of glace ginger, fushia pomegranate seeds and rose petals. I was going to serve it with just the Persian fairy floss, which my cousin bought from Sydney's Jones the Grocer along with a box of their lovely Turkish Delight (the best I've ever tasted), but he forgot to bring the fairy floss to dinner that day, so it was just the ice cream. But no matter. What a wonderful ice cream it was. The bits of Turkish Delight, though turned hard in the freezer, yields quickly to the warm temperature of your tongue. The delicate flavour of the rosewater was just lovely, nothing like the cacophony of sharp, sweet gusto that I had imagined.

Other items on the menu that night included Osso Bucco with Risotto Milanese. A friend gave us a bottle of Spanish saffron stamens to try and they flavoured and stained the risotto a lovely shade of golden yellow.

My brother recently returned from a trip to Italy, so we also had a load of shaved parma ham, which we walloped with baguettes and a wonderfully fresh-flavoured salad of buffalo mozarella, juicy vine cherry tomatoes and fat basil leaves.

Saturday, June 09, 2007

Cupcake Madness

It was like a scene straight out of Ugly Betty. An order of 100 cupcakes, which I felt needed to be delivered as fresh as possible. So I baked them the afternoon before they were to be sent and frosted them after dinner. A task that took me through to 2am, when I finally crawled into bed only to wake early the next morning to deliver the bounty.

I call these Adult Cupcakes. In two flavours—banana and chocolate—both with dark chocolate whipped cream frosting.Kids don't like them. I know because my friend's four-year-old daughter took one bite of it and screwed up her face really bad. "It ain't sweet, Mommy!" she cried. Her embarrassed mother attributed it to her daughter's Americanised palate.

Another friend ordered these for her nephew's birthday party. She later reported that few of the kids even touched the mini-cupcakes, but the adults polished them off with ease.

Personally, I like them for the moist cocoa flavoured sponge—in which I use corn oil rather than butter so they stay soft even when kept in the fridge. The frosting, made of fresh cream and melted 64% Valrhona Manjari chocolate, provides a lush, ever so slightly bitter edge that offsets the sweetness of the cake perfectly.

The banana cupcake is a lot richer, but no less delicious. Made with plenty of butter, they are better served at room temperature. Again, the deep chocolate whipped cream frosting cuts through the sweetness of the cake, but this time, the mouth feel is buttery, decadent and deliciously sinful.