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A Sweet Spin

Want tradition with a twist? Fusion mithais offer the best of both worlds. Gulab jamun cheesecake anybody?

brunch Updated: Oct 27, 2012 16:49 IST
Veenu Singh

A cheesecake with gulab jamun, a blend of phirni and chocolate and a rangoli cake filled with gulkand. These exotic-sounding concoctions aren’t the stuff of fantasy – they’re what sweetmakers are now devising to please bored palates.

People like indulging their sweet tooth during the festive season, but in the past few years, there’s much more than ordinary mithai out there. Chocolate has become the new ‘mithai’ for a lot of us (except that a lot of locally made chocolate is pretty ghastly). But there’s a new dessert trend now: ‘fusion mithai’, in which the best of traditional mithai is teamed with exciting new global flavours.

“The idea behind creating these fusion sweets is to offer something that is healthy, tasty and sweet so that people can indulge themselves without guilt,” says Rashma Sud, owner of Dessert Carte, a Delhi bakery. A patti (you can’t get more traditional than that!) filled with apricot, anyone? “Traditional sweets are going in a new direction. Chefs are mixing them with Western ingredients. It makes for a nice change. But traditional desserts and their unique flavours will never lose their lustre,” says chef Vishal Atreya, executive sous chef with The Imperial, New Delhi. Bon appetit!

Phirni in chocolate

If the idea is to provide a new twist to something that is traditional and yet simple to make, phirni fits the bill perfectly. But instead of serving it straight, use chocolate flowers to give the sweet dish a contemporary touch. Another interesting variation is to make chocolate balls and fill them with shrikhand (not difficult to prepare). They make great sweet munchies for when guests visit.

Available at The Imperial, New Delhi

Rangoli fruit cake

Want to have the flavour of a fruit cake and also indulge in your paan fetish? This rangoli fruit cake is filled with dry fruit and a dash of gulkand to add some sweetness. It also contains cinnamon and cardamom to give it a spicy twist and keep it from tasting too sweet. Considering it’s Diwali, you can stick a pretty diya on top of the cake instead of a candle. The best part about the cake is the colourful rangoli-like design on top which can make for an attractive centrepiece too. (And yes, this rangoli is totally edible!)

The cake is available at Radisson Blu MBD, Noida

(L to R) Phirni in chocolate, Rangoli fruit cake, Dry fruit & apricot patti

Dry fruit & apricot patti

This nouvelle twist to a traditional snack involves preparing a baked mix of soft dried apricot, mixed dry fruit, wholewheat flour, rolled oats, orange zest and orange juice to add that tang. To keep the patti healthy and light, brown sugar, olive oil and oats are used in the mix. It can make a great accompaniment to tea or coffee or you can serve it as dessert. Want to add a special touch? Drizzle 30gm of melted white chocolate over the cooked mixture and allow it to set before slicing.

Available at Dessert Carte, 148, East of Kailash, Delhi

Kalakand and florentine almond cake

Here, kalakand, that classic Indian mithai, is blended with almond florentine (almonds in caramelised sugar). It is then infused with butterscotch and raspberry sauce to create a dessert that is at once familiar and exotic. A small word of warning though: this delectable dessert is not for those watching their weight.
But frankly, it’s Diwali, so throw your diet out of the window!
Available at the Hilton Mayur Vihar

Gulab jamun cheesecake (left) and Kalakand and florentine almond cake

Gulab jamun cheesecake

Bakery aficionados in the West swear by the cheesecake for its softness and flavour. Closer home, there are few things as satisfying as a nice juicy hot gulab jamun, particularly on a cold winter day. What if you want the best of both worlds? Well, you cook a plain cheesecake sans flavour (recipe below). That’s when the gulab jamun will impart its own distinct flavour – and sweetness – to the cake. And yet it won’t be as sweet as a gulab jamun.

Available at the Leela Kempinski, Gurgaon

The recipe

150gm mascarpone cheese; 250gm whipped sweetened cream; 5gm gelatin; 20-25 gulab jamuns; 100gm cookie crumbs; 30gm unsalted butter; 1tsp cardamom powder, 1tsp saunf powder, a few drops kewra water.

Method: Melt butter, add cookie crumbs to it. Line base of cake tin with crumb mixture. Spread evenly and press hard to form a firm base. Refrigerate for 15 mins. Soak the gelatin in 20ml water. Stir the mascarpone cheese in a bowl till it is creamy. Add cardamom, saunf powder and kewra water. Add melted gelatin to the creamed cheese, mix well and fold in the whipped cream. Place a layer of gulab jamuns on the crumb base. Pour the cheesecake mixture into the tin. Refrigerate for 2 hours, then keep at room temp for 10 mins. Slice and serve immediately.

From HT Brunch, October 28

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