Around the World Through Desserts
April 28, 2021
You can learn about a country with just a taste of their gastronomic delights.
While it is true that traveling all over the globe is a great way to acquire knowledge, the COVID-19 pandemic has forced every country to implement travel restrictions to further keep the deadly virus from spreading. It is an understatement to say that everyone stricken with wanderlust felt hurt and lost due to the implemented travel bans.
If you are one of these globetrotters, chances are that you have only the memories and photographs to reminisce about your travels pre-pandemic. There is, however, another way to satisfy your wanderlust without the need for your passport and planes. You just need some basic cooking skills, a short trip to the grocery (or an online grocery service), and FlexiSpot’s extra large standing desk that can cater to the huge amount of goodies that you will create while keeping your posture in pristine condition. That is right! Cooking along with baking, is another way to explore the world without leaving the confines of your own home. By creating another country’s gastronomic delights, you will spice up your old and boring menu while giving your cooking skills a much-needed boost. To encourage you even more, study proved to the researchers that cooking and baking is highly therapeutic for the people who do it. Creating meals and treats by scratch also helps alleviate depression.
To further add sunshine and happiness to your heart, here are a few sweet treats from around the world to start your gastronomic journey!
The Philippines’ Pastillas de Leche
For our first itinerary, we are now cooking Pastillas de Leche which is a delicacy from the Pearl of the Orient Seas, the Philippines. The authentic version of Pastillas de Leche requires cooking and the Philippine water buffalo’s milk. Since we cannot travel and our workload is also present in our homes, using powder milk will make it more accessible and less time consuming because there is no need to cook it over a stove.
For the ingredients, you will need;
1/2 cup white granulated sugar
2 cups powdered milk
And lastly, a can of condensed milk
To start, thoroughly sift the dry ingredients to make sure that no clumps will form. Once that is sorted, place your condensed milk in a mixing bowl that is large enough for you to fold-in the wet and dry ingredients together. The mixture’s consistency should be similar to that of a dough for it to be easily scooped and molded to a cylindrical shape. As the final step, roll the pieces on the white granulated pieces to add another texture to this Philippine delicacy. Once you are done, you can opt to wrap the Pastillas de Leche in fancy wax paper or plastic wrap.
The Pastillas de Leche may be a small treat but you would not be able to stop yourself from munching on these as it is highly addictive!
India’s Fried Banana Dumplings (Unniyappam)
We will now whip up these crispy delights from India which are typical offerings at Hindu Temples. No need to travel to India though because the unniyappam is fairly easy to make. While these are cooked on an appachatti pan (this pan has divots), you can also use a takoyaki pan to create the shape.
The ingredients you will need are;
2 ripe bananas
1/2 tsp. Baking soda
3/4 cup ghee (You may use coconut oil if you cannot find authentic ghee.)
2 cups rice flour
1/2 cup grated coconut
2 tsp. ground cardamom
1 tsp. ground ginger
1 1/2 cups of jaggery (Or use one cup dark brown sugar with two teaspoons of brown sugar as an alternative if you cannot find jaggery.)
1 1/2 cups of water
For the first step, dissolve the jaggery with water in a small pot over medium heat. Make sure to continuously stir this mixture to prevent it from crystallizing. Once everything is dissolved, strain the mixture and set aside.
Next, peel your ripe bananas and use a food processor for the smoothest banana puree. After that you may proceed to sift your rice flour, ginger, cardamom, and baking soda to make sure that you only get the finest mixture. In a large mixing bowl, combine the wet and dry ingredients together so you will have a batter that resembles that of a pancake. Let it rest for 3-4 hours to achieve the fluffiest banana dumplings.
Once the time is up, grease your appachatti pan (or takoyaki pan) with the melted ghee or coconut oil over high heat. Make sure that every divot is evenly greased so that you can easily take out the unniyappam. Once the pan is smoking, lower the heat to medium and drop 1 tablespoon of the batter on the divots. Cook till you see browning and crisp on one side then flip over to finish.
The unniyapam are best served warm so you can bite your teeth into the crispy goodness it offers.
The United Kingdom’s Strawberry Eton Mess
Let us now head over to the other side of the globe and land on the United Kingdom. While the word mess may be present in this dessert’s name, the only thing it would surely mess with is your head. How could the Strawberry Eton Mess do that? Well, it is mind-blowingly delicious! For an easier preparation, you may use store-bought meringue to assemble this treat.
The ingredients are quite simple. You will just need;
454 grams of fresh strawberries
1 8-pack store-bought meringue
1 1/2 cups heavy cream
The Strawberry Eton Mess is not complete without the strawberry and sauce. To create the sauce, toss your fresh and hulled strawberries on a mixing bowl along with sugar and freshly-squeezed lemon juice. Next, use your trusty food processor to create your deliciously sweet and tangy strawberry sauce. For your whipped cream, put your bowl and whisk in your chiller the night before you whip up this dessert. This crucial step will guarantee light and perfectly whipped cream in a minute or two -- just make sure that you will use heavy cream.
Since your meringue is ready, you can now assemble your Strawberry Eton Mess. The traditional way to assemble this dessert is by folding in the strawberries and meringue with the whipped cream. If you are feeling fancy, you may go ahead and make it like a parfait in a pretty transparent cup so you will see the layers.
The pandemic may be stopping you from safely traveling but who says you cannot take your taste buds around the world? Once you master these sweet treats, you would not only make yourself happy but your newfound appreciation and respect for the other countries’ culture and gastronomic delights would make you crave for more.
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