Using malt beverages to create inventive desserts
Among fiction writers, it's a given that "everything is material". In other words, every conversation on the street, every story told at a dinner party, every recoverable memory of childhood - the writer's or anyone else's - serves the art.
Among chefs, it's pretty much the same thing. Anything edible is an ingredient. This is as true for cumin as it is for Coca-Cola.
Would you cook with a soda? Maybe not, but plenty of people have. Richard Blais, an Atlanta chef, has developed recipes for fried abalone with smoked mayonnaise and Sprite, and lamb ribs with Barq's root beer. Can't you just taste that glaze? There are Coke recipes on the Coca-Cola website and a cookbook called Classic Cooking with Coca-Cola.
In the West, it's not unusual to find chefs working with wine and beer or spirits. The alcohol burns off, leaving the dish infused with taste and body.
Here in the UAE, non-alcoholic alternatives to beer line the supermarket shelves. Many of these malt beverages are fruit-flavoured and definitely run to the sweet side of the palate. They are usable in dishes from appetisers through mains and dessert - even as an accompaniment to cheese or chocolate. I found that the Efes and Holstein are more malty than the Barbican, but you should let your own taste buds be your guide.
Here, we offer four dessert recipes using fruit-flavoured, non-alcoholic malt beverages available in UAE markets and shops.
This alternative to sherbet or ice cream is half syrup and half malt beverage. Choose a fruit flavour that is robust or the sugar will overpower the dessert. I made this with raspberry, but pomegranate and lemon are suitable as well. For an even punchier pomegranate granité (try saying that three times fast), divide the called-for malt beverage between pomegranate juice and malt beverage.
1 330ml bottle fruit-flavoured malt beverage
Bring water and sugar to a boil in a small pot. Simmer and cook until syrupy -about 10 to 15 minutes - then chill. Add the malt beverage to 250ml of the syrup in a shallow metal bowl. Freeze. Scrape the frozen mixture with a fork, mix, then refreeze. Repeat two or three times until you reach the desired consistency. Scoop into four to six ice cream glasses or small bowls.
Pears are such absorbent fruit that they will retain the hints of the cinnamon and the green apple malt beverage. Be careful not to overcook them, however. You want the pear slices to retain some stiffness. This will serve four to six people.
1 330ml bottle green apple malt beverage
2 cinnamon sticks
Vanilla ice cream
Sprigs of mint for optional garnish
Peel and core the pears and place in a pot with the malt beverage, sugar and cinnamon sticks. Simmer over a medium to low heat for about 20 minutes. Remove pears and refrigerate. Continue cooking the liquid until it is reduced by half, perhaps for a further 10 minutes.
Before serving, thinly slice the pears and arrange in a circle around each plate. Place a scoop of vanilla ice cream in the centre and pour syrup over the ice cream and the pears. Garnish with mint.
Is there an easier, more versatile or more beloved dessert than apple crisp? This dish serves 12 if you're generous. It serves one, if you're like me: I love it for dessert and I love it for breakfast.
6 to 8 sliced Granny Smith apples
5ml ground cinnamon
60ml green apple malt beverage
125ml white sugar
125ml dark brown sugar
125ml softened and slightly salted, or sweet, butter
Preheat oven to 180°C.
Grease a large baking dish. Place apples evenly in dish. Sprinkle with cinnamon and pour malt beverage over.
Mix remaining ingredients together until relatively smooth. Pour entire mixture over fruit.
Bake for about 40 minutes, or until flour and sugar mixture on top is a deep golden brown.
Serve on its own, or à la mode.
Oven-baked, macerated berries
There are people who swear by crème brûlée. Others by crème caramel. I'm a sabayon man. Or, if I were Italian: zabaglione. And in the summer months, when berries are fresh and plentiful, the tartness of the fruit is a great counterpoint to the sweetness of the cream.
310ml whipping cream
6 egg yolks
Berries (blackberry, blueberry, raspberry, strawberry, in any combination desired)
180ml strawberry malt beverage
Preheat oven to 200°C.
Whip the cream until it forms stiff peaks. Set aside.
Beat the egg yolks until foamy.
Mix together the sugar and water and heat on the stovetop to 60°C. Slowly pour this mixture into the beaten eggs and mix until completely incorporated and not grainy. Fold the whipped cream into the egg mixture and refrigerate.
Place a handful of berries in six ovenproof bowls along with 30ml of the malt beverage. Heat the oven for five minutes. Divide the sabayon (the egg and cream mixture) evenly among the bowls and return them to the oven until the sabayon turns golden. Serve immediately.
Raymond Beauchemin is the author of the cookbook Salut!