In Michelin-starred restaurants around the globe and in Good Food Guide-hatted restaurants in Australia, detailed layering of delicate flavoursome elements are combined to make exquisite desserts. While these perfected plates of beauty seem impossibly complex to craft, Essentials’ Megan Chalmers shares a few tricks of the trade, putting together a buttermilk rice pudding with baklava wafer, Turkish delight and sugared rose petals to ensure your evening’s dining table is an award-winner.
Buttermilk Rice Pudding
2 cups coconut cream
1 cup sugar
2 cups milk
2 cups buttermilk
2 cups white long grain rice
1 tsp ground cardamom
Zest of one large orange
1 vanilla pod, halved and scraped
1. In a large heavy-based saucepan add all ingredients and slowly bring to a simmer.
2. Reduce heat to very low and continue to cook, stirring continuously for 40-50 minutes until rice is soft.
Note: You can control the consistency of the rice pudding by adding additional milk where required.
Spoon portions of cooked rice pudding into ceramic cups or ramekins, filling completely and levelling flat with the back of a spoon.
Evenly sprinkle brown sugar over the top of the rice pudding and caramelise the sugar to create a crust, either using a professional kitchen blow torch or a very hot metal spoon heated by a gas flame. Be careful with any naked flame and if using a heated spoon protect hands with oven mitts.
5 sheets filo pastry
5 tbsp butter
2 tbsp honey
Zest of one large orange
¼ cup walnuts, roughly chopped
¼ cup pistachios, roughly chopped
½ tsp ground cinnamon
2 cloves, crushed to powder
¼ cup raw sugar
Preheat over to 160C
1. In a small saucepan melt butter, honey, then add orange zest.
2. In a small bowl add chopped walnuts, chopped pistachios, sugar, cinnamon and cloves and toss until well combined. Reserve one-third for later.
3. Using a flat oven tray lined with baking paper, place one sheet of filo pastry on top of the paper and brush with melted honey-and-orange-flavoured butter.
4. Lightly sprinkle a quarter of the remaining spiced nut mixture evenly onto the buttered pastry.
5. Place another sheet of filo pastry on top of your first pastry, butter and spiced nut layer and repeat the process until you top the fourth layer with the fifth sheet of filo pastry.
6. On the top pastry layer add more flavoured butter and the reserved third of the spice nut mixture. (Yes, the top layer should be more heavily coated in nuts than previous layers.)
7. Place a second piece of baking paper over the layered filo and weigh it down with a second flat oven tray.
8. Bake in the oven for 10-15 minutes or until golden.
9. Remove from oven, and slide the complete baklava wafer sheet onto a chopping board. While still warm cut into wafer rectangles.
10. Allow to cool at room temperature to become crispy.
4 cups caster sugar
4 cups water
2 tbsp fresh lemon juice
3 tbsp gelatine powder
1 tsp cream of tartar
3 tsp rosewater essence
¼ tsp red food colouring
300g icing sugar, sifted, used for dusting
1. Line a 1-inch deep (2.5cm) baking tray with baking paper, allowing the sides to overhang.
2. Place the sugar and 2 cups of the water in a large heavy-based saucepan and stir over low heat until the sugar has dissolved. Increase the heat to medium and continue to cook without stirring (at this stage). Occasionally brush down the inside of the saucepan with a wet pastry brush to avoid sugar crystallising.
3. Continue to cook for approximately 20 minutes, or if using a sugar thermometer until the temperature reaches 120C. At this stage, stir in lemon juice, remove from heat and set aside.
4. In a second large saucepan, place the gelatine, cornflour and cream of tartar; and using a large balloon whisk, slowly whisk in the remaining water to form a paste.
5. Place the saucepan on medium heat and continue to whisk for 3-5 minutes until the mixture boils and thickens.
6. Next, slowly pour in the sugar syrup, whisking continuously to avoid lumps. At this stage add the red food colouring.
7. Reduce heat to low, stirring occasionally to prevent the mixture from sticking to the base of the pan. Cook for a further 30-40 minutes (or, if using a sugar thermometer, until the temperature reaches 110C).
8. Remove from heat and whisk in rosewater essence.
9. Pour the mixture into the lined baking tray and allow to cool to room temperature, then refrigerate for at least 4 hours or until firm.
10. Remove the Turkish delight from the refrigerator, chop into cubes with a greased knife and toss the cubes in the icing sugar until well coated.
Sugared Rose Petals
Freshly picked rose petals
2 egg whites
1 cup caster sugar
Whisk egg whites until fluffy, paint freshly picked rose petals with egg whites and lightly dust with caster sugar. Allow to dry on a wire baking rack for at least 24 hours.
Serve the buttermilk rice pudding with a baklava wafer on top, and dress the plate with Turkish delight, crystallised rose petals and a scoop of vanilla ice cream.