This Christmas give the booze a rest and indulge in a boozy dessert instead.
The trend of alcohol-based desserts, while prevalent in the west, has only become a popular indulgence in India in the recent past. Moving on from the basic Rumballs and Tiramisu to indulgent curations like Liqueur Bonbons, tarts, and pies, there is now a grown fondness for alcohol based-desserts in the country.
Decoding these trends, LuxeBook spoke to Chef Santosh Rawat— Executive Pastry Chef at JW Marriott Mumbai Sahar, Chef Arnez Driver— Head Chef at La Pôz Place, Chef Devashree Muni— Founder of Cocoa Cellar and Rahul Bajaj— Founder of The Blue Gourmet.
Boozy desserts in India
Although alcohol based desserts are not a completely new concept, they were relatively absent from menus at hotels and restaurants. “Patisseries and cafes in India don’t have a full-fledged alcohol dessert menu, instead they only serve one, or maybe two desserts where the flavour is enhanced with alcohol,” says Chef Devashree.
Over the years, with more people wanting to try out new infusions and flavours, they have become a more regular occurence. As Chef Arnez Driver puts it, “Alcohol based desserts are gaining more and more popularity in India since the acceptance of alcohol is increasing, especially among the younger generation who are open to trying out new flavours and infusions.”
Innovation and experimentation are the biggest trend in the industry today. “Trial and error is a necessary process to create something innovative, and sometimes it is better to be the one who starts a trend rather than a person who follows one,” says Rahul Bajaj of the Blue Gourmet.
Today, Indian chefs have been experimenting with spirits in modern kitchens. Chefs all over the country use it, and not just for savouries and main courses. When it comes to desserts, incorporating alcohol into them is the new trend. “Alcohol is a flavour enhancer, and so chefs are constantly looking for unique ways to incorporate the flavour into everything, right from cakes and cookies to ice cream and popsicles,” says Chef Devashree.
The bakery and gourmet industry has been experimenting with alcohol-based desserts for a while. Their main aim was to introduce a fun concoction that caters to the younger crowd, offering unique combinations, flavours and textures. According to Chef Santosh, “Some of the current trends in alcohol-based desserts include Sorbet Cocktails, Traditional fondue with some orange liqueur, Tequila cupcakes, Drunken Cookies and Truffle shots.”
Another up and coming trend is taking Indian desserts and adding a boozy twist to them, like a Whiskey Soaked Gulab Jamun or a Baileys Kulfi.
The right pick
While it is difficult to single out just one right pick for desserts, there are only a handful of liquors that can be seamlessly infused into deserts, such as Whiskey Rum and Baileys. Rum and brandy are the top picks for Christmas desserts, while whiskey with its rich flavour and is perfect for sweeter desserts, perfect for those who prefer a slight kick in their desserts. Aside from these, wine too is a popular pick as it pairs well the sweet flavour in desserts.
Liqueurs are widely used, mainly for chocolates, but chefs around the world have been experimenting with them; using them as an additional ingredient to already popular desserts, retaining their authenticity.
Open to experimentation, chefs have also begun working around liquors like Cointreau, Kahlua, Champagne, Amaretto, Tia Maria, and Kirsch, for desserts like tarts, cheesecake and pies.
Some of the well-known and widely–used brands include Old Monk, Captain Morgan and Ron Zapaca for rum, Jameson, Oaksmith and Henessy for whiskey, and Contreu, Baileys and Kahlua for liqueurs.
A match made in heaven
Alcohol and dessert is a sinfully decadent combination. Adding a spirit to the dessert not only cuts through the overpowering sweetness, but also add a rich aroma that can be enjoyed if you actually enjoy the flavour of alcohol.
And while the combination is a match made in heaven, balancing the two ingredients can be challenging. The trick is knowing how much alcohol to use. According to Arnez Driver, “A little goes a long way. The amount of each has to be well balanced, otherwise you can overpower and disrupt the flavour altogether.”
Photo Courtesy: Cocoa Cellar