Dare to be Rare

Suffering from a lack of oral stimulation? David Ho’s sweet dreams become reality as he indulges in some alternative scanty treats.

By David Ho | Jul 01, 2010

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  • Dare to be Rare
  • Dare to be Rare
  • Dare to be Rare

We all like our desserts. It’s usually the best part of the meal. But after a while, even perennial favorites like ice-cream and waffle just don’t excite us the way they used to. So we tracked down some harder-to-find desserts instead.

Key lime pie

This all-time American favorite is made from the pale yellow juice of key limes, egg yolks and sweetened condensed milk in a pie crust. Many of the early recipes for this dessert dish did not require the cook to ever bake the pie, relying instead on a chemical reaction known as souring (a reaction between the condensed milk and the acidic lime juice during mixing which causes the filling to thicken on its own) to produce the proper consistency of the filling.
Food for thought: In 1965, Florida State Representative Bernie Papy, Jr. introduced legislation calling for a $100 fine to be levied against anyone advertising key lime pie that is not made with key limes. The bill did not pass. This dish was declared the Florida state pie in 2006.
Where to find it: Served with a generous amount of whipped cream on the side to balance its sharp and sour taste, the key lime pie ($8.90) here is a must try. It comes in a pretty big portion too so you can share it with a mate. California Pizza Kitchen, #01-42 Forum, The Shopping Mall, 583 Orchard Rd., 6836-0110.

Macanese Serradura pudding

One of the most popular desserts in Macau—typically made with copious amounts of condensed milk and cream, topped with crushed plain biscuit after it’s done—is a rare find on our island. Only available at One-Ninety at the Four Seasons Hotel, the restaurant’s pastry chef Audrey Yee says “Rather than using regular condensed milk, I’ve opted instead for fresh milk to lighten the dessert … coupled with brown sugar for that added texture. Think of it as a brown sugar panna cotta,” she says.
Food for thought: Although the pudding was already on One-Ninety’s existing menu, it wasn’t until two months’ ago that Yee’s updated Macanese Serradura recipe started flying off the kitchen counters, “Before that, it was one of our most unpopular desserts … but now, we have to make at least two huge servings as more of our guests are starting to appreciate it.”
Where to find it: Available daily as part of One-Ninety’s dessert buffet menu for $12. Four Seasons Hotel Singapore, 190 Orchard Blvd., 6831-7250.

Pumpkin custard

Sankya lapov refers to a Cambodian dessert which consists of pumpkin and coconut custard. This dessert is easily recognizable as the flan fills the interior part of the pumpkin and the pumpkin is often presented in its entirety or in slices.
Food for thought: The similarity of both the Khmer sankya and the Thai sangkhaya with the Sanskrit samkhya may indicate a common origin in the Khmer Empire’s Hindu past.
Where to find it: The homemade pumpkin custard ($6.90) here comes served with a delicious scoop of vanilla ice-cream. Soft with an almost creamy texture, we highly recommend you check it out. Khmer Delight, 922 East Coast Rd., 6449-1529.

Red velvet cake

Available in scarlet, maroon and just about every shade in between, red velvet cakes are layer cakes typically decorated with white icing. The iconic red color is (whisper it) derived from either food coloring or boiled beetroots. A typical frosting is a butter roux (also known as a cooked flour frosting). Cream cheese or butter cream frostings are also used.
Food for thought: While foods were rationed during World War II, bakers used boiled beets to enhance the color of their cakes. Red velvet cake was a signature dessert at The Waldorf-Astoria Hotel in New York City during the 1920s. According to a common urban legend, a woman once asked for the recipe for the cake and was billed a large amount for it. Indignant, she spread the recipe in a chain letter.
Where to find it: A piece here will only cost you $10. This beetroot sponge comes with cream cheese icing and fresh berries on top. Bedrock Bar & Grill, #01-05 Pan Pacific Serviced Suites, 96 Somerset Rd., 6238-0054.

Trifle

Take some thick custard, toss in some sponge cake, add your favorite fruit and you’ve basically got yourself a trifle. If you’re feeling especially bold, you may want to splash some sherry or port in there too. And don’t forget to invite an elderly English lady; trifle makes them go weak at the knees.
Food for thought: The earliest known use of the name trifle was for a thick cream flavored with sugar, ginger and rosewater. The recipe was published in England in 1596 in a book called The Good Housewife’s Jewel by Thomas Dawson.
Where to find it: The mango trifle ($12) here is delicious. It’s certain to please mango fans too. The Queen & Mangosteen, #01-106/107 VivoCity 1 HarbourFront Walk, 6376-9380.

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