After a month of chopping, mixing, organising, baking, stressing, buying, freezing, arranging, tasting and planning, it finally happened! And with the exception of a few last minute cancellations, it went off without a hitch. In the end we ended up with eight lovely guests, which kept it a little more intimate, and gave us a bit more time to spend with everyone. The downside...and I think this is only time having a fridge and freezer full of dessert would ever be considered a downside...we still have SO many left-overs. Even if Kit and I both eat dessert EVERY night (which we normally don't), it will still take us more than 2 weeks to get through all the food, and considering how the sight of sugar made us feel the next day, I think it might be a while before we can safely tuck in again. We're thinking of having a reprise some time this week, with some of the epople who couldn't make it to the original, and hopefully that way we won't have to eat pure sugar for a fortnight!.
We started off with the best intentions to photograph everything, but by the end we got a bit forgetful. So theres pics of most of the first course, but it trails off towards the end. We also realised once we'd eaten everything we could, that in all our enthusiasm to take pics of the food, we didn't actually take any people pics..so we'll have to rectify that next time.
We started with yoghurt panna cotta served with rose scented plums which were really nice and light and creamy. I always love the colouring when I make this dish- the soft white panna cotta against the vibrant pink plums. It was a really good match with the blackberry and lime champagne cocktails that we gave everyone as soon as they arrived..or at least I think it would have been, if any was lieft by the time we started eating. Every dinner party needs to start with champagne, so most of the cocktails were gone by the time we got to the table, but at least thats a sign they were popular! Next was a chocolate and rosewater marquis which we garnished with raspberries, blackberries and almonds. They look tiny, but given that they consist mainly of chocolate and cream, they were more than enough. I've made this before and the rosewater really overpowered the dish, but it worked out really well this time.
To cleanse the palate after such a rich creamy dish, Kit created a really refreshing tart sorbet of red grapefruit and raspberries. Looks good..doesn't it? Next up was kulfi...now kulfi has a pretty high profile in our house. The last time I cooked it for Kuka it ended up turning into a Roadkill Reunion and this time, truth be told, the dessert degustation was just another excuse to eat kulfi. As usual, it didn't disappoint. It was just a pity that they had to be so small, so we could fit the other 7 courses in. We served them with a hot apple and sage toddy, which despite being too hot to drink for a while were a really good foil for the spice and sweetness of the dessert.
Next up was the "main course" of the evening, our strawberry streuselkuchen. I'm always worried when I make this cake, because it always looks as though its going to end up a total mess, until you finally pull it out of the oven. The first pic here is exactly how it looks before it gets topped with the streusel and baked. The first time I made it, I'd spent ages trying to get the sticky, lumpy batter to spread over the strawberry filling, to no avail. In the end i just thought "Stuff it" and baked it anyway, and it turned our perfectly. Apparently, this is how its meant to look before its baked, but it still doesn't stop me from being momentarily anxious every time i cook it, that its going to end up in a mangled heap by the time its finished. This time around was no different, especially considering I was using gluten-free flour in the recipe for the first time to accomodate a GFree guest. I shouldn't have worried though, because in the end it worked out perfectly, and was even better topped with some creme anglaise and fresh berries macerated in balsamic vinegar. I think i underestimated the might of the streuselkuchen because we needed to take a breather for while before moving on to the spiced chocolate pots. Again, these seemed like tiny little serves, but considering the amount of food we'd already eaten (and what was left), they worked fine. The spicy flavours in the chocolate (cardamom, bergamot, chili, cinnamon and cloves) mixed really well with the dippables (biscuits, strawberries and turkish delight). When we thought of the original dessert party it was in winter, hence the choice of serving spiced mulled wine as the accompaniment. In the end we made the spiced wine, with the traditional mounds of lemons, oranges, cloves and cinnamon, but let it cool, and lengthened it with some soda, which made it something closer to sangria...but not quite. Either way, they matched really well, and looked really great too- lots of vibrant red, pink and chocolate colours all along the table.
After this point, as I said before, we got a little lazy with the pics, so theres no more to see...but the last few courses, worked as well as we could have hoped. The lemon, basil and mascarpone sorbetto was another nice palate cleanser, and the lemon flavour linked really well to the citrus flavours in the crema catalana. Unfortunately, we completely misjudged the quantities for the sorbetto, so we now have a HUGE bowl left to tide us over for the next month. We ended the evening sitting on the couch with coffee, and Koko Black chocolates, and I think it was the first time in history of the world that a plate of Koko Black chocolates sat there untouched. By that time I think most of us were struggling just to sit and digest, without adding any further stress to the system!
So, all in all, it was a GREAT night, and we had as much fun organising and hosting it as we did just eating the food. Who knows, maybe one day we might put on a repeat performance with a whole heap of new recipes..(or we might cheat and find some other friends and just use the same desserts *S*)