In the world of desserts, cream is key and Europe is king. The continent has given birth to an irresistible smorgasbord of confections, cakes, and pastries that have won fans far and wide. Its culinary masters have European cream to thank for this delicious stranglehold on global tastebuds. A highly sought after commodity, it boasts a unique velvety feel backed by a rich tradition of use in native specialties. A dollop of the dairy product is all it takes to add a dash of sophistication to any meal or recipe.
The secret behind European cream’s appeal as the preferred choice of pastry chefs lies in its fat content as well as stability in the milk production of Europe. France is home to two creams to receive the Designated Place of Origin label, awarded only to a select number of foodstuffs made according to strict manufacturing criteria in specific regions. Crème d’Isigny is a thick crème fraiche containing at least 35% fat whereas Crème de Bresse comes in thick (minimum 30% fat) and semi-thick (minimum 36% fat) varieties. The pair hail from farmlands that enjoy rich soil and temperate climates, leading to healthy, contented cows and therefore consistent standard of milk.
The superior properties of European cream are merely the cherry on top its remarkable versatility. It is the basis for a plethora of decadent treats, giving volume to ganache, mousse, bavaroise, Eton mess, Crème Chantilly and panna cota just to name a few. In a quiche or tart, to simmer in sauces or emulsify béarnaise, cream is capable of rising to the occasion with a silky smooth finish or fluffy topping.
Its complementary nature as a condiment is well-suited to Malaysian fare. Cream reveals and enhances subtle aromas, making it the perfect accompaniment to tea time favourites like pandan cake and sago pudding. It also softens overwhelming flavours, bringing balance to banana fritters or bingka ubi (cassava cake).
Cream does not disappoint in the decorative department either. With its elegant shade of ivory white, it gives nuance to the intense colours of our country’s myriad tropical fruits. Combine cream with the red of watermelon, brown of sapodilla (ciku) or orange of jackfruit for an eye-catching display of visual flair.
Both these qualities come to the fore in the Watermelon Jalur Gemilang Cake. This edible declaration of love to Malaysia includes generous helpings of European cream between and inside its sponge tiers. Incorporated into the batter, it keeps the cake’s body firm and makes it silky to the touch. As a topping, it tempers the sweetness of the watermelon essence and provides for an interesting mix of textures with every bite.