KUALA LUMPUR, Oct 10 — Fairy tales have a way of beguiling us, pulling us deeper and deeper into their narratives and (sometimes) terrible tropes. Yet fairy tales also keep us captivated, romancing our better selves and promising better days to come.
Happy endings, they are called.
Of course, we might be thinking of the cleaned up, Disney-fied variants of stories such as the Sleeping Beauty or Little Red Riding Hood. The good ol’ Brothers Grimm had altogether, well, grimmer versions for every childhood favourite of ours, usually involving more bloodshed and unsavoury meals.
Don’t fret over which take of Snow White you might have inadvertently picked up at the bookstore and whether it’s even safe for tender ears and innocent eyes (ours, that is; little kids have proven to be far braver than adults and more adventurous in their appetites for the gruesome).
Instead concoct your own little fairy tale in the form of a sweet treat for the whole family. (Family friendly, they’d call this, I’m sure.)
Happy, sweet endings — that’s what we all desire, no?
And this dessert is simple enough to dish up, even in a jiffy, if you gather your loved ones in the kitchen and have them join in a bit of communal labour.
Peeling the mangosteens and separating the segments by hand. Doing the same for the pomelo, every juicy sac must be rescued and not squandered!
You announce that you will take care of the most important component — the ruby red confiture that will be the crowning glory of this dessert. (Naturally, it helps if you have already prepared this raspberry compote well in advance but there’s no need to share your kitchen secrets with your little busy elves, is there?)
Then comes the binding and combining: the assembly of parts to create a beautiful whole that is guaranteed to be more than their sum.
The palest flesh of mangosteen, the bouncy pop of pomelo, the creamy unctuousness of yoghurt — all recalling the fairest of them all. Powdered sugar on the most treacherous slope kissed by a winter sun. Dreams of clouds.
Lastly your contribution: the raspberry red of your tangy compote, a fruit preserve to rule all fruit preserves, a royal topping to bring it together, as crimson as the blood-red lips of a Cinderella, a Sleeping Beauty... or a Snow White.
SNOW WHITE & RASPBERRY RED
Lame jokes (and purple prose) aside, do prepare your berry compote ahead of time. Make more of it so you can have it ready anytime for other uses: be it rippled through a trifle or stirred in with your overnight oats.
Spread it on toast. Enjoy it with cheese and crackers. It’s lovely with granola or added to a post-workout protein shake for that extra sugary hit; your muscles’ depleted glycogen stores will thank you.
Accusations of slave labour aside, it can be a fun family activity to rope in everyone, especially the kids to help out with preparing the fruit. No knives are needed so it’s quite safe. Just have them dig in with their fingers (washed clean ahead of time, please!) and break down all those mangosteens and pomelo segments.
For the creamy element, I always favour the protein-rich Greek yoghurt over the standard variety but either works. Whichever of the above store-bought options you go for, do avoid the flavoured types — i.e. strawberry flavoured or spiced with vanilla — unless you’re flavouring the yoghurt yourself directly.
Less is more and you wouldn’t want too many contrasting flavours to compete with what is already in your dessert bowl. Allow the white and the red to shine, allow the flavours to marry and sing.
500g raspberries (fresh or frozen)
A small bunch of pandan leaves, tied together
Juice from 1 large lemon, freshly squeezed
2 tablespoons sugar
4-6 mangosteens, only the smallest segments
Half a pomelo, flesh broken down into small segments
250g Greek yoghurt
Put the raspberries, pandan leaves, lemon juice and sugar in a small pot over medium heat. Gently heat it till the sugar dissolves, mashing some of the raspberries along the way to release their juices.
Once the sugar has dissolved, bring the mixture to a simmer. Turn the heat off and cover the pan, allowing it to cook in the residual heat for five minutes.
Remove the tied up bunch of pandan leaves. Allow the compote to cool before transferring into a sterilised jar or bottle with an airtight lid. You may store this compote in the fridge for about a week.
Add half of the mangosteen and pomelo segments into a bowl. Stir in the Greek yoghurt and mix well. Add the remaining mangosteen and pomelo, then finish with a generous dollop of the raspberry compote. Serve immediately.
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