Janet happened to read my regular column on WOM guide, and in relation with my product quality philosophy, she sent me a note and eventually ended up sending me samples of pure palm sugar from Indonesia.
Although I have been in Asia for a mere 12 years now, I shamefully never bothered to try much other sugar than brown, red, or… perhaps I glanced over palm sugar once or twice and associated it with fully hydrogenated palm oil (which bothers me not for health reasons, but for the whole biofuel controversy…). With that, I learned that the trees used for palm sugar where not cut and forest was not destroyed, but harvested and maintained, generating a sustainable culture and providing jobs to entire communities. On top of that, that palm sugar has a glycemic index below 30 which makes it an ‘healthy’ type of sugar. :) In the end, curiosity towards that sugar proved me right…
That palm sugar is made of different shades of brown color, darker and lighter, with the texture and moisture similar to Demerara sugar, but I personally found the taste of it rounder than brown sugar, with pleasant notes of caramel. I also enjoyed the long lasting flavors it features, compared to its cousin, where the flavor vanishes too promptly to my taste.
So I gave it a try with some fabulous poached William pears, golden raisins, fresh orange zest and packed all the palm sugar I could into a crumble, with a little extra touch of rolled oats and a good pinch of salt. In the preparation and the baking, I noticed that palm sugar don’t dissolve in dough as easily as other sugar, so the browning of the dough was not as much as it would normally be and the texture of the raw crumble was even more sandy than usual. Nevermind; the crumble came out of the oven piping hot and the smell of that crumble was to die for. I shot a few pictures as quick as I could so that I could give it a try, and it was really good. But I mean really good as in awesomely good! I am not talking about some new hydrocolloid discoveries here, but just simple good food. You’ve got to try this, and yes, here is the recipe I tried:
4 Fresh pears (medium sized William pear if possible)
20 gm Palm sugar
1 tbsp Butter
½ orange zests
50 ml apple juice
1 tsp corn starch
A handful of golden raisins
100 gm Plain white flour
50 gm Palm sugar (I used Masarang Arenga Palm Sugar)
60 gm cold butter
2 tbsp rolled oats
A good pinch of salt
Preparing the fruits
- Wash and peal the pears. Cut them into large chunks.
- In a cooking pot, melt the palm sugar and add the butter.
- Add the pears, the cinnamon and nutmeg.
- Leave it to cook for about 3 minutes.
- Dissolve the cornstarch in the apple juice and pour it in.
- Cook until the cornstarch thickens.
- Fill your dishes with the cooked pear to ¾ of the height.
Preparing the crumble and finishing the dessert
- In a bowl, mix all the ingredients into crumbles.
- Add a layer of about 1 cm on top of the fruits.
- Bake in a pre-heated oven at 200°C for about 20 minutes.
- Serve warm with vanilla custard sauce or ice cream (Lemon zest ice cream, if you’d ask me!)
(Get Janet’s palm sugar and more information here: http://www.sugarpalmtree.com)