Pink Pitaya Jelly – Dessert

Natural food colors … the ingredients that make me go 😍😍😍 Colors can enhance the most ordinary of desserts and make them look stunningly exotic. I have always loved playing with natural food hues and while I have had mixed results while baking or subjecting them to heat, one space where they do not fail is the area of chilled desserts.

As I mentioned in my earlier posts, during this corona wave, we have been fortunate to have several farmer organizations and other fruit suppliers coming directly to our doorstep with varieties of fruits and vegetables.

And after ploughing my way through truck loads of avocados, mangoes, mangosteen and other delicious produce, it was finally the turn of the brilliantly colored Pink Pitaya, also known as the Pink Dragon fruit, to become a victim of my palate and imagination.

So Enter the Dragon as I unleash some of that fiery creativity that I never knew I had, till corona burnt my world down 😎 … and ta da, we have the multi layered Pink Pitaya Jelly or Panna Cotta or chilled dessert or the WhateverYouWantToCallit!!!

The Dragon fruit, also known as Pitaya –

One of the strangest and most exotic looking, this one belongs to the cactus family and is a very unusual fruit. With a scaly exterior, much like a dragon I suppose (albeit with softer scales) and an inside that is embedded with thousands of tiny, crunchy, black seeds which remind me of a Dalmatian dog, this funny fruit is like a Dalmatian encased in a dragon 😀

Tasting far different from that of course, it actually is a rather bland fruit and its appeal mainly lies in its aesthetic appearance and also its health benefits with its high content of antioxidants, vitamins, minerals etc.

While most of the fruit that we have access to here, is white on the inside, there are variants too, one of which is the pink dragon fruit. Mildly sweeter compared to its terribly bland white cousin, the other advantage this one has, is its brilliant colored flesh.

This was my first ever pink pitaya and when I laid my hands on it, my mind automatically began racing with ideas. Unfortunately I got only one fruit but it was pretty big at 500 gm and hence I managed to make optimal use of the pulp by dividing it between this dessert here and also trying out a Sourdough bread. Sadly though, the flaming fuchsia faded into a pale peach after baking but let us talk about that tragedy another day. You can take a peek though, if you are curious. See how the intense hue of the raw dough sadly succumbs to heat and fades away.

Now let us get back to the task at hand and move on to the recipe. But en route, please spare a moment to gawk at some more pictures that I have clicked.

Pink Pitaya Dessert –

What do I call this one? Shall we go with Pink Pitaya Passion? 😀 The dessert was a spur of the moment thing, triggered by one that  I used to make in the past which I called Blue wave and which was a panna cotta of sorts with white and blue layers of jelly, that were set using gelatin.

During the corona lockdown however, I have been discovering a whole lot of surprises that my freezer has been hiding, some of them definitely hailing from prehistoric times 😏, a bottle full of  agar agar powder being one of them.

Since I have always wanted to familiarize myself with using agar, I thought this would be a good time to play with it. It is a bit trickier to use compared to gelatin but the powder is definitely easier to deal with than its other available forms like strands and flakes. And once you sort of get the idea of proportions, then it gets less difficult to estimate how much you need.

Using too little will result in a ‘unset’ dessert and using too much will give you a weirdly firm set which is not really pleasant to eat.

I have figured out that on an average it takes around 3/4 th teaspoon of powder to set 250 ml of water. With this as a base, one can vary the amount of powder for milk, cream, other thick liquids, purees etc.

One more thing about this recipe is that it is a totally made up one, hence there are no hard and fast rules apart from getting the agar:liquid proportion right.

You can feel free to use any flavors, colors, liquids, juices, puree etc. The aim is to have a few layers according to your idea of aesthetics and palate.

So fret not if you do not have some of the ingredients. Go with whatever you have, create as many or as few layers as you wish, set it in one large bowl or individual servings, serve it as it is or unmould … basically knock yourself out having fun and just make sure that your agar does not set so hard that it can knock you out instead 😀

 

Given below of course, is the exact recipe that I created for this particular dessert.

Recipe for the Pink Pitaya Dessert –

Time taken – 

The time will depend on the number of layers. Approximately 15 – 20 minutes per layer.

Layer 1 –

Milk – 250 gm (use plant based milk for a vegan version)

Organic sugar – 40 gm

Agar Agar powder – 1/2 teaspoon

Saffron – 10 strands

Orange zest – 1 teaspoon/10 strands (or lime zest)

Layer 2 –

Puree of Pink Pitaya – 100 gm/approximately 1/2 cup (see Notes)

Water – 50 gm

Agar Agar powder – 1/2 teaspoon

Organic sugar – 20 gm

Layer 3 –

Buttermilk – 250 gm

Cornflour/cornstarch = 1/2 teaspoon

Sugar – 40 gm

Haldi powder (Turmeric) – 1/2 teaspoon

Agar Agar powder – 1/2 teaspoon

Ripe mango, small cubes – 2 tablespoon

Layer 4 –

Milk – 250 gm (use plant based milk for a vegan version)

Organic sugar – 40 gm

Agar Agar powder – 1/2 teaspoon

Matcha powder – 1 teaspoon

Mint powder – 1/2 teaspoon

For the sauce – (optional)

Puree of Pink Pitaya – 100 gm/approximately 1/2 cup

Water – 50 gm

Organic sugar – 20 gm

Cornflour/cornstarch – 2 teaspoon

Mould used –

Silicon Dahlia

You can use anything of choice.

Method for Layer 1 –

Mix all the ingredients and pour into a pan. Bring to a boil and simmer for 1 – 2 minutes.

Pour into the mould. You can lightly grease the mould with oil or even water. Jellies which are set with agar, usually slip out easily. I have made this dessert in a Silicon mould and also in a tall glass.

Setting Layer 1 – Set this in the fridge or freezer. In the freezer it soft sets in 5 minutes. After this you can place it in the fridge while making the next layer.

Layer 2 –

Mix all the ingredients and pour into a pan. Bring to a boil and simmer for 1 – 2 minutes.

Allow it to cool until lightly warm. Pour it over the earlier Layer 1. If you allow it to completely cool, it will not stick to Layer 1 and will slide off while unmoulding.

Follow the above method for setting. Keep it in the fridge till you make Layer 3.

Layer 3 –

Mix all the ingredients other than the mango. Pour into a pan. Bring to a boil and simmer for 1 – 2 minutes.

Turn off heat and stir in the mango.

Allow it to cool until lightly warm. Pour it over the earlier Layer 2. If you allow it to completely cool, it will not stick to Layer 2 and will slide off while unmoulding.

Follow the above method for setting. Keep it in the fridge till you make Layer 4.

Once in a way make sure that the Silicon is able to peel away from the dessert easily, by pushing it up and checking.

Layer 4 –

Mix all the ingredients. Pour into a pan. Bring to a boil and simmer for 1 – 2 minutes.

Allow it to cool until lightly warm. Pour it over the earlier Layer 3. If you allow it to completely cool, it will not stick to Layer 3 and will slide off while unmoulding.

Follow the above method for setting. Keep it in the fridge till you need to serve the dessert.

Method for sauce –

Dissolve the cornstarch in the water. Pour everything into a saucepan and boil for a few minutes until the sauce is thick enough for you.

To Serve –

Make sure the jellies have set well. If using the Silicon mould, gently peel back the mould and release the dessert.

If using a glass, gently loosen the edges with a blunt knife and invert the dessert or serve directly in the glass.

You can also serve as it is without unmoulding.

You can choose to garnish with pink pitaya sauce or any fruits, berries, mint etc.

Notes – 

You can use any other fruit puree if you do not have pink pitaya.

You can also vary the quantities in each layer. Meaning, you can make each layer thicker or thinner. Use a proportional amount of agar.


I hope you will successfully try this recipe and I would really appreciate if you leave your feedback in the Blog comments.

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Print Recipe
Pink Pitaya Dessert
A multi layered panna cotta/jelly of sorts
Instructions
  1. Method for Layer 1 - Mix all the ingredients and pour into a pan. Bring to a boil and simmer for 1 - 2 minutes. Pour into a mould. You can lightly grease the mould with oil or even water. Jellies set with agar, usually slip out easily. I have made this dessert in a Silicon mould and also in a tall glass.
  2. Setting Layer 1 - Set this in the fridge or freezer. In the freezer it soft sets in 5 minutes. After this you can place it in the fridge while making the next layer.
  3. Layer 2 - Mix all the ingredients and pour into a pan. Bring to a boil and simmer for 1 - 2 minutes. Allow it to cool until lightly warm. Pour it over the earlier Layer 1. If you allow it to completely cool, it will not stick to Layer 1 and will slide off while unmoulding.
  4. Follow the above method for setting. Keep it in the fridge till you make Layer 3.
  5. Layer 3 - Mix all the ingredients other than the mango. Pour into a pan. Bring to a boil and simmer for 1 - 2 minutes. Turn off heat and stir in the mango. Allow it to cool until lightly warm. Pour it over the earlier Layer 2. If you allow it to completely cool, it will not stick to Layer 2 and will slide off while unmoulding.
  6. Follow the above method for setting. Keep it in the fridge till you make Layer 4.
  7. Layer 4 - Mix all the ingredients. Pour into a pan. Bring to a boil and simmer for 1 - 2 minutes. Allow it to cool until lightly warm. Pour it over the earlier Layer 3. If you allow it to completely cool, it will not stick to Layer 3 and will slide off while unmoulding.
  8. Follow the above method for setting. Keep it in the fridge till you need to serve the dessert.
  9. Method for sauce - Dissolve the cornstarch in the water. Pour everything into a saucepan and boil for a few minutes until the sauce is thick enough for you
  10. To Serve - Make sure the jellies have set well. If using the Silicon mould, gently peel back the mould and release the dessert.
  11. If using a glass, gently loosen the edges with a blunt knife and invert the dessert or serve directly in the glass.
  12. You can also serve as it is without unmoulding.
  13. You can choose to garnish with pink pitaya sauce or any fruits, berries, mint etc.
Recipe Notes

You can use any other fruit puree if you do not have pink pitaya.

 

You can also vary the quantities in each layer. Meaning, you can make each layer thicker or thinner. Use a proportional amount of agar.

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