A common sight in the 1960s, the first ice-cold dessert introduced in Singapore was ‘Ice Ball’, which is essentially finely grated ice moulded into a ball by hand, and coated in colourful sugar syrup.
In those days, life was tough. Our forefathers sweated out in the farms, on the fields and, along the docks to make ends meet; all these in hope for a better tomorrow. Without the comforts of the air-conditioned rooms, the ‘ice ball’ was a gift descended from above. Not only did it cool down the warm bodies and aching muscles, the sugar also helped give them keep the adrenalin pumping.
Here’s a video of how this traditional ice-ball desert was made:
As standards of living improved, so did expectations of this humble ‘ice ball’. Later variations include the Ice Kachang, comprising jelly, red beans, sweet corn, attap chee (palm seeds) and drizzled with coloured syrups and condensed milk.
Another widely popular dessert sold on pushcarts during the 1960s is Cendol. Its basic ingredients are coconut milk, jelly noodles donning a bright green hue, shaved ice and palm sugar.
Inspired by these two desserts, I’ve decided to come up with a healthier version that’s refreshing and nutritional at the same time.
I’m using the Panasonic Mixer Grinder for this recipe, which helps to blend the fruits to a smooth consistency in a remarkably short amount of time.
Recipe 1: Fruity Icy “Cendol-Kacang”
– 4 dragonfruits
– 1 pack strawberries
– 4 kiwis
– Condensed milk
– Grass jelly or homemade agar agar
– Green starched noodles
1) Blend dragonfruits, strawberries, and kiwis separately to form 3 different colours of puree.
2) In a dome-shaped bowl, pour in a layer of strawberry puree, about 1cm-1.5cm in depth. Place bowl in a freezer and wait till it is completely frozen.
3) Once frozen, pour in the second layer, dragonfruit puree, to about another 1cm-1.5cm in depth. Let it freeze completely before adding the third layer of kiwi puree.
4) Repeat steps to form alternate layers of varying colours.
5) Once the bowl is filled to the brim, make sure it is completely frozen before you attempt to remove the block of ice from the bowl.
6) Top it off with grass jelly or homemade agar agar, green starched noodles and a drizzle of condensed milk.
Recipe 2: Layered Fruity Dessert in a Tall Glass
– About 10 mint leaves
– 1 cup strawberry puree
– 1 cup kiwi puree
– 1 cup dragonfruit puree
– 5 tbsp lime juice
– Agar Agar powder (Red or your preferred colour)
– Water (for agar agar)
– Sugar (for agar agar)
1) Cook agar agar according to package.
2) Pour into a tall glass, let it cool and place in refrigerator to set.
3) Blend strawberry and mint leaves till you reach a smooth consistency.
4) Blend dragonfruit and lime juice.
5) Once agar agar is set, carefully remove the entire block of jelly from the glass and slice it with a knife to about 2.5cm thick for each slice.
6) In the serving glass, layer the jelly in between each puree so the purees will not mix.
7) Garnish with mint leaf and serve with a long dessertspoon.
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