Creamy custard apples

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Australians are getting to know and love the unique look, flavour and texture of this unusual fruit
In India, it was always the strange fruit with the strange name – a green apple-shaped monstrosity with a bumpy, serrated outer skin and lots of big black seeds within, clothed in the most delicious creamy flesh. It is the custard apple or sitaphal.
Living in Mumbai, the sitaphal milkshake for dessert on a drive down to Bandra Bandstand was almost a Saturday night ritual, as any true Mumbaikar will know. And sitaphal ice cream was a Sunday afternoon delight!
So its just fantastic that the custard apple is causing a sensation right here in Australia, and is expected to be a big hit this winter. According to Adam Liaw, Destination Flavour host and MasterChef Series 2 winner, Aussies are now embracing the quintessential dessert fruit as they broaden their palates and experiment with more exotic foods when it comes to home cooking. “In Australia, custard apples are becoming increasingly popular for their delicious sweet flavour and soft creamy texture, and they can be used to give a tropical accent to drinks and desserts like cheesecake and smoothies,” he says.
Custard apples are highly nutritious; 100 grams of their sweet flesh provides 110 per cent of the recommended daily intake of vitamin C. They are also low GI, and a source of protein, fiber, vitamins and minerals. And that’s to satisfy the health fanatics.
For us foodies, custard apples can be eaten as a snack, pureed for dessert recipes including fruit sorbets, ice creams, cakes and pies, made into smoothies, and even sliced raw and added to Asian salads. Adam suggests that custard apples can also be added to hot dishes like Thai red curries with chicken and stir-frys. Now that would be an interesting combination for gourmands to try and enjoy!  But until you decide to get more adventurous with cooking this delicious fruit, here are some sitaphal recipes that are delicious, nutritious and simply irresistible…even in winter!
Custard apple, passion fruit and coconut ice blocks
Recipe by Christina Soong-Kroeger
280ml water
¾ cup caster sugar (170 grams)
350 grams ripe custard apple flesh (approx. 1 custard apple)
120ml passion fruit pulp (no seeds)
120ml coconut cream
Make up sugar syrup by placing water and sugar in a small saucepan and bringing to the boil. Stir to dissolve sugar, then turn off heat and leave to cool. Blend custard apple in a processor until completely smooth, and then mix blended custard apple with half of the sugar syrup. Evenly spoon custard apple mixture into eight 100ml ice block moulds. Insert ice block sticks and then freeze moulds for four hours. Mix 120mls passion fruit pulp with 3 tablespoons (45 mls) of the remaining sugar syrup and pour into four of the moulds. Mix 120mls coconut cream with 3 tablespoons (45 mls) of the remaining sugar syrup and pour into the remaining four moulds. Freeze for another four hours. Serve when set.
Custard apple, rum and coconut panna cotta
Recipe by Adam Liaw
400ml pouring cream
400ml coconut milk
2 tsp dark rum
1 tbsp honey
2 tbsp caster sugar
18g powdered gelatine
400ml custard apple pulp and juice
Toasted coconut and macadamia nuts, to serve
Place the pouring cream, coconut milk, rum, honey and caster sugar in a saucepan and sprinkle the gelatine over the top. Heat the liquid gently until nearly a simmer, stirring until all the gelatine has dissolved. (To check this, lift your stirring spoon out of the mixture and make sure there are no gelatine granules sticking to it). Allow to cool for 5 minutes, then stir through the custard apple pulp and juice. Freeze in individual moulds or glasses for at least 2 hours, or until the panna cotta is set. To serve, scatter the top of the panna cotta with either toasted coconut or macadamia nuts.
Custard apple pots
Recipe by Christina Soong-Kroeger
210 grams ginger biscuits (approx. 18 biscuits)
70 grams shredded coconut
525 grams custard apple flesh (approx. 1.5 custard apples)
280mls coconut milk
2 tablespoons brown sugar
1 lime, zested and juiced (reserve zest)
Process biscuits until they resemble fine breadcrumbs then divide evenly amongst six serving glasses. Toast shredded coconut in a dry fry pan (no oil), stirring occasionally until it turns brown. Remove from heat and leave to cool. Blend custard apple flesh, coconut milk, brown sugar and two teaspoons lime juice until smooth. Spoon into glasses on top of biscuits crumbs, dividing the mixture evenly. Sprinkle toasted coconut evenly on top of custard apple mixture and garnish each pot with lime zest. Store in refrigerator until serving.
Custard apple and honey frozen yoghurt
Recipe by Adam Liaw
3 cups organic full-cream yoghurt
1 cup custard apple pulp and juice (about 1 large custard apple, or you can use frozen pulp)
3 tbsp honey
Line a fine sieve with muslin or a clean tea towel and place it over a large bowl. Pour the yoghurt into the muslin and leave in the fridge to strain for at least 2.5 hours but preferably overnight. Put the strained yoghurt into another large bowl and mix through the custard apple pulp and honey until well combined. Freeze in an ice cream maker for 1 hour and then transfer to the freezer to set for a further 2 hours. If you don’t have an ice cream maker, you can just freeze this mixture in a large bowl in the freezer, whipping vigorously with a whisk at 45 minute intervals until it is set (about 3-4 hours).
© Recipes and visuals are courtesy of Custard Apples Australia

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