Chocolate and chilli is a classic combination dating back to the Mayans who spiced their drinking cocoa. Chocolate and chilli is the base of Mexican mole sauce for cooking meat and seafood. Now many chocolate manufacturers produce a chilli chocolate.
But sweetcorn and raspberry does not have such a history. Cornflour — derived from corn — was discovered in 1840 (by mistake) to have the ability to thicken sauces. Before that it was used for starching laundry. Puréed raspberries thickened with cornflour provide the base for a yummy sweetcorn ice cream.
Corn itself evolved from a wild grain called teosinte that still grows in the Mexican highlands. Popcorn as old as 6000 years has been found in caves outside Mexico City. But it did take thousands of years for teosinte to evolve from a grassy plant into the husked kernels of corn that one today ‘pops’ in the microwave.
The first Mexican corn growers planted beans adjacent to their corn without realising that the legumes were working to help the nitrogen in the soil fertilise their corn plants. They just copied the combinations that they saw growing in the wild.
So some combos might sound unusual but they are unique taste treats.
SWEETCORN & RASPBERRY ICE CREAM
No-churn ice cream. The corn kernels thicken the cream which in turn provides body for the ice cream.
Raspberry Sauce: 2 cups raspberries
1/4 cup sugar
3 tablespoons water, divided
1 tablespoon cornflour
Ice cream: 2 medium sweetcorn cobs
2 cups cream
1/2 cup sweetened condensed milk
Garnish: fresh raspberries
herbs and flowers
To make the sauce, place the raspberries in a saucepan with the sugar and 2 tablespoons of water. Bring to the boil on medium heat, stirring often. Simmer gently until the raspberries are very soft. Combine the remaining water and cornflour into a paste and stir into the berries. Simmer gently, stirring, until thickened. Cool, then sieve to remove the seeds.
Stand the cobs on their ends and remove the kernels with a sharp knife by running it between the kernels and the core. Place the raw kernels in a blender and whizz until smooth. Sieve. This makes about 1/2 a cup.
Combine the corn purée with 1/2 a cup of cream in a microwave-proof jug. Cook for 1 minute, stir well then continue to microwave for a few seconds, until thick. Cool, cover and chill. Combine the cream, purée mixture and sweetened condensed milk in a large bowl. Beat until very thick.
Line a 23cm x 13cm loaf pan with plastic film. Pour half the cream mixture into the pan. Drizzle 2 tablespoons of the raspberry sauce along the mixture then zig-zag it with a knife. Add the remaining cream then another 2 tablespoons of the sauce and zig-zag it again to make a ripple effect. Cover with film pressing it gently onto the surface. Freeze.
To serve, cut slices of the ice cream and place on 6-8 serving plates. Garnish and serve with the extra sauce. Serves 6-8.
CHILLI CHOCOLATE MOUSSE
No microwave? Then melt the chocolate over simmering water in a heatproof glass bowl. Add chilli powder to your taste to this rich mousse.
125g dark chocolate, chopped
2 tablespoons dark cocoa powder
1/2-1 teaspoon chilli powder
1/2 cup milk
2 eggs, separated
1 tablespoon caster sugar
Place the chocolate in a microwave bowl and melt in 1-minute bursts on high. When melted the chocolate will still hold its shape a little. Stir well until smooth.
Whisk the cocoa powder and chilli powder with the milk, until smooth. Add to the melted chocolate and mix well.
Beat the egg yolks and add to the chocolate mixture. Microwave on 50% power for 1 minute. stir well. Taste and add a little more chilli, if required.
Whisk the egg whites and sugar until stiff and glossy. Using a large metal spoon, gently fold into the chocolate mixture. Spoon evenly into 4 ramekins and chill. Great garnished with small, chocolate-coated red chillies. Serves 4.
Tip: To make the chocolate-coated chillies, split lengthwise, deseed then blanch briefly. Dry well then dip into melted dark chocolate, place on a sheet of foil and chill until ready to serve.
CORN & DUKKAH NIBBLES
Check out my yummy dukkah recipe in my recipe collection section.
1 large sweetcorn cob
1 egg white, lightly beaten
1/3 cup dukkah
Remove the husks and cut the cob into 3cm rounds. Brush with egg white then roll in dukkah until well coated. Microwave for 1-2 minutes until hot. Serve as nibbles with drinks. Makes 5-6