Eliminating refined sugars opens up a different world of sweeteners. I could have gone the route of just substituting an unrefined caster sugar or brown sugar (Billington's is one brand) but that didn't seem to be in the spirit of the theme. I'm also not found of artificial sweeteners so after a little thought I've decided to use an ingredient that is most often associated with savoury dishes.
These little discs are Palm sugar. It's more usually found in large hand sized rounds.
Palm sugar is made from the sap of various palm trees and its sugar content is between 10-15%. The sap is drained and then boiled down to a syrup. The syrup then gets dried to form these cake shapes. Most recipes will call for the sugar to be grated before use.
The recipe I've chosen to make is adapted from a recent Dish magazine - I've also reduced the evilness of this dish by using Low-Fat Coconut milk (if you want to be decadent use Coconut cream).
Coconut Custard with Palm Sugar Syrup
250ml Low-Fat Coconut milk
1/3 cup grated palm sugar
1/2 cup grated palm sugar
1/4 cup boiling water
2 x glasses
toasted flaked coconut, to serve
To make the custard:
First blend the grated palm sugar with some of the coconut milk until it's smooth. Put the eggs, the remaining coconut milk and process until just combined. Strain through a fine sieve and pour into the glasses. Cover each with foil and pace in a steamer. Steam over boiling water for 35-40 minutes or until the custard just sets. Cool then chill.
To make the syrup:
Blend the palm sugar and boiling water in a food processor until sugar is dissolved then cool.
Drizzle some palm sugar onto each custard and top with the toasted flakes of coconut.
To the important part - how does it taste?
The custard itself is incredibly light with a definite but not overpowering coconut flavour, the syrup adds a nice sweet accent and the crunch from the toasted shaved coconut gives you another texture and perfectly completes the experience.