Mar 29, 2010

Ais Kacang

On a recent trip to Singapore I fell hopelessly in love with the unholy, neon-colored love child of a Sno-Cone and a Jell-O salad, also known as the ais kacang. The ais kacang is wildly popular in Singapore and Malaysia (where it's sometimes called an "ABC"), served in outdoor food centers and in mall food courts countrywide. In its most basic iteration, it consists of a scoop of roughly shaved ice drizzled with varicolored sugar syrups and evaporated or condensed milk sitting on a nest of corn kernels, red beans and cubes of herb jelly or gluey sago pearls. It's the hyperstimulating carnival of desserts, with every texture -- Crunchy! Chewy! Icy! Glutinous! Creamy! -- and dozens of flavors exploding in your mouth all at once. Some versions even include a scoop of ice cream or a pile of fresh mango or (eeek!) durian. More is more, right?

Never mind that it's still 45 degrees and raining here; I've been craving ais kacang as if it's midsummer in Southeast Asia. So I decided to make my own. I simply ground up ice in my food processor and doused it with Torani raspberry syrup (the kind you use to make Italian soda) and a milk syrup I'd made by cooking evaporated milk with brown sugar. I omitted the corn and beans, but next time I'll try adding some sago pearls or chopped fresh berries.



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