Thursday, June 07, 2012

La dolce vita!

It was a date with sinfully delicious chocolate, cream, luscious strips of mangoes and more at the gourmet cake making and decor workshop at Mama Mia, India’s first gelateria.

Gelatarias are known to send people into raptures – Elizabeth Gilbert waxed eloquent on gelatos in her bestseller, Eat Pray Love. And Natasha Aggarwal, CEO at Mama Mia, is no exception. A business grad, Aggarwal was bowled over by gelato on a trip to Italy. Enamoured by its flavours, she went on to learn gelato-making at a gelato factory in Bergamo, Italy with Chef Danielle Ghisalberti.

Her destiny with all things sweet began early when she worked at her dad’s company Rollick Ice Cream. She launched the first Mama Mia outlet in Kolkata in 2005 and it became the first company to introduce India to gelatos; today, there are 10 outlets in Kolkata and two in Bangalore with plans to expand to other cities. The gelatos are 96 percent fat-free and made with natural ingredients like vanilla beans and fruit pulp imported from Italy.

She also brought in sorbetto. Dairy-free and 100 percent fat-free - a combination of fruits, water and sugar blended and frozen together, even vegans and the lactose-intolerant can indulge in it. The flavours concocted by Aggarwal include Pepperoncino - chocolate with red chilly flakes, Bloody Mary Sorbet - complete with tomato juice, celery bits and spicy Tabasco, Mojito - a lemony minty creation with a dash of white rum and the popular Sicily Lemon Sorbet - a tangy sorbet made with imported lemons from the south of Italy. There are gelato sundaes and thick shakes, and soon to come are signature sugar-free gelato, gelato cakes and pies. 

Natasha Aggarwal, CEO, Mama Mia with her delectable creations
Sharing her expertise in desserts at a gourmet cake making and decor workshop, Aggarwal gave the low-down on how to bake, layer and decorate gourmet cakes. The stars of the show were of course, the cakes - Fresh Mango, Black Forest and Chocolate Truffle.

Sunitha who frequents Mama Mia for its gelatos and has never repeated a flavour yet, said she was there for the nuggets of information that you don’t normally get in recipes. And there were plenty of that to be found during the two-hour workshop.

The workshop was interspersed with tips ranging from baking tools like knives and turntables to basic techniques of making neutral soaking syrup and using cola in sponge cake as the fizz helps the cake rise and lends colour to it. 

 Mama Mia's gourmet cake making and decor workshop
As she expertly dressed up the mango cake, Aggarwal said it was a versatile recipe and ingredients could be mixed and matched with some amount of imagination. She suggested that the baking is done in an air-conditioned room and to avoid other cooking while baking as the cake can absorb the scents easily. She also strongly recommended OTGs over microwaves while baking.

The workshop was concluded with tips on decorating the cake and Aggarwal showed how to use the OHP (overhead projector) paper and butter paper cones for the icing as she sprinkled chunks of dark chocolate on the creamy black forest cake. A drizzle of glossy, drool-worthy chocolate truffle sauce and white chocolate decorations finished the chocolate truffle cake. To Rashi, a 13-year-old participant, this was the highlight of the workshop. Participants got a taste of the delectable goodies, and some to take away.

For details of location, check www.mamamiaindia.com.

By Anuradha Prasad/ Raintree Media Features/ www.raintreemedia.com

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