CULTURE

A step-by-step guide to the world of sweets

Stelios Parliaros is going global in a sweet way. A patisserie expert and an author, Parliaros’s most recent publishing venture is «Tou Kosmou ta Glyka» (The World of Sweets, published in Greek by Sideris Editions). French Paris-Brest, Italian caprilu, Australian rice and orange pudding or Indian lassi? «Tou Kosmou ta Glyka» is an attractive addition to his previous efforts, the Mediterranean-influenced «Efkrates Gefsis» and the dark forces of «Chocolate» (both by Sideris Editions), offering step-by-step recipes of European, American, Australian, African and Asian provenance. The visual material is equally diverse: Photos accompany the recipes or show the author in a number of locations both in Greece and abroad – such as about to savor a succulent chocolate eclair outside the renowned La Maison du Chocolat in Paris – sampling, preparing and generally indulging in his great passion. «These are not recipes for professional use,» says the author. «Some are straightforward, some are trickier, but the most important thing is that all the ingredients used can be found locally.» Besides presenting both familiar and less familiar tastes, Parliaros offers a general history of sweets by region, as well as a series of anecdotes. «In North Africa they use a lot of semolina, while toward the East, it’s all about milk,» says Parliaros. «While the book is a reflection of regional cultures as related to patisserie; it offers a modern take, though it reads like a tale.» Born in Istanbul in 1959, Parliaros came to Greece straight after graduating from high school. Dedicated to confectionery, in 1980 he founded the first in a series of Fresh stores, his own patisserie establishments. Using low amounts of sugar, the patisserie quickly became a success, while its founder went on to attend classes at Le Notre school, the Patisseries School Escoffier at the Ritz Hotel in Paris, as well as the Valrhona school for chocolate experts in Lyon. In 2000, Parliaros paid a working visit to the ateliers of Fauchon, the celebrated Parisian gourmet store. A French influence can be traced in the book, which offers a variety of delicacies, from tricky-to-execute macarons to traditional tarte tatin and nougat from Montelimar. There are, however, many more recipes to choose from: from Spain, the flamboyant equivalent of creme brulee known as crema catalana; from Portugal, the pudim de laranja (orange pudding); from Italy, hip panna cotta and familiar panettone, as well as classic mascarpone-rich tiramisu; from Greece, a taste of tradition, with walnut pie (karydopitta), seasonal kourabiedes, melomakarona and tsoureki; from Britain colorful English fruitcake and shortbreads; from Switzerland Mont Blanc with chestnut cream and somblo from Hungary. There are also recipes for Moroccan makroud and ghoriba, meringue-based Pavlova from Australia, Turkish kunefe and Persian biscuits with rose water. A final section offers various sugar-based sweets, such as fancy lollipops, vanilla custard, Champagne jelly with red fruit and icy souffle with Cointreau. The sweet journey continues, as Parliaros is already looking ahead and working on a fourth volume – this time suggesting his own recipes for the dessert course. Using a fusion of ingredients – such as milk chocolate and masticha – it promises to offer a fresh approach to a very old craving. Almond and rice jelly from Beijing A national dish in much of China, rice is also used in sweets throughout the Far East. This recipe from Parliaros’s book includes almonds, rice and milk. Ingredients 180 gm blanched almonds 100 gm long-grain rice 2 drops almond essence (optional) 80 gm sugar 900 gm water 3 sheets (15 gm) gelatin 150 gm milk blanched almonds for decoration Mix the almonds in the blender with the cooked rice, slowly adding 600 gm water. Put the mixture in a saucepan and add the remaining 300 gm water, the sugar and the almond essence. Boil for three minutes and add the gelatin, after allowing it to soften in cold water, and the milk. Continue boiling for five minutes. Remove the mixture from the heat and stir it as it cools. Pour the mixture into individual bowls or one large bowl. Dip the bowl into hot water to remove the jelly and garnish with blanched almonds. Serves 6-8.