Haagen–Dazs India held a media briefing to introduce a new patisserie line by the name of HD Cafe, encompassing sumptuous cakes, cupcakes, tarts and macarons.
The brand has teamed up with Twinings to formulate pairings of tea which go best with each dessert in the HD Cafe range to bring back the age-old custom of high tea dining.
Twinings orange, mango and cinnamon honey tea is a traditional uplifting breakfast tea, tangy with citrus notes, a hint of spice and an acerbic aftertaste which permeates the tongue, inducing a lemony cringe.
Sipped alone, the tea is somewhat unsettling; but never fear, panacotta is here.
The strawberry panacotta has an authentically smooth, creamy texture with resonances of vanilla which are enhanced by a gooey strawberry sauce.
The sourness of the tea is assuaged by the sweetness of the dessert so that both flavours cancel each other out and make for pleasant eating.
The texture of the strawberry seeds provides an interesting twist as the concoction glides gracefully down the throat.
Twinings green tea with mint is surprisingly subtle in flavour: most green teas tend to overpower in terms of strength, making most undrinkable by the time the final dregs are sipped. Not so with this variant: two minutes of infusion produces a gentle potion with a ting of mint.
Diners are advised to pair this with HD Cafe’s signature dish, the New York baked cheesecake. A rare recipe, this classic is baked for three hours and laid to rest for one hour. I wonder if all the trouble is worth it.
My spoon disappears into a cake which collapses in a tizzy of fluffiness – rather pleasantly deceptive as upon first glance, the dessert appears quite firm and sturdy. The consistency of the cake is so intricate that it almost has the lightness of cream, without the tackiness.
The vanilla tone provides a heightened sensation to the green tea; the caramel providing an additional dimension of sweet lubrication, with a thinner than usual biscuit base.
The richness of the cheesecake results in a dessert that, while indulgent, is extremely heavy.
Traditionally used for digestion, Twinings Assam tea has fiercely bold tones which usually require sugar and milk to dilute.
This is paired with HD Cafe’s vegetarian-friendly blueberry muffin, which is made using strictly ‘muffin-approved’ butter, a specially formulated condiment whose flavour and consistency ensures the taste of the muffin remains untarnished.
Blueberries reign proudly atop a base encrusted with a fruit centre, leading to a muffin which is delicate in its sweetness. Sporadically placed blueberries dissolve in the mouth with each bite.
The combination of both tea and dessert leads to a neutralisation of palate in terms of sugar and sour.
Next up is the gentle, calming yet personable Darjeeling tea. This is to be paired with an eggless, white chocolate tart, the newest addition to HD Cafe.
The dessert contains an exciting pop of raspberry which contrasts well with the refined sweetness of the crust and the suave liquid chocolate centre.
The whole thing eats much like a biscuit – raspberry shortcake to be exact.
Twinings Earl Grey blend is very strong and bitter, with nuances of bergamot.
This is paired with a specially formulated, Earl Grey chocolate mousse and topped with a white truffle macaron.
The mousse is fluffy with a base akin to chocolate cake, making it a dessert that is multi-dimensional and the highlight of the evening.
The macaron has a subtle, fluffy almond touch which contrasts sharply with the sharp tea flavour. In spite of all the elements, this is a dessert which is light and airy.
The patisserie offerings at HD Cafe emulate the ice-cream offered by Haagen–Dazs – extremely high quality, with personable flavours characteristic of classic European desserts.
It is hard to believe such authentic desserts are now available in Bombay; diners previously being subjected to the dismal offerings at low-budget coffee chains or having to fork out for the Parisian experience at dizzingly expensive, high-end restaurants.
The pairing of tea and dessert makes for a sophisticated association which brings back the fine art of high tea dining, to make it fashionable for the new generation.
Dessert – 9.5.
HD Cafe is located at Sagar Fortune, Waterfield Rd, Bandra West.