MY FONDNESS for peanuts dates back to my first day in first grade: I can still remember my mother tucking a plastic pouch of peanuts in my lunch box as my snack at recess time in school.
She used to say, “peanuts, food for your brain,” and whether true or not, I had no idea where she got that idea. (Well, I turned out to be a consistent honor student, from grade one up).
Even when she’d prepare me sandwiches, it was always with peanut butter as palaman, because I’d prefer it over the usual mayo-based sandwich spread. (My next favorite spread is Reno’s potted offal meat or liver.)
When I moved out of my parents’ house to shack up with my partner, my fridge always has to have 2 to 3 large bottles of peanut butter, bearing different brands.
I like comparing my peanut butter brands, both local and imported ones.
I always have peanuts—in lieu of Skyflakes—in small plastic packets, in my black backpack (with that hideous pair of large, menacing SunStar yellow eyes on it).
The peanuts come in handy when I need something to munch on to stave off hunger or the need to smoke, or both, especially during long traffic jams on my way home from work.
If you get to ride with me, you’ll notice peanut crumbs in my car. Or, inside my bag!
So, it wasn’t hard for me to fall in love with masareal (dried dough of ground peanuts and syrup), especially Didang’s from Mandaue, sold by a street vendor outside our elementary school.
Ever since, I would either have salted peanuts or masareal in my bag.
Later, whenever I’d fly to Manila (for my appointments with clients at my shop in Makati), I would stop by a grocery or convenience store on my way to Mactan airport to buy packs of it.
Some would be my pasalubong for my Manila-based friend, Patrick, before he and his family moved to Florida.
Late last year, when I started conceptualizing my new nine-course tasting menu inspired by homegrown delicacies, first thing I thought of was doing a masareal-inspired dessert dish.
I have never seen how masareal is done, or the ingredients aside from ground peanuts.
So I searched online for recipes, and found out that it was just syrup mixed with the ground peanuts and took a lot of mixing and drying (on one site, it says the dough mixture is dried by baking it in the oven) before cutting them into rectangular or other shapes.
It looked as simple as that, and based on the recipes I found online, it looked like a sorbet recipe, except for the baking part.
In my first attempt to do the masareal sorbet, I used the same ingredients of ground peanuts, and equal parts of water and sugar, mixing them together in a pot before adding my sorbet stabilizer and gelatin sheets.
What came out was a light brown masareal sorbet that tasted more like a frozen peanut butter.
Not the result I wanted and I was looking for a shade of white in my sorbet to resemble the masareal sold in the market. In my next attempt, I revised my recipe and added cream.
Still, it was not exactly how I imagined my masareal gelato to be; there was still too much peanuts in it. The masareal gelato or sorbet that I am looking for has to look and taste exactly like the masareal bar.
One morning, it dawned on me how I infused flavors and aromas to my hot cocktail drinks.
I could do the same with my masareal gelato or ice cream.
That morning, as soon as I reached my atelier, I began working in my kitchen, mixing milk and heavy cream in a pot over medium high flame to boil.
When doing this you don’t want to overboil your milk and cream, unless you want them to curdle.
Then I started the infusion, using ground peanuts, for at least one hour, the longer the better.
I sieved the peanuts out, leaving me with just the peanut-infused milk and cream mixture.
Following the same process I would do my gelato or ice cream, I added my stabilizing and emulsifying agents, pasteurized the mixture and lastly, cooled it down over a bowl of ice while whisking it continuously, before finally churning it in the pre-cooled ice cream-maker for one hour.
Happy with the result, I served this masareal ice cream (paired with cucumber done 3-ways) as one of the desserts in the last two degustation dinners I did last week.
To experience the degustation dinner that I do at my atelier, email us at [email protected]