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(Dawn, February 10 2013)


Sweets for the sweet and honey for my honey? With the amount of sugar going around on Valentine’s Day, we’re lucky to not have a nation full of diabetics on our hands. But truth be told, if there’s anything that makes Valentine’s Day palatable (for those of us who find it overbearing), it would be the quest for the perfect dessert. Devoid of the mushy soppiness that sugar acquires on Valentine’s Day, dessert is what makes the world go round.

Sugar to Valentine’s Day is what snow is to Christmas, eggs to Easter and bats to Halloween. Valentine is a synonym for sweet, sugary love; the kind of love that you find in ballads and fairy tales, even if that fairy tale is Hansel and Gretel who were led into and trapped in the witch’s lair thanks to a cottage made of candy and pastry. But we must save the macabre and dark for Halloween. Valentine’s Day is around the corner for fluttering hearts. And out come the chocolates, the cakes with romantic messages scripted across in pink frosting, the strawberries and cream (and bubbly if you may), the gold frosted candy and the candy wrapped presents for the loved ones. Here’s to sugar, the saving grace of an otherwise sickly sweet day…

Strawberries: aphrodisiac or antioxidant?3273502312_30ceabd843

Lucky for those in love that February marks the season for strawberries. And so no matter where you go, it’s impossible to avoid desserts built around strawberries. There are healthier options for those who don’t want to risk a calorie hike and coronary, even for love. Xander’s, one of Clifton’s most popular café destinations these days, offers strawberry delights that include a very fresh strawberry juice (and salad) that is not only the best antioxidant for the body but would even manage to detoxify the most potent of polluted relationships. Why not save on the soppiness and go for the cleansing?

The conventional option is the Strawberry tart though, a perfect combination of the strawberry’s acidity and the sweetness of custard. Or then head out to Laals for their delicate strawberry and rose flavoured pink macaroons.

Fashion designer Nida Azwer swears by Shabo Aunty’s (a private entrepreneur) Strawberry Roulade, which she says is “the perfect combination of light and creamy with the freshness of a seasonal fruit!”

Another designer with a sweet tooth, Shehla Chatoor’s vote goes to Cherry’s (also a private entrepreneur) Strawberry Cheesecake, which she praises as “absolutely yummy, especially in the season when it comes with a topping of fresh strawberries!”

Now, looking at either of the two pretty, petite designers you’d find it hard to believe they ever ate but then everyone has a guilty pleasure and we know what theirs is!

Chocolate: saint or sinner?

imagesWhether you think of chocolate as a saint or sinner, either can be addictive if you’re obsessive about chocolate. And chocolate options are plenty, even in Karachi. The Lindt store on Zamzama may have closed down, but Butler’s and Laals offer enough to spike your sugar level. A hot favourite at Laals – the personalized chocolate bar – will in fact get even more personal as you can inscript it with a message for your loved one. For the smoothest chocolate hearts in town, head out to Laals, which will be made available in pretty Valentine’s Day specific packaging.

If biting into an organ, albeit a sugary one, isn’t your cup of tea (would chocolate kidneys work on a diabetes awareness day?) then opt for something more subliminal like a mousse. Chocolate cake, to most chocolate lovers, is the ultimate comfort food.

There are numerous varieties of chocolate cake to choose from, including the commercially available fudge types to the homemade but these days people are swearing by Fatima Rawji’s Chocolate Bomb, which comes as a layer of light chocolate cake topped with Belgian chocolate mousse and vanilla cream. The ultimate bomb. And if you want to feast your eyes as much as your senses, skip the calories by gifting your crush a copy of Deliciously Yours, Laal Majid’s book on chocolate!

Distancing yourself from strawberries and chocolates for a minute, there are other dessert options that will allow you to think beyond the red and pink fluff. Huma Adnan swears by the Triple Crème Brulee at Xander’s whereas Shehla Chatoor opts for the one at Flo. Bread Puddings are another warm and comforting option, recommended with a guarantee to men and women who will be celebrating Valentine’s Day alone: head out to Flo, Pompei or Okra for some sinful Bread Pudding (with a friend) and be proud of not being part of a global commercial exercise.

And then finally, there are desi sweets that defy the very purpose of Valentine’s Day. Let your head spin over some homemade gajar ka halwa (until the carrots are sweet), slurp up some slippery falooda noodles at Rajoo on Tariq Road or simply pick up cold servings of ras malai from Sony Sweets. Not everything sweet has to be served hot!

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