Wattalappan was the tempting little dessert that sat in the fridge or somewhere on the menu, taunting us to try every time we ate in Sri Lanka. Alternate names for the sweet spiced coconut custard (wattalapam, wattalappam) we figured were an attempt to tongue tie us whenever we asked for it.
Usually made from a mix of coconut milk, kitul jaggery (an unrefined sugar), cashews and eggs and flavoured with cardamom, cloves and nutmeg or cinnamon, it shows off the wonderful spices and ingredients native to Sri Lanka.
A small box contains the promise of the sweet dessert to come.
The ingredients (sugar, cornflour, sea weed extract, whey powder, spices, sodium citrate and colour powder) are simple.
The only additional ingredients required are coconut cream and cashews. I only had a tin of low fat cream so decided to cut out a few calories and use it. You can also substitute with coconut milk powder. There are no eggs needed for the dessert, which probably makes this packet mix a cheaper way to make the dessert. It also means it is vegan friendly.
There are two packets inside, one with the powder mix and one with treacle, a replacement for the jaggery syrup usually used.
The coconut milk and the powder sachet are added together in a saucepan and heated until just at boiling point, stirring the whole time.
The mix is poured into a bowl so that it can set.
After it has been removed from the heat, the treacle packet is mixed through.
Cashews are added on top to decorate and give some extra crunch. The bowl is then refrigerated until set. A pretty simple process.
We really need to work on our final presentation of dishes, a very pedestrian shot of the finished pudding. It wasn't nearly as good as what we had in Sri Lanka, which seemed lighter and fluffier, with a more prominent sugar flavour that comes from the wonderful kitul jaggery syrup. And it looked nothing like the dark brown pudding on the front of the packet (and how we remembered it).
It reminded me of a dessert my mother makes every Christmas called Spanish Delight, a creamy dessert like creme caramel easy to eat after a big lunch. She has the recipe written down in her beautiful cursive and I really need to get it.
In the meanwhile, guess we will have to keep hunting here in Sydney for wattalapan. For a taste of the real thing we've found this dessert at the Sri Lankan Food Bar in Homebush, we're sure there are more versions out there.
We bought this packet at Portico Fruit and Veg and Asian Store in Toongabbie for less than $2.