Dessert on the rocks
Matunga baker Devashree Muni's delivery-only dessert venture is primarily alcohol-based, offering whiskey and cashew cookies, champagne and rose macarons and a boozy tiramisu
Days after she turned the legal drinking age in the state, ie, 25, Matunga-based Devashree Muni applied for the permits she need to start her entrepreneurial venture that marries two things she loves — desserts and alcohol. Called Cocoa Cellar, her new culinary venture introduces 70 per cent booze-based desserts that focus on imported liqueurs Amarula, Kirsch, blood orange cointreau, Moët and Chandon champagne, besides Baileys, Kahlua, and Malibu rum.
The range is vast. There's sachertorte — a dense Belgian chocolate cake with apricot jam and soaked in kirsch cherry liquor, Amarula and dark chocolate cupcake, champagne and rose macarons, and cocoa misu, her take on the tiramisu with a helping of Baileys.
But it wasn't until she turned 20 that the Jai Hind College graduate discovered her passion for baking. She hails from a family that passed down its traditional mithai recipes for generations.
"Whenever I would have the time, I would bake at home with a friend to satiate my sweet tooth. I started with cookies and graduated to cupcakes and cakes, gravitating towards European recipes," she recalls. And after convincing her parents that her true calling was as a pâtissier rather than in the business and management line she was pursing, she was off to Le Cordon Bleu in Sydney.
Blood orange cointreau cupcakes with pistachio
So, when she returned in December 2018, she was armed with the tools she needed to set up her own kitchen. She noticed that not too many were focusing on alcohol-infused desserts, and took that as a sign. "There was no place that used alcohol in 50 per cent or more of its menu. Most of the places that were doing it were using an essence as opposed to the actual liqueur. "I had picked up techniques when I had travelled to Austria. The sachertorte on the menu is a classic from Vienna that uses the kirsch unsweetened cherry liqueur, heady and flavourful. I wanted to give people a taste of rare alcohol. Which is why I have used Amarula as well, which is derived from a fruit that's only available in Africa. It grows in the wild and falls off fermented. You eat the fruit and experience a high," she tells us.
It was a lot of trial-and-error as she discovered which flavours blends well. "White chocolate goes well with Malibu rum and desiccated coconut, blood orange cointreau and pistachio work well," she says, adding that there was also the challenge of the alcohol content evaporating when heated.
White chocolate with Malibu rum and desiccated coconut
"When alcohol heats up and you mix it within cream, the latter splits and goes bad, while chocolate gets rigid when you mix it with alcohol. Some alcohol varieties get diluted when mixed with cream and you want a kick when you bite in. Hence, the rum and whiskey is soaked in the sponge part of the cake, while the liqueurs are mixed in with the truffle or ganache," Muni tells us about the five-month-long trial period.
So, the macaron has Baileys in the filling, while the champagne and rose variant has rose water ganache and champagne jelly. The whiskey and cashew cookies were tricky though. It's difficult to incorporate alcohol in cookies. "It was like a drink and chakna together — whiskey and pistachio go well. We substituted the pistachio with cashew. The vanilla cinnamon has a heady dose of Baileys, with a strong hit of vanilla. Our tiramisu too has Baileys instead of Kahlúa with a shot of espresso.
She also has non-alcoholic options for teetotalers such as lemon cheesecake, pecan and cinnamon cookies and caramel and pretzel options, milk chocolate and orange cupcake, milk chocolate and hazelnut cupcake and almond, sea salt and dark chocolate ones too. She plans to tie up with F&B apps for deliveries soon.
At 363/B, Shivkripa building, ground floor, Chandawarkar Crossroad, Matunga East.
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