Recipe: Villa Maria Vineyard Café’s coconut sago with Malibu custard

With creamy coconut, pearls of sago and a hit of fresh fruit, this summery dessert is inspired by the Pacific flavours of South Auckland. 

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Recipe supplied by: Villa Maria Vineyard Café Photos: Jane Ussher

Villa Maria Vineyard Café head chef Robert Baxter has created an at-home version of his quality restaurant dish which is just as flavourful but not quite as intimidating to plate. If gooseberries are hard to find outside of summer, they can be substituted with kiwifruit or pineapple.

For the coconut sago:
200g sago
185g brown sugar
450ml coconut cream (Kara brand is good)
1 teaspoon vanilla paste
10 kaffir lime leaves
125g castor sugar
250ml water
500g fresh or frozen gooseberries (can be substituted with pineapple or kiwifruit)

For the Malibu custard:
Custard thinned with a dash of Malibu rum or whipped cream

Soak the sago in water for 30 minutes. Bring a large pot of water to the boil, add sago, remove from the heat, cover and leave 10-15 minutes until the pearls turn clear. Place in a fine sieve and rinse under running water to remove excess starch. Drain and set aside.

In another pot, bring all the remaining sago ingredients to a boil, strain into a bowl, then add the cooked sago. Spoon the mixture into ring moulds, or ramekins, lined with plastic wrap. Allow to set in the fridge.

To cook the gooseberries, bring the sugar and water to the boil, reduce the heat and simmer for 20 minutes. Add the gooseberries and cook until softened. Cool. To serve, turn the sago out of the moulds and plate individually with the gooseberries and custard or cream. Serves 6.

This is an extract from the 2018 edition of the Insider’s Guide to New Zealand. It’s in stores now, or online here.

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