It’s as if Marcus Low of Masterchef Asia fame pulled all these magical desserts out of his hat. But you know that lot of thought, technique and a mastery of flavours and textures have gone into these sweet treats at his cafe—Mad Hatter Desserts — in Damansara Uptown, Petaling Jaya.
Take his Banana Coffee & Cardamom dessert which I love, and have had three times. An outer covering of cream tinged yellow and subtly flavoured cardamom cuts through to a layer of finely mashed banana at the bottom and a layer of coffee cream tinged with a welcoming bitterness.
A ring of miso panna cotta with a passionfruit gel defines thePassionfruit & Miso Tart. Here is a scrumptious play with salty, sweet and tart. The “miso” is our local taucheo, but it is blended so skilfully and subtly into the panna cotta that you hardly know it’s there except for a light salty dimension, with the tart passionfruit gel shooting it up and the crusty base cushioning it all.
From taucheo he has ventured into another local favourite – asam boi – teaming it with Watermelon. His Watermelon & Asam Boi Tart is a hit with many, though I have never liked the cloying aftertaste of asam boi. Then there’s the irresistible shiny globe of Chocolate Calamansi, with the tartness of small limes in it.
Sprouted whole wheat bread and fermented butter — On my third visit to taste his plated desserts which are only available after 7pm, Marcus let us try his sprouted whole wheat bread with hand churned butter fermented for 24 hours with kefir, and home-made marmalade. The butter was divine, with a silky roundness I have never experienced with commercial butter. It was a lovely bread with a toasty texture and lightly salted. The whole wheat had been sprouted, dehydrated for 24 hours, milled and made into bread the same day.
Plated Desserts — The wait was worth it for the plated desserts – Claypot Rice and Bubur Cha Cha. The Claypot Rice was a splendid mix of hot and cold, with smoke wafting up on lifting the lid of the claypot. A rice milk and bamboo leaf sorbet sits atop rice milk snow ice, surrounded by rice crunchies. Touch a spoon through this, reaching the warm glutinous rice and barley pudding beneath. Everything comes together exquisitely.
Marcus had wowed the judges with his interpretation of Bubur Cha Cha in the finale of Masterchef Asia Season 1, of which he was the runner-up. At Mad Hatter, the chef tinkered and perfected this dessert. The essence of Bubur Cha Cha is in the rich coconut ice cream and coconut pearls perched on a pumpkin crème brulee with a layer of sweet potato cake underneath. To complete the sublime dessert are Gula Melaka foam and coconut gel at the side. The coconut pearls replicate the texture of sago. All the elements of Bubur Cha Cha are in this divine dessert. “In the show I had mashed pumpkin seared as there was not much time. Here the pumpkin is combined with cream, set with agar gar and seared,” said the chef.
I’m intrigued by his Strawberry & Cheese, an ensemble of Cheesecake Panna Cotta,strawberry gel, buckwheat crumble, strawberry gastrique, pickled buah salak, Thai basil infused watermelon and seasonal fruits. Now that’s a lot going on under the hat that Marcus wears. I must come back for this, the bread and butter, and the other desserts.
Mad Hatter Desserts is at 19, Jalan SS 21/60, Damansara Utama, 47400 Petaling Jaya, tel: 012 370 4327. It’s open from 12pm to 10pm on week days and from 12pm to 11pm on weekends. It is closed on Tuesday.