Doha’s Rainbow of Desserts

Richard of York gave battle in vain — ROYGBIV.  It’s a mnemonic I learned way back when to remember the seven colours of the rainbow: red, orange, yellow, green, blue, indigo and violet.  Such childhood truths (like the number of planets, RIP Pluto) are difficult to dispel, so imagine my consternation when I discovered later in life that indigo is often left out of the colour spectrum.  Many optical physicists and colorimetrists disagree on whether that shade between blue and violet deserves its own label in the rainbow.  Some modern science textbooks also list only six colours.  As a nod to the ongoing debate, and to show I’m a man of the times, I’m featuring six rainbow inspired desserts around Doha.


RED – Red Velvet
W Café – QR250/ QR35 / QR18
(W Doha Hotel & Residences – 4453 5135 Sat-Thurs 6a-11p; Fri 8a-11p)


It doesn’t get redder than red velvet.  Popularised in the movie ‘Steel Magnolias’ by an outrageous red velvet groom’s cake in the shape of an armadillo, this American classic has become a global standard for weddings, Valentine’s, Christmas and other red-themed celebrations.  The cake is typically partnered with cream cheese frosting, an accent of white for the rust-hued chocolate sponge.  The W Café presents this much-loved combination in three variations — red velvet cake, red velvet slice and red velvet cupcake — all luscious to the last crumb.


ORANGE – Macaron Infiniment Mandarine
Pierre Hermé – QR12.50
(Lagoona Mall – 4493 6376 Sat-Thurs 10a-10p; Fri 2p-10p)


Perfection is the only worthy descriptor of a Pierre Hermé macaron.  Incredibly smooth, lustrous shells; ruffled feet distinguished by a crumbly moistness; and fillings so luxuriously exquisite they’ve founded a culinary empire.  Perfect for the spring season is the mandarin macaron.  Tinted in an orange the shade of ripe persimmons, the macaron’s flavour is playful and zesty… subtle at first then lingering on the palate.  It’s a bite of summer and sunshine, so refreshing and pleasurable that a single encounter is guaranteed to be the first of many to come.


YELLOW – Lemon Cheese Cake
The Anvil Rooms – QR45
(Tornado Towers – 4499 0685 daily noon-3p; dinner 5:30p-10p, Fri/Sat 7p-11p)


Yellow never looked this good on a plate.  The lemon-infused cheese cake is pale in hue but bright with a citrusy zing.  Lemon curd and shimmering jelly elevate the domestic dessert into a showpiece, the flavours and textures complementing each other and providing balance to the buttery biscuit base.  And since cake is infinitely better à la Mode, The Anvil Rooms lemon cheese cake also comes with a quenelle of yogurt sorbet.  The final burst of yellow is a wafer-thin slice of candied lemon, part edible garnish and part crowning glory.


GREEN – Green Apple Gel, Sorbet & Lime Mascarpone Cream
Al Dana – QR40
(Sharq Village & Spa – 4425 6666 Mon-Sat 6:30p-11p, closed Sunday)         


An ode to green… the dessert leaps out of the pages of fantasy fiction, the genius of both artist and chef.  On first impression, the serving plate appears a pond, replete with chartreuse sand of crumbled pistachio pastry and fern-coloured rock torn from a pistachio sponge cake.  Through the translucent jade waters of apple jelly is a layer of lime mascarpone cream; the cheese binds the dessert together and softens the tang of the sorbet — green apple, naturally.  Lush and imaginative, this is nature captured into spoonfuls of delectable.


BLUE – Blueberry Cupcake
Café Murano – QR15
(Marsa Malaz Kempinski – 4035 5011 daily 8a-10p)


Blue is not the most prevalent of colours appearing naturally in our food.  And even when it does, it’s usually a muted tone of blue.  The elfin blueberry best embodies this.  The ripe fruit appears more of a deep purple and turns vibrant magenta when cooked.  For presentation sake, some blueberry desserts are given a boost of colouring, as seen in the blueberry cupcake from Café Murano.  A yellow sponge holds a liquid blueberry filling in the centre, while, above, buttercream is tinted sky blue then topped with fresh blueberries.


VIOLET – Coconut Black Rice Pudding
Nusantao – QR45
(Four Seasons Hotel Doha – 4494 8888 daily noon-3p, 7p-midnight)


As if to reaffirm the debate surrounding colours, black rice is also called purple rice.  In this case, it’s perhaps acknowledgment that the glutinous grains become a dark shade of mulberry with heat, as though sangria has spilled into the pan.  A popular ingredient in Southeast Asian desserts, black rice is most commonly cooked with coconut milk into a pudding.  Nusantao serves a lightened version of this creamy porridge, adding flakes of jackfruit and a log of coconut shortbread for a truly contemporary take on an age-old staple.