This African fruit cocktail combines the sweet, yet slightly-tarty flavour of Udara with the fruity complex flavour of Hennessy to create a cocktail that will have you reaching for seconds and thirds.
The temperature has picked up this week and we are slightly above zero degrees in temperature these days. It´s only a few degrees warmer than last week, and so, not warm enough to motivate me to get out from under the covers.
I returned from Nigeria with husband, kids and a bag of African Star Apples (Udara) in tow. To the un-initiated, please allow me one or two words on Udara. Udara, the main ingredient in this cocktail, is a fruit native to West Africa, with a distinctive sweet and tart orange flesh, when ripe. It goes by a few names in Nigeria, and across Western Africa; Udara, Agbalumo, Udala.
The fruit also possesses a cluster of about 5 large seeds stuck together in the shape of a star. The seeds have a shiny hard brown casing which is almost plastic-like to the touch. This is usually covered by a creamy-coloured fibrous membrane.
Traditionally in Nigeria, Udara is eaten raw as a snack. However, fuelled by a compelling desire to create something different, making a fruit cocktail with Udara was an easy sell. My first challenge was how to extract the juices from Udara, and after a little research, I decided to use the process of maceration, which is a sort of no-cook method that involves nothing more than soaking fruit in a solvent.
The choice of solvent could be acidic, like lemon or lime juice, or a liqueur. For this recipe, I have settled on Cognac Hennessy as my choice of alcohol. The warm, aromatic and nutty base of this cognac works beautifully with the sweet yet tarty flavours of the African Star Apple. As far as flavours go, this is a marriage made in heaven.
To start, I peeled the fresh fruit and allowed it to sit for 48 hours in a solution of Cognac Hennessy, sugar and a pinch of salt. Maceration starts immediately, and in some cases you’ll notice change in fruit texture or flavour within a few minutes. But the best results, in my opinion, require at least an overnight soak. During the course of the 48 hours, the alcohol forces water out of the fruit, while the sugar also aids the fruit flavour extraction via the process of osmosis.
Osmosis is simply a process by which the stuff on both sides of a barrier tries to come to equilibrium. In this case, the barrier is the fruits cells, and the stuff on both sides are the liquid within the fruit cells, and the liquid outside of the fruit cells i.e. your macerating solution. Because the sugar content in the macerating solution is higher in concentration than the sugar content within the African Star Apples, water is forced out of the fruit to bring the system to equilibrium. This happens because sugar is hydrophilic, which basically means that it attracts water. Since the sugar solution has a higher sugar content than the moisture within the fruit cells, water will diffuse out of the fruit. Anything that is water-soluble, such as various flavour components, will come along with it to some extent.
And the pinch of salt? For that added oomph-ness – because salt really amplifies the flavours, and brings it all together. The end result is an intensely flavoursome and boozy cocktail, that´s a perfect companion for those long winter evenings.
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Did you make this recipe? Would love to hear your comments if you do! If you do take a picture of your creation, don´t forget to post it on Instagram with #foodsfromafrica or #africaonyourplate.
Afro-fusion Food Lover.
Sustainable Food Advocate.
Completely nuts about Avocado.