Gaytime Goes Nuts
There’s something about Gaytime that makes everyone swoon, a dessert that has become synonymous with my name and the menus I have created over the years. My first Gaytime appeared on early menus at Paramount and from 1994 onwards became a permanent fixture, changing form over the years but always referencing those flavours associated with the classic ice cream confection on a stick and something of an Australian icon. I interpreted those flavour memories – the magic combo of chocolate, caramel and honeycomb – to also give a playful reference to a broader message of social justice and equality by adopting the name as a subliminal political message, playing to everyone’s cravings for sweet indulgence at the same time and being brave enough to list it on my menus. Dessert needs to be memorable, it’s the last thing you eat in a meal, and it seems everyone remembers the whimsy of a Gaytime – judging by the constant demand for it over all these years.
At Paramount in the 90s, the three ice cream flavours (hazelnut chocolate, honeycomb and caramel) were frozen into a triangular mould, then sliced and sandwiched between two chocolate florentine wafers, simple yet effective (published in Paramount Desserts 1997). In London at East @West, those same flavours morphed into a 3D pyramid dusted with a choc, honeycomb nougat crumble and intrigued the locals with its cheeky name (published in Fire 2008). The ultimate form that everyone grew to know and love was born at Universal (2007) where it took the name Gaytime Goes Nuts and other textures using the same flavours were woven into the dessert (published in Dessert Divas 2014). A hazelnut, salted caramel and hazelnut chocolate mousse embellished the ice cream layers hidden inside a wafer-thin caramel chocolate biscuit collar that cracked open easily with the tap of a spoon to reveal its hidden centre. It was the dessert that determined the winner of the fourth series of MasterChef Australia in 2012 and unprecedented queues formed at Universal by those eager to get their Gaytime fix, right up to the doors closing in April 2013. In this same format, it has made a few special appearances at restaurant pop up events I have done since then, especially when I was promoting my Dessert Divas book throughout Australia and New Zealand. On the street, I still get asked when it will next appear.
With some of my more recent work, I have adapted those flavours into simpler forms, breathing ongoing life into the Gaytime with different interpretations. It may be a simple chocolate mousse with a salted caramel sauce and chunks of honeycomb set in serving glasses, to an elegant birthday cake. As Director of Food at Pearl Catering, I am introducing the Gaytime Trifle into their repertoire. This dessert is so timeless, tapping into our love for those sweet flavours that are a constant in the comfort food stakes. Wherever you find me cooking, you’ll find me capturing the flavours and spirit of a Gaytime.