Thursday, March 27, 2014
Pariya Pashmak Persian Orange Blossom Fairy Floss
Pariya is an Australian company that imports Iranian confections and distributes them around the world. Since I live in Los Angeles, a lot of Persian favorites are actually made locally, such as Turkish Delight, confetti and Persian-style Nougats. The confections often use pistachios, rosewater, cardamom, saffron and orange blossom as ingredients. However, I have never found Pasmak before.
Pashmak is a form of cotton candy, but made in a different way. Traditional fairy floss or cotton candy is made by spinning melted sugar to create long threads. In Persian (and Asian) confectionery traditions, they made the impossibly thin threads through pulling. This tutorial of how to make it with sugar beautifully illustrates the mathematics of it all ... just pull, double over your coil of melted sugar and repeat until the strands are as thin as an angel’s hair.
The big difference with this Pashmak, though, is that it’s made with sesame paste. So it’s not just spun sugar, it’s a lighter-than-air halvah. The ingredients list is very short: sugar, sesame, flour, vegetable oil, orange blossom extract and natural colors. It’s triple packaged, inside the thick, frosted zipper bag is a sealed cellophane and then another bag inside there. Moisture is the enemy of this candy.
So, what is this impossibly light halva actually like? It’s impossibly light, but strangely dense and heavy.
The fibers pour out of the bag in clumps, it’s as if an edible pashmina shawl has been shredded and pulled into packets of strands. It’s not sticky in the slightest, and has a light orange blossom scent to it, mixed with a note of nigella seeds.
The texture is like cashmere, soft but heavy. The strands stay together, though don’t stick. It dissolves quickly with a light floral flavor, a slight bergamot note towards the end. The sesame flavors are light and clean; it all feels a lot more substantial than pure sugar cotton candy. Late in the dissolve, there’s a little creamy but grainy residue, which I’m guessing is the sesame. It leaves it a little more filling than just a plain sugar candy.
One of the drawbacks of this is how difficult it is to eat and how messy it is. I loved the flavor, but there’s no real way to portion it easily. My method for consumption was to pull out a bit with a fork and put it in a little bowl (as shown) and eat it with my fingers or that fork. I shouldn’t end up with dirty dishes when I’m done eating my candy. I can see this is being used as an ingredient with other confections more than a confection on its own. The package suggests layering it with berries in a martini glass. I could see using it on top of a teacake as well.
It was very expensive, so not something I’m likely to buy again, even though I was curious about the other flavors. It comes in chocolate, pistachio, saffron and vanilla.