Hot food: Pedro Ximenez

Jill Dupleix
Treacly delight: Sticky sherry cake with muscatels.
Treacly delight: Sticky sherry cake with muscatels. Photo: Lisa Maree Williams

What is it?

A rich, treacly dessert sherry, traditionally produced in the Spanish region of Montilla-Moriles in Andalucia. The white Pedro Ximenez (PX) grapes are dried in the hot sun to concentrate their sweetness before being pressed, fermented, fortified and barrel aged. The result is sticky-toffee pudding in a glass - an intense, syrupy wine that contrasts beautifully with ham and pork dishes and adds complexity to custards, ice-creams and rich chocolate puddings.

Where is it?

At Summer Hill's new One Penny Red, glass jars of creamy duck liver pate come topped with a layer of PX jelly, alongside hot toast and pickled quinces. ''PX is like a deep, concentrated, raisiny essence, and works really well with strong, bold flavours,'' says head chef R.J. Lines. ''It's also amazing in mascarpone creams and tiramisu.''

Jesse Gerner's PX ice-cream at Fitzroy's Anada has made a lot of people very happy for more than six years. ''It's such a luscious way to finish off a meal,'' he says. He also uses Pedro Ximenez in savoury dishes, most notably with slow-braised pork jowl served with celeriac puree at his second restaurant, Bomba, in Melbourne's CBD. ''It's a beautiful, classic sherry, almost a nectar,'' Gerner says. His tip? ''Freeze it until it's syrupy and drizzle it over everything.''

Why do I care?

Soak a handful of raisins in PX overnight, then toss the lot over ice-cream and tell me you don't care.

Can I do it at home?

Si, senor. Pedro Ximenez is available from leading liquor stores for about $20 and, once opened, will last longer than your marriage.

STICKY SHERRY CAKE WITH MUSCATELS

Meet the new sticky toffee pudding - sticky sherry cake. Serve with whipped cream, yoghurt or ice-cream and lashings of sticky syrup.

3 eggs

150g castor sugar

150ml Pedro Ximenez

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150ml olive oil

1 tbsp grated orange zest

180g plain flour, sifted

2 tsp baking powder

icing sugar for dusting

For the syrup

100g muscatels or raisins

150ml Pedro Ximenez

1. Heat the oven to 180C. To make the syrup, boil the Pedro Ximenez for two minutes until syrupy, add the muscatels or raisins and set aside to cool.

2. To bake the cake, lightly oil a 20-centimetre diameter cake tin. Beat the eggs and sugar with an electric mixer until pale - about five minutes. Add the Pedro Ximenez, olive oil and orange zest, mixing well. Sift the flour and baking powder into a second bowl, and gradually pour in the cake batter, whisking by hand until smooth.

3. Pour the batter into the cake tin and bake for 45 minutes or until an inserted skewer comes out clean. Leave to cool for at least 20 minutes.

4. Dust the cake with icing sugar and top with the muscatels or raisins. Drizzle with the syrup and serve with cream, ice-cream or yoghurt.

Serves 6

Sourcing

NSW

One Penny Red, 2 Moonbie Street, Summer Hill, 02 9797 8118, onepennyred.com.au

VIC

Anada Bar & Restaurant, 197 Gertrude Street, Fitzroy, 03 9415 6101, anada.com.au

Bomba, 103 Lonsdale Street, Melbourne, 03 9077 0451, bombabar.com.au