Kwame Williams, Executive Chef of Vital Dining, was making semisweet fried cornmeal dumplings, which traditionally accompany spicy fried or grilled seafood in Jamaica. “When I was preparing them as we normally do for our grilled jerk shrimp dish, some excess batter fell into the fryer,” he says. “It cooked into a perfectly round ball that reminded me of a zeppola, the Italian doughnut, and I thought, ‘Why not try it as a dessert?’ It worked!” Williams’ accidental “Festival!” dessert performed so well as a special, it’s now been moved to the permanent menu.
Playing out the island theme of this Jamaican concept, he drizzles the fried dough, which is spiked with nutmeg, with a tangy tamarind glaze, then tops it with coconut ice cream and coconut flakes. “The subtleties of the nutmeg in the batter, paired with the tangy flavor in the tamarind, marries together with the richness of the coconut ice cream,” says Williams. “It’s like a trip to the islands with every spoonful. The simplicity of this dish is what makes it such a big hit. Who doesn’t love a warm doughnut and ice cream?”