Monday, June 13, 2011

Raspberry Gratin...Another reason worth turning on the oven...

This dessert is so heavenly--one that I miss during the cold winter. Not unlike like ice-cream, it's not exactly healthy, but it's SO worth the splurge! And I know, I'm all talk about not turning on your oven & then I give you two recipes in a week that require none other than: YOUR OVEN! Forgive me. It's just that it's summer. When else do we get such amazing produce with which to experiment! After this....well, I'll try to stop using the oven. Now, let's turn to the magic that is the raspberry adult pudding--decadent, creamy, yet fresh.

The recipe below is Bittman at his finest--simple, elegant, delicious. It's fruit 'robed in creamy custard'. And a LOT lighter than some gratin recipes out there with many, many eggs! It's been at least 6 years since I first made this, but I think of this recipe more often than I ever imagined. 

How can you resist not eating these raspberries?! If you can, this dessert will be worth it. Here are some fun facts on raspberries.

I have loved these fruits from a young age when my grandparents would take us kids up to the mountains.

We used to pick white raspberries and my grandparents would teach my brother and I about bear this day, I have a vivid image of my grandmother carrying a heavy load of raspberries in her apron over her skirt and laughing. Here is a picture of my mom with my grandparents in Romania a few years ago.

 The only thing that might make this dessert more decadent is a scraped out vanilla bean. Let me know if you try it that way. One bonus feature of this recipe is that you can prepare most of it in advance the night before or morning before entertaining. Once you fold in the cream, the next day, it only takes 10 or less minutes in the oven!!!

Best part? You can make this with ANY fruit.

Adapted from How to Cook Everything by Mark Bittman
  • 1 cup milk (I used skim)
  • 1/2 tsp. ground cinnamon
  • 1 egg, PLUS 1 egg yolk
  • Pinch of salt
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 3/4 cup heavy cream
  • 3 cups fresh raspberries, rinsed and patted dry (this is about a 12 ounce container)
Place the milk and cinamon in a small saucepan and turn the heat to medium. When steam rises from the milk, remove it from the heat.

Meanwhile, beat the egg and yolk with the salt until light and foamy. Combine the sugar and flour and beat about half of the mixture into the eggs; add about half the milk and beat again. Add the remaining sugar-flour mixture, beat, then the remaining egg.

Place the mixture in small saucepan and turn to the heat to medium-low. Cook, stirring almonst constantly, until the mixture begins to boil; it will thicken almost immediately. Remove the custard from the heat and continue to stir for about a minute or so longer. Cover well and chill thoroughly, at least 1 hour and up to 12 hours.

About 20 minutes before you want to eat the dessert, preheat the broiler. Stir about 1/4 cup of the cream into the custard to lighten it. Whip the remaining cream until it holds soft peaks. Fold the cream gently into the custard.

Place the fruit on the bottom of an 8- to 10- inch long gratin dish or an attractive 8-inch square baking dish. Pour the cream mixture over the top and shake the pan a little to distribute it among the berries or fruit. Broil about 4 to 6 inches from the heat until lightly browned on top, about 10 minutes.

Truly, raspberries bathed in creamy, cinnamon custard.

Dole the custard out in pretty cups before serving. Serve immediately. But, we have eaten this dessert cold and it's just as good as when it's pulled straight out of the oven. Enjoy!

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