….with a crisp almond & brown sugar topping and lime
We begin by making a blackberry syrup, leaving the crushed fruit in. It is lovely on its own: works well as a drizzle and garnish, great strained and made into a jelly and is terrific at the base of a cream dessert and gently folded into whipped cream too. It is good for A lot. I should know – I did all of the afore-mentioned and still have more to do.
At the base of this verrine is a burgundy-coloured jelly, which captures all the flavour essence of the blackberry, just sweetened and thickened. It looks like blackberries, smells like blackberries and tastes superbly like blackberries….albeit a tad bit sweeter. It is wonderful on its own but can get a bit boring (being alone rarely does a lot for a person). It is made from the strained blackcurrant syrup, mixed with gelatine and refrigerated to set.
We move on to the cream. See, since I discovered the mystery of cooled whipped cream, it has become a staple in my kitchen. And what do you get when you chill your mixing bowl and your whisk? Well, I’ll tell you – cool, luscious, light and airy cream. At this point, the blackberry syrup goes down two paths. Route #1 sees a spoonful of syrup and fruit carefully ladled into the glasses with the set jelly, followed by sweetened whipped cream + mascarpone. At this stage, it goes into the fridge for an hour: I left mine overnight; I didn’t want to spoil my fun, I waited. And while I LOVE this cream, it would make me sick if I consumed spoonful after spoonful, with neither a thought nor care for anything else.
Route 2? Well, take the whipped cream+mascarpone and gently fold in some of the blackberry syrup and bits. Spoon this over the jelly, and refrigerate for an hour or overnight.
The penultimate element is the crisp sugar topping – flaked almonds, sprinkled with soft light brown sugar and grilled in the oven, till toasted and crisp. This simple bake takes a few minutes but the results are wonderful, when cool. Though not so good that I would sit a whole evening munching my way through bags of sugared flaked almonds.
And the last…but by no means the least of ‘pieces’ of this dessert puzzle? Lime. Oh my word. Lime zest and lime juice. Oh yes, the stars are aligned for this one. Choose the freshest of limes, and the juiciest too. Cut a slice, not down the centre or to form a wedge, but off the sides. Why? it is pretty. Take some of the zest off too….and set aside for service.
The final assembly goes something like this: pots of cream and jelly come out to be served. They are lovingly sprinkled with some sugared almonds and then topped with lime zest. Extra lime slices and cuts are available on the side. They go out to the table, complete with long spoons. The host(ess) sits down and with grace, she squirts some lime juice over the top, and she takes her first spoonful. She is stunned….like I was at the amazing fragrance and freshness of the lime. Its citrus aurantifoliaacidic flavours are a perfect match for the dish. And while it is one element….on its own, my God, its addition to this dessert makes the whole so much more than the sum of its parts. And the ‘bouquet’ it brings, worth getting your fingers wet and sullied for.
Ladies and Gentlemen, this is arguably the most delicious dessert of my times. Without ado, the recipe and my notes
Tips on gelatine
2 sheets of gelatin= 1 teaspoon of powdered gelatine. This is enough to soft-set 160ml of liquid.
To use gelatine leaves, soak them in cold water for 5 minutes to soften, then remove and gently squeeze out excess water.
To use gelatine powder, add to a few tablespoons of warm water and stir until dissolved.
Don’t cook/boil any gelatine mixture.
Gelatine powder and sheets are derivatives from Pork material. Agar-agar is a jelly-setting alternatives but doesn’t set as firmly real gelatine. Keep this in mind depending on what you use.
Blackberry cream & jelly verrines
Makes 6 ‘125ml capacity’ pots
1+ cup caster sugar (1/2 for the jelly, 1/2 for the whipped cream and the +, just in case you want to sweeten your jelly further)
1 cup (25oml) water
3 gelatine leaves (or gelatine powder)
1/3 cup mascarpone cheese, whisked a bit to loosen and break structure
1/2 cup single cream
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 tablespoons flaked almonds
2 tablespoons light brown sugar
1-2 limes, to serve
Extra blackberries, to serve
#1 Blackberry syrup
Place the sugar and water in a pan on medium heat, stirring till the sugar is dissolved.
Add the blackberries and gently stir. Allow to cook till the blackberries are soft and can be squashed.
Remove from heat and let cool.
Blitz in a blender or with a handheld blender .
Now this next step is crucial. Because the jelly will lose some of its sweetness when it cools down, taste the syrup now and add more sugar if necessary, stirring to make sure it dissolves well.
If making the jelly, strain 160ml of the liquid mixture for the jelly (don’t throw the blackberry mass left behind, put it back with the remaining blackberry mixture and refrigerate)
BTW, the remaining mixture is DELICIOUS with some yogurt, of the Turkish or Greek kind. I just had some with my brulee’d French toast for dinner…..HEAVEN!
#2 Blackberry jelly
If using gelatine leaves, soak them first in water for 4-5 minutes till the soften and swell, then add to 160ml warm blackcurrant syrup, stirring till it dissolves. If using powder, sprinkle onto a few tablespoons of warm water and leave to stand for a few minutes, then combine with warm blackcurrant syrup and mix till dissolved. Note that I used gelatine leaves so my instructions for the powder are a guide.
When the liquid is ready, gently pour equal portions into your 6 tumblers. Cover and leave to set for a couple of hours (or overnight).
#3 Cooled, whipped cream
Cool your mixing bowl and whisking attachment in the freezer for a half hour before whipping the cream. When the utensils are cool, combine the cream, 1/2 cup of sugar sugar and vanilla extract in the bowl and whip till light and soft. To this creamed mixture, add your mascaporne and gently fold in. Depending on what route you take, you’ll either top the jelly pots with some blackcurrant syrup and add this plain, whipped cream mixture at this stage or you will go down the road of gently folding in some blackberry syrup and fruit into the cream, then spoon that over your jelly.
Whatever you do, when you’re done putting your cream on the jelly, place in the fridge for at least an hour (or overnight).
#4 Sugared Almonds
Pre-heat your top grill to the highest. In a baking tray, place the flaked almonds and gently sprinkle the light brown sugar on top of the almonds.
Place the tray two racks down from the heat source and let brown for 3-4 minutes.
Remove from oven , pour into a bowl or unto a plate and let cool for a few minutes.
Use to garnish as you see fit.
Then serve this dessert that is fit for a king, and queen….or save it all….just for you.
From our partner Kitchen Butterfly