Sunday, March 06, 2005

Fruits of my labors, part deux

The consensus here is that the bramley burnt creams from Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall's The River Cottage Year are one of the best desserts ever to grace the earth. Of course, since I have no access to bramley apples here in the U.S., mine were macintosh burnt creams. I don't think much was lost in translation.

Let me try to describe the concept. You cook up a batch of homemade applesauce, keeping it nice and tart. You chill a layer of the applesauce in ovenproof ramekins. Then you whip some cream--unsweetened--and chill a layer of whipped cream on top of the applesauce. Then you sprinkle a layer of brown sugar over the whipped cream and put the cold ramekins under the broiler just long enough to caramelize the sugar, yet keep everything else cold. Chill once more, then crack the burnt sugar with your spoon and dig in. Stunning. I made a half recipe (three ramekins) for three people, but we all wish I'd made more.

Lately I've been really loving desserts that are heavy on fruit, eggs, nuts, etc. Wholesome, bright tastes, with less fat and flour than I've baked with in the past. I've been making these cookies from Jacques P├ępin's Simple and Healthy Cooking that have nothing but ground pecans, powdered sugar, and egg white in them. I have nicknamed them pecanaretti. They're wafer-thin and crispy and toffeelike, and when they're crumbled they make a perfect topping for, say, key lime pie-flavored yogurt, or zabaglione.

Bring me your tired, your poor, your sweet-toothed...