Strawberries on Display, Paris, France
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Gratin of Fresh Berries with Vanilla
Crème Brûlée or Lemon Curd



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"The value of those wild fruits is not in the mere possession or eating
of them, but in the sight and enjoyment of them."

~ Henry David Thoreau

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La Belle Cuisine


Gratin of Fresh Berries with Vanilla
Crème Brûlée or Lemon Curd


by Nancy Silverton, 1986, Harper & Row


“Tart lemon curd poured over fresh berries topped with caramelized sugar
makes a refreshing combination of flavors. Creamy vanilla crème brûlée
is another option that gives a very different effect. Raspberry sauce or
strawberry sauce underline the berry taste and provide a vibrant note
of color.”

Makes 6 individual servings

Vanilla Crème Brûlée

Lemon Curd:
2 egg yolks
3 whole eggs
3/4 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup lemon juice (3-4 lemons)
1/2 cup lime juice (6-8 limes)
Zest of 3-4 lemons, grated or
finely chopped
Zest of 6-8 limes, grated or
finely chopped

6 cups raspberries, wild strawberries,
blackberries, domestic strawberries
(sliced), or any combination
(about 1 cup per serving). Save a
few berries to garnish the top
of each plate.
1 cup Raspberry Sauce or
Strawberry Sauce (recipes below)

For caramelizing the top of the gratin:
6 tablespoons granulated sugar

Making the Lemon Curd
In a large metal bowl, whisk together the lemon curd ingredients. Set bowl over a large pot of simmering water and whisk vigorously, incorporating as much air as possible. Rotate the bowl from time to time to keep the eggs
from cooking on the sides.
Cook filling until the foam disappears and the mixture resembles a thick hollandaise sauce, 5-10 minutes. This mixture will not curdle, so don’t be afraid to cook it until it is very thick. Remove from heat.
(If you’re confident with custards, this step can be done over direct heat. Whisk vigorously to avoid burning.)
Lemon curd can be made up to a week in advance and refrigerated.

Assembling and Caramelizing the Dessert
If the lemon curd has been made in advance and has thickened, place it
in a bowl and stir briefly over warm water to loosen up a bit.
Arrange the berries decoratively on each plate, in a single layer and
rather close together. Pour 1/4 to 1/3 cup lemon curd or vanilla crème
brûlée over the berries to evenly cover the tops.
(For lemon curd, the plates can be caramelized immediately, if desired.
For the vanilla crème brûlée, however, the plates must be refrigerated at
least 30 minutes before caramelizing to allow the custard to set up.)
The plates can be assembled up to two hours ahead of serving and refrigerated.
Just before caramelizing the dessert, sprinkle it with 1 tablespoon sugar
in a thin, even layer. Scatter a few more berries on top and spoon 2
tablespoons sauce around the fruit. Serve immediately.

Variation: If you do not have a salamander or a torch to caramelize the sugar,
you can use the same combination by pooling 2 tablespoons of sauce in the
bottom of broad dessert bowls, spooning in some lemon curd, or crème brûlée,
and then scattering berries on top.

Raspberry Sauce

Makes 2 1/2 cups

4 cups raspberries (fresh or frozen without syrup)
1/2 cup plus 1 tablespoon sugar syrup
1/4 cup orange juice (1 orange)
2 tablespoons lemon juice (1 lemon)
2 teaspoons raspberry liqueur

Purée all ingredients in a blender or food processor until smooth. Strain through a fine-mesh strainer to remove seeds. Refrigerate. If the sauce thickens during storage, add more lemon or orange juice to thin.

Strawberry Sauce

Makes 2 cups

4 cups strawberries (fresh or frozen without syrup)
2-3 tablespoons granulated sugar
2-2 1/2 tablespoons kirsch or cherry brandy
1-2 tablespoons lemon juice

Strawberries are probably the most unpredictable of fruits, sometimes
sweet and flavorful, sometimes watery and tasteless. If the strawberries
aren’t the best, don’t hesitate to increase the other flavors to taste.
I never strain strawberry sauce because I like the look and texture of the seeds. Stem fresh strawberries. Purée all ingredients in a food processor
or blender until smooth. Refrigerate.

Featured Archive Recipes:
Scrumptious Strawberries
Lemon Mousse with Raspberry Sauce
Lemon and Fresh Berry "Shortcake"
from "Desserts to Die For"


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