Sunday, 25 July 2010

une douce pour l'été


I have written before about recipes I have made that have changed my perceptions and changed my course in life. My Pear and Chocolate Loaf Cake was one of these. It made me realise that I could make up my own recipes and they could actually work. It opened up a whole new world of invention.  The Beautiful and the Damned Cake was another.

Now I have realised that baking and creating things with food is my passion and what I want to do with my life, these moments have become even more precious. Every time something flops, I question my choices. Do I have it in me? Will I succeed? From the very first bite, this dessert said yes.


A week or so ago, my mum and I went out for a special supper up the mountain at La Marlenaz. I had a truly wonderful duck dish with local honey and figs for main but it was my mum who won on dessert. She had 'une douce pour l'été' from the specials board, a new addition by the chef. It was, the waiter explained, a creme brulee base topped with raspberries.  It was gorgeous - warm thick creamy custard topped with a raspberry syrup and fresh raspberries. Mum begged me to try and make something similar.

When we came out to go home, there was a rainbow stretching from deep in the valley to high over the mountains - a full semicircle. It was one of the most beautiful things I've seen recently.



Around the same time, we discovered a bank of wild strawberries just outside our apartment block. I've never seen so many growing wild like this.  By the time I got to picking them yesterday, quite a few had gone over or been eaten by wildlife but I still managed to get a fairly large haul. Wild strawberries are incredible - so tiny and yet packed full of flavour. They have a slightly different taste and smell to regular strawberries, too.

My version of this dessert then started to come together - it seemed like the perfect place to showcase my  precious little strawberries.  I had thought of the original raspberries, blueberries, cherries... all of which I'm sure would be lovely, especially if you don't have wild strawberries.



My only reservation about the dessert we ate at La Marlenaz was that the custard was a little heavy and overly rich for summer.  As a result, I tried to find a fairly light creme brulee base and used fairly thin double cream. Luckily, the first one I chose worked like a dream. I took them out when they were still fairly soft and wobbly.  I added lots of gorgeous vanilla.

For my syrup I used regular strawberries as I didn't have enough wild ones. I added plenty of lemon to keep it fresh and not too sweet.


I spent the whole afternoon grinning like a cheshire cat after eating this. I felt on top of the world - I can do this! This is quite simply the best dessert I have ever made. Possibly the best thing I have ever cooked. The base is soft, creamy and packed with gentle vanilla. The syrup is just wonderful and complements the custard perfectly and the strawberries finish it all off.

I can't really describe this. It all goes to gibberish. I'm just sitting here wishing we still had some in the kitchen.


Mum declared this not only to be better than the restaurant version but the best dessert she had ever eaten. I can't imagine a compliment higher than that.



Wild Strawberry and Vanilla Creams
(custard adapted from Annie Bell's Gorgeous Desserts)

for the syrup:
65g strawberries
20 ml water
1 tbsp lemon juice
few strips of lemon peel
30g vanilla caster sugar (or regular plus 1/2 tsp essence)

Cut the strawberries up into small pieces - I cut mine into 8. Put them in a small saucepan with all the other ingredients. Put over a medium heat, stirring until the mixture starts to bubble and the sugar is dissolved. Reduce the heat to low and cook for five minutes. Remove to a pot and take out the peel. Leave to cool and then put in the fridge to rest, preferably overnight. The next day, strain the syrup, squishing the strawberries lightly.

for the custard bases:
3 egg yolks
1 1/2 tbsp vanilla sugar
1/2 vanilla pod
300 ml double cream (not too thick)

Preheat the oven to 140C (fan)/160C. Chop the vanilla pod up into 1 inch chunks. Put all the rest of the ingredients into a food processor/blender and blend to combine and cut up the vanilla pod. Sieve the mixture into a jug.  Pour into four ramekins or a small dish. Put the dish(es) into a roasting tray and fill the tray with hot (not boiling) water. Place in the oven. Bake until the custards are lightly golden and set, but still have a good wobble - you don't want these overcooked. Mine took about 50 minutes but check from about 30. Take them out of the water and leave to cool slightly. I then carefully scraped the crust off so the texture didn't interfere and the syrup could intermingle.

to assemble:
handful wild strawberries

When the custards have cooled a bit - you still want them warm to serve if possible - carefully pour the syrup over. It may try to dive down a crack but don't worry too much - the fruit will cover it up a bit and it will still taste wonderful. Top with the strawberries and serve.

(Serves 4)

18 comments:

  1. Jeni -Emma's mum25 July 2010 14:03

    I have just read this post and have realised that I am grinning and salivating!

    It was the best dessert that I have ever tasted- I love puddings so I have eaten many!

    Yes, our lives do revolve around food - and work!

    I feel so privileged to be able to eat all the lovely creations that Emma makes.

    ReplyDelete
  2. utterly beautiful. i love your recipes. x shayma

    ReplyDelete
  3. this does look like a truly amazing dessert! i love the tiny strawberries--they're so cute, especially floating in the strawberry syrup.

    ReplyDelete
  4. Im so happy to hear you are trusting yourself to come up with recipes, because this is one masterpiece!! It looks gorgeous and Id love to sit down with a bit of it!

    ReplyDelete
  5. Amazing and impressive. And lucky too for finding the wild strawberries, I grew some once, and the flavour is so intense!

    ReplyDelete
  6. That looks amazing! And the photos are fantastic - I'm feeling hungry and inspired to give it a go for myself now!

    ReplyDelete
  7. I love those "aha" moments. Beautiful dessert, it looks elegant, refined and utterly delicious.

    ReplyDelete
  8. Really nice dessert and pictures! Your mum can be proud! Congrats for the award!

    ReplyDelete
  9. This looks sooooo appetizing!!!!

    ReplyDelete
  10. Somebody necessarily lejd a Һand to make cгiticаlly artichles I might state.
    That iss tҺe very firѕt time I freqսented your website page aand to this
    point? Ι surprised with the research yoս made to makе this actual subit
    еxtraordinary. Excellent task!

    ReplyDelete
  11. Maybe even at one while using biggest webcam show sites like Live
    Jasmine. They would be the biggest webcam company for
    the internet today and also have a huge selection of a huge number of viewers online watching the cam-models at any one time.
    Never ever think concerning the character of the specific model as symbolic of arrogance, with this euphemism of
    “strong character”, which occasionally may cover an exacerbated ego.


    my web page :: webcam model blog (askerarkadasi.net)

    ReplyDelete
  12. Finding the right house for your family means finding the best nest will help you to
    take care of your kids better. Individuals can check the availability of various companies on the web.
    They usually provide long distance mover provides
    services to the customer who wants it from them.

    Also visit my webpage :: moving companies near nashville tn

    ReplyDelete
  13. If you are having salary cap issues before the season starts or if during the season a player gets hurt, you can drop him yourself and then bid on them again, essentially
    renegotiating their contract. I honestly believe that Adrian Peterson,
    Arian Foster, Ray Rice, Marshawn Lynch, or Jamaal Charles
    should be your focus in the first round. I have overheard girls demanding to know who scored the touchdown, LT or Shonn Greene (to
    their dismay it was LT, not Shonn).

    Here is my weblog; football

    ReplyDelete
  14. It's fantastic that you are getting ideas from this post as
    well as from our argument made at this place.

    My web blog; hampton bay

    ReplyDelete
  15. What is the most effective product for cleaning leather couches?
    I love the appearance of leather and want to find some good leather seating
    for our dining table but I'm worried that they're going to crack etc.
    Tips anyone?

    Feel free to visit my webpage :: white gloss furniture ()

    ReplyDelete
  16. What i do not realize is in reality how you're no longer really much more smartly-preferred
    than you might be right now. You are so intelligent.
    You recognize thus significantly when it comes
    to this matter, produced me in my opinion consider it from so many various angles.
    Its like women and men are not interested except it is something to do with Woman gaga!
    Your own stuffs nice. At all times maintain it up!

    Feel free to surf to my page - Truck Driver's Wife Quotes -
    Semerkandgonulluleri.Com,

    ReplyDelete
  17. As it increases the production of sperm so it is used for male also.
    That list consists of a small apple, a small orange,
    4-6 medium strawberries and a half grapefruit. The taste
    alone may be enough to keep you from wanting to overeat.

    Stop by my homepage :: hcg weight loss vancouver

    ReplyDelete
  18. It's a shame you don't have a donate button! I'd certainly donate to this brilliant
    blog! I suppose for now i'll settle for book-marking and
    adding your RSS feed to my Google account. I look forward to new updates and will share this site with my Facebook group.
    Chat soon!

    my web page ... fifa 15 ultimate team hack

    ReplyDelete

If you would like to leave a comment or question, please do - I appreciate every one and will reply as soon as possible.

ShareThis