Make no mistake about it, writing a food column is hard work. Countless hours of research, testing and cooking. And eating, mostly eating.
Recently I was doing an exhaustive investigation on desserts and after sampling three cheesecakes, an Apple Brown Betty and a Chocolate Mousse, I came across four obscure desserts I had never heard of. Check these out.
A Fool is not your next door neighbor with the pink flamingos in the front yard; it is rather an English 17th century dessert of pureed fruit with custard.
Gooseberries are the classic mainstay in an English Fool, if you don’t have a source for gooseberries substitute raspberries, blueberries or huckleberries.
1 Lb. Berries
¼ Cup Muscatel wine
2 Tbs. Sugar
1 ½ Cup Heavy Cream
1 Tsp. Vanilla
Throw the berries in a sauce pot and cook over low heat, crushing the berries as they simmer. Blend in the wine and sugar. Remove from heat.
Whip the heavy cream with the vanilla until peaks form. Fold pureed berries in to whipped cream and serve in stemmed glasses.
In the United States, Cobbler is a well known southern dessert, but in colonial New England the cobbler was called a Grunt, a steamed version of the cobbler. Also called Pandowdy or Slumps, the Grunt gets the name from the sound it makes when it is steaming. It is more a fruit shortcake than a Cobbler using raspberries, huckleberries or strawberries.
A Clafoutis is a French dessert of black cherries in custard, almost a flan with fruit. Dazzle the crowd with this gem
¾ Cup Sugar
1 Cup Milk
2 Tbs. Cognac
2 Tsp. Vanilla
¾ Cup Flour
1 Lb. Pitted Cherries
Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
Beat all the ingredients together up to the flour. Add flour and mix well.
Pour cherries in the bottom of a pie pan and top with batter. Bake for 35 minutes and cool before serving.
Finally, the Brits have come with yet another. A 19th century dessert traditionally called the Spotted Dick. I swear I am not making this one up. Do not confuse this with the Tricky Dick, a not so sweet dish from the 70’s.
Another steamed pudding, this one contains dried fruit and suet custard. Sounds gross, but suet is the highlight of Plum Pudding. I love a good suet.
4 Oz. Flour
4 Oz. Suet
Water 4 Oz. Raisins
Mix the flour, suet and raisins together. Moisten with a few spoons of water.
Spoon mixture in a large ramekin and steam in a water bath for at least one hour.
Serve sprinkled with brown sugar and butter.
So next time you hear the name of a dessert you are wary of, give it a shot. It may sound funny, but it may taste yummy.
Happy research everybody.