Tuesday, September 14, 2010

the Raspberry Rhapsody, and a Summer-to-Autumn Menu

I hereby officially declare that this summer was "the Summer of the Raspberry."  After starting the summer off with a string of raspberry delights and then putting the blog on a bit of a raspberry diet, I just couldn't resist ending the summer returning to this wonderful berry and finishing with a big raspberry bang.

So when a good friend came over for dinner, I presented her with a trio of late-summer raspberry desserts, or something that I like to call the Raspberry Rhapsody.  Or, alternatively, what another friend perhaps more appropriately named it: "Everything Stephanie can think of to do with raspberries."  Yeah.  That one pretty much sums it up!  But first, before we get to the Raspberry Rhapsody, I have to tell you what the menu for dinner was, because I feel like you'll then fully savor the curation of this meal in its entirely, wrapping up with the trio of raspberry desserts.  The whole theme of the night was celebrating the summer-to-autumn transition, perhaps one of my favorite times of the year when the markets are bursting forth with the most succulent late-summer and crisp early-autumn produce.

Summer to Autumn Menu

Tomato crostini
heirloom tomato, garlic, oil-packed anchovies atop toasted sweet baguette

Caramelized onion corn soup
rosemary, cave-aged hand-made raw milk blue cheese, 
caramelized onion jam, fresh local yellow corn

Prosciutto-wrapped roasted potato salad
roasted baby purple, red, and yellow potatoes wrapped in crispy prosciutto 
atop wild arugula with honey mustard balsamic vinaigrette

Fig and carrot pitsa
black mission figs, colored carrots, feta, mozzarella, leek, and green onion

"Raspberry Rhapsody"
Fresh raspberries in paradise green tea jelly
Lemon-rose scented pavlova with raspberry-caramel, 
lemon mascarpone cream, and rosy raspberries
Espresso dark chocolate pots de creme with raspberries and raspberry coulis

Okay, got that?  Now, to dessert.  The Raspberry Rhapsody was an exploration of the amazing versatility of the wonderful raspberry, with its sweet tartness encapsulating the range of tastes from sharp to soft more so than perhaps any other berry.  I really wanted to play on the balance that you can use the raspberry to achieve in desserts.

The fresh raspberries in paradise green tea jelly offers the unadulterated raspberry experience.  It's simply raspberries at the peak of their late summer season (they peak twice, so I hear, once at the beginning of the summer and once at the end) suspended in delicately light green tea jelly.  I used Lupicia's paradise green tea, which I absolutely love in desserts because it's this wonderfully fragrant blend of green tea, rose, safflower, marigold, and cornflowers without being perfume-y at all.  The subtle flavors of the tea were the perfect accompaniment to the raspberries magically floating in the jelly.

Then we have the antithesis of the light jelly dessert: espresso dark chocolate pots de creme with raspberries and raspberry coulis.  While the jelly was supposed to be delicate and airy and reminiscent of light summer breezes, these pots de creme were meant to be a forecast of the dark, broody, and let's-huddle-up-under-a-mass-of-blankets-beside-the-fire-and-drink-hot-chocolate days that are ahead of us.  The incredibly rich and bitter 80% dark chocolate and espresso custard--with raspberries baked inside!--is set off by the tartness of fresh raspberry coulis.  And trust me, if you want something terrifically sinful, this. is. it.

Finally, to round off the trio was the perfect balance between creamy and rich and light and airy: a lemon and rose-scented pavlova with raspberry caramel, lemon mascarpone cream, and fresh rosy raspberries.

Oh, its name is a mouthful, for sure, but you won't be able to get enough mouthfuls of the actual dessert!  (trust me, I could barely keep my hands off this one long enough to photograph it!)

(see?)  The hints of lemon and rose flavors are quite subtle in this one, but it really allows the raspberries to shine through in the sweetened raspberry caramel and unperturbed fresh raspberries layered between the crunchy meringue and lusciously thick mascarpone whipped cream.  It doesn't matter how many words I use in the attempt to describe this dessert.  All I need is one: NOM.

Anyways, this is been quite the epically long post, but before I end (and get to the recipes, darn it!), I hope you'll humor me for a tiny bit longer, because I wanted to share how incredibly perfect this dessert was, in a completely nerdy way.  You see, the definitions of rhapsody in the Oxford English Dictionary are as follows (a tad edited in length by me):
rhapsody, n.
  1. An epic poem, or a part of one, of a suitable length for recitation at one time.
  2. The joining together of miscellaneous unconnected literary pieces, esp. poems
  3. An enthusiastic of ecstatic expression of feeling; an instance of this.
  4. A free musical composition, usually emotional or exuberant in character and in one extended movement
Now, as you will notice, my Raspberry Rhapsody was quite (1) epically raspberry; (2) a joining together of several raspberry desserts; and (3) an enthusiastic expression of an exuberant love for raspberries.  To top it all off, the friend I had over for dinner studies poetry and music (making her the perfect audience for a rhapsodic dessert), so when I finally looked up the etymology for rhapsody (something that, as a linguist, I'm quite prone to do), I couldn't help but smile to know that I'd put together not only a tribute to the Summer of the Raspberry but also a completely aptly named one!  Ah, now both the linguist and the dessert lover in me can rest in peace in raspberry heaven.

Read on for recipe....

The Raspberry Rhapsody
serves six

Fresh raspberries in paradise green tea jelly
makes six 3-oz. ramekins

2 cups water
2 Tbspn loose leaf paradise green tea
2 tspn gelatin
8 Tbspn water
1/3 cup sugar
1 tspn lime zest, optional
~60-70 raspberries

1. In a saucepan with a tight-fitting lid, bring 2 cups water to a boil. Add the green tea, cover tightly, and let steep for about ten minutes or until your desired strength. Strain.
2. In another small saucepan, combine the water and the gelatin. Let sit for about five minutes as the gelatin softens and blooms.
3. Add the sugar to the gelatin and cook over medium-low heat until the sugar completely dissolves but do not let the water boil. Remove from heat and whisk into the tea. Add the lime zest, if using, and let cool at room temperature briefly.
4. Divide the raspberries amongst the ramekins and pour the tea over the raspberries, pushing the raspberries down gently if they float.
5. Chill until the jelly has solidified, about four hours.

Tip: In case you can't get Lupicia's paradise green tea, its ingredients are green tea, rose petal, marigolds, safflower, and cornflower.

Espresso dark chocolate pots de creme with raspberries and raspberry coulis
makes six 3-oz. ramekins

for pots de creme:
3 oz. 80% dark chocolate (the best you can get), chopped
3/4 cup heavy cream
3/4 cup whole milk
5 Tbspn sugar
4 tspn espresso powder
4 egg yolks
~30-40 fresh raspberries

1. Preheat the oven to 325 degrees F. Prepare six 3-oz. ramekins in a hot water bath, filling the water 2/3 of the way up the sides of the ramekins.
2. Place the chopped chocolate in a heatproof bowl and set aside.
3. In a small saucepan, heat the heavy cream, milk, sugar, and espresso powder until the mixture comes to a simmer. Remove from heat and pour over the prepared chocolate.
4. Let the chocolate sit for about a minute and then whisk until smooth.
5. Temper the egg yolks by pouring the heated chocolate mixture gradually into the yolks, whisking the entire time.
6. Place about 5-6 raspberries into each ramekin and pour the prepared egg yolk and chocolate mixture over them. Gently push the raspberries under the surface if they float. Cover the ramekins with aluminum foil.
7. Bake in the water bath for 35-45 minutes, until the edges are set but the custard still jiggles a little in the center when gently bumped.
8. Remove from oven and let the ramekins stand in the water bath for about 10 more minutes. Then, remove the ramekins from the water bath and cool.

for raspberry coulis:
fresh (or frozen) raspberries, about 1 pint
lemon juice

1. Puree the raspberries in a food processor. Strain half of the puree through a fine mesh sieve to remove the seeds. Add the strained puree back into the reserved half and stir in enough lemon juice until you can just taste the tartness.
2. Top each pots de creme with raspberry coulis.

Tip: I like straining only half of the puree because I find that it gives the coulis a nice seed-to-puree ratio. If you don't like the seeds, go ahead and strain all of the puree.
Tip: Frozen raspberries work really well for the coulis because they release more liquid.

Lemon and rose-scented pavlova with raspberry-caramel, lemon mascarpone cream, and fresh rosy raspberries

for pavlovas:
90 gr egg whites
70 gr superfine sugar
1 Tbspn cornstarch, sifted
1 tspn vinegar
1 1/2 tspn rosewater
1 1/2 tspn freshly grated meyer lemon zest
pinch of dry yellow food coloring, optional

1. Preheat the oven to 280 degrees F. Prepare a baking sheet lined with parchment paper or a silpat.
2. Whisk the egg whites on low until the surface is entirely covered in foam. Then, increase speed and continue whipping on medium high, gradually adding the superfine sugar. Whisk until you reach glossy stiff peaks.
3. Whisk in the corn starch, vinegar, rosewater, lemon zest, and food coloring, if using, being careful not to overmix.
4. Spoon or pipe the meringue onto the prepared baking sheet in 12 flat disks. Make an indent with the back of a spoon on top of each meringue.
5. Place the meringues into the preheated oven. Immediately lower the oven temperature to 230 degrees F and bake for an hour and a half to two hours, until the outside of the meringues are dry to the touch. Turn off the oven and allow the meringues to cool completely inside.
6. If making ahead of time, store the meringues in an airtight container away from humidity.

for raspberry caramel:
Raspberry caramel recipe adapted from Chez Panisse Desserts by Lindsey Shere.
quarter pint raspberries, fresh or frozen
6 Tbspn sugar
1/4 cup water
1 tspn lemon juice
few drops kirsch or brandy, optional

1. Puree the raspberries and strain. You should end up with about 1/4 cup of raspberry puree.
2. In a light-colored, heavy bottom saucepan, combine the sugar and 1 Tbspn of water, and stir until the sugar is completely moistened. Cook on medium high without stirring (swirl the pan to insure even cooking instead) until the sugar is a light golden caramel color.
3. Once the right color is reached, remove the pan from heat and CAREFULLY! pour the remaining three Tbspn of water in. (CAREFULLY--the caramel will sputter.)
4. Return the saucepan to heat and cook, stirring, until the caramel has completely dissolved.
5. Remove from heat and stir in the raspberry puree, lemon juice, and kirsch or brandy, if using, to taste.

for lemon mascarpone cream, rosy raspberries, and assembly:
1 cup heavy whipping cream
1/3 cup mascarpone cheese
zest of 1 lemon
2 Tbspn powdered sugar
fresh raspberries

1. By hand (preferably) or with a mixer, whip the cream and mascarpone cheese until soft peaks. Do not overmix.
2. Stir in the powdered sugar and lemon zest to taste.
3. In a small bowl, combine the raspberries with enough rosewater to coat them.
4. Layer the meringues, cream, and rosy raspberries, drizzling with raspberry caramel.



  1. Holy Moly that is an ode to raspberry if ever I saw one! Now to decide which I would rather first...

  2. The chocolate pot with raspberry coulis is just Gorgeous. Ofcourse the others are amazing but when mentioning chocolate and raspberries together you caught my attention 100%. YummY!

  3. incredible rhapsody of delicious desserts! i love it! this is an amazing post - now i have so many ideas floating in my head, wishing i did not eat that punnet of raspberries for breakfast LOL! will need to get a few more!

  4. What a fun post and what an incredible line-up of raspberry dessert! What a lucky friends you have. Your photos are really lovely.

  5. Oh my! This looks amazing. Great photos as well.

  6. Gorgeous post - colors are lovely, and you've really captured that summer to fall essence!

  7. I would say you finished with a big raspberry bang for sure! These look great. The Lemon and rose-scented pavlova etc looks especially yummy to me. And I like that the desserts represented different things. lol Awesome!

  8. The close-up of the stack is just mouthwatering and great title for such a delectable creation :). I can't get enough of red berries either.

  9. A feast to my eyes and makes my mouth water!

  10. Three things:

    - NOM!

    - Your friends are very lucky to get such a menu.

    - I love OED geekery.

  11. @Poires au Chocolat: ha! I'm happy that there's at least one other OED-appreciating foodie out there!

  12. @Poires au Chocolat: ha! I'm happy that there's at least one other OED-appreciating foodie out there!

  13. What a fun post and what an incredible line-up of raspberry dessert! What a lucky friends you have. Your photos are really lovely.

  14. I would say you finished with a big raspberry bang for sure! These look great. The Lemon and rose-scented pavlova etc looks especially yummy to me. And I like that the desserts represented different things. lol Awesome!


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