Tag Archives: Dessert

Mom’s Clericot

26 May

It was with my mother that I’ve learned to appreciate a refreshing “clericot”.  This is a drink the British took to South America as “claret cup”, which later became “clericot”.  According to Darcy O’Neal it was the punch of choice for parties and the drink most enjoyed by the British in the 1800’s.   It’s very similar to the Spanish “sangria” and it basically consists of wine with some sort of fruit and a sweetener (usually white sugar).  Hundreds of different “sangria” and “clericot” recipes can be found on the net.  Actually in Brazil, Uruguay and Argentina, as far as I know, the main difference between “sangria” and “clericot” is that the later is prepared with white wine (regular and/or sparkling), while in the former reds are used.

This was my mom’s choice drink for Christmas Eve (remember that Christmas is during the Brazilian summer), and she had her own recipe, which included diced fruits (mainly fresh apples and canned peaches – thus you don’t need to add the sugar), 1 bottle of Champagne, 1 bottle of white wine (usually a Riesling), 1 bottle of sparkling mineral water and lots of ice.

A few weeks ago I was offering a Sunday lunch for some friends and decided to try something different (at least it was completely different for me).  The idea was to transform my mom’s “clericot” recipe into a dessert.

What I did, and you can try it too, was to dissolve 2 powdered neutral gelatin envelopes in 2 cups of cold water and waited it to hydrate for a couple of minutes.  I then added 1 1/2 cups of sugar and heated the mixture until the gelatin and the sugar dissolved completely (you must be careful not to overcook the gelatin, after all it’s a protein).  I then transferred it to a large bowl and added 1 bottle of Champagne (in fact I used a Spanish cava) and 1 bottle of Chardonnay.  I gently mixed everything (gently, as you won’t want to lose all the gas) and took the mixture to the refrigerator.  All this was done one day ahead.

Just before serving I diced several canned peach slices, scraped the gelatin with a fork, and arranged them (almost in layers) in white wine glasses.

Clericot gelatin

I have no reason to be modest, then let me tell you, the result was excellent.  You could even feel the bubbles as the gelatin melted in your mouth and the wines filled your tongue and palate with their distinctive and refreshing flavors.  My mom sure would have loved it.

Just remember, the alcohol is still there, thus there goes a piece of advice:  go easy on it and keep your kids away.

Clericot Gelatin

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Brown sugar crumble

28 Aug

Of British origin, the crumble is simply composed of fruits topped with a mixture of fat, sugar and flower and baked until crisp.  Although it’s a quite simple dish, on the Internet you’ll certainly find hundreds of different recipes employing an incredible array of fruits.  My favorite one was prepared by Olivier Anquier, an ex-model who became a chef and TV star after immigrating to Brazil in 1979.  Besides having a captivating smile, he usually offers simple and but quite nice recipes in his TV shows and web site.

Olivier employed pears, which I substituted by apples. Just mix about 200 g of wheat flour with 100 g of brown sugar and 80 g of butter, using your hands, until you get a texture similar to that of breadcrumbs.  Butter a ovenproof dish and place the sliced apples sprinkled with a bit of cinnamon. Cover with the crumble and bake in the oven for 20-30 min at 180 ºC (around 356 ºF).

Crumble:  fruits (apple in this case)...

Crumble: fruits (apple in this case)...

...topped with a mixture of fat (butter), flour and sugar (brown sugar).

...topped with a mixture of fat (butter), flour and sugar (brown sugar).

Crumbles are usually served with Chantilly or ice cream, but Oliver prepared a syrup by melting around 80 g of butter with a similar amount of brown sugar, to which 40 ml of whiskey are added.  The mixture was left to boil under low heat for a couple of minutes and 100 ml of heavy cream then added. Just steer for a few moments and and it’s ready.

The final product is simple but irresistible.

The final product is simple but irresistible.

This is, in my opinion, a  nice companion during a rainy Saturday, along with a cup of freshly prepared Brazilian coffee, to watch an old movie on TV.

Pear Crumble on Foodista

The Simpsons – Season 19 – Episode 5

17 Jun

Treehouse of Horror XVIII (19.5)

Marge: [holds up a large sword covered in blood] I just can’t get Russian gangster blood out! Must be something they eat.

(Marge opens oven)
Homer:
Cremebrulé, Crembrulé, or in English, burnt cream, burnt cream.

Homer is right, after all Crème Brülêe is nothing more than baked cream with burnt sugar topping.  Have you tried it?  If yes, than you know why Homer was so excited.  If not, don’t wait any further.  Just follow the recipe below.

As a matter of fact you can find literally thousands of different Crème Brülêe recipes on the Internet.  The one I use has one advantage, it never failed (100%  success from the first try).

Although the origins of Crème Brülêe are unknown, it seems to have been developed in France during the XVIIth century.  It has also been called “crème anglaise”, “trinity cream”, “cambridge cream”, “crema catalana”, all of them with small variations of the general recipe.

Enough of blah, blah, blah….Let’s cook.

Bring  to boil about 600 ml of heavy cream in a large pot to which a previously opened vanilla bean was added. Don’t forget to empty the insides of the bean with the tip of a knife and throw the removed seeds into the cream.

Removing the seeds of a vanilla bean

Removing the seeds of a vanilla bean

Vanilla, which means “little pod” is the product of an orchid of the genus Vanilla, originally found in Central America.

A Vanilla flower

A Vanilla flower

A Vanilla plant growing on a tree

A Vanilla plant growing on a tree

A Vanilla pod, still attached to the plant

A Vanilla pod, still attached to the plant

In Brazil, where cream presents large variations from one area to another, I usually employ about 500 ml of what we call “creme de leite fresco” (fresh milk cream) or “nata” mixed with 200 ml of milk.

While the cream is heating add 5 table spoons of white sugar to 10 egg yolks and whisk until pale (sometimes, if the eggs are really large ones, I employ only 08 egg yolks).

Egg yolks and sugar - whisk them while the cream is being heated

Egg yolks and sugar - whisk them while the cream is being heated

Whisked egg yolks

Whisked egg yolks - Observe the much lighter yellow color

When the cream is starting to boil remove it from the fire and slowly (very slowly, as we don’t want to end up with an omelet) add it to the egg yolks. Whisk gently and continuously. Don’t forget to remove the vanilla pod.

Adding the boiled cream to the whisked egg yolks (my wife took the picture, as I have both hands busy)

Adding the boiled cream to the whisked egg yolks (my wife took the picture, as I have both hands busy)

Preheat the oven to around 180 oC (about 350 oF). Pour the mixture into ramekins (the size is up to you) and place them in bain-marie in the oven. The water of the bain-marie should reach around halfway up the sides of the ramekins.

Ready to go to the oven

Ready to go to the oven

Cook for about 40-45 min (depends on the volume of the ramekins), or until the top is firm and starting to get a little brown color (I usually like to turn the heat up a bit by the end of the cooking time).

Ready to be taken out of the oven

Ready to be taken out of the oven

Remove the ramekins and let them cool down four a few minutes and then put them in the fridge. I prefer to eat them on the next day.

Now, the final touch.  As man is usually quite impressed by the vision of live fire, probably something imprinted in our brains from the most ancient times, you can amaze your friends by doing this next step at the table, right before serving your masterpiece (don’t forget to practice a little bit before trying to show off ;-0).

Evenly sprinkle about 1 tea spoon of sugar over the surface. Make sure you’ve got an even sugar layer. Light up a propane or butane culinary torch and caramelize the sugar.

Starting to caramelize the sugar with a torch

Starting to caramelize the sugar with a torch

Try to make it dark brown, and not black. So, be careful not to burn the sugar. It helps if you keep the torch still and turn the ramekins slowly around.  It may be a bit tricky in the beginning, but I’m sure you can do it perfectly after a couple of tries. As I said, its easier if the sugar layer is even and not too thick. As it cools down it should be brittle, producing a cracking sound when broken.

Bon appetit!!!

Bon appetit!!!

Taste it and tell me, was Homer right or not?

Creme Brulee on Foodista

“Fenadoce” in Pelotas, Southern Brazil – A Sweet Adventure

15 Jun

Until next June 21, the city of Pelotas, once a leading center in the production of a salt dried meat called “charque” (I will surely write a bit about that on another occasion), is holding its annual “Feira Nacional do Doce” – FENADOCE (something like a National Fair on Sweets) based specially on traditional Portuguese recipes.  Clearly, something not to be missed, if you enjoy sugar in its several forms and presentations.  Thus, last weekend I drove about 60 km with my family to taste some of the most delicious sweets they  have available for the near 300,000 people who visit the fair annually.

Fenadoce in Pelotas, Brazil - Overview

Fenadoce in Pelotas, Brazil - Overview

Fenadoce in Pelotas, Brazil - Some traditional Portuguese sweets

Fenadoce in Pelotas, Brazil - Some traditional Portuguese sweets

Among my favorite sweets are the crystallized (or candied) fruits, specially figs.  A small factory was set up inside the fair so that you could follow their industrial preparation, which in fact is not very different from what you can do at home.  The central ideia of the process is to make the fruit absorb sugar to saturation point preventing the growth of microorganisms.  The fruits can then be kept in dried places for quite a long time.

Fenadoce in Pelotas/Brazil - A small crystallized (candied) fruit factory

Fenadoce in Pelotas, Brazil - A small crystallized (candied) fruit factory

Fenadoce in Pelotas, Brazil - Industrial preparation of crystallized (candied) fruit

Fenadoce in Pelotas, Brazil - Industrial preparation of crystallized (candied) fruit, peaches in this case

You will need a large pan and about 5 kg of green figs, 4 kg of sugar, some baking soda (sodium bicarbonate) and water.  Wash the figs, cover them with water, add 2-3 spoons of baking soda, and bring to boil for about 30 min.  Drain the water and wash the figs.  Prepare a syrup with the sugar and water just enough to cover the fruits, and then boil them for about 2-3 hours.  I usually add one small piece of cinnamon and a couple of cloves to the syrup. Let the fruits cool down in the syrup and reserve until the next day, so that they have plenty of time to absorb the sugar.  In the next day bring to boil again for another 2-3 hours. Let them cool once again in the syrup and then remove the fruits and put them to dry on a sieve for another day. After dried pass the fruits in crystal sugar and return them back the sieve for another couple of hours.  Repeat the last step once or twice until the fruits are fully dried and covered with the crystal sugar.

Crystallized (candied) figs

Crystallized (candied) figs

You can try the same basic recipe with other fruits, like peaches, bananas, etc (if the fruit is large cut it in small pieces).  I guarantee the final result is worth the effort.

Crystallized (candied) peaches

Crystallized (candied) peaches

If you happen to be in Brazil in June don’t miss the next FENADOCE, which, as I’ve already pointed, is an annual event.

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