The raspberry is the queen of all summer fruits, delicious guzzled straight from the sun-warmed cane. Raspberries are best used fresh, very fresh, as they spoil quickly. Frozen (or rather defrosted) they go mushy and lose a great deal of their interest. Although… although… I do use frozen raspberries on occasion, about three of them, straight out of the freezer, as ice cubes in champagne. They melt gently, keeping the champagne chilled longer, suffuse it with a delicate pale pink, and can be slurped in an unmannerly fashion from the bottom of the glass.
Late raspberries are still available. They cost gold of course, but maybe you have a few in the garden?
The French grammar bit:
Framboise = raspberry, feminine noun, une framboise, la framboise, les framboises, pronounced fraam-bouahz
The origins of the word are bram- (bramble bush) and -basi (berry) in old low French.
My recipe today is for Crème à la framboise meringuée, a delicious, quick, easy summer dessert. In England it is of course known as “Eton Mess”, and is traditionally served in summer, on the occasion of Eton College’s annual cricket match against Harrow (two of the most famous schools in the country).
You will need for 6 people:
- 6 good handfuls of fresh raspberries
- 1 scant tbs of eau de vie de framboise (raspberry alcohol or raspberry gin (see recipe below) (optional)
- 6 small white meringues
- 1/2 litre of whipping cream
- Pick through the raspberries to ensure there are no bugs, but try to avoid washing them, unless you are unsure of their source, in which case it is better to rinse them.
- Stiffly whip the cream. You need no sugar unless you have a particularly sweet tooth. Add the alcohol if you are using it.
- Roughly crush all the raspberries except for 6 (if you are doing this recipe in winter, do try using frozen raspberries, but drain them well so that their juice doesn’t liquefy the cream.
- Roughly crush three of the meringues.
- Mix the crushed raspberries with the whipped cream.
In tall glasses (tulip shaped champagne glasses work well, or martini glasses) alternate layers of raspberry cream with layers of meringue bits. The last layer should be raspberry cream. Top with a fresh raspberry and a meringue.
This dessert should really be assembled at the last minute from chilled ingredients. If prepared in advance, the meringue goes soft.
PS The recipe for raspberry gin:
A pound of raspberries, a bottle of gin, sugar to taste
At the height of the raspberry season, when they are nice and ripe, slightly crush a pound of raspberries and, in a litre bottle, add to a bottle of gin. You can use frozen raspberries if you must. Add sugar, it needs a bit, not a lot, and actually you can always add it later. This is not a liqueur, not sweet, but dry, with punch. Store in a dark cupboard, shaking daily (make sure the cork is firmly in place!) for the first week, once a week for the next month. Forget about it for at least another month. Strain out all the pulp and pour into a clean bottle, labelled clearly. This can be used in fruit desserts, or drunk in small quantities neat or on the rocks. You can do the same thing with sloes (prunelles), sloe gin. Am I meant to put the standard warning: alcohol is dangerous for your health, here?