Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Carmelised Blackberry Ice Cream Sundae

Being awash in blackberries, I am focused on using them in recipes.  Of course, fully ripe berries, with their heady, almost alcoholic flavour, are glorious simply sprinkled with a little sugar.  Though blackberries are a wonderful addition to various cake batters from shortbread to cobblers to coffee cake, the temperature chez nous has been in the upper nineties, therefore the oven stays unused for now. This sauce is a twist on a basic coulis, and it is an attractive one, as I adore all things caramel. The sauce also freezes well. However, what I appreciate most about it is that the fresh taste of blackberries remains intact as the berry coulis is added after the carmelised syrup is made.

(makes about 3/4 of a quart)

  • Blackberries, fully ripe, 1 quart
  • Sugar, 3 cups*
  • Water, 2 cups*
  • Lemon juice, freshly squeezed, several tablespoons
  • Ice cream (I used vanilla)
  • Fresh blackberries/frozen sauce for garnishing
*American measure, that is, 8 oz

Rinse berries.

Mash/crush them with a potato masher/blender/food processor/stick mixer.

Strain the pulp via a sieve or Foley mill.

You will have about two cups of puree.  Add lemon juice to taste. Reserve in the fridge.

Carmelising sugar is an interesting process, taking about one and a half hours.  A half a cup of water is added to the sugar in a spacious, heavy bottom saucepan.  Over medium low heat, the mixture is stirred from time to time.

In about forty-five minutes or so the water will evaporate. At first the mixture becomes thick.

Then it morphs into a lumpy, stiff mass.

Eventually it goes back to be being dry like the original sugar, but the texture is fluffy and powdery.

Finally it partially melts into soft lumps while turning golden. Be careful not to scorch it, adjusting the heat if necessary.

Take it off the heat.  Add the remaining one and a half cups of water and stir/whisk well.

Put the pot back on the heat until all the carmelised sugar is dissolved which takes about ten to fifteen minutes. The syrup will be a golden brown.

Check the chilled coulis if additional lemon juice is needed to brighten up the flavour.  Add it to the syrup. Chill well. The chilled sauce was a bit cloudy so I skimmed the top.

Once frozen, it's more like icy, gooey candy.

In a tall dessert dish/goblet/glass, layer some ice cream, then a few blackberries and sauce, another layer of ice cream, berries, and sauce, finishing with ice cream, sauce, berries, and a wodge of the frozen sauce.  If you want a less sweet, dryer presentation, use the sauce sparingly.  I didn't! This sundae was sublime--sweet, fruity, and cooling. 

The lozenge of intensely flavoured sherbert gleamed like a huge jewel.

The Calm One being quite fond of Ribena, a British fruit drink concentrate, suggested diluting the sauce to make a refreshing beverage which worked out well. The sauce can be frozen as ice cubes for more convenience -- just plop three cubes into a small glass of chilled water.

In the potager, the three blackberry bushes are putting out their first flush of berries.  The second flush will happen late summer.  This variety is thornless, so the ample harvest of giant berries is easily done.  If a gentle pull on the berry does not remove it from the bush, then that means it is not ripe enough. A ripe berry will not only be completely black and fragrant, but also each of its drupelets will be swollen and plump, touching each other. In addition to the berry-laden canes, there are several new canes which are the future fruit bearers for next season.  These need to be pruned about three feet from the ground.  Late winter, any side branches from these main canes will be trimmed to an one-foot length.

The first two canes on the left are new seasonal growth and will be fruit bearing next summer

They need to be watered deeply several times weekly, though I have never fertilised or staked them. I can't say I dutifully weed their beds either! Hence the care is minimal and in return you get an abundant, delicious harvest. However, like most fruits and veggies, they need loads of sunshine.

Our veterinary surgeon explained why Dayo's toe injury refused to heal.  Dayo's injured claw had needed to be completely clipped as it was no longer able to retract. As his new claw grew, it would retreat somewhere only to go to a different spot on another day. This back-and-forth motion essentially created holes in Dayo's paw!  His operation was a cross between a declawing and a partial amputation as only the last joint on his toe was removed.

He is recovering from the operation well and will most likely need to remain indoors for several weeks.

For a while, he would disappear for hours at a time, usually on the day when we needed to bring him to his doctor. One day, I decided to lure him out from wherever he was by opening noisily a can of tuna which along with butter is his favourite food.

We finally identified his hiding place!

À la prochaine!