The notion of a frozen cherry souffle calls forth images of butterflies, gambolling through sun deckled woods and women who have possibly been dressed by bluebirds. It’s a fantasy of a dish, most probably dreamed up on a very cold winter’s day.
It’s very title is a promise of summer. Frozen treats, fresh cherries and a buoyant rise in a pudding.
I’m sure this is exactly what my grandmother had in mind when she listed it as dessert in her fantasy June menu, way back in 1937.
Except for the fact that Granny’s recipe took me to a very strange place. In order to ensure the vibrant rosebud red of her iced souffles, she calls for cochineal. Cochineal; a food dye that comes from insects. Let’s just say it’s not an ingredient that I have lying around.
So instead of following her recipe and creating one large vermilion pudding, stabilised with gelatine and garnished with glace cherries, to close our supper were some paler parfaits.
The only thing that resembled a ‘souffle’ about them was the way they stood up beyond the perimeter of the ramekins. This was assisted by a little craft; baking paper collars that were gently shimmied out of the desserts when frozen.
On eating the taste of cherry was clear and true. The rest was iced confection; a cold and fresh pudding held aloft by Italian meringue and whipped cream.
We could have eaten them on their own. But we were feeling retro, so off to the Black Forrest we went, sprinkling the finished ‘souffles’ with chocolate biscuit crumbs for dark crunch.
It wasn’t quite as retro as say…. 1937, but it sufficed.
Make these when you fancy a bit of craft with your cooking; when the fruit is cheap and in season; when you want a dessert you can whip up the night before; when you fancy giving your sugar thermometer some time out of the cupboard. Or perhaps make them when you’ve got a bag of cherries tucked in the freezer, it’s a dark day and you fancy the taste of an English June.
Frozen cherry souffle
Electric beaters. 1 saucepan. 1 sugar thermometer. 6 1 cup ramekin dishes. Greaseproof paper.
400 grams of pitted cherry flesh, plus an extra 100 grams of cherries to serve
1 cup of caster sugar, divided
1 tablespoon of cherry liqueur
4 tablespoons of water
3 egg whites
1 ¼ cup whipping cream
¾ cup of crushed chocolate cookies
Here’s how we roll
1. Cut strips of waxed paper long enough to wrap around the insides of 1 cup soufflé dishes. You want the paper to stand up 1 .5 inches above the rim. Secure the collars with stick tape and place the dishes in the freezer to chill
2. Take a large saucepan or dutch oven and cook the cherries with 1/3 cup of sugar over medium heat until the cherries collapse.
Puree the fruit with a stick blender and stir in the cherry liqueur. Chill.
3. Heat remaining two-thirds cup sugar and the water in a small saucepan over medium heat to a temperature of 235 to 240 degrees (soft-ball stage). Don’t stir, rather shake the pan. Keep a brush moistened with water handy to brush down any sugar crystals that form.
4. Beat the egg whites until stiff peaks form. While you’re still mixing pour the sugar syrup into the egg whites in a steady stream and keep beating until the egg whites have cooled to room temperature.
5. Beat the cream to soft peaks.
7. Gently fold the whipped cream into the cherry/meringue. Spoon into the cold ramekins, using the paper collar to allow you to spread the mixture above the rim. Smooth the top and freeze for at least four hours, preferably overnight.
Previously in the June Menu : Asparagus toasts