Raspberries are my hands-down favorite fruit, so when I heard that yesterday was National Raspberries and Cream Day, I was pretty excited. I could have easily copped out with some black raspberry ice cream (also a favorite) or some raspberries covered in whipped cream (never a bad idea). While these old stand-bys were okay for a midnight snack, they were not at all special enough for such a splendid occasion as a holiday devoted entirely to raspberries.
Faced with the quandry of what to make to properly do justice to my favorite fruit, I did what anyone with a baking obsession would do: I scoured my favorite food blogs. If you're not familiar with Tartelette, you should get acquainted. In addition to heavenly recipes, her blog has stunning food photography. I often look at the pictures first and then read the blog, else I'd spend so much time staring in awe at the pictures I'd forget where I was in the narrative. Anyway, back in January of 2009, she had a guest blog featuring Jen of Use Real Butter, who posted a recipe for a beautiful blancmange. If you're not familiar with blancmange (as I wasn't when I first read the post), it's a cold dessert, of milk thickened with gelatin and flavored with almonds then cooled. It's similar to panna cotta.
Now, while I speak très peu French, I know enough to know that blancmange is supposed to be blanc (white). The recipe calls for blanched or slivered almonds, but because I lack a food processor (womp womp), I settled for Trader Joe's almond meal, which, unfortunately is brown because the skins are left on before grinding. So, without further ado, I present my not so blanc blancmanges with raspberry coulee and berries on top. (Can one of my French-speaking friends help me out with the French word for brown? I'll call it tanmange...)
Here's the recipe (as taken from Tartelette - note that I substituted the 1/3 cup heavy cream for light cream and used heavy whipping cream for the 1 1/4 cups heavy cream and it turned out just fine):
Modern Almond Blancmange Recipe:from Classic Home Desserts by Richard Sax
1/3 cup heavy cream
1 1/4 cups heavy cream
1/4 cup cold water
1 envelope (2 1/2 tsps) unflavored gelatin (powder)
4 1/2 oz. almonds, blanched, sliced or slivered (just under 1 cup)*
2/3 cup sugar
4 tsps kirsch or Amaretto (ummm, I think I could definitely use more of this)
*the recipe says to use 1 1/2 cups which 66% more than 4 1/2 ounces, so if you want a really almondy dessert, go for it, otherwise I think 1 cup is sufficient.
In a small saucepan, combine the 1/3 cup of cream and the cold water. Sprinkle the gelatin over the surface and let stand for about 5 minutes. Stir over low heat until the gelatin dissolves. Set aside. Pulse the almonds and the sugar in a food processor until the almonds are very finely ground. When the gelatin mixture has cooled slightly, stir in the kirsch or Amaretto. Add the ground almond mixture and stir until combined. Whip the remaining 1 1/4 cups cream to soft peaks (do not overbeat). Fold the cream into the almond mixture in thirds. Rinse a 6-8 cup mold or 8 4-ounce ramekins (I did 6 6-ounce ramekins) in cold water. Pour in the mixture and cover with plastic wrap (but don't let the wrap touch the mixture). Refrigerate for 2 hours or overnight. To serve, run a sharp knife around the edge of the mold. Dip the mold quickly in and out of hot water. Invert the mold onto a moistened plate and unmold. [Or, if you're me, cover the ramekin with plastic wrap after loosening the sides and dipping in hot water, then turn it over and smack it on a kitchen towel on the counter several times. When it finally comes out, use another piece of plastic to cover the top, then invert it again, remove the first piece of plastic, then invert it once more onto the serving plate.] Garnish with lots of fresh fruit (berries, peaches, etc.).