Well, here is a blast of summer. I’ve made no secret of my feeling that a weekend lunch isn’t complete without a pudding and we’ve tucked into no end of rib sticking treats appropriate to the colder months of the year. Golden syrup sponge, plum galette, apple crisp, raspberry larder pudding and a whole host of crumbles have made an appearance recently. Poking around in the freezer last weekend however I found a bag of blackcurrants which I’d picked last year and had been languishing in the icy depths since then. Whilst my surprise clearly illustrates that I am not one of those with a list detailing the exact contents of the freezer, the weight and when it was frozen etc – I was jolly pleased with my find.
Thawed and simmered briefly with sugar I mixed them with cream and yogurt and we delighted in that mouth puckering, tangy, fragrant hit that is unmistakably blackcurrant. Should you have any berries in your freezer I highly recommend making this or simply buy a bag of frozen berries – I use them all the time in the winter for various recipes.
Don’t worry if you have a few less (or more) blackcurrants – a fool is pretty forgiving and 20/30g either way won’t make much difference. Equally if you need to use a bit less cream or yogurt the end result will still be fruity and delicious.
100g caster sugar
200g double cream
200g Greek yogurt
Simmer the blackcurrants for about 10 minutes with the sugar until the fruit has broken down and the juices have become syrupy, cool. Whisk the cream until soft peaks hold, add the yogurt, mix again briefly and then swirl in the blackcurrants. Combine as much as you want – I like to seem some seams of pure blackcurrant but it is up to you. This served 4 with a bit left over for someones breakfast.
I have been so lucky with piles of fabulous, fresh local fruit recently. Blackcurrants, loganberries, strawberries, gooseberries and red currants. We have had many of the classics such as gooseberry fool and some new ideas such as blackcurrant shortbread cake. I made redcurrant jelly for the first time, pretty straightforward apart from my slightly Heath Robinson jelly bag of muslin suspended via a wooden spoon over a deep jug – it worked! Blackcurrant jam and loganberry jam sit in my larder, a comforting site if ever I saw one.
After making the jam I had a few blackcurrants left over, maybe 100g, and this is what came to mind as a way of using them up. They have such a huge and tangy flavour that only a little is required and I thought this gentle, creamy vanilla pannacotta the perfect way to show off the blackcurrant sauce. Sweet and fruity, sharp and vanilla – these two flavours work so well together.
I have to admit to having avoided recipes containing gelatine for years. I remember my mother once spilling a gelatine mixture on the floor and as she was in a rush, quickly put down some newspaper to soak it up. The result was sheets of newspaper glued firmly to the flagstones which took some elaborate and extensive chipping away to remove. To be fair this was powdered gelatine and I still rarely use that. My preferred type is the clear almost glass like sheets which work a treat. These little puddings are so easy and quick to prepare and always go down a storm. I’ve finished the blackcurrants but we had the pannacottas again yesterday this time with chopped strawberries macerated in a little sugar until they were deep crimson and juicy – fabulous.
Vanilla Pannacotta with Blackcurrants
200ml whole milk
100ml single cream
100ml Greek yogurt
1/2 teaspoon vanilla paste
60g caster sugar
2 gelatine leaves
20-40g caster sugar
Put the gelatine in a bowl of cold water to soften. Heat the milk, cream, vanilla and sugar until it just reaches boiling point. Remove from the heat and add the squeezed out gelatine, whisk well and leave to cool, stirring occasionally. Whisk in the yogurt and divide between 4 ramekins or small metal moulds. Put into the fridge for at least 4 hours to set. Meanwhile put the blackcurrants into a pan with a splash of water and 20g sugar. Heat gently until just falling apart and forming a syrupy sauce. Carefully taste, you may need more sugar, it depends very much on their sweetness. When you are happy with the balance leave the sauce to cool. To serve, dip each ramekin briefly into hot water before turning out onto a plate and serve with the blackcurrants. Serves 4.