Lemon Balm Infused Berries And Almond Tuiles
I seem to have a hard time letting go of summer….stone fruits, berries, herbs are always sneaking in into my shopping basket. It is easy to get inspired or to focus on writing certain chapters of a book when you have a big bowl of juicy and plump fruit in front of you! It is a little less fun when our new puppy set his mind to chew our lemongrass plant, mix it up with a little rosemary, adds a little spice with a touch of Thai basil and finally decides that the game can’t be complete until he ends with a few springs of lemon balm! Why do we let him? We don’t!! I did not realize that he had grown so much that he was not able to pull on the leaves, take the pots down and have a feast! Just right when I was starting to think I finally grew a green thumb, no kidding people, I can even kill a silk plant (ask my mother in law!).
I consolidated my schedule to be able to work more from home and for longer stretches of times which is perfect to bake and write but I guess I don’t see him grow as much as he actually is. When C. tells me every week "Oh…he’s grown again!", I smile and say "Hmm, really? Maybe"…when really I am thinking "He’s still my little baby" go to pick him up and think "how did you get heavier overnight?"… When I let him out on the porch and heard a big and bang of things falling and tumbling I knew we had passed a stage. When I saw him feasting on the plant, I was somewhat reassured of his good taste…well maybe not right then but his fascination with lemon balm inspired me to use again.
These days, when B. opens up the fridge, he is faced with plates and many posts-its bearing dessert names, dates, preparation stages. Sometimes one reads "don’t you even think", or "not ready yet", sometimes "please finish it, I can’t eat anymore!!" There are days when I make his head spin naming things he can have for dessert. There are days after pictures, testing and distribution among friends and neighbors, when the fridge is empty again, waiting for another wave. It is then that I resort to my long standby of fresh fruit marinated in some infused syrup and served with a plate of cookies. Although I tried this dessert with ice cream before, I have come to want to leave it out of the equation over the years. The syrup is so delicious on its own that all you need is a tuile cookie to sponge the little bit of syrup left at the bottom of your cup after you are done with the fruit.
Feel free to use any combinations of fruits and berries that you like. For this I used a mix of cherries, blueberries, redcurrant, raspberries and strawberries. I started cutting up a plum to add it to the mix but somebody found it more interesting to snatch if from the cutting board and I completely forgot to add it back after that. Same goes for the syrup, I had planned on using mint but the puppy convinced me to lemon balm! Lemon verbena, lemon thyme, even rosemary or a mild basil work great in this. For the cookie, I used the same batter I used to make the decorations here and here. I spooned some into rounds about 3 inches in diameter, sprinkled sliced almonds and baked them for 8-10 minutes at 350F. Once removed from the oven, lay them over a rolling pin or bottle to take the shape of a tile. I can’t get enough of these, they were my favorites as a child, and they remain my favorite as an adult! How many do you think I need to bake in prevision of all the storms that are about to pound us?!!
Lemon Balm Infused Berries With Almond Tuiles:
2 cups fresh berries or fruit of your choice
1/3 cup sugar
4 springs lemon balm, slightly bruise the leaves between your fingers to release the oils
3/4 cup water
1 Tablespoon lemon juice
In a medium saucepan set over medium high heat, bring the sugar, lemon balm, water and lemon juice to a boil. Remove from the heat and let cool completely. Place the fruit in a large bowl, pour the cooled syrup through a strainer over the fruit. Discard the lemon balm leaves and let the fruit macerate for 30 minutes to one hour. Divide amomg 4 soup plates, bowls, etc…
For the tuiles:
see recipe here and spread into rounds, sprinkle with almonds and bake as dirested. Shape into a tuile if desired by laying the cookie on top of a curved surface like a rolling pin until cooled.