Mascarpone Raspberry Gratins
I always seem to have a story don’t I? Well, bloggers are like that…they like stories: to read, to tell, to share and to write about. Somehow there is always a story behind the desserts I make , sometimes it is a long drawn explanation and sometimes something that popped in my head while experiencing one of those stories. Today is no exception…these gratins almost did not happen. Glad they did in the end though because they were mighty good.
Let’s see…it all started last night when B’s mom called and asked if I wanted to go blueberry picking with her in the morning…at the crack of dawn to avoid the heat. Yes, yes, yes….provided there are a few coffee stops along the way please….Then she threw raspberries in the mix so I
jumped fell out of bed! There are a few things that make my heart skip on a hot June morning (well, B. is one of them, of course) and among my favorites are berries, stone fruits and spending a few hours with my mother in law and her stories of my husband when he was wee high. I am about to digress again so I’d better get right on to the rest of the day…
After our little berry picking frenzy (I basically needed her to keep some of my stash in her extra freezer), I pulled in the driveway with a huge basket of raspberries just in time to see one of the twins holding a puppy and walking towards me. Now for those new here (Hello, hello!), we do not have children, we jokingly say that all we have to do is walk next door and borrow C’s twins for the day…or they borrow us, there are days one can’t tell…Anyways… Her husband had sent her to get new tires and she came back with the wrong tires and a "free" puppy (read no shots or tags and probably younger). Her husband was red as a poppy, the kids were beaming and in her usual Southern nonchalance she just walked up to me and said "help us give him a bath"
I spent a good part of the day taking work breaks to go play with the puppy which we finally named Sullivan. At some point we got distracted by the rest of the brood, a cat, another dog and a turtle (yep, they needed another dog like I need another bill) and did not pay much attention to Sully until we heard is whimpering. We turned around and burst out laughing. He had found a way to climb up the crate full of raspberries and was barely holding his balance not to fall off the tiny ledge and take a dive into it. I guess he got a little too impressed with his Cirque du Soleil capacities and fell head first into the raspberries! I ran over and picked him up, all red and happy licking his paws, face and tail. Once back on the ground he ran back to the crate and tried to climb it again! He surely enjoyed his first baptism by raspberries and was ready for a little more!
I did manage to save quite a bit of the berries after the puppy dive (thank God, they don’t weigh much at 8 weeks) and proceeded to make these little Mascarpone Raspberry Gratins. They made me think of Sully: light as feathers, wickedly cute and they really put a smile on my face! The fresh raspberries retain their fresh factor and the cream is rich and smooth without leaving that buttery coating on your tongue.
For the nut topping I have to thank one of my faithful readers, Bina, who sends me the most thoughtful gifts. Last winter, she had sent me an Indian specialty called Chikki, close to a toffee but this almonds, pistachios and cardamom. She emailed saying that her mom had made some more and brought it to the States and she would love to send me some more. Yes please!! So before the stash disappeared completely I did hide a few pieces and crushed them to top the gratins with. She also stitched me the cutest little kitchen towels but I am afraid to get the dirty! To top it all, her packaging is as precious as the gifts…. and since she only lives in the next state over I really hope e get to meet one day soon. Thank you and stop being shy, you are among friends!
Allright, allright, I am done….on to the recipe!
Serves 4-6 depending on the size of your ramequins.
1/2 cup (4 oz) mascarpone, at room temperature
1/4 cup sugar
1 tsp vanilla bean paste or 1 tsp vanilla extract or 1/2 vanilla bean, seeded
1 egg + 1 egg yolk
3/4 cup heavy cream
1 cup fresh raspberries
In a large mixing bowl, whisk the mascarpone with the sugar until smooth. Add the vanilla, the egg and the egg yolk. Whisk until fully incorporated and add the heavy cream. Make sure everything is well combined and divide between your ramequins, not filling them all the way to the top, about 3/4 full. Divide the raspberries among the gratins and set the dishes in a deep roasting pan. Fill the pan with water, half way up the sides of the dishes and bake at 340 for about 20-25 minutes or until they seem to be barely set: still giggling a little when you move the pan but not completely wobbly. They will continue to bake and set as they cool. Let cool and serve either chilled or at room temperature.