Fruit and almond gratins featured in this monthâ€™s Gourmet Magazine special on Montreal looked so good I was itching to try them ASAP. They seemed like the perfect no fuss ending to the Saturday Dinner with Friends (previous post). It also helped that I discovered that Santis delicatessen carried frozen blackberries which I havenâ€™t had in eons. I also had some nice pears in the fridge, perfectly ripe mangoes from Cebu and some tart-ish baguio strawberries. I figured I would mix and match and see what combinations would work really well. This dessert was really simple to make, and it was done an hour before the guests arrived as it is meant to be served either lukewarm or at room temperature.
The basic recipe is by Elena Faita-Venditelli, courtesy of my Gourmet Magazine, though I have made some alterations due to the availability of ingredients in my kitchenâ€¦ Pre-heat oven at 350 F. Butter your gratin or mini-souffle dishes. Whisk in a bowl the following ingredients: 2 large eggs, Â½ cup thick cream (I used cooking cream from the grocery), Â¼ cup almond flour (I made my own by blitzing unsalted almonds in my food processor until flour-like in consistency), 1/3 cup of sifted confectioners or caster sugar, Â½ teaspoon of good vanilla and a pinch of salt. Cut up the cored pears, cube the mangoes, large dice the strawberries and take the blackberries out of the freezer. Make up your preferred combinations of fruit and place in each of the gratin dishes.
The original recipe called for seedless red grapes, raspberries and pears. I used blackberries because I like their taste but in retrospect, raspberries would work better because the seeds or pips of the blackberries were a bit large and somewhat disconcerting to the guests. I still like the flavor of the blackberries, however. I tried different combinations such as pear, blackberry and mango which worked well. I also tried pear, strawberry and blackberry. The least successful one was pear, strawberry and mango which seemed too watery compared to the other gratins. I guess the key is balancing the texture and the sweet/tart flavors that makes an interesting gratin. Next time I will try some tart-ish plums and pear. Also, the intended raspberries from the original recipe.
Once the fruit is in the dishes, cover with the custard mixture, sprinkle with some sliced almonds, and put on a pan and into the oven for about 30 minutes. It will bubble as the fruit cooks. If you have a functioning broiler, singe the tops of the gratins for 2 minutes to brown the crust. Remove and cool. Serve just barely warm or at room temperature. If you want to go over the top, serve with good vanilla ice cream, or thick cream or whipped cream. Delicious. Absolutely delicious.