Maine’s blueberry season is in its last days but that doesn’t discourage the bakers, the jam makers, the sundae eaters and those who just generally love to eat the berries out of hand. Everyone who loves blueberries indulges until the season’s bitter end.
While in Maine recently I almost had my fill, freshly combed from low-lying plants all along the coast and beyond. Sold mostly at roadside stands, these small, dusty blue and densely flavored fruits resemble huckleberries more than their fat cultivated cousins. Anything they touch is instantly more delicious, and the late season Elliott variety is still there for the picking.
Maine bakers notably put blueberries in a double or single crust pie. The best I had was made by Camden resident and vaunted local cook Liv Rockefeller, who piles berries into crushed graham crackers and just barely bakes them. The crisp, sweet crust against the tender pop of the juicy, just slightly tart blue orbs is sheer heaven. I love, too, freshly baked blueberry muffins, particularly those from the oven of Northport resident Beverly Crofoot.
And then there was the miraculous, just-heated blueberry and strawberry blend made during the cooking class I taught at Saltwater Farm. Seasoned with just a touch of vanilla sugar and a tiny bit of allspice, then served with locally made sheeps’ milk ricotta, it was sheerly, simply delectable. You may want to do as we did on that sunny day just a few minutes ago, and serve this dessert with freshly made financiers.
MARVELOUS BERRY DESSERTLE DESSERT MERVEILLEUX
This recipe was inspired by friend and colleague, David Lebovitz
Generous 2 cups (9 oz.;270g) blueberries
1 pint (about 250g) ripe strawberries, stemmed and thickly sliced
1 tablespoon vanilla sugar, or to taste
Pinch of freshly ground allspice
1 cup (250 ml) ricotta or fromage frais
6 tablespoons dark honey such as chestnut honey
Mint sprigs, for decoration
1. Place the berries in a skillet over medium heat. When the berries begin to heat through and give up their juices, add the sugar and the allspice and cook just until the sugar dissolves and the berries are hot through, 3 to 5 minutes, depending on the ripeness of the berries. Shake the pan from time to time, then remove from the heat and keep warm.
2. To serve, divide the berries and their juices among 6 shallow dessert bowls. Using two large spoons, make 12 oval shapes—quenelles— with the ricotta and place two quenelles on each plate, near the berries. Drizzle 1 tablespoon honey over the quenelles. Garnish with the mint sprigs, and serve.
12 tablespoons (6 ounces;180g) unsalted butter, melted and cooled
1-1/2 cups (140g) almond powder
1-2/3 cup (225g) confectioner’s sugar
½ cup (70g) unbleached, all-purpose flourPinch of salt
3/4 cup egg whites (or the whites from 5 or 6 eggs)
1. Preheat the oven to 450°F (230°C). Using a pastry brush, thoroughly butter about 21 individual financier molds using some of the melted butter intended for the financiers. Arrange the molds side by side but not touching on a baking sheet. Place the baking sheet with the molds in the freezer so the butter solidifies, and so the financiers unmold easily.
2. In a large bowl, combine the almond powder, sugar, flour, and salt. Mix to blend. Add the egg whites and mix until thoroughly blended. Add the remaining melted butter and mix until thoroughly blended. The mixture will be fairly thin.
3. Pour or spoon the batter into the molds, filling them almost to the rim. Place the baking sheet in the center of the oven. Bake until the financiers are pale gold and begin to firm up, about 7 minutes. Turn off the oven and leave the financiers to sit in the warm oven for 7 minutes.
4. Remove the financiers from the oven and let them cool in the molds for 10 minutes, then unmold them onto a cooling rack to cool completely.
Makes about 21 1-3/4 x 3-1/2 inch (4.5 x 9 cm) financiers