Today, Seattle friends came for lunch. They’d already been in Provence for a week, eating truffles every time they turned around. This, and the fact that all of these people are part of the Seattle food world, meant that the bar was high.
Lunch itself posed no problem. I had magret de canard produced near Louviers on the menu, and it is exquisite. Before that, we’d have a salad of fresh-from-the-ground endive, dressed lightly with lemon juice, walnut oil and garlic, and topped with walnuts and bleu d’Auvergne. It is irresistible. Appetizers were easy – they included yummy sweet and salty nuts seasoned with star anise, olive cookies, and a couple of pates we picked up at the market, along with thin slices of black radish on butter-slathered bread.
But dessert. It posed une colle, a challenge. These friends have had my Tarte Tatin. I could have made a winter fruit tart or a crumble, but I wanted to make something out of the ordinary. What could it be?
I mulled over my options until my eye fell on a trio of ripe persimmons sitting on my kitchen counter. Perfect. I’d make fontainbleau, an ethereal blend of cream, yogurt, egg whites and vanilla sugar, an ideal foil to translucent slices of persimmon.
We all pitched into make lunch, which was languid and delicious. As we settled into the fontainbleau a silence fell over the table until John, one of the guests, said “This is extraordinary.” My day was made.
Fontainbleau is not just extraordinary on the palate, it is also extraordinarily simple to make. Here is the recipe. Garnish with whatever seasonal fruit you have on hand.
Fontainbleau with Persimmons
For the fontainebleau:
2 cups (500ml) low-fat yogurt
1 cup (400g) vanilla sugar
1 cup (250ml) crème fraîche
1 cup (250ml) heavy cream
3 large egg whites
Pinch fine sea salt
For the persimmons:
3 ripe persimmons, peeled and cut into eighths
1. In a large mixing bowl, combine the yogurt and all but 2 tablespoons (30g) of the sugar.
2. In a second bowl, whip the creams until stiff, then fold into the yogurt mixture.
3. In yet another bowl, whip the egg whites with the fine sea salt until stiff, add the reserved 2 tablespoons of sugar, and whip until glossy, about another 20 seconds. Gently fold the egg whites into the yogurt-cream mixture.
4. Transfer the mixture to a 6 cup (1.5liter) cheesecloth-lined perforated mold, such as a strainer. Cover the mold, and place it in a bowl in the refrigerator. Refrigerate for 24 hours.
5. To serve, unmold the fontainbleau onto a large serving platter and remove the cheesecloth. Surround it with the fruit slices and serve immediately.
8 to 10 servings