Cookie Basket with Red Fruit
What an exquisite way to serve fresh fruit, cradled in crisp baskets with fruit puree and ice cream. Any combination of fresh fruit will do, but the red and purple fruit are particularly pretty. The baskets resemble lacy tuiles, although the recipe contains no egg whites. Nougatine is a French sweet resembling peanut brittle. It is usually made with almonds or hazelnuts; for this recipe, almonds are used. When it emerges from the oven and begins to cool it has a short period of time in which it is pliable, then it becomes crisp and shatters if bent. Work quickly!
- Sugar - 1-1/2 cups
- Almonds - 1-1/4 cups, finely-chopped
- Cookie Baskets
- Butter - 1 pound, softened at room temperature
- Confectioner’s Sugar - 1-1/4 cups
- Nougatine - chopped, (above)
- Flour - 2/3 cup
- Juice of 1 lemon
- Red Fruit Puree
- Raspberries - 1 quart
- Strawberries - 8 large, hulled
- Blackberries - 8
- Blueberries - 1/4 cup
- Sugar - 1/2 cup
- Red Fruit Filling
- Raspberries - 1 pint
- Strawberries - 1 quart, hulled
- Blackberries - 1/2 pint
- Blueberries - 1/2 pint
- Wild Strawberries - 1/2 pint, hulled (optional)
- Red gooseberries or currants - 4, small, sprigs
- Heavy (whipping) cream - 1 cup, beaten to soft peaks
- Quenelles or scoops vanilla ice cream - 4
- Mint sprigs - 8, very small
To prepare the nougatine: Line a baking sheet with a silicone liner. Put a heavy skillet over medium heat and add the sugar. Stir the sugar gently in the pan as it melts. The moment it turns golden, stir in the almonds. Pour it out onto the prepared baking sheet and quickly spread it out as thin as possible. Set aside; let cool. Chop fine and set aside.
To prepare the baskets: Stir the butter and confectioner’s sugar together in a bowl, then stir in the chopped nougatine and flour. Set aside to rest for 30 minutes.
Preheat the oven to 350 F. Line a baking sheet with a silicone liner. Have several 3-1/2-inch ring molds on hand. Spread the basket dough on the silicone liner in a large wide oval; you will be cutting eight 1-1/2-inch-by-12-inch strips from the finished ‘cookie.” Bake 10 minutes. Remove from the oven and place on top of the stove to take advantage of the warmth. Put the ring molds on a work surface. Test the cookie as it cools; when it lifts from the pan and is flexible but holds its shape, begin cutting. Using a pizza cutter or sharp knife, cut eight 1-1/2-inch-by-12-inch strips from the cookie. Lift one strip and wrap quickly around the outside of a ring mold, pressing the ends to overlap. Repeat with the other strips, lifting them free of the molds as they cool and firm. Set the finished baskets — circles — aside to cool completely. Working in the same manner, wrap a strip half way around a ring mold, letting the ends continue straight forward, creating a horseshoe shape. Repeat to make a total of four. Set these handles aside to cool. If the cookie becomes too stiff to shape, return it briefly to the oven to warm slightly and become more pliable before continuing.
To prepare the puree: Puree the fruit with the sugar in a food processor or blender. Strain through a fine-meshed sieve and set aside.
To prepare the fruit: Set the gooseberry or currants aside. Put half the remaining fruit in a non-aluminum bowl. Spoon 1/4 cup of puree over the fruit and gently toss, adding a little more if necessary to coat.
To assemble and serve: Make a 6-inch circle of puree in the center of each serving plate. Put the whipped cream in a decorating cone or squeeze bottle and dot half of the outer portion of each puree pool with whipped cream. At the end of the arc of dots, make a larger dot and draw it out into a tail; repeat with another large dot next to it, crossing the tails. Place a cookie basket (ring) to one side of each decorated pool of puree. Spoon berries into the basket, leaving space for the ice cream. Fit a handle over each basket, tucking the straight ends inside the rings. Decorate the plates with the remaining (uncoated) fruit and the gooseberries or currants. As the last minute, slip a quenelle or scoop of ice cream into each basket under the handle. Place a mint sprig in each basket, and on the fruit on the plates