Lost and Found
When I think of summer desserts one of the first recipes that comes to mind is for Sablé of Berries and Soft Cream, attributed to Jacques Pépin in an article I cut from a magazine many years ago. This recipe is simple and yet sublime. It is assembled from a swirl of soft cream, a crisp and delicately sweet cookie and a medley of fresh summer berries sauced in seedless raspberry jam and a splash of brandy.
Simple as it is, the recipe is perfectly proportioned and well worth referring to in order to get the details right. Unfortunately, for several years now, the recipe page with its detailed step by step directions has been lost as much as it has been found. During berry season I search longingly for the magazine page that introduced us, remembering it’s silky cream, sweet satiny crunch and bright tangy berries. For three years it remained elusive though I did catch a glimpse of it from time to time when looking for my winter holiday favorites.
Keeping Things in Proportion
Still I served it, using a different cookie and guessing at the proportions for the Berry Sauce. It is a recipe that is easy to approximate, yet making it just as directed puts everything into a consummate balance: The sablé is buttery and just crisp enough floating on a creamy pillow of soft cream swirled to a comfortable depth and topped with berries coaxed to an crescendo of tangy sweetness.
This year when I stumbled across the torn magazine page I was able to hang onto it into berry season. Working from it again I am reminded why it is such a favorite. I am sharing it here not only because I know you’ll love it too but because I don’t want to lose it again.
Sablé of Berries with Soft Cream is simple but elegant, and goes with almost any summer meal. And while it is a perfectly balanced combination when made as directed the elements are wonderful too. Use the sablé cookies when you want a sweet cookie bite that hardly spreads during baking and so sharply keeps the shape you cut it into. (I have used it for cookie houses which probably explains how it got into the winter holiday file in the first place.) Use the Berry Sauce over cheesecake, ice cream or pancakes. Use the cream, on, well....anything. Just don't lose the recipe. You may want to use it again and again.
Sablé of Berries and Soft Cream
This recipe is cut from an old magazine that attributes it to Jacque Pépin
1 cup flour
1/3 cup unsalted butter
4 Tablespoons sugar
1 egg yolk
1 Tablespoon water
Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
Place flour butter and 2 Tablespoons of sugar in the bowl of a food processor. Process for 10 seconds.
In a small bowl combine the egg yolk and water.
Add the egg mixture to the flour mixture. Process another 5 to 10 seconds, or until the dough forms a ball.
(at this point the dough can be wrapped and refrigerated for up to 3 days before baking.)
Roll out the sablé dough on a floured surface to a ¼-inch thickness. Cut the dough into 3-inch rounds using a cookie cutter or cut into squares using a ruler and pastry wheel or knife. (This should yield at least 8 cookies.)
Arrange the cut-outs on an ungreased baking sheet. Sprinkle them with the remaining 2 Tablespoons of sugar.
Bake at 400 degrees for 12 - 15 minutes or until very lightly browned. Remove from oven and cool on a wire rack.
Soft Cream (Créme Friaché)
½ cup heavy cream
1½ Tablespoons sugar
½ sour cream
In a medium bowl stir together the cream and sugar. With an electric or hand mixer beat the mixture until soft peaks form.
Fold in the sour cream.
Cover and refrigerate until ready to serve.
3 cups strawberries, rinsed and hulled (or other seasonal berries)
2 cups blueberries, rinsed
1½ cups raspberries, rinsed
1 cup seedless raspberry preserves
1 Tablespoon brandy or raspberry liqueur
Mint sprigs for garnish, if desired
If the strawberries are large cut them into halves or quarters.
In a medium bowl, combine the strawberries and blueberries (other types of berries can be substituted as you see fit).
In the bowl of a food processor combine the whole raspberries and raspberry preserves. Process for 15 seconds or until smooth. Strain the puree through a sieve over the mixed fresh berries.Gently mix and stir in the brandy.
Spoon 2 Tablespoons of soft cream onto each dessert plate, spreading it into a 5-inch circle in the senter. Place a sable cookie on top of the cream. Then spoon 1/3 cup of the berry sauce on top of the cookie. Another layer can be added if desired. Garnish with mint sprig, a small dollop of soft cream or serve as is.