At long last, we come to the end of the dinner. Dessert! There’s nothing complicated about making this at all, this one is all about presentation. This was one of the first things that occurred to me when planning this dinner. I have these forms for making shot glasses out of ice. But this is northern Canada; we rarely suffer the kind of extended heat wave that would make that a pleasant experience. Most of the time we’re surrounded by quite enough ice already, thank you very much! So I’ve never had an opportunity to use them. Anyway, I decided it would be cool to use those as the centrepiece of dessert. I’m not a huge fan of sweets in general or fruit in particular, but I do quite like raspberries as the exception. So raspberry coulis could go in the ice glass. Then just ice cream. Small portions, obviously, as this was the seventh course. Plus I wanted the ice tower in the middle. So I used a melon baller to get small scoops and gave out seven scoops per plate, because… Game of Thrones. It had to be seven.
Of course, while this was easy I couldn’t simply leave it that way. Since I was going to pre-make these and leave them in the freezer (only adding the coulis at the last minute), I wanted actual stoneware plates that would keep cool and not potentially shatter when frozen. Also, I needed some little tray or container for the shot glass to keep the melting ice from watering the rest of the plate. So what this dish really came down to was stuff. I needed to buy more kitchen stuff!
First cause for concern was the tower of ice. Very neat looking, but as it melted the water would dilute whatever was on the plate. Also, once that thing was made of wet ice it would be sliding uncontrollably all over. So I wanted some sort of container. I found these strange metal cupcake dishes at Bed Bath & Beyond. What could these possibly be used for? I understand the tinfoil versions of the same thing, that makes sense to me, but these are solid metal and not at all flexible. How would you get your cupcake out of these? Anyway, there they were, and they proved to be the perfect size. Another bit of weirdness from these things – since they’re reusable, they obviously need to be washed. Why would you make anything like that not stainless? I ran them through the dishwasher once, and afterwards they were all coated with large blobs of rust. Rust? Really? Who the hell designed these things? Anyway, after hand washing and immediately drying them, all was returned to rightness.
Next I needed a small plate for this to go on, because my dish set doesn’t come with saucers; just cups. Ikea had a set of espresso cups in their “as-is” cheap bin, so I picked up twelve of those on spec, because they were ridiculously cheap. In fact, if you go back a few posts you can see that I used the cups themselves for the salad dressing tasting. But my original conception was to use the saucers as a plate for the dessert. At any rate, while it was a good idea, it turns out they were just a little too small. Not enough room around the edges.
In the end I found these nice small square plates, which left enough room around the ice tower to put my seven melon-ball scoops of ice cream. Plus they’re white, which looks much better with the coulis. While I was doing all this shopping, I also found these delightfully tiny spoons at Superstore that could fit in the mouth of the ice glass. Excellent! Now people didn’t have to pick them up and pour out the coulis. Oh yeah – I also had to buy a melon baller. See? All about the gadgets.
Raspberry coulis is almost not worth calling a recipe, because it’s so simple. Search the internet and most of the recipes you’ll find call for raspberries, sugar, and lemon juice, then blend and strain out the seeds. The most complicated one I could find called for making the sugar into simple syrup first by adding water and boiling. Really, that was the hardest complication. Anyway, I went with that just to avoid potential grittiness, because my raspberries were frozen whole and not in syrup, and they were still frozen. So I ended up stewing them along with the sugar, then just straining that. Later investigation showed me that I’d stumbled across Emeril’s preferred method.
The end results really looked spectacular! I was quite pleased with the results. Very snazzy. Also really easy to prepare, because one of my guests came early and foolishly asked if there was anything he could do, so I put him to work scooping the ice cream. (Thanks to Mike.) When somebody else does most of the fiddly work, this really is easy.
(You can also check out Emeril’s write-up)
2 cups raspberries, frozen (or fresh and rinsed, but I live in a frozen wasteland)
½ cup sugar
1½ tbsp. lemon juice
- Add ¼ cup of water to the ½ cup sugar. Boil until sugar is dissolved (this is called simple syrup).
- Add raspberries to syrup and simmer until melted (if they were frozen), then add lemon juice. Simmer until berries are very soft and coming apart.
- (optional) Emeril suggests adding cornstarch; I’m not convinced it’s necessary. Suit yourself.
- Strain through a fine-mesh sieve into a bowl. Discard the seeds. Refrigerate and serve when cold. Any leftover coulis can be frozen and stored for up to a month (Emeril again, for that storage time).