Crushed Raspberry Syllabub
At the Inn I was always on the lookout for dessert ideas. In particular, I wanted to use fresh ingredients when they were available and so I was always stockpiling apple recipes for the fall, maple recipes for mud season, raspberry recipes for early summer and early fall (depending on where you got your raspberries and whether they grew spring or fall berries), strawberry recipes for those three weeks in June when we can get them here in Vermont.
In my mind, the simpler the recipe the better, especially when you want to showcase a fresh, in-season, flavor. Some of the recipes I’ve used are hardly even recipes. I mean, if you love tomatoes the way I love tomatoes, you just eat them, standing in the garden until the acidity of them makes your mouth hurt. (I was known for this as a child. I’d happily pick up a tomato and eat it like an apple.) If I have strawberries, most likely I’m going to make shortcakes, whip up some cream and call it good. (In a genius mom moment, we were allowed this as dinner once in a very blue moon, when there were fresh strawberries to be had. Or waffles. We occasionally got waffles for dinner.)
Crushed Raspberry Syllabub became one of my favorite ways to showcase fresh berries when we could get them. (Early morning berry picking was always on my list of ‘chores’ that I never really minded. When your life is as hectic and people-filled as an innkeeper/restaurant owners can be, getting out of the Inn for a quick half hour standing in an orchard and picking any kind of fruit is a little slice of heaven.)
Syllabubs are one of the oldest English desserts around. It is basically a whipped cream dessert usually flavored with a little alcohol and sweetened with some sort of sugar. In the strictest, oldest, most traditional sense, syllabubs were a frothy drink made in the 1500’s. The dessert was derived from that origin. (So, yes, to the customer who once gave me a pretty harsh dressing-down over the fact that what I made was not actually a syllabub, you are right, as I said to you that night. But now that I no longer exist in a world where the customer is always right I can also say, do have any idea how annoying it is to be that pedantic?)
Raspberry Syllabub holds a special place in my Shoreham Inn heart. I had a favorite customer (I know, I know, I’m not supposed to play favorites….), an older gentleman who would come in on his own, early in the evening and sit at the bar with me. We’d talk about anything and everything. He’d been a farmer for many years and he loved to drive across the country and he was widowed and a little lonely but not maudlin. His grown children, who didn’t live nearby, liked knowing that he was getting a good meal from us once in a while. He occasionally liked to go say hello to the hubby in the kitchen and see what was what. He loved dessert but wasn’t supposed to have much sugar and when he discovered Raspberry Syllabub it was love at first taste. He would ask about it whenever he was in, it became a running joke between us. He knew I’d only make it during raspberry season, but he’d forever tease me about just going to get any old raspberries from the grocery store. I can’t remember when it happened the first time, I think there was a birthday celebration, that he asked me to make this dessert for him especially. If he brought berries in with him, could I make this dessert? (Here is where I’m going to give up the game – this is a shockingly easy dessert to make.) So, I could, and did, say yes to this request. He could bring berries with him to his birthday dinner and while they were having dinner and while I was running a restaurant I could also find time to make him his very own Raspberry Syllabub. His daughters were horrified at the imposition they imagined this was, he was thrilled and I loved being able to do this for him. I did this a few times over the years. His family came in for dinner during the last week we owned the Inn and he came into the kitchen with me while I made the dessert so he’d know how to do it himself. (Or, perhaps to be able to instruct the new owners? I’m not entirely sure of his intentions.)
So, here’s my version of this simple dessert. You could certainly change out the liquor for something with a different flavor (Amaretto perhaps?). And blackberries would work nicely too. Or you could just make the whipped cream concoction and then serve it over a bowl of fresh strawberries or peaches or stewed apples……
Crushed Raspberry Syllabub
- 10 1/2 oz fresh raspberries
- 3 oz sugar
- 1/2 lemon finely grated zest and juice
- 1/2 pint heavy cream
- 2 tbsp brandy
Place the berries, sugar and lemon zest in the bowl of a stand mixer. Crush the berries until you have a nice berry mess.
Stir in the lemon juice and the cream.
Using the whisk attachment, whip the mixture. Add the brandy when the mixture begins to thicken.
Carry on whipping until the mixture is think and light, but still floppy.
Spoon into glasses or bowls and serve immediately. It will also keep, chilled, for a few hours. If it sits longer than that you might need to re-whip it briefly.