Ispahan Crème for Christmas Dinner

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ispahan creams 1-1

Ispahan creme

I have another food confession to make. I adore tinned lychees. Of course fresh ones are gorgeous but sometimes they're not as good as you want them to be but tinned ones, they always taste the same. They were the ones from my childhood. I recall sitting for what seemed like an interminable time in Chinese restaurants while my parents chatted to friends. Lychees and vanilla ice cream were the thing I always looked forward to-for starters it signalled the end to the evening and it was sweet, refreshing and creamy at the same time. At home I used to stick tins of it in the fridge to chill it, drain out the juice in a tall glass, add a scoop of vanilla ice cream to the juice and stir it to mix it and drop in a few lychees. Now that was the most refreshing type of drink to me and fishing out the fat, pearlised lychees from the bottom with a spoon was the best ending.

ispahan creams berry haul

Our fresh berry haul

Anyway, back to the creams. I did a trial run of these using half of the quantity to see whether they'd survive a hectic Christmas schedule and I'm very happy to report that they would most certainly. The wonderful thing about these is the fact that they can be done hours ahead - in fact the cream absolutely has to be done hours ahead although you will want to hold off on decorating it until before serving (an hour or two won't hurt though). It's also perfect for the hot Australian Christmas where fruit and ice cream or gelato are often served in place of plum pudding. And the fact that it's all white, red and gold couldn't look more Christmassy.

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I served these in a margarita glass but any wide brimmed glass will do. The rose cream, lychees and berries work wonderfully together in that brilliant homage to Pierre Herme's Ispahan creation so whilst it wasn't originally called an Ispahan Crème, I thought this would suit it. And you know what is funny? I read that Herme uses tinned lychees for his Ispahan dessert!

So tell me Dear Reader, do you rate tinned lychees or do you only eat fresh ones? Or do you go for the deep fried ice cream in Chinese restaurants?

Ispahan Crèmes (Rose scented creams with lychees and raspberries)

Adapted from a recipe by Phillipa Sibley of Bistro Guillame

  • 300ml cream

  • 300ml milk

  • 130g caster sugar

  • 1 teaspoon rosewater

  • 3 titanium strength gelatine leaves

  • a little pink food colouring

  • 2x 120g punnets raspberries, cherries or other berries

  • Lychees and edible gold leaf

Buyer's tip: edible Gold leaf can be found at specialty cooking stores, some Indian grocery stores and larger art supply stores. Rosewater or Rosewater essence can be found at most supermarkets.

Step 1 - In a small saucepan, place cream, milk and 1/3 cup (75g) of the sugar and roseweater and set to medium heat until sugar has dissolved and the mixture is almost bubbling.

gelatine cream

Placing gelatine in the rose cream

Step 2 - Meanwhile soften the gelatine leaves in some cold water for a few minutes. Remove and squeeze out excess water and add to the cream mixture along with a little pink food colouring to tint it a pale pink. Strain through a fine sieve and cool. Pour into 6 serving glasses and refrigerate. Mine took about 1.5 hours to set.

Step 3 - While it is setting, make a syrup with the remaining 1/4 cup (55g) of sugar and an equal quantity of 1/4 cup of water. Stir to dissolve sugar and then simmer for 2-3 minutes until thickened slightly. Cool syrup. Place 1 punnet of the raspberries with the syrup in a food processor and blend until smooth. Pass through a fine sieve pressing down with the back of a spoon so the seeds are removed and all of the liquid has been extracted. Chill.

berry coulis

Possibly the ugliest picture to appear on NQN but I just had to show it

Step 4 - Take set creams out of the fridge and place a spoonful of the berry sauce in the centre. Dot with fruit and arrange whole, pitted lychee to one side. Using tweezers and dry hands, add gold leaf to the lychee and serve.