Happy Easter! I have heard the words ‘Christ is Risen’ in at least twelve languages, and have learned how having faith in the Resurrection is quite a lot like barracking for the Melbourne Demons, except that one’s hopes are more likely to be fulfilled in the former case. (Apparently, our minister has been a Melbourne supporter since the mid-sixties. During that time, Melbourne has won precisely zero premierships, and is mostly found holding up the ladder, or, as my father would have it, ‘lulling you into a false sense of security which may well turn out to be a true one…’).
Also, I finally got to sing a descant, so now I really feel like it’s Easter. You can’t have a resurrection unless you spend serious time above the stave, that’s what I always say. It’s possible that my doctrine is a little suspect…
My family used to have a big get together every Easter, with roast lamb and all the trimmings, followed by some sort of spectacular dessert, always provided by my Oma. The year I was ten or so, she produced this amazing cold apricot soufflé, a beautiful, light, pale orange concoction, made even more exciting to my ten year old mind by the little Easter Eggs decorating it.
I’m not sure why this recipe, of all the recipes Oma ever made, stayed with me, but it did. And, of course, I have no idea what the recipe was. I had hoped it would be in Margaret Fulton (I have found a number of Oma’s recipes, suitably adapted, in the pages of my Margaret Fulton cookbook), but the only apricot soufflé in her pages was a baked one – not ideal for when one is expecting guests, really. I did, however, have a recipe for Apple Nougat Soufflé in a Family Circle cookbook from my childhood, and the combination of whipped cream, egg-whites and gelatine sounded about right for the effect I remember. (No, this recipe is not vegan. Not even a little bit. Sorry. In fact, this might well be the least allergy-friendly recipe I’ve ever done – oh no, wait, it *is* gluten free, so that’s something!)
So it was just a matter of changing a lot of flavours. And some of the method. And… well, you know by now what I’m like with recipes. The result is not Oma’s soufflé – I don’t think Oma would have used orange flower water, and she certainly wouldn’t have used peach schnapps or made a praline garnish – but it is light and fluffy and apricot-flavoured, and it does have little pastel Easter eggs on top. The spirit is right, even if the actuality is a little altered.
(We lit candles at the service today for those who were no longer with us, and were told of the Latin American tradition of saying ‘presente’ as the names of the dead were read out, to indicate that they were still with us. This is a tradition I like very much, and I hope it will be continued. But for me, Oma is far closer to me in the making of this soufflé than in the lighting of a candle. Presente!)
Your Shopping List1 1/2 cups of dried apricots 90 g butter 1/2 cup white sugar 1 tablespoon honey1/2 cup pistachios, chopped 1/4 cup peach schnapps 3 tsp gelatine 1/2 cup caster sugar 1/2 tsp orange flower water 5 eggs, separated 1/2 cup cream small chocolate eggs in foil
Now what will you do with it?
Put the dried apricots in a bowl, and cover with water. Leave to soak for three hours.
Make the praline. Line a baking tray with greaseproof paper. Put the butter, white sugar, honey and a tablespoon of water into a small frying pan, and heat gently until the butter and sugar are melted. Raise the heat and continue cooking until the mixture is a deep caramel colour, and the bubbles are moving quite slowly, indicating that the mixture is very thick (you will need to stir this occasionally, or it will go very dark at the edges before the middle is done).
Stir in the pistachios.
Pour the mixture out onto the prepared baking tray, and spread it out a little with a spoon. Leave to cool and harden.
Place in a sturdy freezer bag – the kind which seals – and bash with a rolling pin to crush the praline. Make sure the bag really is sturdy, or you will end up with praline all over the kitchen and yourself, and you will not be the happier for it. The best method for crushing praline is to whack it with your rolling pin in the characteristic beat from Queen while singing ‘We will rock you’. You can make up alternative words if you wish.
Now return to the apricots. Remove them from the soaking liquid, and put them into a small saucepan with half a cup of the soaking liquid (reserve the rest, you will need some of it). Cook over low heat until the apricots are getting quite melty and the water has all been evaporated or taken up by the apricots. Scrape your apricot mixture into a blender and blend with another 1/4 cup of the soaking liquid. Return to the saucepan over very low heat.
While the apricots are cooking (in the pre-blender phase), pour the peach schnapps into a medium bowl, and sprinkle the gelatine over the top. Leave for five minutes so that the gelatine can soften. Beat in half the caster sugar (i.e., 1/4 cup), and the five egg yolks, as well as the orange flower water.
Use a spatula to scrape this mixture into the saucepan with the apricots, and whisk it into the apricot mixture. Stir over a very low heat for a minute or so, until the mixture is about to come back to the bowl, then switch off the heat and put the saucepan in the fridge for half an hour or so, until the apricot mixture begins to thicken.
When the apricot mixture is nearly ready, whip the cream, and beat the egg whites until soft peaks form. Slowly beat the remaining 1/4 cup of sugar into the egg whites to make a meringue.
Gently fold the whipped cream into the apricot mixture, followed by the egg white in two batches.
You could fold in some crushed praline here too, if you liked. You want to do this as lightly as possible, in order to keep the air you’ve whipped into the egg whites and cream from being squashed out – this will make the mousse light.
Scrape into a bowl, or, ideally, a round, straight-sided glass dish such as I do not have, and decorate with crushed praline and Easter eggs. Chill for at least three hours to set.
As mentioned above, this one is gluten-free, but has nothing else going for it in food-allergy land. It isn’t even vegetarian, what with the gelatine, though the new vegetarian Jel-It-In that our local supermarket is stocking might well work. Sorry. If you can eat dairy and gelatine, but not eggs, I’d suggest trying my strawberry mousse here. Unfortunately, most mousses and soufflés really do rely on eggs or gelatine to work…
This soufflé could work with a variety of dried fruits or liqueurs, and I encourage you to give it a try! I’m off to prepare a lamb roast now – Easter traditions must be maintained!
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~One year ago: Tired one-pot pasta with lentils and sausages Two years ago: Magnetic and Genetic properties of chocolate