Woah, 2013 needs to slow down. I can’t quite believe that it’s already been a whole two weeks since Kat and I opened the fridge on New Year’s Day and were greeted by a rather astonishing sight: an unfinished bottle of champagne. The concept of leftover champagne may well be foreign to you – indeed it’s an incredibly rare event when I’m involved (assuming it isn’t a case (badum-tschhhh!) of bad champagne…). So. What does one do with champagne leftovers? Despite the teaspoon trick (popping a teaspoon handle down in the bottle which is magically supposed to keep most of the bubbles in, though I’m not sure how), it wasn’t in the bubbliest state so drinking it wasn’t going to be ideal.
Luckily, the alcohol of choice for this month’s Baking with Spirit challenge is “champagne” – perfect, although that doesn’t really help in choose what exactly to make. I feel a little guilty for missing last month’s Baking with Spirit challenge (here’s the round-up) since I went on holiday and generally ran out of time, so I wanted to make something awesome to make up for it, plus it’s also Janine’s birthday month. That plan failed a little because after much deliberation, we settled on something not particularly original and which may seem a bit of a cop-out, but it’s so delicious that I do hope Janine will forgive me…
It is, of course, summer here in NZ, and summer means summer berries. Yay! Originally we wanted to honour the Kir Royale by poaching some blackcurrants in a champagne syrup (in case you’re not familiar with Kir Royale, it consists of crème de cassis – blackcurrant liqueur – and champagne). However, we couldn’t find any blackcurrants – I wonder if they’re only available at farmers’ markets or at pick-your-owns. So our idea morphed into poaching a combination of summer berries in a Kir Royale syrup. Oh hey there decadence, how you doing? The champagne is quite a subtle taste, coming through at the start and then turning into a deliciously fruity flavour.
I have a little confession though. Even though summer berries are in season, we actually used a frozen summer berry mix. Shock horror, I know, but let me explain. For a start, I needed to create a bit of space in my freezer, but more importantly, not all of the summer berries in the mix are readily available to buy fresh – as well as the mysterious lack of blackcurrants, I’ve never seen fresh boysenberries, for example. I’m not sure why that is because the berry mix is from a NZ farm, so they are definitely grown here. Luckily this dessert works perfectly whether you use fresh or frozen berries. I’m going to be cheeky and still submit this to Simple and in Season, hosted by Lavender and Lovage this month, since the berries are in season, and I’d have used fresh if I could find them all. I might be bending the rules a little bit, so I’m just going to smile, wave and move on swiftly to the actual recipe.
Kir Royale-poached summer berries
Recipe by Sharky Oven Gloves
You can use fresh or frozen berries for this dessert, but if using frozen berries, defrost them in advance and make sure to keep the juice. You can use berries in whatever combination you like – although definitely make sure to try and get blackcurrants in there. The dessert is best served with little biscuits to nibble on alongside (although it won’t necessarily be dairy-, egg- and gluten-free anymore) – langues de chat would work perfectly – and serving it in fancy glasses such as champagne saucers or martini glasses really dresses it up. I sprinkled a bit of raw sugar crystals over the top but most of them ended up dissolving into the poaching liquid, so that ended up being a bit pointless. If you have any leftover syrup, keep it in the fridge and use it to drizzle over icecream or sorbets.
250g mixed summer berries (blackberries, blackcurrants, blueberries, boysenberries, raspberries, strawberries, etc.)
250g caster sugar
1 tsp crème de cassis
Langues de chat or other little biscuits, to serve
1. Add the sugar, champagne, crème de cassis and 350ml water to a medium saucepan (make sure that it’ll be large enough to fit all the fruit as well) and bring to the boil.
2. Turn down the heat, and add the fruit (and any juice if using defrosted fruit). Simmer for about 10-15 mins.
3. Remove the fruit into a serving bowls or individual dishes or glasses. Return the poaching liquid to the heat and simmer down until syrupy and reduced by half. Spoon over the top of the fruit and serve with little biscuits on the side.