Simple Art of Cooking: Cool Treats for Hot Valentines

“Save room for dessert,” says my niece Debbie, who’s known for her sweet tooth. For Valentine’s Day she is excited about preparing a cold raspberry soufflé, from my e-book, The Simple Art of Cooking. This luscious, airy pink soufflé is can be prepared with frozen raspberries at any time of the year.

Influenced by my niece’s comfortable and classy loungewear, ablaze with pink and red in her shop window (Relax, in Sag Harbor), I’m ready to indulge in sweet treats this Valentine’s Day.

COLD RASPBERRY SOUFFLÉ
Frozen raspberries are used for this recipe to be enjoyed through the year.

Serves 8 to 10
1/3 cup orange juice made from frozen concentrate diluted to half strength
1 envelope unflavored gelatin
2 packages (10 oz. each) frozen raspberries, thawed
1 cup sugar
1 tablespoon Kirsch or Framboise (cherry or raspberry liqueur, respectively)
1 1/2 cups heavy cream
3 egg whites
1/8 teaspoon cream of tartar or pinch of salt
1/2 cup heavy cream, fresh raspberries and chopped pistachios for garnish, optional

1. Prepare a soufflé dish and wrap with parchment collar secured with kitchen string. Butter the inside of the dish.

2. Pour orange juice into a 1–cup glass measure, sprinkle on gelatin and let stand several minutes until gelatin has absorbed liquid. Do not stir. Set aside.

3. Pour raspberries into a sieve-lined bowl, catching liquid. Allow raspberries to drain about 10 minutes or so. The juice in mixing bowl should measure about 1 cup. If necessary, add a little water to make 1 cup liquid. Combine raspberry juice with sugar in a heavy saucepan over moderate heat and cook until liquid lightly films a wooden spoon, about 10 to 12 minutes. Add raspberries, reduce heat, and simmer about 10 minutes longer.

4. Remove saucepan from heat and scrape the gelatin into the hot liquid and stir until gelatin is thoroughly dissolved. Pour into a sieve-lined bowl and force purée through sieve to remove the seeds. Scrape purée from under the sieve into mixing bowl. Place in refrigerator to cool about 10 minutes. When completely cool, stir in liqueur.

5. Whip 1 1/2 cups heavy cream in a cold bowl with cold beaters until beaters leave light traces when drawn across the cream. Fold into raspberry mixture.

6. Beat egg whites on low speed just until foamy. Add cream of tartar or salt. Increase speed to high and beat until whites are firm but not dry. Add 1/4 of beaten egg whites to raspberry mixture and gently stir through to soften. Fold in remaining whites until incorporated. Pour into prepared soufflé dish. Chill four hours minimum, preferably overnight, until firm.

7. To serve: Insert a table knife between soufflé and collar. Carefully unroll paper collar away from sides of soufflé. For garnish, whip remaining 1/2 cup heavy cream. Using a pastry bag, pipe rosettes between raspberries and sprinkle over chopped pistachios.

RASPBERRY JAM CAKES
A friend lovingly remembers the legendary tastes of her mother’s jam cakes. 

Yield about 24 to 28 squares

2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon cream of tartar
3/4 granulated sugar
1 stick unsalted butter, chilled
2 extra-large eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla
3/4 to 1 cup red seedless raspberry jam
Confectioners’ sugar

1. Adjust oven rack one-third up from the bottom and preheat oven to 375°F.

2. Sift together the flour, baking soda and cream of tartar in a mixing bowl or bowl and set aside; then with a pastry blender, cut the butter into the dry ingredients until the mixture is fine and crumbly.

4. In a small bowl, beat eggs with a fork to mix and stir in vanilla. Add mixture to the dough and with fork; stir well until the dry ingredients are evenly moistened. Divide the dough in half. With lightly floured fingertips, press half the dough evenly in an unbuttered 8 or 9-inch square baking pan to the edge of the pan. Then, with the back of a spoon, spread half the jam evenly over the layer of dough, keeping the jam 1/4 to 1/3 inch away from the edges.

5. Form the remaining dough into a flattened square between two squares of wax paper, lightly dusted with flour. With a rolling pin, roll over the wax paper to roll the dough to an 8 or 9-inch square. Lift topside of the wax paper and flip the dough over the bottom later. Cover with the jam as above. Bake for 30 to 35 minutes or until the top is a deep, rich red. Cool at least one hour or best to refrigerate, tented with foil, overnight.  Cut along edges with a kitchen knife, dipped in warm water, to release the pastry from the baking pan. Transfer to a board and cut into squares. Dust with confectioners sugar for serving.

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