Continuing along the theme of the last month about my stay at Julia Child’s house in the south of France, I thought I would take a spin from Jessica Soffer’s book, “Tomorrow There Will be Apricots” which is the current selection from the Cook the Books group.
I took my inspiration from Julia’s “Mastering the Art” second cookbook, which she wrote with Simone Beck at their side by side homes where they developed and tested the recipes for that book. Until staying there, I hadn’t realized that she wrote a second book with Simone and unfortunately it doesn’t get the same amount of publicity as the first one. However, the recipes are just as detailed as in her first book and just as lovely.
Julia wanted to teach “servant-less Americans” to cook authentic French food and she did a fine job.
Prior to her TV career, this was a continuing mission. Simone played a key role in that undertaking as she was the French cooking authority who paired up with Julia. However, with the advent of Julia’s TV career they eventually split ways and the house, which Julia’s husband Paul designed, built and they owned, reverted to the Beck family. Having stayed in their bedroom at this house and if you haven’t already done it do check out the movie “Julie and Julia”. It’s a great story about their love for each other.
The Cook the Books book selection is about two lost souls from two different cultures who find each other and lead each other to better lives as they cook together and make a new friendship. They share food traditions and teach each other new techniques. Somehow I guess friends are where you find them, and these two found each other.
This refrigerated cream custard, as Julia Child describes it, is a cross between a Charlotte Malakoffe and classic Bavarian cream. It is a custard, bound with butter and gelatin. The custard is layered over a sponge cake soaked in Kirsch liquor and molded into individual serving dishes. The apricots and almonds are added at the end to enhance what essentially is a cream Anglaise.
Today, I’ve adapted that recipe to simplify things, and honestly according to my test audience it tastes pretty good.
Apricots and Almond Crème Anglaise Custard
(Adapted from Julia Child, Mastering the Art II)
Toast 1/2 cup chopped sliced almonds in 1 tbs butter till golden brown. Set aside. Spray a 6-cup mold with non-stick cooking spray. Toast thinly sliced pound cake coated with apricot jam, soaked in 1 tbs Kirsch and sprinkled with granulated sugar in 3 tbs butter until golden brown on both sides. Insert pound cake slices in the bottom of the 3-oz molds. Top with toasted almonds, top with a small layer of apricot jam and set aside.
1½ packages unflavored powdered gelatin sprinkled with 1/3 cup Kirsch and melted over medium heat. Set aside but keep warm.
¾ cup granulated sugar
2 ½ cup milk heated but not simmered
8 oz butter cut into small slices and set aside at room temperature
1 tsp vanilla
Pinch of salt
After mixing the gelatin and kirsch, beat the sugar gradually into the pan. Add the eggs one at a time and beat until pale yellow, about 2-3 minutes. It should drop off the spoon in small ribbons. Do not let mixture get to a simmer as the eggs will curdle. Add the gelatin mixture and beat vigorously for another 2-3 minutes. Drop in the butter slices. Add the vanilla and stir in.
Ladle 1/3 of the cream mix on the top of the pound cake and almonds. Then fill the ramekins and add sliced apricots reserved almond bits plus drops of jam on top. Chill several hours or a full day. To demold, run a knife around edges of the molded cream. Then turn upside down and unmold. To serve, top with whipping cream and toss with additional chopped almonds and sliced apricots as a garnish.
This is my contribution to the current selection of Cook the Books, “Tomorrow there will be Apricots” which is being hosted by the lovely Simona Carini of “Briciole”.