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Recipes

№ 76 - Summper Berry Compote with Crème Anglaise

Rote Grütze mit Vanillesoße

Rote Grütze is a summer dessert popular in Germany and also Denmark, where it's known as rødgrød. Both names are unpronouncable to your anglophone tongues and they sound unappetizing even to my German ears, but don't hold that against this strikingly red compote that explodes with berry flavors. It can be served with plain cream or, as in my recipe, with Alice Waters' crème anglaise or another vanilla sauce.

The exact composition of summer berries isn't written in stone - just use what's available as long as you include at least some raspberries and redcurrant.
 
If you're drowning in berries, you could double the quantity of the compote. It keeps for around 2 weeks in the fridge, or even longer, depending on the sugar content. Just make yourself a fresh batch of crème anglaise. 

Serves 6-8

For the compote:

3 cups of a mix of red, black or blue summer berries, including:

    red or black raspberries,

    red currant,

and possibly including:

    blackcurrant,

    red or purple gooseberries,

    blackberries,

    blueberries,

    strawberries, or even

    bing cherries

    ⅓ cup pearl tapioca

    ½ to almost 1 cup granulated sugar, to taste

    ½ cup orange juice

For the crème anglaise:

    4 egg yolks

    2 cups whole milk

    3 Tbsp granulated sugar

    2-inch piece of vanilla bean

 

Berry compote:

Soak the tapioca pearls in a cup of water for 30 minutes. Meanwhile, pick over the berries, wash, remove any stems and pit the cherries if using. Place in a sauce pan along with ½ cup sugar and the orange juice. Bring to a boil over medium heat, stirring occasionally. Turn the heat down and simmer for 1 minute, stirring to disolve the sugar. Pass the berry mixture through a fine sieve without pressing down on the berries. Set the solids aside in a separate bowl and return the liquid into the saucepan along with 6 Tbsp water. Drain the tapioca, add it to the liquid and bring back to a boil over medium heat. Turn the heat back down and simmer for 15 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the tapioca pearls are entirely translucent. Add back the solids, bring back to a boil once more and turn off the heat. Rest until cool enough to taste and stir in more sugar as needed, taking care to dissolve the sugar completely before tasting again. The compote will be served chilled and the cold mutes the sugar's sweetness somewhat, so you'll want to sweeten the mixture a bit beyond "just right". If you're using a lot of sour varieties like red currant, blackcurrant or gooseberries, you might have to add almost another ½ cup sugar. Cover the compote and chill.

Crème anglaise:

Whisk the egg yolks briefly in a small bowl to break them up and set aside. Add the milk and sugar to a small heatproof bowl. Slice the vanilla bean open lengthwise with a small knife, scrape out the seeds and add both pod and seeds to the milk. Heat the milk in a water bath by placing the bowl in a water-filled saucepan over medium heat. Stir to dissolve the sugar. As soon as the milk is hot enough to give off a little steam, whisk a few tablespoons of it into the egg yolks before stirring them into the milk. Continue heating in the water bath and stir continuously until the mixture hits 170F, or, if you don't have a thermometer, until it thickens enough to cover the back of a spoon. Immediately remove the mixture from the saucepan and strain through a fine sieve. Refridgerate. 

To serve, spoon the compote into individual glasses or small bowls and pour crème anglaise on top.

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