I was leery last week, as I began a my farmers market finales. I worried that my upcoming travels would make a false start of the new series. However, as quickly as I gathered worries, they were dismissed by the prospect of creating market desserts from east coast markets. My first stop on this trip was a short stay with my Aunt and Uncle in New Jersey, who assured me there was a near by farmers market. It didn’t take much arm twisting to get a ride down, just a promise of dessert. The timing couldn’t have been better, as we were expected at my cousins house for a family barbecue that evening.
We arrived at the Trenton Farmers Market early, just as the vendors were settling in for the day. A year round affair housed in a permanent structure, we found over a third of the stalls vacant, waiting for times of greater abundance. I was told in New Jersey, abundance means corn and tomatoes, of which we saw none yet.
We did find something for dessert quickly, at a table covered in stacked pints of blueberries. I started to collect a few pints to purchase, when my Uncle and I began to wonder why the blueberries we had were costlier than the same boxes on the opposite side of the table. We were told that while they looked the same, they were very different berries. Upon tasting we were quite surprised to find such a difference in flavor between the two. The berries I had initially reached for were of the “Duke” variety, large and sweet but light in flavor, and the pricier of the two. The second variety was smaller, but packed quite a punch of flavor with much more acidity and blueberry notes. “Weymouth” they were called, and we settled on them as we were going to do more than eat the berries out of hand.
We strolled back through the market, making our way to Halo Farms, the dairy next door. We made it to the end of the market before I was detoured by baskets of black raspberries. A deep, musky variety of raspberry, I had my first taste of black raspberries last year in a pie made by Amy McCray, a native to Ohio, a state she describes as over grown by “real” raspberries. It was love at first bite, and I snatch the berries every chance I have, which is rarely in Seattle.
The plan was now forming in my head, and by the time my hands reached for the door to the dairy, it was settled. I would make a compote using a method from Claudia Flemming’s book The Last Course. The black raspberries and half the blueberries would be cooked with sugar and a pinch of cinnamon. When they bubbled thick and glossy, they would be pureed and strained of the black raspberries overwhelming amount of seeds, and folded with the remaining fresh blueberries. Alas, a compote featuring the dual flavor of blueberries, cooked and fresh, and deepened with the musky flavor of black raspberries. This compote can be made with just the blueberries and will be equally delicious. I added the black raspberries last minute, letting the “in the moment” quality of the market guide my decisions.
To serve the berries we needed a little more than spoons. For my Aunt Joanne, we purchased a container of Halo Farms vanilla ice cream, a simple foil for the compote that takes no extra preparation on the part of the cook. But just for fun, and to use another ingredient you might find at your own local farmers market, I make a Yogurt Mousse.
The mousse is sweetened with white chocolate rather than sugar. This addition adds a depth to the mousse sugar wouldn’t, along with a subtle richness to counter fresh yogurts tang. When serving this mousse at Eva, I never added white chocolate in the title of the dish, as the cloyingly sweet confection often takes a bad rap. Many white chocolate desserts are so sweet, people eschew them upon any mention of the ingredients addition. The white chocolate is tamed by the yogurt in such a pleasant manner that it will often go undetected if left unmentioned, and its role in the dessert is as a sweetener, not a costar. If your local farmers market sells fresh yogurt, this recipe is a beautiful way to use it, even if it’s made from goats milk!
You’ll see in the slide show my sous chef for the day, my little cousin Devon. She helped me stir, taste, and did a knock out job separating the blueberries into two piles. One for the dessert, and one for her to eat!
BLACK AND BLUE COMPOTE
4 pints blueberries
2 pints black raspberries
2/3 cup sugar
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1. Wash the berries, reserving half the blueberries for later. Place the remaining berries in a medium sized sauce pan with the sugar and cinnamon, and stir to distribute the sugar.
2. Cook the berries over medium heat, stirring occasionally until the berries begin to release their juices and you have a runny consistency, 5 to 10 minutes. Reduce the heat to low and continue cooking for about 10 minutes more, until the juice bubbles thick and becomes glossy. Remove the compote from the heat and set aside to cool.
3. When the mixture has cooled, transfer it in the cup of a blender. Process the compote for 1 minute, and strain through a fine mesh strainer.
4. Add to the pureed compote the berries withheld in the first step and stir to coat.
5. Serve over ice cream, or the recipe for yogurt mousse that follows.
2 tsp gelatin
2 tbsp water
8 oz white chocolate
2 cups yogurt, at room temperature
1 1/2 cups cream
1. Bloom the gelatin. Place the cold water in a small bowl, and sprinkle the gelatin over the water evenly. Set this aside while preparing the next steps.
2. Prepare the cream for whipping later. Place the cream inside the bowl you are planning on whipping it in, and place that bowl and the whisk you plan to use inside the refrigerator. Making sure the cream, and the equipment used to whip it are super cold makes a denser whip cream that can add more structure to your final mousse.
3. Melt the white chocolate over a double boiler. This step is done by chopping the white chocolate into small pieces, and placing them in a large stainless steel or glass bowl. The bowl should fit over the top of a wide mouthed pot, which you will fill with 2 inches of water and bring to a low simmer. The steam from the simmering water will slowly melt the white chocolate in the bowl set over the top of the pot. It is always important when melting chocolate over a double boiler that the water does not boil, but it is partularly important with white chocolate. White chocolate is very high in cocoa butter, which will burn quickly even from the steam of boiling water. If the water boils, remove the bowl and let the water cool down a bit, then return it over a low simmer and continue melting.
5. Soften the yogurt. Transfer the yogurt from their containers to a bowl and soften the yogurt with a spatula, smoothing out any lumps. When the white chocolate has melted, stir the yogurt into the white chocolate until combined smoothly and evenly. Set this bowl aside.
6. Melt the gelatin. By this time, the gelatin granules should have absorbed all the water you added them to. They will look translucent and, well, gelatinous. To melt the gelatin, transfer it to a small saucepan, and place it over very low heat. The gelatin should begin to melt very quickly. Attend to it until it is melted, stirring to encourage the process. Gelatin will burn very easily, so watch this step carefully. It won’t take long, so your watchful eye will be gratified quickly. When the gelatin is melted, add it to the white chocolate yogurt mixture and stir it to combine evenly.
7. Cool the the yogurt mixture in an ice bath. This step brings the temperature of your white chocolate yogurt mixture down, allowing the gelatin to begin to set, and the white chocolate to thicken. Take two nesting bowls, filling the larger with ice and water, and the smaller with the yogurt mixture. Place the yogurt filled bowl into the ice water, making sure the water level is not so high it comes over the sides of the yogurt filled bowl. Stir the mixture unitl it resembles the texture of softly whipped cream. This is done because you want it to be of a similar texture to the whipped cream you are about to fold in. Set this mixture aside.
8. Whip the cream to soft peaks. Remove your whipped cream from the refrigerator and whip slowly to soft peaks. This can be done by hand or with an electrical mixer. If done by hand, the naturally slow incorporation of air gives the cream a thicker, denser texture that is desirable. If the cream is whipped with a machine, don’t turn the speed up past a medium setting. You want to add the air bubbles slowly so your cream has more structure to add to the mousse.
9. Fold the cream into the thickened yogurt mixture in 3 batches. Begin by folding 1/3 of the cream into the yogurt mixture carefully, with a large flat spatula. Repeat this step with the remaining whipped cream in 2 more additions.
10. Transfer the mousse. Spoon the mousse into individual serving dishes and chill for at least 3 hours.