AT OUR restaurants, and indeed at home, even our desserts are created in line with our “from nature to plate” ethos, which means dishes are always centred around what’s bang in season.
If you’re looking for something to bring colour, flavour and seasonality to your summer desserts, bright Scottish berries make the perfect addition. Their juicy sweetness means you don’t need to add too much sugar to desserts, keeping them light, fresh and naturally delicious.
Perthshire has a strong tradition of fruit growing, and to this day I use a local supplier for all my summer berries. The reason this area produces such great soft fruits is the unique balance of rain and the fertility of the soil, which combine to create the ideal environment for berry growing.
Right now, my supplier is bringing me a whole collection of berries from sweet, sharp raspberries to juicy, indigo blueberries, vibrant, red strawberries and deep-purple brambles or blackberries. We also receive wild strawberries, which are slightly lighter in colour, smaller in size and a little more fragrant in their taste – they can really bring a plate to life by reminding you that the fruit has come straight from nature itself.
For my pastry chef at The Kitchin, Chris Turnbull, it’s a joy to have so many fresh, seasonal ingredients to work with. At this time of year, diners want something light, delicate and refreshing, like these recipes for cranachan and white chocolate mousse, accompanied by a collection of fresh berries. Not only do the dishes taste fantastic, they also look truly tempting on the plate. The clean cream of both dishes makes the vibrant berries come to life even more.
Never be tempted to throw away any berries you don’t use. Leftovers and berries that are not quite at their best, are ideal for coulis, sauces and jams. The results are much more flavoursome than those you can buy ready-made and it means none of these little gems go to waste.
The summer berry season lasts from late May until late October, so you have plenty of time to try lots of different dishes.
CRANACHAN Serves four
For the granola
• 50g oats
• 30g desiccated coconut
• 30g pistachios – roughly chopped
• 30g Demerara sugar
• 20g butter
• 30g golden syrup
Preheat the oven to 170C/Gas Mark 3. Mix the oats, coconut and pistachios together in a mixing bowl. In a heavy-bottomed pan gently heat the sugar, butter and golden syrup until the sugar has dissolved. Mix the dry ingredients into the melted syrup and spread evenly on a shallow baking tray. Bake in the oven for approximately 10 minutes, stirring every 2-3 minutes to ensure the mix is golden brown all over.
For the raspberry coulis
• 200g raspberries
• 20g caster sugar
Mix the raspberries and sugar in a blender until smooth, then pass through a sieve to remove the pips.
For the whisky cream
• 15ml malt whisky
• 15g icing sugar
• 100ml whipping or double cream
Whisk the cream and icing sugar together until the cream thickens. Gently fold in the whisky and add additional sugar or whisky to taste if required.
For the shortbread
• 300g butter, softened
• 140g golden caster sugar
• 300g plain flour
• 140g rice flour
Blend the butter and sugar in a food processor until smooth. Add both flours and a pinch of salt, and blend until the mixture comes together. Roll and cut into small rounds before placing on a baking tray and covering with cling film. Place in the fridge, uncooked, for at least
30 minutes. Heat the oven to 180C/Gas Mark 4. Remove the cling film, lightly mark the shortbread all over with a fork and bake for about 15 minutes.
To serve, carefully layer the whisky cream, coulis and shortbread in a presentation glass. Top with raspberries and granola, then serve with shortbread.
WHITE CHOCOLATE MOUSSE SERVED WITH SUMMER BERRIES Serves four
For the white chocolate mousse
8oz white chocolate
2oz caster sugar
2 leaves of bronze gelatine – soaked in water until soft
In a heavy-bottomed pan, on a low heat, gently warm the water and sugar until dissolved. Add the white chocolate and gelatine and stir slowly until both ingredients have dissolved. Remove from the heat and leave to cool. Meanwhile, whip the cream until it begins to thicken before folding in the cooled chocolate mixture. Put in small round moulds and leave in the
fridge to set for approximately two hours.
For the strawberry sauce
200g strawberries – hulled
20g icing sugar
juice of half a lemon
Mix the strawberries, lemon juice and sugar in a blender until smooth, then pass through a sieve to remove the pips.
For the berries
mixture of seasonal berries – 50g each of blueberries, blackberries, raspberries and strawberries
For the sorbet
• 250g raspberries – puréed
• 60g caster sugar
• 1 tbsp liquid glucose
In a heavy-bottomed pan, gently warm 50g of raspberry purée with the liquid glucose. Then add the remaining purée before churning in an ice-cream machine. Alternatively, pour the mixture into a tub and place in the freezer. Stir every 20 minutes until the sorbet is completely frozen. To serve, turn the mousse out of the mould and set it in the centre of a serving plate. Dress it with mixed berries, sorbet and strawberry sauce.