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Blackberry Summer Puddings

Brioche is made with milk, eggs and as much butter as a bread dough can possibly hold, adding luxury to this simple dessert. The bread’s fine, cake-like texture soaks up the inky juice of fresh summer blackberries to create a flavorful casing. A spoonful of crème fraîche added just before serving lends an extra measure of richness along with a pleasant tang to offset the intensity of the sweet-tart pudding.

Ingredients:

  • 1 brioche loaf, about 1 lb. 
  • 4 pints blackberries 
  • 3/4 cup sugar 
  • Pinch of salt 
  • 1 lime 
  • Crème fraîche for serving 

Directions:

Preheat an oven to 250°F.

Cut the brioche into twelve 1/2-inch slices. Using a 3 1/2-inch pastry cutter, cut out circles from 6 of the slices. Trim the crusts off the remaining 6 slices. Place the 6 circles and 6 slices on a baking sheet and bake until dry, 1 1/2 to 2 hours.

Meanwhile, in a nonreactive saucepan, combine the blackberries, sugar and salt. Finely grate 1 tsp. zest from the lime and squeeze 1 Tbs. lime juice and add both to the pan. Cook the blackberry mixture over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until about half of the berries have burst, 8 to 9 minutes. Drain through a fine-mesh sieve set over a bowl for 10 minutes.

Meanwhile, line six 3 1/2-inch ramekins with pieces of plastic wrap long enough so the sides hang over the edges by about 3 inches.

Remove the sieve with the berries from the bowl and set aside. One at a time, lightly soak the dried bread slices in the berry juices until the bread is soft but not falling apart. As each slice is soaked, place it in one of the prepared ramekins, pressing it into the corners and up the sides. If the bread breaks apart, just push it together. Divide the berries among the bread-lined ramekins. Lightly soak the dried bread circles in the remaining berry juices and set a circle on top of each ramekin; the bread should rise above the rims.

Tightly wrap each ramekin in plastic wrap and place on a rimmed baking sheet. Place another rimmed baking sheet on top and weigh down the pan with bags of dried beans or canned goods. Refrigerate the ramekins for at least 8 hours or up to 2 days.

When ready to serve, unwrap the ramekins and invert them onto plates. Pull on the edges of the plastic wrap while twisting off the ramekins. Serve the puddings cold or at room temperature with spoonfuls of crème fraîche. Serves 6.

Adapted from Williams-Sonoma New Flavors for Desserts, by Raquel Pelzel (Oxmoor House, 2008).