Winter is not my favourite season. When it’s cold and wet, I find myself yearning for the heat and light of an Australian summer. I miss the lazy drone of cicadas, the beach days, and most of all, the abundance of stone fruit and fresh berries.
“ When summer seems like such a long way away, I turn to the kitchen for a dose of warmth.”
Luckily, I’d had the foresight to stash some cherries in the freezer. (Mr Kitchen Hand bought a box of them from a friend’s farm the previous summer.)
Memories of fresh coconut.
I pair the cherries with coconut. The very mention of coconut evokes images of sunshine and tropical beaches. As a child, growing up in tropical Malaysia, I remember being sent to buy bags of freshly grated coconut (kelapa parut) from the corner store. I loved watching the deft way in which the shopkeeper could crack the nut in half, with just a whack or two of a special machete-like knife. After pouring out the juice (usually into the open drain!), the coconut halves would be held against a spiky metal “shredder” which was rotated at high speed by a motor. A metal or plastic basin surrounded the shredder to catch all the flying bits of coconut. The shredded coconut was then brushed to the bottom of the basin, and the shopkeeper would gather up the pile using a plastic bag turned inside out over their hand. Flip the bag inside out, a quick tie at the top and voila, one freshly grated coconut.
But for now, dessicated coconut and canned coconut cream will have to do in the soufflé I’ve decided to try. After reading up on souffle basics , I put together what I hoped would be a workable recipe: Coconut Souffle with Stewed Cherries. Did it rise?
Yes it did! But trying to photograph a hot soufflé on a cold day is a task I am sadly ill-equipped for. By the time I get the soufflé from the oven to the plate, arrange the cherries and frame the shot, it’s started to deflate. So I give up in frustration and tackle it with a spoon instead. Much happier result.
Roughly 450g frozen cherries – thawed (save juices)
(I’ve left the pips in so the cherries hold their shape. Just warn guests/kids beforehand)
100g (1/2 cup sugar)
1 cinnamon quill
1 tbsp lemon juice
1 tbsp water/cherry juices (to dissolve sugar)
Put all ingredients in a saucepan, stir gently over low heat until sugar dissolves then simmer for about 10-20 minutes (or more if needed) until thick and syrupy. Cool until required. Can be made ahead and refrigerated.
Toast about 2 tbsp of dessicated coconut until light brown. Mix with 1 tsp sugar. Butter 4 small moulds then coat sides with sugar and coconut mixture. (I used 200ml custard pots with tall sides)
2 egg yolks
2 tbsp sugar
¼ cup milk
¼ cup coconut cream
1 strip lemon peel
2 egg whites
1 tsp sugar
1 tsp lemon juice
1tsp toasted dessicated coconut.
Put milk, coconut cream and lemon peel in a small saucepan and scald (turn off and remove from heat just before boiling point). Leave to infuse (I stored mine in the fridge overnight, covered with plastic wrap)
Preheat oven to about 190˚C.
In a mixing bowl, beat egg yolks and sugar with a fork until well mixed. Remove lemon peel from milk/cream mixture, and scald again. Pour immediately into egg mixture and stir thoroughly. Return to pan and cook gently stirring all the time until mixture is thick enough to coat the back of a wooden spoon. Strain if required.
Beat egg whites and 1 tsp sugar and lemon juice until stiff. Mix a little bit of egg whites into egg yolk mixture to lighten. Then fold the rest of the whites and the toasted coconut into the egg yolk mixture, do not overmix.
Pour into soufflé moulds and bake until risen (about 20 mins - check at 15 minutes but do not open oven door!).