Coulis or not coulis…

Some friends asked us to dinner last Saturday and I offered to make dessert. By 5pm, I still hadn’t done anything about making it. I mentally ran through my short list of stand-by desserts. The hosts had tasted some of them already and I didn’t have time to make the others.

Hmm. I looked into the freezer for inspiration and a unopened box of puff pastry looked back at me. “Mille-feuille“, I thought, “excellent”. Actually, I thought “milly-filly”, because that’s what Cork people say.

I had made little heart-shaped ones last Valentine’s Day (revoltingly cutesy, I know) and they were lovely so I figured I couldn’t go too far wrong making a big one for eight people. I left the pastry to defrost and whizzed to Tesco. Twenty minutes I was back with 500ml of cream, two punnets of raspberries and two punnets of blueberries. Not hugely imaginative, I know, but it’s slim pickings in Tesco at 5.40pm on a Saturday.

Having cooked the two sheets of pastry and let them cool a little, I sliced them in half horizontally so I had four sheets of pastry. Four cooked-on-one-side, raw-on-the-other-side sheets of pastry, as it turned out. I put them back in the oven, accidentally breaking one in half as I did so. Eight minutes later, I had one burned sheet of pastry, two pretty well-done sheets and one well-done and broken. This was not going as well as it could have.

Meanwhile, I had whipped the cream to stiffness and liquidised the raspberries. Then I had a bright idea. Experience should have taught me to ignore the bright ideas I get when cooking. If I sieved the seeds from the raspberry mush, I’d have a sort of raspberry coulis, which would be just lovely.

Much insistent sieving later, I had a jugful of runny pink liquid. Much too runny. I needed to thicken it so poured it into a saucepan and left it to heat. Fifteen minutes later, it was boiling and still runny. Cornflour would do the trick. Five minutes later, I had boiling runny pink stuff with lumps of cornflour in it.

The husband called in from the living-room to say our lift was on the way. I was unshowered and effectively still had no dessert. Desperate times, desperate measures. I picked out the biggest lumps of cornflour and poured the pink stuff into a freezer bag. Then I ran the bag under the cold tap to cool down my non-coulis. Then I mixed all the seeds back into it to thicken it up, bringing me right back to the point at which I had the bright idea.

After that pantomime, assembling the milly-filly was easy. Pastry, cream, pink stuff, blueberries, pastry, cream, pink stuff, blueberries, pastry and a very generous dredging of icing sugar. If you’re keeping track and wondering, I had thrown out the burned sheet of pastry.

Incredibly, it tasted great and went down a storm. Still, next time, I might just buy a tart from Heaven’s Cakes.

A recipe for Raspberry Coulis.

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