This dessert is a great way to get fruit into kids. It’s an unusual alternative to banana custard and as long as they’ll try lemon flavour, it’s a real hit. You can use any fruit you like but I’ve found pears, strawberries, mangos, raspberries or blueberries work best. This recipe is inspired by an Italian writer and single mum I met when I was living in Rome. At that time she was writing an Italian cookbook that included a chapter on her friends’ favourite dishes. I feel rather ashamed that when she asked me for a suggestion, I didn’t exactly take it very seriously. Infact, and I can’t believe I’m admitting this, I called my Mum to ask for a recipe I could pass off as my own. My interest in cooking still wasn’t up to much at that point you see.
So the recipe I handed over as a Smith family favourite was my mum’s delicious coffee brandy gateau. Of course it included coffee as an ingredient. But not coffee as the Italians would know it. In fact it’s safe to say no Italian worth their cappucino would know what Camp Coffee essence is. In case you’re wondering, Camp is a tar black coffee substitute concocted in the 19th century and made mostly with chicory and a little (very little) coffee essence. It was apparently used at one time to make instant ‘coffee’ for British soldiers (poor things). In the 20th century, most home bakers used it for flavouring cakes and puddings. The problem regarding ‘my’ wonderful family recipe contribution was that it didn’t occur to me to translate this bit of British culinary heritage to … ‘espresso’. The Italian author, bless her, didn’t want to edit my recipe and lose originality. I still cringe thinking of Italians buying the book, reading my recipe and wondering what on earth Camp essence could be. That is of course, if they got past the description of me as a journalist who “loves to eat but doesn’t cook much”. How things have changed!
Preparation time - 5 minutes
Cooking time - 10 minutes
Makes 4 ramekin dishes
Fruit chopped into small pieces. e.g 1 mango, 1 pear
Handful of blueberries, raspberries or strawberries to decorate
2 lemons (juice of both, zest of one, or half if you don’t want it too tangy)
3 1/2 tbsp caster sugar
1. Cut the fruit into small pieces and set aside.
2. Whisk eggs with sugar, then add cornflour, lemon juice and zest. Beat well until there are no lumps.
3. Tip mixture into pan and add the water. Stir continuously over a medium high heat until it comes to the boil then simmer for 5 minutes or so until thick and glossy, still stirring to avoid lumps forming.
4. Remove pan from the heat and let the lemon cream cool. Then stir in the chopped fruit pieces, and spoon mixture into ramekins. Decorate with raspberries, blueberries or strawberries and refrigerate. Serve chilled, feeling super smug that you’ve fed everyone some fruity goodness for dessert.