with Pistachio Crème Anglaise and
Tart Cherry-Pinot Noir Syrup


This outstanding recipe from Bayona's Susan Spicer has been a huge hit every time I've made it.

This cake has a surprisingly delicate and soufflé-like texture. It needs to be refrigerated overnight, so plan accordingly. The crème Anglaise and syrup can be made ahead of time and refrigerated. Be careful not to overcook the cake, or it'll crack.

1. Butter and flour a 10-inch springform pan. Wrap the outside of the pan with foil.

2. In a large, heavy saucepan, combine the milk with 3/4 cup of the sugar and bring to a boil. Whisk in the semolina and cook over low heat, whisking often, until thickened, about 2 minutes. Stir in half of the butter and the remaining 3/4 cup of sugar and transfer to a large bowl. Let the semolina cool completely, stirring occasionally. Stir in the remaining butter, then stir in the 3 whole eggs, 9 egg yolks and the vanilla.

3. Preheat the oven to 350°F. In a large bowl, beat the egg whites until stiff peaks form. Stir one-third of the beaten egg whites into the semolina to lighten it, then fold in the remaining whites. Pour the batter into the prepared pan.

4. Set the cake pan in a roasting pan and add enough hot water to reach halfway up the side of the cake pan. Bake in the center of the oven for 1 hour and 15 minutes, or until the cake is puffed and the center is still slightly jiggly. Transfer the cake to a wire rack to cool completely, then cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate overnight.

5. Run a knife around the edge of the cake and remove the side of the springform pan. Cut the cake into wedges and serve with the Pistachio Crème Anglaise and Tart Cherry-Pinot Noir Syrup. (I recommend placing a pool of crème Anglaise on the dessert plate, setting the cake slice on top, then topping the cake with the syrup.)

YIELD: Makes one 10-inch cake, 8-12 servings.

Pistachio Crème Anglaise

The almond extract, although optional, adds more rich, nutty flavor to the silky crème anglaise.

1. Preheat the oven to 350°F. Spread the shelled pistachios on a rimmed baking sheet and bake for 5 minutes, or until lightly toasted. Let cool completely, then rub the pistachios in a kitchen towel to remove the skins. Transfer the pistachios to a food processor and grind to a fine powder.

2. In a medium saucepan, combine the milk with the pistachios and bring to a boil. Cover, remove from the heat and let stand for 30 minutes.

3. Strain the pistachio milk through a fine sieve into another medium saucepan. Add the sugar and a pinch of salt. Whisk in the egg yolks and cook over low heat, whisking constantly, until the custard sauce is thick enough to coat the back of a spoon, about 8 minutes. Do not let the custard boil.

4. Strain the sauce through a fine sieve into a bowl. Stir in the almond extract and let cool, stirring often. Cover and refrigerate until ready to serve.

YIELD: Makes 2 cups.

The crème anglaise can be refrigerated for 2 days.

Tart Cherry-Pinot Noir Syrup

Combine all of the ingredients in a medium saucepan and bring to a boil. Simmer over low heat for 5 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, transfer the cherries to a medium bowl. Simmer the wine over moderate heat until syrupy and reduced to 3/4 cup, about 8 minutes. Transfer the Pinot Noir syrup to a small bowl to cool, then stir in the cherries. Serve at room temperature.

YIELD: Makes 2 cups.

The syrup can be refrigerated for 1 week. Bring to room temperature before serving.

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Chuck Taggart   (e-mail chuck)