As I write these lines, the sun is plunging into the trees that line the slope on the other side of the river, bare trees gawky against a strawberry sky, papercut filigree, while the undergrowth beneath still an inky dark green. It is the view from my study and how different does it look as we traverse the seasons.
It was a hot and still day when I gathered the mirabelles, picking them from the tree as opposed to taking the ones that fall when gathering for later distillation. That day I intended to make mirabelle marmalade and set the prettiest fresh mirabelles aside for the freezer. The trees vibrantly green and the meadow on the slope between the river and the forest all baked golden by the July sun.
Mother says that when you preserve food, make jam or pickles or even simply freezing fruit or vegetable, a little bit of your mood and feelings will go in it too. And that when you put it to use in the kitchen, it is released again, along with the fragrances and aromas of the food. So better be good when making preserves, she says.
Rightly, then, a sweet soufflé mirabelle, in these cold and lonely November days, the world caught in a fit and I wait, putting chubby little suns at the bottom of the possibly most exquisite dessert.
And my gaze falls once more on the vista outside my study window before drawing the heavy curtains, Jupiter brightly glinting in the now deepening sky, the river below in its imperceptible flow, yet steadily flowing towards the sea.
What you’ll need
For the soufflé (3-4 soufflé moulds)
- A nut sized morsel of fresh butter (20g)
- 3 large spoons of flour (about 90g)
- 3dl fresh milk
- 3 large spoons of sugar (about 90g)
- A sip of mirabelle eau de vie (2cl)
- 3 eggs, yolks separated from egg whites (room temperature)
- A pinch of salt
- More butter for the ramequins
- 15-20 mirabelles
For the chodo à la mirabelle
- 250ml fresh milk
- Half a vanilla bean, scraped
- A little spoon of mahlepi (thinking of dear Georgia on the other side of the globe)
- 1 egg
- A good sip of mirabelle eau de vie (4cl)
How to cook it
Preheat the oven to 200°C with the fan on.
The trick with the soufflée is very much about being ready to serve immediately. And copious butter for the soufflé moulds. Therefore, start by very well buttering your moulds and put the mirabelles in.
In a second step, melt the nut sized morsel of butter in a pan and add the flour, keeping the heat at low to medium temperature. The butter-flour mixture should barely bubble for say two minutes. Then add cold milk and sugar and vigorously whisk immediately while increasing the heat in order to heat it to boil. Keep on whisking and take off the heat as soon as it rises. The mass should now have the consistency of thick pudding. Add the yolks one by one still continuing whisking, so there’s not going to be any lumps. Add the mirabelle eau de vie.
In a separate vessel whisk up the egg whites with a pinch of salt to a firm mass and gently fold under. Swiftly fill into the moulds and bake for 15 minutes. In order to get them firmer, just continue baking for another 10minutes while reducing the temperature to 160°C.
While the soufflé bakes, prepare the chodo. Bring the milk with the vanilla bean, the mahlepi and the sugar to boil. Take off the heat and whisk in the egg. While the chodo cools, whisk occasionally in order to avoid it making a skin. Add the mirabelle eau de vie et voilà.
How to eat it
Serve immediately and hot. The rest is up to you. I for my part would rather poke a hole into the middle and generously fill it with chodo.