The best way to describe a café gourmand is probably to define it as a small cup of coffee with accompaniments. The term gourmet coffee does not do it justice.
You can vary the accompaniments according to your mood or the season. On this occasion, I chose home-made verrines de poires, macarons, calissons and a home-made coffee ice-cream (see post of 6 April 2016).
Calissons are a speciality from Provence that we use as part of the 13 Desserts of Christmas and that are essentially made from marzipan, royal icing and candied melon on a very thin base of wafer. They are eaten all year round, though, and Aix-en-Provence has traditionally been associated with the best calissons-making confiseurs, partly because the almonds are grown locally and partly because ” Good King René” (le Bon Roi René) and his wife enjoyed eating them.
A café gourmand is a dessert in its own right.
To make up a café gourmand, little verrines (small glasses) of fruit balance the sweeter elements, such as macarons and calissons. The coffee itself is a coffee icecream to allow a seasonal change. There is no addition of sugar to the fruit so it is guilt-free if you are dieting, although bear in mind that there is a little syrup in the elderflower cordial.
2 ripe mangoes
4 ripe pears
Elderflower cordial, home-made
A few fresh mint leaves to decorate
1. Peel and quarter the pears, place in a saucepan containing the elderflower cordial (see recipe of 5 July 2014), and stew gently for 5 minutes. Let the fruit cool off and dice into small cubes. Reserve.
2. Peel and cut the mangoes and whizz.
3. Fill the verrines with the mango coulis, refrigerate and add the pears just before serving. Decorate with mint leaves.
Just a few days now before Christmas and I am looking to make a simple seasonal dessert that will not take too much time to prepare.
It will give me the opportunity to open a bottle of Montepulciano d’Abruzzo which was sitting in the wine rack.
Depending on the appetite of your guests, plan either a large pear per person or two medium-sized pears.
Choose them not too ripe to avoid them becoming puréed during the cooking.
Large Comice pears, rinsed and peeled
500ml strong red wine
Juice of 2 lemons
200g caster sugar
1. Pour the wine in a large saucepan and add the sugar and the lemon juice.
2. Rub each pear with a half lemon to prevent discolouration.
3. Place the pears in the saucepan and simmer gently for 15 minutes.
4. Take them out of the wine and cut delicately in a fan shape, making sure that you retain the stalk.
5. Drizzle the wine on top and serve with a scoop of vanilla ice-cream.
You can serve the remainder of the wine as mulled wine.
This dessert can be prepared in advance and kept in the freezer.