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Monday, April 11, 2011

Brian Bóru's Delight

The dessert I call "Brian Bóru's Delight" is a simple one, especially compared to the Victorian Tea Trifecta. It is a combination of two simple, old-fashioned desserts: a bread pudding, and a fool.

What is a fool, you ask? It doesn't sound familiar to most modern diners—in fact, my pastry instructor in culinary school didn't immediately know how to explain the Fool to my class. A fool, simply put, is a fruit-flavored whipped cream. It's sort of a precursor to the modern churned ice cream, as it is light, airy, and sweet, but not frozen (as churn-freezing ice cream is a relatively recent development.) Heavy cream is whipped to stiff peaks, and then a purée of fruit, often sweetened, is added in by folding gently. In this recipe, I replaced the purée with fruit preserves, because it's hard to find blackcurrant purée (or indeed, much of anything from blackcurrants) here in Michigan.

Bread pudding is a more familiar item, and in this case I've used a simple white bread, good quality butter, and raisins with a little twist suggested by my friend Brian over at The Boychik Balabusta (a blog you ought to read)—soaking the raisins in Irish Breakfast Tea and whiskey.

Blackcurrant Fool
24 oz (680 g) blackcurrant preserves
2 1/2 cups (591 ml) heavy cream

1. Whip the cream to stiff peaks. Fold in preserves. Test for sweetness, and add sugar if necessary.

2. Portion into serving dish(es) or hold in a bowl, and refrigerate until service.

Yields about 1 quart/1 liter of fool, give or take.

Bread and Butter Pudding with Whiskey Sauce
16 slices white bread, buttered
1 1/2 cups (355 ml) golden raisins

1 cup (237 ml) brewed Irish Breakfast Tea
1/4 cup (60 ml) Irish Whiskey
1 teaspoon (5 ml) grated nutmeg
1 1/2 cups (355 ml) caster sugar
4 eggs, large
2 1/2 cups ( light cream
4 cups milk
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
light brown sugar, for sprinkling top

Whiskey Sauce
1 1/4 cups butter
1 cup caster sugar
2 eggs
3 oz (90 ml) Irish Whiskey

1. Preheat oven to 350°F. Remove the crusts from the bread and put four slices, buttered side down, in the base of an oven-proof dish. Sprinkle with the fruit, some of the nutmeg, and 1 tbsp sugar.

2. Place the remaining four slices of bread on top, buttered side down, and sprinkle again with nutmeg and 1 tbsp sugar.

3. Beat the eggs lightly, add the cream, milk, vanilla, and the remaining sugar; mix well to make a custard. Pour half this mixture over the bread, and sprinkle light muscovado sugar over the top, if you like to have a crispy crust. Repeat steps 1-3 for the second pan of pudding (8 more slices of bread.)

4. Bake in the preheated oven for 1 hour, or until all the liquid has been absorbed and the pudding is risen and brown.

5. While the pudding is baking, make the sauce. Melt the butter in a heavy pan, add the caster sugar, and dissolve over gentle heat. Remove from the heat and add the egg, whisking vigorously, and then add the whiskey.

6. Serve the pudding immediately when it is done—it will be light and fluffy, and will fall quickly if it is not served.

Two pans, which is anywhere from two to twenty-four servings, depending on your level of gluttony.

To plate up, I merely placed a slice of pudding with a dollop of fool, and drizzled the sauce on top. I also sprinkled a few raisins that remained over each, adding a nice little zing.

This sauce is incredible—it appears to be broken and failed, and then you add the whiskey, and poof! It comes together perfectly.

As you can see, the dessert was quite popular. There were no fights, but there might have been had I run out of anything.


  1. I'm afraid to say this is negative critique.
    Whilst I'm sure your dish tasted great, visually there's a lot lacking.
    You seem to be using an odd recepie for both parts of the dish, as someone who makes both fools and bread pudding in the traditional style, i actually wouldn't have guessed what you'd prepared by looking at it!
    I'd have said a fruit-custard, with a pastry rather than a light and fluffy fool and the heavy bread pudding. The fool should be more the consistency of whipped cream, than the heavy cream you're using as a base.

    Steampunk is essentially "neo-Victorian", and the Victorians were obsessed with elaborate and quirky foods, especially in presentation of food.
    If you served a slop of pink gunk at a Victorian dinner party, you'd probably get an unapproving look!
    I'm not a chef myself, but even a quick google search for images of fruit fools brings up some attractive methods to serve it (and common ways used here in the UK to this day)
    Perhaps you could serve the fool in a Whiskey tumbler, accompanied by a couple of bread-pudding fingers? If not something much more Victorian in eccentricity (look up Victorian jelly Molds!)
    As a chef-to-be, I'd love to see some of these brought back into your steam punk dishes!

  2. I want to amend my judgement of your bread pudding!
    It's just occurred to me what the issue was, and it's simply a case of miss-naming!
    It isn't obvious from the first photo, but looking at the photo of you dishing up on a bigger screen, what you've actually served is the traditional "bread and butter" budding.
    Bread-pudding is much heavier, a more solid consistency

  3. Admittedly, the plating here was... how shall I say... rustic, to fit with the somewhat rustic theme of the meal: I wouldn't dare serve a stew in the manner I did at this dinner if I were aiming for Victorian elegance. Your comment is taken, however, in a constructive manner!

    The fool's consistency was fairly light, although the picture doesn't do it justice; the bread and butter pudding came out of the oven and needed to be transported about 5 minutes down the road from where it was cooked to where it was being served—in that time, it fell from the puffy and light original texture to the somewhat thicker one in the pictures.

    Live and learn.

  4. So that's what a Fool is. C.S. Lewis mentions them as part of a Calormene feast in The Horse and His Boy.

  5. Nigella Lawson has a decadent version of bread pudding that uses croissants, and has this amazing caramel sauce. She calls for bourbon in it, but I made it with Kraken rum, and it was amazing.


    I've also been playing around with using Kahlua, (coffee and croissant pudding should totally be a thing) but haven't been able to get the coffee flavour strong enough.


Your opinions and comments always are welcomed, but do be civil... this isn't a kitchen, after all.