Saturday, December 31, 2011

Raspberry Pâté

At some point during the holiday season, I lose all my will to bake. That's usually after I've baked the 11th or 12th batch of cookies. Family and friends no longer want to look at cookies, much less eat them. In fact, we've often already done our overeating before the actual holidays arrive.

 And yet, somehow, this Wednesday between Christmas and New Years, I decided I'd make a feast just for the family. I got a fancy roast from the butcher, made a gratin and sautéed wild mushrooms and cooked green beans. And I made this raspberry pâté.

There are two difficult aspects to this dessert, and you see the first above. You've got almost 2 pounds of raspberries that you need to force through a strainer. That takes a lot of patience and wrist strength.

 The second is the gelatin aspect. I still haven't figured out the gelatin/agar-agar thing, and the strange mushiness of this dessert is probably testimony to my lack of skill. Still, I consider it a success since I was able to actually cut slices of this rather than serve it in soup bowls.

 So, this is a sort of very rich gelatin dessert, with both cream cheese and whipped cream. It has intense raspberry flavor and isn't too sweet or rich. We all liked it a lot, except that Sami requested we not call it "pâté" since that name is in fact a bit off-putting for a dessert. He suggested "sliceable pudding", which still needs a bit of work, in my opinion. Maybe Bavarian cream cheese?

With the raspberry sauce and whipped cream, it's quite the elegant and festive dessert to serve after an elegant and festive meal--or just if you feel like having something special as you recover from the holidays. Here's to a great 2012! 

And here's the recipe:

Raspberry Pâté

30 oz. frozen raspberries in syrup (or 30 oz. raspberries and about 1/2 cup sugar), thawed
1 envelope unflavored gelatin
1 c. (8 oz.) whipping cream
8 oz. cream cheese, room temperature
1/2 c. (3.5 oz.) sugar
Pinch salt
Juice of 1 lemon

Very carefully line a 6-cup loaf pan with aluminum foil (in hindsight, if you have a silicone mold, that might be the way to go here.). Don't let it tear like I did, or you'll have the same mess on your hands that I did. Put a strainer over a large bowl. Pour the raspberries and syrup (if you mix the raspberries and sugar before they thaw, a syrup will form) into the strainer. Before you start pressing down on the raspberries, pour out 1/2 cup (4 oz.) syrup. Pour 1/4 cup of that syrup in a small bowl and sprinkle with gelatin. Let sit while you work to force the raspberries through the strainer. I find a food mill unfortunately lets through far too many seeds to work well, so the strainer it must be. Put an interesting podcast or some good music on and grit your teeth. Make sure you scrape the bottom of the strainer well. Let that sit while you do some more prep: Whip the cream to soft peaks in a smallish bowl and refrigerate that for a bit. In the large bowl of a mixer, beat the cream cheese, sugar, salt, and lemon juice until light and fluffy. Beat in the hard-won raspberry purée. Mine looked kind of curdled, but it turned out OK in the end.
Remember the gelatin you had softening? Time to melt the gelatin. Heat a bit of water in a small saucepan: when you start to see steam and small bubbles, put the (heat-safe) cup with the gelatin in it; stir until it's dissolved. Carefully remove from the hot water and add the remaining 1/4 cup of syrup. Beat this into the cream cheese mixture.
Oops, this is the step I missed but you shouldn't if you want your pâté to set up better than mine: Put the bowl with the cream cheese mixture in a larger bowl of ice water and stir with a rubber scraper until it starts to thicken. It should be about the same consistency as the whipped cream you're about to fold in. When it reaches that consistency, remove from the ice water bath and fold in the whipped cream. Pour this mixture into the prepared pan. Cover with plastic wrap and let chill at least 6 hours or overnight. 

While it's chilling, you'll want to prepare the raspberry sauce. Brace yourself: it involves more raspberry straining. In fact, if you're more organized than I am, you could thaw an extra 10 ounces of raspberries (in syrup, or with an added 2-3 T. sugar) along with the 30 ounces for the pâté, strain them, and take out enough so that you have 1-1/2 cups of purée for the pâté and the rest for the sauce. In any case, once you've strained the raspberries, you're home free: just add a bit (1 t.) of kirsch or cassis or framboise if you've got it. Taste to correct sweetness and chill until you're ready to serve.

When you're ready to serve, first whip 1 cup (8 oz.) whipping cream with 1 T. powdered sugar and 1/2 t. vanilla (and/or a bit more of that kirsch/framboise/cassis). 

OK, now it's time to unmold the pâté. First get out the plate you want to serve on. Then dip the bottom of the pan in hot water (this is another step I neglected but shouldn't have). Put the serving plate upside-down on top of the loaf pan and then reverse the two so that the serving plate is now on the bottom. With any luck, the pâté should unmold easily. Peel off the foil and breathe a sigh of relief. Now cut the dessert into slices and plate prettily with a spoonful each of raspberry sauce and whipped cream. Feel fancy.


  1. I'm kind of tired of baking too. I think the Christmas festivities did me in. It'll be good for me to make more nutritious things in the kitchen, and to eat better too!

  2. Hi, Beth,
    Thanks for stopping by! Love your blog! Yes, I see a lot of vegetables and whole grains in my future--never a bad thing at any time :-).