JUST AS BERRIES are coming into season, so is Lisa Yockelson's new book, "Fruit Desserts" (HarperCollins 1991, 180 $14.95). Now is the time to bake -- before it gets really hot.
The small cookbook with pretty line drawings celebrates seasonal fruits such as peaches, berries, pears and apricots, along with apples, bananas and other year-round fruits.
There are 90 recipes for fruit cobbler, crisp, clafouti, shortcake, pie and pudding, as well as chilled compote, salad, mousse, ice cream and poached, baked and glazed fruit. There are also master recipes for Flaky Pie Crust, fruit syrups and butters that may be used with the fruits of your choice. There's a homespun and hearty tone to the recipes from Apple Brown Betty to Giant Peach Empanadas. Tips on slicing and peeling fruit, making crust and proceeding through the recipes were clear and easy to understand.
Yockelson is good about telling you the exact size and type of pan needed to make a dessert, and also describes ideal presentation, whether topped by confectioners' sugar or whipped cream. Most of the baked dishes are served straight from the oven or at room temperature, so people who like to plan ahead may find desserts such as ice cream, mousse and poached fruit, will work better for them.
This recipe calls for vanilla-scented sugar. To make it, pour three pounds of plain granulated sugar into a large glass jr. Slit three plump vanilla beans and bury them in the sugar. Cover the jar thightly and store at a cool room temperature for seven to ten days before using. To use, dip out sugar, and reuse vanilla beans. Regular granulataed sugar can be substituted.
Raspberry Chocolate Pudding
3/4 cup firm but ripe red raspberries
2 1/2 ounces unsweetened chocolate, chopped (2 1/2 squares)
1 1/2 ounces semisweet or bittersweet chocolate, chopped (1 1/2 squares or half a 3-ounce bar; the imported brands Lindt Excellence or Tobler Tradition are best)
1 cup milk
6 tablespoons light cream
3 tablespoons unsalted butter (or substitute margarine)
3/4 cup vanilla-scented granulated sugar* or regular granulated sugar
1/4 cup plus 1 1/2 teaspoons unsifted all-purpose flour
4 extra-large egg yolks, at room temperature
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
1 teaspoon chocolate extract
3 extra-large egg whites, at room temperature
3 tablespoons superfine sugar
Whipped cream (optional)
Lightly butter a six-cup ovenproof baking dish that measure two-inches deep. Sprinkle the raspberries on the bottom of the dish. Set aside. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
Place both kinds of chocolate, milk, cream, and butter in a medium-sized saucepan set over low heat, and cook, stirring occasionally, until the chocolate has melted completely. Remove from the heat and set aside to cool slightly.
Thoroughly combine the granulated sugar, flour and salt in a large mixing bowl. Whisk in the chocolate-milk mixture, egg yolks, vanilla and chocolate extract, mixing thoroughly to form a smooth batter.
Beat the egg whites in a bowl until soft peaks form; add the superfine sugar and continue beating until firm (not stiff) peaks form. Stir one quarter of the egg whites into the chocolate mixture, then fold in the remaining whites. Carefully pour and scrape the batter into the prepared baking dish, directly over the raspberries.
Place the dish of pudding in a baking pan large enough to accommodate it. Pour enough warm water in the pan to rise a little less than halfway up the sides of the baking dish.
Bake the entire assembly on a rack set in the lower third of the preheated oven for 40 to 45 minutes, or until nicely puffed and set. Carefully remove the pudding dish from the water bath and place it on a cooling rack.
Serve the pudding warm or at room temperature, accompanied by spoonfuls of lightly sweetened whipped cream, if you like.