The gooseberry season is late this year, but I will be snapping them up as they appear, addicted as I am to their tart flavour. I love to poach them for fools, but they also make a fine cobbler and an excellent substitute for tomatillos in a salsa verde. The bushes are incredibly hardy, and recently pink, yellow and green varieties have started appearing on the shelves which make very pretty jams. The nutty crunchies below are a perfect complement to their fabulously mouth-puckering taste.
Lemon posset with coconut oat crunchies
A tantalising pudding of sherbet notes from the lemon and gooseberries mellowed by the barely sweet cream and caramelised coconut squares. I used a 23cm x 33cm shallow baking sheet – the crunchies are much more delicious when rolled out thin.
Prep 15 min
Chill 3 hr+
Cook 45 min
80ml elderflower cordial
2 tbsp Cointreau
Sugar, to taste
For the oat crunchies
100g desiccated coconut
100g soft brown sugar
For the posset
600ml double cream
100g caster sugar
Zest of 3 lemons and 80ml juice
First, make the posset. Warm the cream, sugar and lemon zest in a pan and, when bubbles appear around the edges, take off the heat and stir in the lemon juice. Cool for five minutes, then spoon into small bowls or glasses and refrigerate for three to four hours, or overnight.
Heat the oven to 180C (160C fan)/350F/gas 4. In a food processor, blitz the coconut, oats and a pinch of salt until they look like fine crumbs. Meanwhile, melt the butter and sugar in a pan over a low heat, stirring to dissolve the sugar. Tip in the oats and stir to combine. Taste, and season with a pinch more sea salt to temper the sugar, if need be.
Tip out the mix on to a large baking sheet and use a smooth glass to roll the oats into a thin, smooth and tightly packed layer. Bake for 10-12 minutes, until golden, then remove and immediately score lines across the oats with a large knife: this will make them easier to break into squares or triangles once cooled, or crumble them to scatter over the creams instead.
Put the gooseberries in a heavy-based saucepan with the cordial and Cointreau, put on a medium heat and cook for about six to eight minutes, until the fruit is tender but still holding its shape. Remove from the heat and leave to cool. Taste and adjust the sweetness – the tart gooseberries make a lovely contrast with the sweet posset and oat crunchies, so don’t overdo the sugar.
Serve the possets topped with spoonfuls of the gooseberries and with the biscuits alongside to dip in.
And for the rest of the week …
Gooseberry season is short, so buy masses, poach them with lemon peel, Cointreau and brown sugar or agave syrup, then freeze in small containers to spoon on your morning yoghurt or churn into granita or ice-cream.