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Firmin Arrambide's Fruit Terrine
Terrine de Fruits à la Mousse de Crème d'Amandes

This dessert is the creation of Firmin Arrambide, a Basque chef working in St.-Jean-Pied-de-Port, a town of fewer than two thousand people deep in the Pyrenees. Here I learned to make one of the best of the recent "terrines," a jewel-like mosaic of bright fresh fruits arranged in an airy almond cream. The whole is enclosed in a thin casing of Génoise. It is served with two sauces, a thin raspberry sauce and a light Crème Anglaise. The vanilla-flavored Crème Anglaise acts in counterpoint to the tart puréed raspberries. This dessert is not complicated, but you should begin two to three days before serving to allow the flavors to meld and to facilitate slicing. The Génoise for the outside can be baked ahead or even ordered from a local bakery and kept frozen until ready to use. It must be frozen or stale so it can be sliced thin without breaking. The cake slices line the bottom and long sides of a loaf pan, and after the filling is in place, another slice goes on top. If there are any holes or tears, simply patch bits and pieces of Génoise into place; this will not harm the final presentation at all.

When you start to layer the terrine, have your design in mind; choose fruits and their arrangement with consideration for both color and flavor balance. Remember to keep the emphasis on what is seasonal; apart from peaches and apricots, canned or frozen fruits are not suggested. Both the terrine and the sauces can be kept in the refrigerator for two or three days. The colorful drama of the presentation and ease with which this special dessert can be prepared ahead make it perfect for any important dinner.


Serves 10
Begin 3 days in advance
Active Work (Day 1): 20 minutes
Baking Time (Day 1): 25 minutes
Active Work (Day 2): 1 hour

  Génoise, store-bought or homemade (recipe below)
3 cups small fresh strawberries, rinsed and dried*
2 kiwi fruits, pared
4 poached or canned yellow cling peach halves, drained
  Unflavored vegetable oil
  Almond Cream (recipe below)
  Crème Anglaise (recipe below)
  Raspberry Sauce (recipe below)
*Fresh raspberries or blackberries can be substituted for the strawberries. Pears, apricots, and nectarines all pared, poached, chilled, and drained and peeled seedless green grapes are other fruit alternatives for the kiwis and peaches.

1. At Least 3 Days Before Serving, make Génoise. Wrap in plastic wrap and freeze, or let stand at room temperature, unwrapped, overnight or until firm enough to slice easily without tearing.

2. 2 To 3 Days Before Serving, assemble terrine. Hull strawberries. Berries should be of uniform size, less than 1 inch from base to tip. If berries are uneven or larger in size, trim at base. Cut each kiwi lengthwise into 6 even wedges; pat dry with paper towels. Cut each peach half lengthwise into 4 wedges; pat dry with paper towels.

3. Lightly oil an 8 1/2 x 4 1/2 x 2 5/8-inch loaf pan (6-cup). Line bottom and long sides of pan with a sheet of plastic wrap, leaving a 5-inch overhang on each side. Lightly oil the plastic wrap.

4. Cut Génoise in half to make 2 pieces, each 8 x 4 inches. With large, sharp knife shave off brown crust from all surfaces of cake and discard. Carefully slice each piece horizontally into 3 thin even layers, each about 1/4 inch thick. Choose 4 best layers; reserve remaining 2 layers for another use. Place 1 layer of Génoise in bottom of lined loaf pan; trim layer if necessary to fit snugly in pan. Use 2 more layers to line sides of pan, extending about 1 inch above top. Reserve fourth layer for top. (Short sides of pan are not lined with cake.)

5. Make the Almond Cream.

6. With a rubber spatula, spread 2/3 cup Almond Cream in bottom of Génoise-lined pan. Arrange half the strawberries stem side down in a single layer over the filling, making short, even rows. Spoon 2/3 cup of the Almond Cream over the berries; pack gently to fill spaces and smooth top. Top with kiwi wedges and peaches arranged lengthwise in a single layer. Cover with 2/3 cup Almond Cream. Arrange remaining strawberries on top, stem side up in a single layer. Top with remaining Almond Cream; pack gently to fill spaces and smooth top. Cover with the fourth layer of Génoise; press lightly into cream. Fold up overhanging plastic wrap to cover tightly. Refrigerate at least 1 day to set.

7. Make Crème Anglaise.

8. Make Raspberry Sauce.

9. 20 Minutes Before Serving, unmold terrine onto platter; peel off plastic wrap. Remove Crème Anglaise and Raspberry Sauce from refrigerator. Let stand 15 minutes to develop flavors. Just before serving, with a long, sharp, thin-bladed knife cut terrine crosswise into 1/2-inch slices. Place slice flat in center of large individual dessert plate; ladle spoonfuls of Raspberry Sauce and Crème Anglaise around sides of slice. Pass remaining Crème Anglaise separately.



Makes One 9-Inch-Square Layer, About 1 Inch High
Active Work: 20 minutes
Baking Time: 25 minutes

  Unsalted butter and all-purpose flour for the pan
4 large eggs, at room temperature
1/2 cup superfine sugar
3 tablespoons clarified unsalted butter, cooled to tepid
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon grated lemon zest (optional)
2 ounces (1/2 cup) sifted all-purpose flour
3 tablespoons sifted cake flour

1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

2. Lightly butter a 8 1/2 x 8 1/2 x 2-inch cake pan. Line bottom with waxed paper, then lightly butter and flour pan tap out excess.

3. Place eggs and sugar in large metal mixing bowl. Whisk to break up yolks. Set bowl over hot-not boiling-water over very low heat. Stir often with whisk until eggs are warm (100 degrees ) to the touch, about 5 minutes. Remove bowl from over water. Beat eggs and sugar with electric mixer at high speed until mixture begins to thicken, then reduce speed to medium. Beat until mixture is cooled, tripled in volume, and forms slowly dissolving ribbon when beater is lifted from bowl (4 to 6 minutes; electric hand mixer will take up to 10 minutes).

4. Transfer a spoonful of the egg mixture to a small bowl. Add clarified butter, vanilla, and lemon zest; stir until well blended. Set aside.

5. Mix all-purpose and cake flours. Sift flour, one third at a time, over remaining egg mixture, folding gently with flat spoon or spatula after each addition while rotating bowl until flour is no longer visible. Quickly but gently fold reserved butter-egg mixture into batter. Do not overfold or mixture will deflate, but be sure no spots of flour remain.

6. Pour batter into prepared pan. Tap pan lightly on work surface to settle batter. Bake until cake is springy and golden and edges are beginning to pull away from sides of pan, 20 to 25 minutes. Cool cake in pan on wire rack 10 minutes. Remove from pan; peel off paper. Cool cake on rack.

Almond Cream

Makes About 3 1/2 Cups
Active Work: 10 to 15 minutes

3/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons heavy cream, cold
3/4 cup unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 1/3 cups sifted confectioners' sugar
1 1/2 cups (6 ounces) blanched almond meal* or finely ground blanched almonds
1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon Grand Marnier or Cointreau
1/4 teaspoon pure almond extract
*Blanched almond meal, which yields a fluffy, smooth-textured cream, can be purchased in specialty food shops.

1. In chilled small bowl of an electric mixer with chilled beater, beat cream until stiff.

2. Beat butter in large bowl until light and fluffy. Gradually beat in sugar until mixture is airy and almost white in color. Beat in almonds, liqueur, and almond extract until blended.

3. Whisk one fourth of the whipped cream into the almond butter with large wire whisk to lighten mixture. Very gently fold remaining whipped cream into almond-butter mixture until just blended. (Do not overfold.)

Note To The Cook
Whole or slivered blanched almonds can be finely ground manually in a nut grinder. Processing or blending nuts is not recommended because too much oil is extracted, which results in a heavy filling.

Crème Anglaise

Makes 2 1/2 Cups
Active Work: 15 minutes

1/2 vanilla bean, split lengthwise, or 1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
6 tablespoons sugar
2 cups milk
1 piece lemon zest (optional)
5 egg yolks
  Pinch of salt

1. Scrape seeds from vanilla bean. Rub seeds with 1 tablespoon sugar to separate. Set aside.

2. Scald milk with scraped vanilla bean and lemon zest (if using) in heavy-bottomed medium saucepan. (If using vanilla extract rather than bean, stir in after custard cools to lukewarm.)

3. Beat egg yolks, vanilla-seed sugar, and remaining sugar in mixing bowl until pale and mixture forms a ribbon when whisk is lifted. Whisk in a pinch of salt.

4. Remove vanilla bean from milk and rinse. (Bean can be left to dry and used to flavor sugar bin.) Discard the lemon zest.

5. In a second heavy enameled saucepan, heat the egg mixture over very low heat, stirring constantly. Gradually add the hot milk, stirring constantly with a wooden spoon. Cook over low heat, stirring, until the mixture thickens, the back of the spoon is well coated, the froth on the surface has disappeared, and the mixture registers about 165 degrees F on a candy thermometer (about 10 minutes). The mixture must not be allowed to boil. Immediately remove from heat.

6. Strain through a fine sieve into a chilled mixing bowl set over ice. Cool down quickly, stirring constantly. Add vanilla extract, if using. When cold, cover surface with plastic wrap. Refrigerate until needed.

Raspberry Sauce

Makes About 1 Cup
Active Work: 10 minutes

1 1/2 cups fresh raspberries, or 2 (10-ounce) packages frozen raspberries, thawed and drained (reserve juices)
2 tablespoons superfine sugar
1-2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice

1. Purée raspberries in blender or food processor fitted with metal blade. Press purée into small bowl through sieve with back of spoon to remove seeds.

2. Stir in sugar and lemon juice to taste. Stir until sugar dissolves. Dilute with reserved juice, if desired. Refrigerate, covered.

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©1999—2006 Paula Wolfert