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When Raspberries Happen

Sometimes, your office unexpectedly offers you freshly picked red raspberries. In that case, help yourself to a bag and be sure to taste a few of the juicy red drupelets to see how tart their summer sweetness is. If they aren’t too sweet, and you have some basil-flavored simple syrup handy, toss the berries in the syrup and let them sit a while. It’s cliche but they do burst freshly red on your tongue and remind you that summer isn’t just heat and sweat, it’s also ripeness and flavor and ruby sweetness tangy on your tongue. For example.

To balance that fresh ripe burst of berry, I wanted some cool vanilla cream, the dairy richness a smooth and velvety counter to the berry tartness. It also makes for a nice color contrast. Having no pudding on hand, I looked up vanilla sauces, and found the tip to start one off by making a slurry. Milk and cornstarch and home-made vanilla extract based on bourbon, and a few spoons of sugar. Heat and stir and stir and then watch it thicken. That’s how I made surprise pudding. Meaning, my sauce thickened into pudding, to my surprise.

Pudding is a happy thing. Spoon the heap of dark red raspberries in basil syrup into the bottom of a serving bowl or ramekin, then cover with the still slightly warm pudding mixture. See the red and soft yellow-white meld a bit. Restrain yourself, have some dinner, let the fridge cool things down. Then enjoy the lovely smooth, sweet vanilla pudding, its richness cut at the precise necessary moment by bursts of tart sweet fresh red berry. Summer says hi.

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