Dessert gets kick from coffee, but you might want to try decaf

Posted Aug. 21, 2008, at 11:56 p.m.
Last modified Jan. 29, 2011, at 12:52 p.m.

This week we have to talk about a wonderful dessert I met up with and also about frozen blueberries in cake. Dessert first.

A couple of weekends ago, I was on Deer Isle wearing my food historian hat, speaking to a combination of folks from the Stonington Historical Society and the Island Heritage Trust. I had a great time being hosted by Lee Fay, meeting some of you who read this column, seeing the Historical Society’s house, watching tatters, hookers, quilters and rug-braiders, and then I was treated to a wonderful summery cold supper of salad, deviled eggs, ham, coleslaw and smoked salmon from Stonington Sea Products.

For dessert we had a something called Coffee Carnival which I adored, made by Rena Day of Deer Isle. Now I hope I don’t get the genealogy all mixed up here, but this recipe came from Rena’s and Lee’s grandmother Lillian Sylvester who with her husband, Fred, had a dairy farm on Deer Isle and occasionally took summer boarders. We all surmised that the recipe dated from the 1920s or ’30s, though why it is called “carnival” we can’t quite tell. Festive sounding, isn’t it?

It is a pretty dessert with the coffee-colored cream and little, dark-brown flecks of coffee-flavored tapioca all through and Rena served it from clear glass bowls though it would be pretty spooned into parfait glasses to set up, too. If you have trouble sleeping after drinking caffeinated coffee – someone joked about calling Rena up at two in the morning to tell her how good dessert was – you might want to make this from decaffeinated coffee.

Now, blueberries. A couple of weeks ago when I gave you a recipe for Blueberry Ginger Bread, I commented on using fresh berries in order to avoid the hideous color that frozen berries can turn a cake, so Judy Boothby of Bangor wrote me, saying, “Fear not! Frozen blueberries are possible.” This is what Judy does. “Leave them in the freezer until the last minute. Measure all ingredients. Set aside 1/4 cup of flour in a pie plate. Blend the rest of the ingredients. Roll the berries briefly in the flour, fold in, and bake a little longer than for unfrozen.”

Good advice. This certainly would extend our blueberry enjoyment season, wouldn’t it?

Looking for …

Lots of requests came in this week. Peg Ferguson is looking for a chocolate zucchini cake. (Too many zukes, Peg?) Surely someone has a recipe. And Marilyn Richardson wrote looking for a one-crust blueberry pie, “I much prefer it to the traditional blueberry pie,” she said, but it isn’t made by just leaving off the top crust! Anyone?

Coffee Carnival

Makes 4-6 servings.

4 tablespoons minute tapioca

1/4 teaspoon salt

1/3 cup raisins

2 cups strong coffee

1/2 cup sugar

1 teaspoon vanilla

1 cup whipping cream

Put the tapioca, salt, raisins and coffee in the top of a double boiler or in a very heavy sauce pan and cook, stirring frequently, until the tapioca is clear, about 15 minutes. Add sugar stirring until it is dissolved. Chill. Add vanilla. Whip the cream and fold it into the coffee and tapioca mixture, then refrigerate it to let it set up.

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