This is a pretty wicked Summer dessert, definitely for hot Summer days. The beauty of it is that the custard and blueberries can be prepared ahead of time – eg the day before – and then it takes but a few minutes for the dessert to come together.
As the title suggests, blueberries, slightly stewed, are served with icecream, a bay-flavoured custard, and savoiardi biscuits soaked in gin, rosewater and blueberry syrup. It sounds amazing, right? And it is (the gin-soaked biscuits are out of this world), but the title belies the ease with which this dish is created. Best to note that it is an adult dessert only!
Of course, it is an Ottolenghi dessert, from his book Plenty More which we are trying to cook all the way through. Note that I often massage the recipes to suit our preferences and what is available from our garden, fridge and pantry. For the original recipes, check his books and his Guardian column. In the recipe below we have substituted a custard made with custard powder for the egg-based one, as we don’t cook with eggs. It sounds horrific, I know, but I assure you it tastes just as good. Feel free to use your favourite method.
Also, blackberries are originally used by Ottolenghi but they are notoriously difficult to find here, so we have used blueberries. It might be Ok to use frozen blackberries – but warm them through with the sugar rather than cook them.
Browse all of our Blueberry recipes and all of our Desserts. Our Ottolenghi dishes from Plenty More are here. We have written about our experiences cooking through this book. Or explore our Late Summer recipes.
Stewed Blueberries with Bay Custard and Gin
ingredients for four
40g caster sugar
1½ tspn rosewater
2½ Tbsp gin
90g savoiardi (ladyfinger) biscuits, in 2cm pieces
360g vanilla ice-cream
custard (see note below recipe)
180ml double cream
140ml whole milk
30g caster sugar
4 – 5 bay leaves
1 Tblspn custard powder or according to directions
First make the custard. Place the cream, milk and bay in a small saucepan and bring to a simmer, stirring to combine the milk and cream really well. Remove from the heat and let sit for 15 mins to infuse the bay leaves. Remove the bay leaves.
In a small bowl, combine the custard powder with a little milk – 1.5 Tblsp should be plenty. Then, while continuously whisking, slowly add the milk mixture and continue whisking until it is all combined.
Return the liquid to the saucepan and place on a medium-low heat. Stir continuously until the sauce returns to a simmer and then thickens into a custard (it should coat the back of a wooden spoon – approx 2 mins of gently simmering). Remove from the heat, cool and refrigerate until needed.
Then place 300g of the blueberries in a small saucepan along with the sugar, and mix well. Bring to a simmer and cook on a medium-low heat for around 10 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the berries are soft but holding their shape and lots of liquid has come out. Leave to cool.
Strain the juices from the blueberries and stir through the rosewater and gin. Soak the biscuits in the juices until absorbed.
To serve, scoop large portions of ice-cream into four glasses or tumblers. Top with soaked biscuits and pour over the custard. Add the stewed blueberries and the remaining fresh blueberries and serve.
recipe notes and alternatives
I do not cook with eggs so I use custard powder or even Besan Custard. Please do feel free to use your own method, using the first 4 of the custard ingredients.
I have doubled the quantity of custard that Ottolenghi makes – there is too little in his recipe, although you might have some custard left over with my version.