The other day, I was reading about some recent research on the formation of memories. It turns out that a special protein, in the “taste center” of the cortex, is actually responsible for this process! Well, I am grateful for producing plenty of the PSD-95 (the name of that protein if you wanted to know).
When I was about 7 years old, we were on a plane ride heading for Lebanon for the summer. My brother and I would always get so excited about the food service time. Hungry or not, it was really fun for us to have the tray of mystery items all wrapped up placed in front of us. We really never ate much of anything except for the dessert. On that plane ride, the dessert was a sparkling white dome, gently sweetened with a hint of almond flavor. Having not a faint clue as to what it was, I savored it slowly to prolong the experience and was looking over at my parents’ trays to see whether they wanted theirs, and so was my brother.
On the fig menu that I had prepared the other day was this dessert. That afternoon, as I was wondering about what to make for dessert, a random memory of that white dome came across and I realized that it would taste quite phenomenal with brandied figs in a sweet sauce. So the adventure began! I followed my taste buds and formulated a complete image of the final result and here it is. A really tasty, fulfilling and easy dessert.
2 cups organic almond milk
2 tbsp sugar
1 oz gelatin powder
1/2 tsp vanilla bean paste
1/4 cup almond slivers
Bring the milk to a boil, add sugar and vanilla. Dissolve the gelatin in the mixture and stir well to incorporate. Pour through a strainer into the molds, sprinkle the almond slivers in each mold and refrigerate to cool. Once cooled, gently remove from the molds, place on a serving plate and drizzle the caramelized figs and sauce (recipe follows) and garnish with a few almond slivers. It is best to use silicon molds for this, otherwise it will be too hard to remove. If you don’t have those, you can also serve it as a verrine.
In a skillet, melt butter and sugar together until well blended. Add figs, face down, liqueur and brandy and let simmer gently for a couple of minutes. Turn off heat, sprinkle the mastic powder and stir. Let sit at room temperature for another 2 minutes before pouring over the blancmange.