In late summer, it’s such a nice idea to flavour a cream or panna cotta with blackberry leaves, which have a wonderful herbaceous green-tea-like flavour. We sometimes use fig or citrus leaves as an alternative.
Blackberry Leaf Powder
Makes about 100g
2 shopping bags of unsprayed blackberry leaves
Rinse the leaves well in a colander under cold running water, then shake or spin dry.
In a dehydrator, or your oven set to the lowest heat, dry out the leaves completely – this will take 6-8 long hours. Allow to cool, then blend to a fine powder in a blender or food processor. Store in an airtight container in your store cupboard.
Black Pepper Sablé
120g unsalted butter, at room temperature
100g caster sugar
1 egg yolk
2 vanilla pods, split open in half
150g plain flour
½ tsp fine table salt
5g baking powder
½ tsp freshly cracked black pepper
Put the butter and sugar in a stand mixer and whisk together until light and fluffy. Mix in the egg yolk and the seeds scraped from the vanilla pods. Add the flour, salt, baking powder and black pepper and bring together with your hands into a dough.
Divide the dough into two pieces. Roll out each piece of dough on a lightly floured surface into a rectangle about 2mm thick and place on a baking tray lined with greaseproof paper. Chill for 30 minutes.
Preheat the oven to 175°C fan/195°C/gas mark 5-6. Bake the sablé sheets for 10 minutes or until golden. Cool on the trays, then break into random shards.
4 sheets/leaves of silver leaf gelatine
500ml double cream
250ml whole milk
75g caster sugar
10g Blackberry Leaf Powder (see above)
Soak the gelatine in cold water to soften it. Drain and squeeze out excess water, then put into a pan with all the remaining ingredients. Bring to the boil, stirring occasionally. Remove from the heat and strain through a fine sieve into a bowl. Cover and chill the mixture to set.
Blackberry Leaf Oil
50g fresh unsprayed blackberry leaves, rinsed well in a colander
50ml olive oil
Blend the leaves and oil together in a blender or food processor until as smooth as possible. Pour into a pan and bring quickly to the boil over a high heat. As soon as the mixture reaches the boil, remove from the heat and strain through a fine sieve into a bowl set over ice (this will cool the oil quickly and help it retain its bright green colour).
150g very ripe blackberries
a pinch of citric acid
Put all the ingredients in a pan, bring to a simmer and simmer for 8 minutes or until the fruit has completely broken down. Pass through a fine sieve, pushing down on the fruit so that all the juice passes through. Cool.
an aromatic herb such as sorrel or lemon balm
Whip the panna cotta mixture just to loosen it, then decant into a piping bag. Pipe a round of panna cotta in the bottom of each bowl. Drizzle a little blackberry leaf oil and blackberry liquor into the bottom of the bowl. Garnish with fresh blackberries and whatever herb you have chosen. Serve the sablé biscuits on the side.
Extracted from Larder by Robin Gill (Absolute Press, approx €30). Photography © Paul Winch-Furness.