Friday, May 2, 2014

Hazelnut and vanilla verrines with quince jelly, figs and cape gooseberry… or with alpine strawberries

Crema di nocciola e vaniglia con gelatina di cotogne, fichi e alchechengi

A few days ago I was in Christchurch where I bought some hazelnut flour (Hazelz). I love hazelnuts!
For 4 verrines I used:

2 eggs
3 tbps sugar
1 tbsp (level) cornflour
400 ml full cream milk
1 drop real vanilla essence
1 tbsp (heap) hazelnut flour

for the topping
4-8 tbsp quince jelly (see below)
figs and cape gooseberries to decorate

In a pot mix the eggs with sugar and cornflour and add the milk little by little. Simmer stirring constantly until a custard form, then add the vanilla essence. Pour 200 ml of this custard into a measuring jug (I used the same one I used for the milk) and set aside, then put the hazelnut flour and Frangelico into the remaining custard and stir well. Fill four verrines or glasses with the hazelnut cream (this will be quite thick) and then pour the (thinner) vanilla custard on top. Let it cool down then add the quince jelly. I made the quince jelly by cooking the quinces and then straining the juice overnight in a jelly bag (actually, I use a clean pillowcase that I keep just for jellies) hung over a bowl. Don't squeeze the bag or the jelly will be cloudy. Usually for thick jellies I measure the liquid, add the same amount of sugar and bring back to the boil, but here I only used half the quantity of sugar and I got a soft, almost 'liquid' jelly, good to pour over desserts like this. A tbsp or two per glass will give you a nice covering. Refrigerate. Before serving decorate with slices of figs and cape gooseberries.

For this dessert instead I didn't use quince jelly but I just added some alpine strawberries and some Fresh As raspberry powder. For decorations I used some (edible) pansies. While the first verrines were very 'Autumn', this one was more like a 'fruits of the forest', it reminded me of foraging in the mountains in Italy for alpine strawberries, raspberries and hazelnuts. It works really well. 
But who ate what? Max got this one, and we had the other three, all delicious!

I also like to add some photos of the Transitional Christchurch Cathedral of Christchurch, better known as the Cardboard Cathedral. If you live in New Zealand you will know that the Christchurch Cathedral was significantly damaged in the 2011 earthquake. I haven't been to Chch since last August and so much is being rebuilt now (or demolished, to be rebuilt), a long job! 

 I really wanted to visit the Cardboard Cathedral, I heard so much about it and I wasn't disappointed! Usually I am not a fan of modern churches, but this is truly beautiful, and special. It was designed, for free, but Japanese architect Shigeru Ban, who works in many 'disaster' areas using materials like paper, cardboard and wood.

Why is it call Cardboard Cathedral? Yes, those 86 'tubes' which make the A-frame are cardboard (specially treated, of course). Have a look at this 2 min video to see how it was built. Well done Christchurch, and ありがとう Ban-san.

Photos and Recipes by Alessandra Zecchini ©

Sweet NZ image
This recipe is for 
Sweet New Zealand #34, the blogging event open to all Kiwi bloggers (living in NZ or overseas) and expats blogging from NZ. May's host is Sue from Couscous and Consciousness. Sue lived in Christchurch and her house was destroyed by the earthquake, so I hope that she will find the images of the Cardboard Cathedral uplifting. Visit her blog and click here to share you sweet creations with her. Also let me know if you are keen to be a host in 2014, and book a month!


  1. The Cathedral is lovely and that pudding looks and sounds delicious. Have a great weekend Diane

  2. These verrines look beautiful Alessandra!

  3. These look gorgeous, Alessandra. Where did you get the hazelnut flour? I am going to Christchurch in a couple of weeks and I would love to try these. Thanks also for your very kind thoughts. I love the Cardboard Cathedral - I think it's very special. It's taken a bit over three years, but I'm able to visit Christchurch now without feeling terribly sad (and afraid). I hear constant stories though from friends still living there about how difficult life there can still be. Thanks for sharing such an inspirational post with Sweet New Zealand.

    1. Ciao Sue,

      I got the hazelnut flour from this new shopping complex called The Tannery, it is really cool, you have to go there! There is a deli shops that sell lots of NZ and some imported products. Also if you click on the link for Hazelz you should be able to find the list of distributors. I hope that you will enjoy Chch, it is still a bit disorienting (landmarks that are not there anymore, houses to be demolished, bumpy roads and so on) but
      it is a place that I try to support by being a visitor who patrons local business - I saw a few tourists around, not many of course, but it is a start, it is a city that needs lots of money and help.


  5. Such a pretty dessert! Your presentation is always so dreamy and gorgeous. <3



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