Lemon Thyme Cream and Caramelised Grapefruit

Despite the fact that the snowdrops are doing their best, by this time in February it often feels to me as if winter will never end. So I felt in need of a treat, preferably a sunny one. And what’s sunnier than grapefruit?

All the elements are simple and fairly traditional but it does take a bit of time. This will serve two but there will be some bits and pieces left over as cook’s treats.

Lemon Thyme Cream and Caramelised Grapefruit

For the Sablé Biscuits:
        100 g unsalted butter
        70 g icing sugar
        130 g plain flour
        1 egg yolk

For the Crème Patissière:
        280 ml full-fat milk
        3 or 4 sprigs lemon thyme (ordinary thyme will do)
        Zest of about ¼ lemon;
        ¼ tsp vanilla paste (or extract – paste is in short supply thanks to Mr Oliver)
        4 egg yolks
        60 g caster sugar
        25 g plain flour
        2 tsp cornflour

For the Croquant decoration:
        50 g butter, softened
        2 tbsp grapefruit juice
        20 g plain flour

For the Caramelised Grapefruit:
        8 – 10 pink or ruby grapefruit segments
        icing sugar, for coating

To make the sablé biscuits, put all the ingredients into a food processor and whiz them up until the mixture looks like sand. Then pulse the machine until the dough is beginning to come together in clumps. Stop before it becomes a solid mass. Tip the dough out onto a lightly floured surface, knead it lightly and bring it gently together into a ball. Wrap the dough in clingfilm and rest it in the fridge for 30 minutes.

Unwrap onto a lightly floured surface and roll the dough to a thickness of about 0.5 cm. Cut out some interesting shapes (I used a sort of lozenge shape), place on a silicone sheet on a baking tray and bake at 180°C for around 8 – 10 minutes until they’re a pale golden colour. Remove the biscuits carefully from the baking tray and cool on a wire rack.

To make the  crème patissière, add the thyme, lemon zest and vanilla paste to the milk and heat it until almost boiling. Leave the milk to infuse for 15 minutes.

Put the egg yolks and sugar in a bowl and whisk until thickened and pale. Whisk in the flour and cornflour. Strain the milk and discard the thyme and lemon zest. Bring the milk back to the boil and pour it slowly onto the egg and flour mixture, whisking all the time. Pour the mixture into a clean pan and put it back onto the heat. Bring it back to the boil, stirring constantly. (I always worry that it’s lumpy at first, but it should sort itself out).

Once the mixture is smooth and thick, put it into a bowl and lay clingfilm over the top to prevent a skin from forming. Leave to cool, then put into the fridge until needed.

For the croquant decoration, mix all the ingredients together thoroughly and spread the mixture thinly onto a baking tray which has been buttered or lined with a silicone sheet – the mixture will cover about 15 x 12 cm. You don’t need to be too precise about this, because it’s going to get broken up pretty soon anyway. Bake for about 15- 18  minutes at 180°C until it’s an even dark brown colour. Allow to cool completely before breaking off some random chunks for decoration. (If you want the croquant to be less fragile, allowing you to create larger pieces, then add around 50 g of caster sugar to the initial mixture. I prefer them fragile and not sweet, though.)

Finally, for the caramelised grapefruit, spread a layer of icing sugar over a plate and dip the grapefruit segments into it. Once both sides of the segments have been coated with the sugar, place them briefly in a hot, dry frying pan until the sugar has lightly caramelised. Turn them over and do the same for the other side. This whole process will take very little time but be careful how you handle them because they'll be very delicate.

Now simply put the whole thing together. Place a sablé biscuit on the base of the serving dish and pipe the crème patissière onto it. Place some small pieces of the croquant into the crème patissière and arrange the grapefruit segments around the dish. Eat while thinking spring thoughts.

Snowdrops Feb 2011 (640x467) (400x292)


  1. This is a lovely and very original idea. This really sounds delicious. I am new to your blog and have been poking through your earlier entries. I really like the food and recipes you feature here. I'll definitely be back. I hope you have a wonderful day. Blessings...Mary

  2. Welcome and thanks for the comment, Mary. I poke through the earlier entries sometimes, too. I can't pretend to remember what I cook - that's what the blog's for.

  3. This looks lovely and I especially like the colour of the grapefruit - it would be a real treat to be served this.

  4. This sounds delicious! I love lemon cream. I really like your blog so I'm now following you! Follow me back on http://theramblesandshamblesblog.blogspot.com


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