A few months back one of my favourite little locals dropped a rather tantalising post exulting a new addition to their dessert menu. While I never made it in to try said bowl of deliciousness it certainly set the cogs ticking, and after plenty of delays and distractions this week not only did I get around to trying a recipe I'd had bookmarked for yonks, but also finally looked up what an arlette actually was.
The arlette loosely fall into the palmier family of sweet treats; a puff pastry-based "biscuit" rolled with cinnamon sugar and baked until caramelised, flaky and delicious. They'd be perfectly splendid in their own right—alongside a large pot of tea if you must—but since things have been a little too 'everyday' around here of late I had something far more indulgent mind.
So instead, to accompany my arlette: a handful of basil-steeped raspberries and a big scoop of some cheek-dimpling, lip-puckering buttermilk sherbet. Made in a machine it makes for a nice, milky sorbet but do it by hand and you'll have yourself a gorgeous granita-esque ice; simple, elegant and with a huge smack of citrus bite. Refreshing and sharp, this really is a dish no summer should be without.
For the pastries:
- 1 sheet (375 g) all-butter puff pastry*
- 200 g caster sugar
- 1 heaped tsp ground cinnamon
For the buttermilk sherbet:
- 335 g caster sugar
- 200 ml water
- 3 lemons
- 600 ml cultured buttermilk
For the raspberries:
- 125 g fresh raspberries
- 8-10 leaves fresh basil
- 1 lemon
- 35 g caster sugar
- 100 ml water
To make the arlette, combine the sugar and cinnamon in a bowl and then sprinkle some over your work surface. Place the pastry sheet on top and sprinkle with more cinnamon sugar so that both sides are well coated. Roll the pastry up into a log and cut 2-cm-thick sections. With the spiral facing up press down to flatten and then roll each section into a large oval, sprinkling with sugar as you go so that the pastry does not stick the the counter or pin. Place on baking sheets lined with paper and refrigerate for 1 hr. Bake at 190℃ for 12-15 minutes, removing the second baking sheet* after 8-10 minutes, if using (see note). Leave on the trays to cool completely, before serving.
Make the sherbet by combining the sugar, water and 5-6 strips of lemon zest in a pan over medium heat and stirring until the sugar dissolves. Remove from the heat and leave to cool, then remove the zest and stir in the buttermilk and the juice of three lemons. Churn in an ice cream machine according to the manufacturer's instructions. Alternatively, pour into a large container and freeze until set, stirring with a fork or small whisk every 30 minutes to disperse and break up any large ice crystals.
To make the raspberries, first prepare a basil syrup by bringing the water, sugar and 3 strips of lemon to a boil. Simmer 2 minutes then remove from the heat, add the basil and juice of 1 lemon, and set aside to cool. Just before serving, remove the basil and zest from the syrup and add the raspberries. Leave them to macerate for around five minutes.
To serve, remove the buttermilk sherbet from the freezer and leave at room temperature for 5-10 minutes, to soften. Place a large scoop into each of your chilled serving bowls, dot with a handful of raspberries and drizzle over a little of the syrup. Top with a sprig or two of basil, if desired, and serve with some shards of arlette.
Makes 12-14 pastries, & approx. 1 litre buttermilk sherbet.
** Much of the flavour in these arlette comes from the pastry so be sure to use one that's good quality (or, even better, make your own!).
** Sitting a second baking tray on top of the arlette while baking will not only help keep them flat but give a very different appearance visually (as seen above). The pastries will remain reasonably flat without it, so choose whichever method you prefer.