OM Ali – Egyptian Bread Pudding

The dessert name of Om Ali, means ‘Ali’s mother’, has its own story. To make a long story short, not wanting to bore you with the detailed war history of Om Ali ….. Ali’s mother, was a powerful feminist of the 13th century Egypt. Her husband tried to cheat on her so she kills him and celebrates with distributing Om Ali dessert declaring her son Ali as successor. As ever, food is a much more than just the act of cooking and eating. Food is culture, history and the stories of a given people and time.

You could think of Om Ali as the Egyptian cousin of bread pudding. Same idea of soaking some type of bread with milk or cream and sugar, then baking it in the oven. Om Ali skips the eggs though, which makes it lighter in texture, looser and milkier as opposed to custardy. Instead of bread, it is traditionally made with baked puff pastry, phyllo or Egyptian flat bread combined with milk and nuts.

Om Ali has become a well loved and celebrated dessert all over the Middle East, being served at many big celebrations and events.

Instead of using the traditional nuts, raisins and coconut, I’m using the ‘Sahale Snack Mix’ which has a very similar blend in my Om Ali pudding.

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OM Ali - Egyptian Bread Pudding
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Instructions
  1. Allow puff pastry to thaw before using. Preheat oven to 400 F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Cut the puff pastry into squares & poke holes in each using a fork. Bake for about 15 minutes or until puffed & golden brown. Remove from oven & allow to cool.
  2. In a saucepan, whisk together milk, sugar, spices & whipped topping powder. Allow to come to a gentle simmer; add the vanilla & heavy cream. Remove from heat.
  3. Break the puff pastry into pieces & place half of them in either individual ramekins or an oven-proof baking dish. Sprinkle each with some of your fruit/nut blend, reserving a bit for topping. Cover with the other half of the pastry pieces.
  4. Slowly add the milk mixture, one ladle at a time until the milk mixture fully covers the puff pastry. Allow to sit for 10 minutes, you'll notice that the puff pastry absorbs some of the milk. Add milk again until it covers the puff pastry.
  5. Bake for 30 minutes at 350 F. then place under the broiler if you wish, for a couple of minutes to get a golden top. Serve warm or at room temperature.
Recipe Notes
  • When baking is 90% done, sprinkle the rest of the fruit/nut mixture on top so they don't burn & taste bitter. It gives a nice eye appeal.

Pearl Couscous Pudding w/ Poached Fruit

While names may be confusing, if you have never tried ‘pearl couscous’, you should. Because of its size and shape, Israeli couscous is sometimes marketed as pearl couscous. Yet in Israel, it goes by neither of these names … its called ‘ptitim’ which roughly translates to ‘little crumbles’. To make it even a bit more confusing … although it is called couscous, technically its not but more like a pasta.

Unlike the finely grained North African couscous made of semolina, Israeli couscous has larger granules, resembling tiny pearls. They are made from a paste of moistened, finely ground, hard wheat flour which is forced through a machine to make round pellets and then toasted dry in ovens. The toasting process seals in the starch to prevent the ‘pearls‘ from falling apart when later cooked in liquid. It also gives the pasta a bit of a nutty taste.

Whatever name you prefer, it is a tasty alternative to rice or pasta. Not only will it serve as a base for vegetable and herb packed salads, it can be stirred with stock to make creamy risottos or use it as a replacement for tapioca or rice in dessert puddings. Its even good just as a side dish tossed with oil or butter, lemon and fresh herbs.

I was able to buy just a small amount at the bulk store so I could make this pudding. The poached fruit makes such a nice topping for it as well.

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Pearl Couscous Pudding w/ Poached Fruit
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Pudding
Poached Strawberries & Rhubarb
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Pudding
Poached Strawberries & Rhubarb
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Instructions
Pudding
  1. In a saucepan, combine coconut oil with cardamom spice over medium-low heat. Add couscous & toast, stirring occasionally, just until the couscous has turned a light golden brown.
  2. Add coconut milk, making sure to get all the fat from the can, along with the sugar & salt. The pan should be hot enough that the coconut milk will bubble up & fizz a little then add vanilla.
  3. Bring mixture to a simmer then turn the heat down to low & cook for 5 minutes, stirring frequently. After 5 minutes turn off the heat, cover & allow to sit for 5 minutes then remove the lid & stir. Pudding thickens as it cools.
Poached Fruit
  1. In a large saucepan, place water & sugar over high heat & stir until sugar dissolves. Reduce heat to low & add strawberries & rhubarb. Simmer for 10 minutes or until fruits are softened but still retain their shape. Cool.
Assembly
  1. Serve pudding at room temperature otherwise it becomes a solid mass when cold. If it's too thick you can stir in a bit more coconut milk to help thin it out, adding a tablespoon or so at a time until you have the desired consistency. Divide pudding between serving dishes & top with poached fruit to serve.

Bailey’s Strawberries & Cream Fudge Pudding Parfaits

HAPPY VALENTINES DAY!

One thing for sure, Valentine desserts most often center around chocolate and strawberries. To celebrate the occasion, Brion came home with a bottle of Bailey’s Strawberries & Cream liqueur. This is the companies second seasonal flavor following their Pumpkin Spice liqueur. To put it in their words, ‘ the drink combines Bailey’s Original Irish Cream with delightful ripe strawberry flavor and delicious vanilla’.

After we had enjoyed it as a drink it got me thinking about how I could incorporate it into a ‘special’ dessert as well. Do you recall those classic Hot Fudge Pudding Cakes from the 60’s? They were the ultimate comfort food, fancy enough for a parfait and homey enough to be a spur of the moment indulgence. I could see nothing wrong in swapping out the milk in the original recipe for some strawberries & cream liqueur!

Speaking of pudding cake, its really kind of a culinary miracle, how pouring hot water over a thick batter can create this warm, fudgy concoction that lies precisely at the intersection of cake and pudding.

OK, on with my dessert … I had some strawberries in the freezer so they became a nice strawberry sauce to compliment the liqueur in the pudding. Serving this dessert parfait style with some ice cream or whipped topping adds a bit of elegance and I’m sure you will love the taste.

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Bailey's Strawberries & Cream Fudge Pudding Parfaits
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Course dessert
Cuisine American
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Course dessert
Cuisine American
Servings
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Instructions
Cake
  1. Preheat oven to 350 F. In an 8 X 8-inch baking dish, combine first 5 ingredients. Add liqueur, margarine & walnuts, combine well. Batter will be very stiff (if you find it easier to mix the cake in a small bowl instead, do so). Spread batter evenly in the baking dish.
  2. In a small dish, combine brown sugar & 1/4 cup cocoa powder & sprinkle over batter. Pour boiling water over all & bake for about 40 minutes or until batter rises to the top & is baked through.
Strawberry Sauce
  1. In a small saucepan, combine cornstarch, sugar & salt. Mix well. Add water & sliced strawberries. Cook until sauce is clear & bubbly. Remove from heat & cool.
Assembly
  1. Place some strawberry sauce in the bottom of each parfait glass. Spoon fudge pudding over sauce & top with ice cream or whipped topping. Serve with a glass of liqueur!

Giant Yorkshire Pudding

Yorkshire pudding was first known as ‘dripping puddings‘. Their origin goes back to the days of old English country inns where they would roast beef on a hook in a hearth over an open flame and have a pan below the roast with flour/milk mixture that caught the drippings. This would be served with the roasted beef.

Traditionally, beef drippings are used, although you can use oil, but not olive oil (or butter) due to the high heat involved in making the pudding. The best choice, if you use oil, would be peanut, canola or safflower oil.

The basic recipe is actually a simple formula based on how many eggs you use. You don’t need to measure anything, just use the same volumes of ingredients …. egg, milk, and flour.

My interest in making Yorkshire pudding came from Brion having memories of eating these at his British grandfather’s house. He recalls that you filled the little Yorkshire puddings with gravy and they tasted real good. It all makes sense, that this beloved British staple food would have been served on special occasions.

Instead of making them in traditional Yorkshire pudding tins, I went with the ‘giant‘ size. I understand there is also another way the pudding is being served. It’s called the ‘Yorkshire Pudding Wrap‘, which consists of a large flattened Yorkshire pudding, wrapped around a mound of sliced meat, stuffing, some token vegetable and smothered in thick gravy. You might say this is the fast food style roast beef dinner!

While there are other foods made from a similar batter such as popovers, gougere and Dutch baby pancakes, Yorkshire pudding are distinctive in their wonderfully crisp texture and fabulous flavor from meat drippings. If you like this kind of thing, the meal not only has a great taste but good eye appeal as well.

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Giant Yorkshire Pudding
(1) The first thing you want to work out is the volume of egg. Take two identical cups or mugs & crack an egg into one. Into the other, pour flour until it fills the cup to the same level as the egg in the other one. Add a pinch of salt to the flour. (2) Put the egg into a mixing bowl & pour milk into the cup (the one the egg just came out of) up to the same level as the flour. Add a dash of vinegar to the milk. (3) Pour the flour & milk into the bowl with the egg & whisk all the ingredients into a smooth batter. Allow batter to sit for at least an hour or overnight. Letting the batter rest reduces the starch making a lighter pudding. (4) Preheat oven to 400 F. If you are roasting meat, put a little of the drippings (for flavor) or oil into the baking pans you are using to cook the pudding. Your pan choice is important. You need one with high enough sides so the batter can 'hold' the side & rise. If you are making 'Giant Yorkshires', as I did, use a 7 or 8-inch cast iron skillet (or a metal cake pan). Place the pan with the drippings (or oil) in the pre-heated oven for about 5 minutes until drippings are hot. (5) Pour the batter into the hot pan & bake for 10-15 minutes or until sides have puffed & are a nice golden brown. The center will fall almost immediately after being removed from the oven ... which is normal! (6) Serve immediately with your roast, gravy, potatoes & veggies of choice. The recipe equation below is basically what ONE of my giant puddings 'measured' out to be.
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Course Lunch, Main Dish
Cuisine American, European
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Ingredients
Course Lunch, Main Dish
Cuisine American, European
Servings
Ingredients
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Instructions
  1. Follow same method as above.
Recipe Notes
  • For a  2-egg batter, use a 7 or 8-inch skillet or pan
  • For a  3-egg batter, use a 10-inch skillet or pan
  • For a  4-egg batter, use a 12-inch skillet or pan

Mango Bread Pudding with Chai Spices

Bread Pudding ….. its just bread plus eggs plus a sweetened, spiced milk mixture. What makes it special is the blend of spices mixed into it and the sauce.

When done right, bread pudding should have the perfect balance of gooey goodness and chewy texture. That’s why stale bread is important. The bread needs a degree of crunch otherwise you will have ‘mush pudding‘.

For today’s recipe, I started by making a loaf of Challah bread. This is an ‘eggy’ bread that can soak up custard without collapsing. It will toast nicely on the outside and leave you with a creamy pudding inside.

Challah is a very straight forward bread to make. The dough is enriched with eggs and oil, while a few tablespoons of sugar add some sweetness and it doesn’t require any fussy techniques. Because challah is traditionally braided, proofing is key…. if the dough is not properly proofed, it will tear in the oven while baking.

Here’s where it becomes ‘comfort food‘ made with glorious challah, tropical mangos and spices inspired by the world’s love affair with Indian chai.

Chai, which is sometimes overlooked, adds a distinct warm flavor and depth. It can include a number of different spices. Cardamom is the most common ingredient, followed by some mixture of cinnamon, ginger, star anise and cloves. Pepper, coriander, nutmeg and fennel are also used but they are slightly less common.

For the finishing touch, I made a rum sauce. Who says bread pudding has to be boring!

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Mango Bread Pudding with Chai Spices
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Instructions
Challah Bread
  1. In a small bowl, place lukewarm water & sprinkle with yeast & a pinch of sugar; stir to combine. Let stand about 5-10 minutes until frothy. In a large bowl, place 4 cups flour, sugar & salt; whisk to combine.
  2. Make a well in the center of flour mixture & add eggs, egg yolk & oil; whisk to form a slurry. Pour the yeast mixture over the egg slurry. Combine with a wooden spoon until a shaggy dough that is difficult to mix forms.
  3. On a floured work surface, turn out dough & knead for about 10 minutes. If dough is sticky, add flour a teaspoon at a time until it feels tacky. The dough should be soft, smooth & hold a ball shape. Place the dough in an oiled bowl, cover with plastic wrap. Allow to rise, in a draft-free place until doubled in bulk, about 1 1/2 hours.
  4. Divide the dough into 3 or 6 equal pieces, depending on the type of braid you wish to make. Roll each piece of dough into a long rope about 16-inches long. If the ropes shrink as you try to roll them, let them rest 5 minutes to relax the gluten & then try again. For the 6 stranded braid as I made, the name of the game is 'over two, under one, over two'. Carry the right-most rope over the two ropes beside it, slip it under the middle rope, then carry it over the last two ropes. Lay the rope down parallel to the other ropes; it is now the furthest strand. Repeat this pattern until you reach the end of the loaf. Try to make your braid as tight as possible. Once you reach the end, squeeze the ends of the ropes together & tuck them under the loaf.
  5. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Place the braided loaf on top & sprinkle with a little flour. Cover with a tea towel & allow to rise about 1 hour. About 20 minutes before baking, preheat oven to 350 F. When ready to bake, whisk the reserved egg white with 1 Tbsp. of water & brush carefully over challah. Bake 30-35 minutes, rotating baking sheet halfway through. Remove from oven & cool before cutting up for bread pudding.
Bread Pudding
  1. Preheat oven to 350 F. Butter an 8 x 8-inch baking dish; toss bread & mango cubes together in it. In a medium bowl, whisk the rest of the ingredients together & pour over the bread & mangoes; allow the mixture to soak for about 5 minutes. Bake about 1 1/4 hours, or until set.
Rum Sauce
  1. In a small saucepan, over medium heat, melt butter. Mix together sugar & cornstarch; stir into the melted butter. Slowly pour in milk, stirring frequently until mixture begins to lightly boil. Continue cooking until thick, stirring constantly. Remove from heat & stir in rum. Serve warm over bread pudding.

Baked Barley Pudding with Caramel Sauce

Barley was traditionally used to add bulk and a comforting flavor to stews and broths. The gentle flavor of this grain makes it endlessly adaptable. I have often substituted it for rice in main course dishes but it is definitely dessert worthy too.

Like rice pudding, its a comforting (old fashioned) dish. Barley stays chewy compared to how soft rice becomes even after a few days in the fridge. Now, don’t get me wrong … I love rice pudding and of course its one of those desserts that holds nostalgic memories for me.

Barley was a grain crop my father grew on our family farm. As Canadians, we are blessed with some of the most fertile farmland in the world. Our province of Alberta, along with the provinces of Saskatchewan and Manitoba, are the major growing areas for barley in Canada.

Having such great nutritional value and versatility, barley deserves much more culinary acclaim than it receives, I think. This barley pudding is best served warm. I chose to make a simple caramel sauce to drizzle over it. In the whipped topping MIX, I used 1% milk and added a tiny bit of anise flavor for interest. Yum!

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Baked Barley Pudding with Caramel Sauce
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Course dessert
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Instructions
Barley Pudding
  1. In a medium saucepan, bring water to a boil; add barley & 1 tsp salt. Reduce heat, cover & simmer for 45 minutes or until barley is tender. Cool.
  2. In a medium bowl, combine eggs, milk, sugar, butter & vanilla; beat well. Add cooked barley, raisins, lemon zest & juice.
  3. Preheat oven to 325 F. Turn pudding into a well buttered, 6-cup baking dish. Set pan into a larger baking pan in oven. Pour hot water into the larger pan to within an inch of the top of the pudding. Bake for an hour or until a knife inserted in the center comes out clean. Serve warm as is or with caramel sauce & anise topping.
Caramel Sauce
  1. In a small saucepan, add sugar & cornstarch. Pour in a little of the hot water & whisk quickly to blend. Over a low heat, add the rest of the water, butter, salt & rum extract. Simmer for 10 minutes until thickened. Prepare dry whipped topping mix if using.

Rhubarb Almond Lattice Cake

There are few food combinations as heavenly as strawberries and rhubarb. This is food for the soul! The juicy sweetness of one balances out the almost inedible tartness of the other. Then there is that gorgeous color that strawberries bring to make rhubarb look so good. It’s a classic pairing that’s hard to get enough of if you enjoy this seasonal treat.

Since rhubarb appears quite frequently on my summer blogs, I wanted to give it a different look today. As usual I’m trying to meld a few ideas together into one dessert. The lattice top, made from tender summer rhubarb is weaved over a layer of almond cake. Then strawberry/vanilla filling comes next with the bottom consisting of a second layer of the almond cake. It may require a little more time than some desserts but well worth the effort.

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Rhubarb Almond Lattice Cake
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Course Brunch, dessert
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Ingredients
Almond Cake
Rhubarb Lattice Topping
Course Brunch, dessert
Servings
Ingredients
Almond Cake
Rhubarb Lattice Topping
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Instructions
Almond cake
  1. Preheat oven to 350 F. Line TWO 9-inch round baking pans with parchment paper.
  2. In a small bowl, whisk together flour, ground almonds, baking powder, baking soda & salt. In a large bowl, beat butter & sugar with a mixer until light & fluffy, about 2-3 minutes. Beat in eggs, 1 at a time, scraping sides of bowl after each addition. Beat in almond extract.
  3. Beat in flour mixture on low in 3 additions, alternating with buttermilk, until just combined.
  4. Divide batter evenly between cake pans & bake for 25-30 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Transfer to a cooling rack.
Rhubarb Lattice Topping
  1. Peel thin slices off the rhubarb with a knife or vegetable peeler. Use the outer skins as they are the pinkest & save the leftover stalks to make the filling.
  2. In a large saucepan, heat the water & sugar until sugar is dissolved & the mixture is just simmering. Over low heat, add a few rhubarb strips at a time & poach until soft, about a minute. Remove to a plate to cool. Repeat with remaining rhubarb strips. Place a piece of plastic wrap on a plate & form the lattice top for your cake. Set aside the poaching syrup & allow to cool.
Strawberry/Rhubarb Filling
  1. Combine diced rhubarb & strawberry gelatin in a large microwave-safe glass bowl. Cover bowl & cook for a couple of minutes until rhubarb is soft. Let mixture cool. Stir milk & vanilla pudding mix in a bowl until moistened. Beat with an electric mixer on low speed until thickened, about 2 minutes; stir cooled strawberry/rhubarb mixture into pudding mixture.
Assembly
  1. Once cakes have cooled, place one on top of rhubarb lattice. Spread the strawberry/rhubarb filling on top of this before placing second cake on top of that. Carefully place a light serving dish over cake & turn over so that the rhubarb lattice is on the top. Neaten up the edges of the lattice work by cutting with a pair of scissors if necessary. Drizzle over any remaining syrup (if you wish). Slice & serve.
Recipe Notes
  • If you wish, place a layer of fresh sliced strawberries on the cake after you have topped the first layer with filling.

St. Patrick’s Day Rainbow Parfaits

Today’s Irish legends are thought to stem from stories of real people. As the story goes, in 5th century BC, Gaelic invaders discovered a pre-Celtic race. Being only about five feet tall, the invaders called them ‘little people’, a name which eventually morphed into ‘leprechaun’. Because the little people buried their dead with valuables, it was thought to be gold. Unable to find these buried treasures, people spun tales that grew into legends. It become widely reported that you could find the burial locations at the end of the rainbow. This theory, of course, gives the sense of  ‘it’s just out of reach because its an impossible place’.

The rainbow, depicted in St. Patrick’s Day themes, has seven easily distinguishable colors. Both the rainbow and the number seven, are symbols considered to be good luck.

Although St. Patrick’s Day started out as a religious feast holiday celebrating the life of St. Patrick, it has become kind of a mixture of non- religious celebrations steeped in Irish culture, folklore and superstition.

When I saw this dessert on the internet, it looked perfect for the occasion. 

                                                     HAPPY ST. PATRICK’S DAY!


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St. Patrick's Day Rainbow Parfaits


Instructions
  1. Prepare instant pudding mix according to package directions. Separate pudding into 7 individual dishes.

  2. Place dishes in a line & add 2 drops of food coloring to each dish. The rainbow colors you need are red, orange, yellow, green, blue, indigo & violet.

  3. Layer the pudding by adding about 2 Tbsp of each color to individual parfait glasses. Tap the bottom of the glass on the counter after each layer to make the layer flatten. Refrigerate until fully set. Top with a dollop of whip topping to represent a cloud.

Apple & Sour Cherry Bread Pudding

Basic bread pudding is one of those desserts that has become lost in the shuffle it seems. Truly a comfort food for those of us that remember it from childhood days. Most of my memories are of the classic recipe— a simple mixture of eggs, milk, sugar, flavorings, raisins and of course, some stale bread.

Bread puddings date back centuries. For the vast majority of human history most people could not afford to waste food, so numerous uses for stale bread were invented.

Today, bread puddings are still being made but they are far more luxurious, often using gourmet breads, vanilla beans, bourbon, expensive cheeses and nuts.

Having a German heritage, German recipes and food history are especially interesting to me. It seems in Germany there are two versions of bread pudding, one with apples and the other with sour cherries.

It just so happens I have some of both which has inspired today’s blog recipe. All things are possible with bread pudding so if you don’t like either, just substitute blueberries, raspberries, canned peaches, pears, dried apricots, cranberries or whatever you like because you know its all going to be good!

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Apple & Sour Cherry Bread Pudding
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Instructions
  1. Butter an 8 x 8-inch baking dish. In a large bowl, whisk together brandy, milk, eggs, sugar, butter, cinnamon, salt & vanilla. Add bread cubes, cherries & apples folding together with a rubber spatula. Pour mixture into prepared baking dish, flatten with spatula , making sure fruit is distributed evenly. Cover with plastic wrap & refrigerate for about 15 minutes so bread absorbs all the liquid.
  2. Preheat oven to 350 F. Bake pudding about 55-65 minutes or until top is golden & center is set. Nice to serve with vanilla ice cream or whipped cream.

Raspberry Almond Summer Rice Pudding

From what I have read, today August 9th, is  national rice pudding day  in the USA. I’m not sure how these holidays are figured out but who needs a special date to have rice pudding?!  In Canada & the USA, most rice pudding recipes were brought by European immigrants. The basic version contained long grain rice, milk, sugar, raisins, cinnamon and nutmeg.

This food traces its roots to the grain pottage’s made by Middle Eastern cooks. Almost every region of the world has its own take on rice pudding. Some versions are sweet, while others are savory and some are thick while others are thin.

Summer rice puddings put a fresh twist on an this old classic comfort food. There is so much fresh summer fruit to choose from and combinations of flavors just waiting to be explored.

I remember my mother’s rice pudding with fondness. I wasn’t big on raisins at the time and always thought it would be perfect if they would be omitted, but it was still wonderful.

Today’s showy little dessert makes use of the season’s nice fresh raspberries. 

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Raspberry Almond Summer Rice Pudding
Instructions
  1. In a large saucepan, combine rice, sugar, milk & butter; bring to a boil. Reduce heat & simmer for 30-35 minutes until rice is cooked. While rice is cooking toast almonds in a skillet.
  2. When rice is cooked, allow to cool THEN add almonds & extract, lifting as you stir. Divide rice between dessert cups & refrigerate 30 minutes.
  3. Make raspberry jell-o according to package instructions. Once the jell-o is made allow to cool until slightly set. Top each dessert cup with 1/6 of the jello & refrigerate for at least 4 hours or until jell-o has set.
  4. Decorate desserts with fresh raspberries, crushed amaretti biscuits, sliced almonds & a sprig of mint if desired.