Growing up back home, birthdays and holidays wouldn’t be complete without my mom’s delicious desserts. Of course, there would always be store-bought birthday cakes — moist yellow cakes frosted with chocolate, sometimes, mocha buttercream and studded with colorful sugar flower sculptures, but it was my mom’s homemade sweet treats that I excitedly looked forward to year after year as a kid. My mom’s an excellent cook but she was never into baking and so she made up for it by indulging us with sweets that she lovingly made like powdered milk candies wrapped in delicate Japanese paper, deep-fried bananas with caramelized sugar threaded in bamboo sticks, ube jam, and leche flan.
One of my childhood favorites didn’t need any cooking at all. I remember so many birthdays and Christmases spent enjoying bowl after bowl of my mom’s creamy fruit salad — a wonderful hodgepodge of canned fruit cocktail, thick strands of fresh young coconut, and chewy cubes of sweet nata de coco dressed with cream and condensed milk. We didn’t have access to fresh peaches and pears and so my mom used canned fruit cocktail. She would drain the thick, heavy syrup, which I obligingly drank, and would mix the peaches, pears, maraschino cherries, and nata de coco with freshly shredded young coconut she bought from the farmers’ market. She would add table cream and sweet condensed milk, mix everything together, and chill before serving. It was delicious.
To celebrate Jun-Blog’s first birthday, I made my mom’s fruit salad but using fresh, local, and organic fruits. Again, one of the many things I love about living in the Bay Area is the access to amazing fresh produce. Peaches, nectarines, and pluots. Bing cherries, and blueberries. And instead of using table cream and condensed milk, I made my own crème fraiche, which is seriously so simple and easy to make at home. I whipped my homemade crème fraiche with a little sugar and mixed it with my summer fruits. It was amazing. I loved the delightful hints of sweetness, sourness, and nuttiness in the crème fraiche. It was simply delicious.
1 teaspoon buttermilk
1 cup heavy whipping cream
Stir the buttermilk into the cream and heat to lukewarm, without going over 85 degrees F. Pour the mixture into a loosely covered container and let it stand in a warm, draft-free place, like inside an oven, until it has thickened. The temperature should not go over 85 degrees but not go under 60 degrees F. On a hot day, this will take up to 8 hours. Otherwise, this will take a day to a day and a half to thicken. It is ready when it is thick, with the consistency of thick cream.
Stir, cover, and chill the cream in the fridge before serving. Crème fraiche will keep up to 10 days in the fridge.
Summer Fruit Salad Recipe
Peaches, nectarines, pluots, cherries and blueberries
1 cup crème fraiche
Wash the summer fruits thoroughly. Remove the pits from the Bing cherries and cut them in half. Cut the peaches, nectarines, and pluots in small pieces.
In the bowl of a standard mixer fitted with the whisk, beat the crème fraiche with one to two tablespoons of sugar. In a large bowl, mix the summer fruits with the whipped crème fraiche or place alternating layers of fruits and crème fraiche in short glasses or bowls.