When Chef told me he wanted me to prepare a dessert for the heirloom tomato celebration we were having in Grange for Slow Food Sacramento on August 30 I thought, wow, what am I going to do with tomatoes in a dessert? I mean technically tomatoes are a fruit and sure, I could do a tomato sorbet, tatin or tart, but I thought it would be fun to do something that incorporated the dominant flavors of late summer - tomatoes, yes, but also peaches, corn and rosemary.
So yesterday I served a dessert to 75 people that contained all those elements - a Summer Heirloom Tomato & Peach Sundae with Sweet Corn Ice Cream, Balsamic Caramel & Rosemary Shortbread. There were six components to the sundae: a fresh peach sauce made with peaches, brown sugar and honey; corn ice cream made with white corn and brown sugar; a compote of fresh diced peaches and tiny sweet tomatoes drizzled with a balsamic caramel made by reducing equal parts balsamic vinegar and brown sugar; a tomato jam made from 9 quarts of tomato juice and pulp from Mr. Stripey tomatoes slowly reduced over 8 hours down to 2 quarts; and fresh yellow corn kernels lightly poached in a sugar syrup. I really wanted to introduce an herbal element to the dish and chose a rosemary shortbread to accompany the sundae. To play up the martini idea I put peach cubes and sweet whole cherry tomatoes on bamboo cocktail picks and inserted them into the ice cream.
The dessert was a big hit with the crowd - they loved it! (It was popular with the staff as well, as you can see from the picture of Peter, our Executive Housekeeper on the right.) I knew all the flavors and textures worked together, but I'll admit it was a little nervewracking serving such an unusual dessert to so many people. I'm glad I took the risk, though. I got a lot of positive comments from the guests and I was able to show them that dessert doesn't always have to be super sweet and chocolatey. The sundae was a delicious taste of summer in a martini glass!