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Lychee Compote with Raspberries and Champagne Gelee

Champagne Gelee:
1 cup sugar
3 cups Champagne or other sparkling wine
1 tbsp. plus 2 tsp. unflavored gelatin (less than 3 envelopes)
1 tbsp. strained fresh lemon juice

Lychee Compote:
1 lb. fresh lychees or 1 (15 oz.) can, rinsed and drained
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup water
1 1/2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice, or to taste

1/2 pint raspberries

Make gelée: Lightly oil a 9-inch square baking pan and line with plastic wrap, leaving an overhang. Combine sugar and 1 1/2 cups Champagne in a small saucepan and sprinkle gelatin over mixture. Let gelatin stand 1 minute to soften.

Cook over moderate heat, gently stirring occasionally (vigorous stirring will create too much foam), just until sugar and gelatin are dissolved.

Slowly pour into a metal bowl set in a larger bowl of ice and cold water and cool, stirring occasionally. Slowly add lemon juice and remaining 1 1/2 cups Champagne, stirring just until combined. Let stand 5 minutes, then skim foam.

Continue to cool mixture, gently stirring occasionally, until it mounds slightly, about 20 minutes. Transfer to baking pan and chill, covered, until firm, at least 8 hours.

Make compote while gelée chills: Peel lychees. Make a lengthwise slit in each and remove pit, leaving pulp as intact as possible.

Heat lychees, sugar, water, and lemon juice in a small saucepan over moderate heat, stirring, just until sugar is dissolved. Transfer to a medium bowl and chill at least 2 hours.

Just before serving: Invert gelée onto a cutting board, discarding plastic wrap, then trim edges. Cut gelée into 1/2-inch cubes and add to compote with raspberries. Gently mix with a rubber spatula.

Makes 8 servings.

September 2000