Coupe Romanoff isn't originally Swiss, but it probably the country's second favourite ice cream sundae (after Coupe Dänemark, of course).
It was created by the famous Parisian chef Marie-Antoine Carême, inventor of the croquembouche, mille-feuille, poufy chef's hat, and private chef to Napoleon, George IV, and to the Romanoffs, for whom he made this dish.
Carême was one of numerous western Europeans employed by the Romanoffs. Decades before, brilliant Swiss mathematicians Daniel and Nicolaus Bernoulli (from the great Bernoulli family of mathematicians and scientists) were invited by the court of Catherine the Great to work in the Imperial Russian Academy of Sciences. When one died suddenly, another Swiss mathematician, Leonhard Euler was asked to come.
Euler is regarded by many as the greatest mathematicians of all time. He made contributions to the fields of mathematics, logic, topology, physics, astronomy, mechanics, optics, and music theory, and was one of the most prolific writers in his field.
(For those who are interested, my husband Sam, a mathematician and Euler admirer, assures me that one of Euler's most interesting and accessible work is his resolution of the Seven Bridges of Königsberg problem.)
Anyway, back to the Romanoffs and their Coupe. Carême was invited to Russia, but didn't stay long and likely didn't even make a meal for the Tsar. But his strawberry dish, simple and elegant as it was, made it into the ice cream canon.
Strawberries are the star of the show, so get the best quality you can find. Forage if possible. Store bought ice cream is fine, but a great ice cream recipe can be found in my post on Coupe Dänemark, here.
Carême purportedly soaked his strawberries in Cointreau, though this is impossible as Cointreau was invented in 1875 and even it's forerunner, Triple Sec, was first produced in 1849, sixteen years after Carême died. So although he probably did use something orange flavoured, I have taken liberties and soaked my strawberries in Vieil Abricot an apricot brandy from Distillery Studer.
Vanilla ice cream
Spirit of choice
Take a couple of handfuls of strawberries and cut them finely. Place them in a bowl and add a shot or two of your spirit of choice. Let soak for an hour.
Scoop out your ice cream.
Spoon some boozy berries over the ice cream. Then add some whole berries.
- As mentioned above, the traditional booze to soak your berries is orange—Cointreau, Grand Marnier, or Triple Sec would do. I used Vieil Abricot, and I can imagine brandy or cognac working too.
- You can also purée the macerated berries if you prefer.
- If your berries aren't the sweetest, add a pinch of sugar.
- Sam suggests adding a bit of freshly ground black pepper to the macerated berries.
- This is usually served with whipped cream, so garnish as you see fit.