But more and more food lovers and good home cooks have come to realize an important lesson their grandparents and great-grandparents once knew, but generations that followed had forgotten: Fresh ingredients grown locally and in season will almost always deliver the best flavor and texture, and very likely the best nutritional value, as well.
So I think there is an excellent reason to celebrate truly in-season fresh raspberries while you can still find them. Enjoy them on their own as a snack, as part of your breakfast, or as a simple dessert after lunch or dinner. Fill tart shells with them. Very briefly warm them with a little butter, a sprinkle of sugar, and a squeeze of lemon juice to make a fresh raspberry sauce for ice creams, sorbets, custards, or panna cottas. There's no end to the opportunities and inspirations for enjoying them.
One of my favorite ways to eat fresh raspberries is to combine them with bittersweet chocolate. The rich, mellow flavor of that confection pays a wonderful complement to the tart-sweet fruit. I'll scatter the berries over a fudge sauce for ice cream, or simply serve plates of chocolate pieces and raspberries to nibble together with after-dinner coffee. But, to be truly decadent, I'll combine the two ingredients to make special chocolate truffles.
The classic little candies are simplicity itself to make: Melt together good-quality chocolate with a splash of cream and a dab of butter and you have a paste that you can mold easily into little bite-sized spheres. So it's easy, while the truffle mixture is still soft, to hide a whole fresh raspberry inside each little ball. Let the chocolate set in the refrigerator, roll the balls in some confectioner's sugar or cocoa powder (which resembles the earth still clinging to the true truffles of the fungus world when they're dug up), and your treats are ready to serve.
Brew some good coffee to serve them with. And then lift your cups or mugs to toast the last of the season's sweet raspberries!
CHOCOLATE RASPBERRY TRUFFLES
Makes 8 truffles
4 ounces premium bittersweet or semisweet chocolate, cut into small pieces, or bittersweet or semisweet chocolate chips
3 tablespoons heavy cream
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
2 tablespoons raspberry liqueur, Amaretto, Grand Marnier, or other flavoring of your choice
8 fresh whole organic raspberries
Confectioner's sugar or cocoa powder, for coating
Select a small heatproof bowl and a saucepan just large enough for the bowl to rest on the rim with its bottom several inches above the bottom of the pan. Add water to the pan to come below, not touching, the bottom of the bowl. With the bowl set aside, bring the water to a boil, and adjust the heat to maintain a gentle simmer.
Put the chocolate, cream, and butter in the bowl and rest it on top of the pan, over but not touching the simmering water. When the chocolate pieces have almost completely melted, use a heatproof pad to remove the bowl from the pan. With a spoon, stir the chocolate mixture until smooth. Stir in the liqueur or other flavoring of your choice. Cover the bowl with aluminum foil or plastic wrap and refrigerate until the mixture has cooled and thickened but is still soft enough to scoop up in mounds with a tablespoon, about 30 minutes.
Line a baking sheet with waxed paper or parchment paper. If you have a pastry bag, fit it with a No. 3 plain tip and scrape the chocolate mixture into the bag. Pipe 8 mounds, each 1 inch in diameter, onto the prepared tray. (Alternatively, use a small melon baller or a teaspoon to form the mounds as neatly as possible.) Place one raspberry in the center of each chocolate mound and then pipe (or spoon) a little more of the chocolate mixture over the berry to enclose it completely.
Put the baking sheet in the refrigerator. Chill until the truffles are firm, about 15 minutes.
Spread some confectioner's sugar or cocoa powder on a dinner plate or in a shallow soup bowl. With clean hands, gently roll each truffle between your palms to give it a more even spherical shape. As you finish shaping each one, place it on the plate or in the bowl and lightly roll it around to coat it. Transfer to a plate and store in the refrigerator or at cool room temperature until ready to serve.