These make a fine starter or good party food. You can get reasonable results with canned crab, though boiling one fresh yourself will pay dividends in taste and texture.
You can make délices de fromage in exactly the same way, substituting the same weight of grated Cheddar or a mixture of Cheddar and Gruyère for the crab.
Put the bay leaf, lemon peel and nutmeg to taste in the milk and bring slowly to the boil. Remove from the heat, cover with a lid and leave to infuse for 15 minutes.
In a heavy-based saucepan, melt the butter over a low heat and add the flour. Cook gently to make a roux. Pour the milk through a sieve into the roux, whisking, and cook over a low heat until it forms a very thick white sauce.
Beat in the cream, brandy, Worcestershire sauce, cayenne pepper and salt and pepper to taste. Cook over a low heat for 2–3 minutes, stirring vigorously. The mixture will be very thick. Remove from the heat and stir in the crab meat.
Spoon on to a plate, spread out into a 15-cm / 6-inch circle and leave to cool, then refrigerate for 2 hours or overnight.
Divide the chilled mixture into 24 and roll into balls, with lightly floured hands. Roll one at a time in beaten egg, then roll in fine breadcrumbs. Repeat to give a double crust, then refrigerate until needed.
Preheat a deep-fryer or a large pan half filled with sunflower oil to 190°C/ 375°F. Fry the délices in batches for about 3 minutes each time, until crisp and golden brown.
© 1998 Alastair Little and Richard Whittington estate. All rights reserved.