Recipe: Dark chocolate and vanilla parfait, with caramelised pecans
Parfait is quite close to ice cream, but to call it ice cream does it a disservice (like calling a Concorde a passenger jet)—it is far lighter than ice cream and, happily, it does not need to be churned, so you can make it with absolutely no specialist equipment. The first step is to make a sabayon—this in itself is a truly wonderful thing which can be spooned over grilled fruit as a wonderful light dessert, in fact it is used as the basis for a number of different desserts. You then fold through some flavoured cream and freeze, that all there is too it. It’s quite nice to serve it with something crunchy, if you don’t have, or care for, pecans then a crumbled biscuit is also lovely. I’ve suggested caramelised pecans and a small amount of piquant crème fraiche to balance out the bittersweet taste of the dark chocolate and vanilla parfait.
Ingredients (serves 2):
For the parfait:
2 x egg yolks
50g dark chocolate
100ml crème fraiche
A few drops vanilla extract
For the walnuts:
A small handful of pecans
1 tbsp unrefined sugar
Extra crème fraiche to serve.
1. In a bowl set over a pan of simmering water, combine the egg yolks, 30g of the sugar and the booze. Then beat with a balloon whisk or electric beaters fairly constantly until it has reach four or five times its original volume. You can stop when the mixture feels warm/hot when a finger is dipped in. Take off the heat and set aside.
2. In a new bowl over the original pan of water, melt the chocolate slowly. Once melted remove from the heat and stir in the crème fraiche, remaining sugar and vanilla extract.
3. Add this to the sabayon (egg foam we made above) and fold the two mixtures until well combined. Pour into a plastic tub or tupperware and freeze overnight.
4. Now make the caramelised pecans: in a small pan, melt the sugar with a few tablespoons of water and heat until the water is driven off (careful not to go too far or it will burn). When it is a dark caramel colour remove from the heat.
5. Add the pecans to the pan and stir everything together whilst the sugar is hot.
6. Spoon out onto a sheet of greaseproof paper. When cool, crumble into small bits.
7. To serve, place a slice of parfait in the centre of a plate, top with a small amount of creme fraiche and sprinkle over the pecan bits.
Tip: The sabayon will foam nicely before it gets hot, and there is no health risk of eating it straight away at this point, however, unless it heats up to about 70C, it will collapse quite quickly once you stop beating it.