The Romance of the Ispahan: A Parfait & Foodsze Turns One!

Yes! Foodsze turns ONE today. How quickly time flies; I remember sitting here a year ago brainstorming over a blog name and over a bag of potato chips, a Facebook chat with my best friend, Darsh and mulling over play of words, Foodsze was born! I’m glad I made that fateful decision to use this medium of expression; without it, I wouldn’t have attempted half the stuff I put up here. My most memorable challenge from last year was the monumental V8 cake created by pastry extraordinaire Adriano Zumbo, featured as a pressure test on Masterchef Australia 2010. That masterpiece tested me beyond anything I’ve experienced; immense patience and endurance (it took me a continuous 12 hours and a 1 hour nap break) to complete the task. In those wee hours of the morning, I felt excitement, bewilderment, defeat (at the halfway mark I was ready to throw in the towel), perseverance and then at the end, triumph! So the chocolate flower and base layer weren’t perfect in the assembling but I survived! Wooohooo!

my most memorable challenge for 2010

Oh there were plenty of other failures; burnt pastry, collapsing cakes, bad macaron days – all of which contributed to a stupendous learning curve for me. With the new year, comes more challenges, recipes and hopefully better food photography. Apart from receiving a brand spanking dSLR for my (real) birthday last year from my awesome hubby, I have not progressed beyond the bare minimum understanding of camera functions and basic image editing so I should commit myself to improving that this year (note to self: don’t be lazy)

To celebrate Foodsze turning 1, here’s an experiment that turned out really well. Inspired by the famous Raspberry, Rose and Litchi (Lychee) Ispahan Macaron by Pierre Hermé dubbed the “Picasso of Pastry” by Vogue, I’ve improvised the flavours into an Ispahan Parfait. I initially wanted to make the macarons but I had one of those bad macaron days so wasn’t too pleased with how the shells turned out. I didn’t want to waste them so I guess you can call this a deconstructed Ispahan dessert: a raspberry swirl, rose and lychee frozen parfait sandwiched between two tempered white chocolate tiles sitting on a plate painted with raspberry puree, studded with more luscious raspberries, lychee halves and crushed macarons which I’ve dried out further in the oven so it was quite similar to amaretti cookies. If I had a great macaron day, I would have made mini macarons to garnish the plate where the crumbs are and assembled it all on a thin square of raspberry gel (a thought for next time maybe :)) And If I could get my hands on rose petals, even better! :)

I’m very pleased with how the parfait turned out. Parfaits are lighter versions of ice cream from the air incorporated into the whipped egg yolks, sugar and flavouring component. This is made even lighter by folding in softly-whipped cream to the cooled mixture which is then frozen without churning. So if you don’t have an ice-cream maker or don’t care much for waiting around hand-churning ice-creams every hour or so, parfaits are a perfect frozen treat to make at home.

For my dessert, I froze some of the parfait mixture in a dish measuring at least 4 cm in height; once frozen solid, I used a 68 mm round cookie/scone cutter, dipped in hot water to cut out my parfait rounds which are then returned to the freezer until ready for assembling. For tips on how to temper white couverture chocolate, please refer to my V8 cake post. You can replace the crushed macarons with crushed amaretti cookies.

Alternatively, just enjoy the parfait with reserved raspberry puree.

The following recipe makes about 1 litre of parfait:-

Ispahan Raspberry, Rose & Lychee Parfait

(makes 1 litre)

Ingredients

500 g raspberries
400 ml canned lychees
180 g caster sugar
6 egg yolks
3 gelatine leaves, gold strength ( 2 g each)
550 ml thickened cream
1-2 tablespoons rose water ( see note )

Method

  1. Place raspberries and 1/2 (90 g) the sugar in a saucepan. Gently stir and heat until sugar has dissolved; press out the puree through a sieve. Discard the seeds ( I got about 400 ml of puree); measure out 220 g of raspberry puree and set aside the remaining puree for serving.
  2. Measure out 20 lychees + syrup to weigh 280 g; blend/puree and add this to the 220 g of raspberry puree; set aside remaining lychees for garnishing or serving.
  3. Stir in the rose water.
  4. Softened the gelatine leaves in cold water.
  5. Place egg yolks and remaining sugar (90 g) in a stainless steel bowl; sit this bowl over a pan of barely simmering water (without base touching the water). With a balloon whisk, continuously whisk the mixture until frothy; start adding the raspberry, lychee and rosewater mix in a stream; whisk until egg mixture resembles a thick custard (I whisked it to a temperature of 82oC); squeeze out excess water from the gelatine leaves and add to the mixture to melt; cool to room temperature.
  6. Whip the thickened cream to soft-peaks; gently fold this through the cooled mixture; pour into a clean and dry freezing container and freeze until hard for about 5 – 6 hours.
  7. Serve straight from freezer with extra raspberry puree, lychees, extra fresh raspberries and if you like, crushed amaretti biscuits.

Note: Rose water is available at Middle Eastern grocers. If using rose essence, reduce this amount to 1 to 1 1/2 teaspoons in the parfait recipe as the essence is quite strong and could overpower the other flavours. You want the rose flavour to come through subtly.

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