Wednesday, 17 July 2013

Honey and almond parfait - Algarvian perfection

You can hardly believe my excitement when this recipe beckoned to me from "The Guardian".British baking guru Dan Lepard comes up with a pudding that would be so parfait for Casa Rosada dinner guests -Why? well its components shout Algarve.... Almonds, honey and apricots.The majority of our guests are always eager to try out the best of local and what better way to answer  that than with this delicious parfait.Mr Lepard also suggests being "adventurous with your honey, as you can bring some back when you travel (UK customs are fine with a small amount)".I can certainly point guests in the direction of some good local honeys assured that they will be spoiled for choice.Perhaps deciding to make a melt in the mouth parfait on one of the hottest days of the year was
not such a sensible idea,but even less so the idea of trying to photograph a melting moment in a baking hot Algarve garden.In the master baker´s own words "This parfait is so rich it takes at least 8 hours to firm, and is even better if left overnight. But it's great made ahead as a standby dessert in the freezer". This is playing into my hands.Yet another plus, giving me a stock freezer item that requires no de-frosting.The only thing I changed in the recipe was the way I cooked the apricots.I sautéed them in butter and vanilla sugar and then scattered them with fresh thyme leaves.I thought this little twist would harmonize perfectly with the almonds and honey in the parfait.No offence meant Mr Lepard,its all in the best possible taste-
Honey almond parfait with warm apricots
Makes 1 x 18cm parfait( I used a 20cm round loose bottomed cake tin)
3 medium eggs
300ml double cream
125g honey, a richly flavoured one if possible
50g light brown sugar
100g flaked almonds, toasted
500g apricots, semi or fully ripe
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
50g vanilla sugar
1 Make the custard by separating the eggs, then whisk the yolks lightly with the cream and 75g honey. Pour into a saucepan, then bring to the boil slowly. As soon as the mixture coats the back of a spoon and gets very hot, take it off the stove and pour into a clean, cold bowl and leave until cold.
2 Line the base and sides of a deep 18cm(I used a 20cm) round cake tin with clingfilm. Gently stir the whites with the sugar and remaining honey in a saucepan until hot, then pour into a bowl and beat with an electric whisk for 4-5 minutes to form a thick, soft meringue.
3 Fold the almonds through the custard, add to the meringue and fold together, then pour into the cake tin and freeze for eight hours, until firm.
4 To serve, stone and halve the apricots,melt the butter in a frying pan and cook over a very gentle heat add the vanilla sugar until they soften,sprinkle with plucked thyme leaves then cool.This can be done the day before too,stored in the refrigrator. and then brought back up to room temperature

Serve a wedge of the parfait with a couple of the warm apricot halves.

AFTER THOUGHT
The practicality of trying to freeze something in a circular cake tin is not sound.
Firstly it takes up a lot of valuable freezer space and secondly the quantity of he recipe fills a 20cm round cake tin,so it was lucky I used a 20cm tin.From now on I will be making this recipe in a standard loaf tin.It will fill the tin to below the level and therefore can be covered with cling film.The rectangular shape is more conducive to freezer storage.

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