If you don’t feel like trying all the elements to this complicated, but impressive, dessert, just the toast parfait alone makes a wonderful dinner party dessert.
Equipment and preparation: You will need four individual rectangular chefs’ moulds, a small rectangular mould, a free-standing mixer, four long wooden skewers
few sprigs lemon thyme
For the toast parfait, make Melba toast by toasting both sides of the bread under a grill. Cut the bread in half, through the soft middle, open it up like a book and toast the two soft sides.
Bring 150ml/5fl oz of the double cream up to the boil in a very small saucepan. Crunch the toast up into the cream and blend to a fine paste with a hand blender.
Make a sabayon by adding the egg yolks and caster sugar to a free-standing mixer and whisk until aerated and pale. Fold the sabayon into the toast infusion.
Whip the remaining the double cream until soft peaks are formed when the whisk is removed from the bowl.
Fold the whipped cream into the toast mixture.
Double line the bottom of four individual rectangular chefs’ moulds with clingfilm, then pour in the parfait mixture and place in the freezer to set.
For the balsamic jelly, place the gelatine leaf in a bowl of cold water to soak.
Add the balsamic vinegar to a saucepan with some sugar, to taste – you want enough sugar to take the edge off the vinegar, without creating a sweet syrup. Boil until the sugar has completely dissolved.
Drain the gelatine leaf, squeezing out the excess water (you need one gelatine leaf per 100ml/3½fl oz of vinegar).
Add the gelatine to the vinegar and stir until completely dissolved.
Pour into a small rectangular mould lined with clingfilm and place in the fridge to set.
Once set, remove from the fridge and slice into neat 1cm/½in by 1cm/½in cubes.
For the poached cherries, combine the port, red wine, star anise, lemon thyme and sugar in a saucepan and bring to the boil.
When the sugar has dissolved, simmer for a further two minutes.
Remove from the heat, add the quartered cherries, cover and leave to steep until the mixture reaches room temperature.
For the toast tuile, make a dry caramel by sprinkling an even layer of the caster sugar into a dry frying pan and gently heating until the sugar has dissolved. Continue to cook until it turns a dark amber colour.
Add the butter to the pan and mix with a wooden spoon, being careful as it will start to cook immediately.
Add the thinly sliced sourdough bread, one slice at a time and cook until golden-brown.
Remove the slices of bread and leave to cool on a wire rack.
For the hazelnuts, preheat the oven to 180C/350F/Gas 4.
Place some newspaper on the floor, under the door handle of your oven.
Put four hazelnuts to one side and roughly chop the rest. Sprinkle the chopped hazelnuts onto a baking tray and toast the hazelnuts in the oven for five minutes.
Gently insert the pointy end of a long wooden skewer into one side of each of the other four hazelnuts.
Prepare a bowl of ice cold water.
Make a dry caramel by sprinkling an even layer of the caster sugar into a dry frying pan and heating gently until the sugar has dissolved. Continue to cook until it turns a dark amber colour.
Place the bottom of the pan into the iced water bath to cool it down really quickly until you have the consistency of a thick syrup – it needs to be hot enough that it’s still pliable, but not so hot that it just runs straight off the hazelnuts.
When the caramel is ready, carefully dip one of the hazelnuts in, letting the excess drip back into the pan. When the dripping syrup becomes a thin string, secure the opposite end of the skewer to the oven door handle and leave it hanging to set. Repeat with the remaining hazelnuts. If the caramel hardens before all hazelnuts have been dipped, warm it again over a low heat. Break each string to the desired length and carefully remove the skewers.
To serve, place a rectangular slice of the parfait to one side of each plate. Top this with a layer of the cherries, followed by the toast tuile. Place cubes of the jelly to one side.
Garnish the plate with a caramel-dipped hazelnut and some chopped hazelnuts and lemon thyme leaves.
Type the ingredients you want to use, then click Go. For better results you can use quotation marks around phrases (e.g. "chicken breast"). Alternatively you can search by chef, programme, cuisine, diet, or dish (e.g. Lasagne).
This page is best viewed in an up-to-date web browser with style sheets (CSS) enabled. While you will be able to view the content of this page in your current browser, you will not be able to get the full visual experience. Please consider upgrading your browser software or enabling style sheets (CSS) if you are able to do so.