Well, this recipe is well worth the time and the trouble – it is absolutely beautiful. I’m not sure what possessed me, but I made this for dinner last night, although I started it on Saturday afternoon. And I thought Mothers’ Day was a day for resting and being waited upon!
This recipe is by Benoit Blin. He is one of Europe’s leading patissiers, and if this recipe is anything to go by – it’s little wonder. It was worth the trip to South Melbourne to find the tart rings – I’d do it again in a flash. I felt like a bit of a food fraud asking for tart rings, as I had no idea what I was looking for – as it turns out, they are like big egg rings – and I’d never seen or heard of them before in my life. So, in theory you need one 18cm tart ring and one 20cm tart ring, but they only had the 18cm ones in stock, so I had to improvise and use a cake tin for the 20cm part – which actually worked quite well. I’ll keep my eye out for a 20cm ring though, as I think it would make life a little easier next time I make it – and there will be a next time!
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The recipe is in a few different elements – which you don’t necessarily have to do in the order that is in the recipe. I did the crumble first, the caramel hazelnuts second, the chocolate cream third, the parfait fourth, and the butterscotch sauce last.
The crumble is a cinch to make. Butter (make sure you cube it first or at least chop it into smallish bits), demerara sugar, almond meal (I used some left over blitzed almonds from a slice I had made a while ago and while it could have been much finer, I really liked the almondy crunch!) , flour, cocoa powder (I used some of the cocoa powder I had used for the kirsch ganache – it’s a Dutch cocoa), and a pinch of salt. It makes a rough breadcrumby kind of dough, that you then put in a dish and chill for half an hour before pressing it into a 20 cm tart ring – if you have one. As I couldn’t get a 20cm tart ring, I bought a gadget called a Profiline Push Pan that happened to be on special at one of the kitchen shops at my local shopping centre. It’s quite nifty. What I didn’t do was read the recipe properly and I should have lined the tray or ring, but all things considered it worked pretty well and came out pretty cleanly. The demerara sugar makes a difference in the taste of the base, so it’s worth buying a bag at your supermarket to have on hand.
The base ended up being about a centimetre thick, and it’s important to have it that thick as you have to press down the 18cm tart ring into the fresh-out-of-the-oven base. I did, and left the imprint, but then took the ring out, which in retrospect was the wrong thing to do. I let the base cool for a few hours, and then put the ring back in, which I think was the cause of my chocolate cream leaking out a little. It wasn’t the worst thing in the world to happen, but it didn’t look as pretty as the one in the picture 😦
I made the base and the chocolate cream on Saturday for serving on the Sunday evening. I didn’t want to run the risk of a runny chocolate cream, and it set beautifully.
The chocolate cream is very easy to make – I used Lindt 70% cocoa and it worked really well. The mixture does get a little frothy and I was concerned about the little bubbles in the mix, until I looked closely at the picture in the book, and there was some on that one too – so I didn’t stress!!
The caramel hazelnuts are so easy to make. Don’t get over enthusiastic when you blitz the nuts – it really is a one second job. Use a sieve and shake through the powder and set it aside. In a pan on the stove top, you bring some water and sugar to a rolling boil to make the caramel, then tip in the hazelnuts and coat them with the caramel. I did find this made loads more hazelnut that I needed for the recipe, so if you’re a bit short on hazelnut, don’t despair. I’m pleased to report I now have a candy thermometer, which I didn’t get till after I’d made the caramel, so next time there will be no excuses for poor caramel quality!
Making the paste just requires half of the caramel hazelnuts and the hazelnut dust to be blitzed up, which is a quick and easy job. You use the paste as the basis for the hazelnut parfait. While I was cooking the parfait (well, while the thermomix was cooking the parfait), I got another bowl, filled it with ice cubes and cold water, and put another bowl on top to pour the parfait mixture in. Doing it early meant the bowl was nice and cool before I poured the parfait mix in, and chilled it down pretty quickly. It cooled down within a short period of time, and I then poured it into a sealable tray to freeze.
The recipe calls for you to stir the parfait every couple of hours, and I made this on Saturday night. I wasn’t prepared to wake up every few hours to stir it, and I’d left my ice cream maker down at the beach, so I was a bit lazy and only stirred it once the next morning, when it was well and truly frozen. When I went to serve it, it was pretty hard, and I should have taken it out of the freezer 10 minutes or so before I needed to use it, but I microwaved it for 20 seconds, then put into the TM bowl and blitzed for a few seconds until it was beautifully smooth.
The butterscotch sauce was my downfall. but I managed to resurrect it! I still can’t believe I completely left out an ingredient!! I wasn’t concentrating – clearly – and put everything in put everything that was supposed to be in the bowl in the bowl, and the set about the toffee-ish part – the glucose and water. Hmmm, forgot to add the sugar, but of course I didn’t realise that till much later. So, I added the hot glucose syrup into the hot lemon and cream mix in the thermomix bowl, and did what I was supposed to do – put it in a container to cool in the fridge. It just looked wrong, and on tasting it was really, really lemony and quite yellow – not the amber colour Dani had written about. What had I done wrong? So, I read the recipe again – and realised – to my horror – that I hadn’t put the sugar in. Epic Fail!! I did think about starting the whole thing again, but thought I’d try and salvage my disaster first, and then if that didn’t work, make it again. So, I need up heating the mixture up to 100 again in the thermomix, and as that was happening, just melted down some sugar to near toffee – and then poured it in to the hot lemon mixture… and it worked!!!
The plating up is the challenge – and it was hard to get the 18cm ring out, especially as my chocolate cream had leaked a little. I ended up leaving it to warm up a little, and then ran a hot knife around both edges, and then pulled up the ring. Dani mentions you can use a blowtorch, which would have been perfect, but alas the one I received as a gift didn’t come with the butane, and the shop that sells it was closed on Sunday!
I’ll definitely make this again, especially next time I want a dessert to impress!!