recipe

Credit: EARL CARTER

Nougat parfait with praline and grilled peaches

I like to think this recipe solves several of my kitchen conundrums at once. First, it deals with the vexed issue of leftover egg whites. Second, it provides a sound iced dessert for people who don’t have an ice-cream churn. And third, it fulfils the Goldilocks principle: not too heavy, not too light, but just right.

Egg whites are the inevitable byproduct of a busy kitchen that makes mayonnaise, custard and bearnaise and hollandaise sauces. They keep well in the fridge, can be frozen and are easy to measure out when needed. (Any recipe that calls for egg whites alone can be measured out at 30 millilitres per white.) I do, however, get a bit tired of using them up in meringue-based desserts: there are only so many pavlovas, meringue roulades and Eton messes a girl can handle. This nougat parfait is great for using up lots of egg whites and is a delicious summer treat.

And for those who don’t have an ice-cream churn, parfait – or the Italian equivalent, semifreddo – is a perfect solution. This one is a particular favourite as it has no egg yolks and is therefore lighter and less rich than some of its counterparts. Which is why it would please Goldilocks.

It’s also an excellent stock recipe, which you can stick to, or you can fiddle with the combinations of fruit and flavouring. Instead of the pistachios and cranberries, you could use toasted almonds or hazelnuts with diced angelica (wild celery), apricot, preserved quince or clementine. Just aim for 250 grams of replacements. And, of course, the fruit on the side is interchangeable for anything that is seasonal and delicious.

To finish, a little cook’s note about praline. Making toffee seems to be troublesome, so I tend to live by a few basic rules. First, use a good heavy-based saucepan. Second, always use a stainless-steel stirring implement, to avoid the impurities you would find on a wooden spoon. Third, be prepared and have a dish of cold water and a pastry brush on hand. I apply minimal intervention. Put the sugar in the pan with a splash of water and place onto a high heat. Just give it a quick stir and watch carefully once the toffee starts to boil. If it looks nice and clear, leave it alone. If it looks like the sugar hasn’t dissolved completely, give the pan a swirl. If there is a trace of crystallised sugar on the side of the pan, dip the pastry brush in the cold water and brush the sides down lightly, dissolving that sugar.

To easily clean the pot afterwards, refill it with water and boil to dissolve the pesky residue. Praline keeps fantastically well in the freezer. It is great to have on hand to make an instant dessert garnish, a little bed for a scoop of ice-cream to sit neatly on a plated dessert and an additional crunch and texture for fruit for gluten-free and vegan dessert offerings.

Nougat parfait with praline and grilled peaches

Serves 8, with leftover parfait

Praline

– 200g castor sugar

– 135g toasted almonds

Place the sugar in a small heavy-bottomed saucepan. Add a splash of water, place on a high heat and stir until the sugar has dissolved.

Bring to the boil and cook until it is a medium caramel colour.

Place the almonds on a greased tray, then pour the toffee over. Allow to cool, then smash into small pieces or grind in a food processor. Keep in an airtight container in the freezer.

Nougat parfait

– 100g castor sugar

– 60g liquid glucose

– 150g honey

– 8 egg whites

– 800ml cream

– 100g pistachio kernels

– 150g cranberries

– zest of 2 oranges

Put the sugar, glucose and honey in a small saucepan and place over heat. Stir until the sugar has dissolved. Simmer until it reaches 116ºC.

Beat the egg whites until soft peaks form, pour on the syrup and beat until cold.

Whip the cream stiffly, fold into the egg white mixture, then fold in the nuts, fruit and two-thirds of the praline. Set in moulds.

Grilled peaches

– 8 ripe peaches

Cut the peaches in half, remove the stone, brush with a little oil and grill cut side down.

To serve, place a slice of the parfait on a plate with the grilled peach halves and a sprinkling of the praline.

This article was first published in the print edition of The Saturday Paper on Feb 1, 2020 as "Fight for the right to parfait".

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Annie Smithers
is the owner and chef of du Fermier in Trentham, Victoria. She is a food editor of The Saturday Paper.

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