Making something icy cold during a hot, sunny day sounds like a swell idea. It is a genius plan. Who wants to walk outside and get some sweat patches just for ice cream. Okay, I would but we’re being hypothetical here.
So my super idea was to serve caramel parfait bars. And I spent 3 days preparing it, from the sticky caramel popcorn to the parfait filling to finally, dunking it in chocolate. That was, up until the point when the parfait started to melt before I could get round to dunking, and then the chocolate kind of just…sliding off. Disaster. Delicous, but still disastrous.
In comes sheer improvisation spirit! I thin out the ganache even more with whipping cream and once the bars have firmed up in the freezer again, I spread the ganache over the top. Not quite what I wanted (they were meant to resemble biscotti dipped in chocolate) but hey, you’re getting dessert after all.
Caramel Parfait with Candied Popcorn (from Gourmet Traveller Australia, September 2010)
150g dark couverture chocolate, finely chopped
45g vegetable shortening (I used butter and added 3 tbsp of warm whipping cream)
1) Follow instructions and once popcorn has been made, divide popcorn between two lightly oiled 20 x 12 cm cake tins. Stand cool (30 minutes) then remove from tin.
400ml pouring cream (I used whipping cream)
Scraped seeds of 1 vanilla bean
180g caster sugar
6 egg yolks
1) Combine 75ml cream and vanilla seeds in a small saucepan over low heat, stir occasionally until warm. Whisk yolks in an electric mixer on medium-high speed until pale and doubled in volume.
2) Meanwhile, heat a saucepan over high heat until hot. Add sugar (it should start to melt then colour) and swirl pan occasionally until sugar is dissolved and amber in colour. Do not leave unattended as sugar burns very easily.
3) Gradually add warm cream (it may sputter), stirring to combine.*
4) Decrease mixer to medium low and slowly pour in hot caramel down the side of the bowl. Increase speed to medium-high and whisk until cool. Whisk remaining cream in a bowl until stiff peaks form then fold in caramel yolks. Pour into a 20 x 12cm cake tin lined with baking paper. Place one sheet of candied popcorn on top and freeze until firm (3-5 hours).
5) After that, turn out and press on the remaining sheet of candied popcorn. Freeze until very firm (3 hours) before cutting into sandwiches and freeze until required.
6) Melt chocolate in a heatproof bowl in the microwave (30 second bursts, stirring between each). Add butter and cream, stirring until melted. At this point, you can dip each sandwich into the ganache or spread it over the top of the bars and freeze until ready to serve.
*I didn’t do a good job with the caramel and some of the sugar crystalised so I added in the cream nonetheless, mixed it until most of the kinks were out and sieved it to remove the crystalised bits. Worked fine. And I also got ALOT of caramel parfait, enough to make two trays of sandwiches I reckon. So my sandwiches were less finger like and more… BLT.