Monday, December 25, 2006

Christmas Parfait

Serves 8

150g sugar
100ml cold water
6 egg yolks
100g good-quality dark chocolate, chopped
3 tbsp dark rum
2 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp ground cloves
150g dried cherries or muscatels
450ml cream, whipped

for the cherries
1kg fresh cherries
4 tbsp sugar
4 tbsp water
2 tbsp Kirsch or dark rum
a few perfect mint leaves

Dissolve sugar with cold water in small saucepan over gentle heat (make sure every grain of sugar is dissolved or crystals will form in your parfait), then bring to simmer.
Boil until temperature reaches 108ÂșC. (If you don't have a sugar thermometer, watch surface of liquid carefully & when lots of small bubbles seem to join up, the sugar syrup will be dense enough & ready to use.)
Have egg yolks ready in bowl & whisk with electric beater until fluffy.
Gradually add hot sugar syrup in slow but steady stream while continuously beating.
Whisk for 7-10 min until mixture has cooled & is very pale cram colour & doubled in volume.
Fold chopped chocolate into eggs with rum, cinnamon, cloves & dried cherries/muscatels, then fold in whipped cream.
Spoon mixture into 1.5L pudding basin or freezer tray.
Cover with plastice wrap & place in freezer immediately, leaving at least overnight to set, & serve within 4-5 days.
Remove stones from fresh cherries using cherry pitter.
Place cherries in medium saucepan with sugar & water & bring to gentle simmer.
Let cherries simmer for about 5 min then take off heat, add Kirsch/rum & refrigerate until needed.
To serve, place 1-2 wedges or scoops of parfait on dessert plates, spoon a few cherries & little syrup over each & serve at once.
Yum, yum, yum!

Zurracopte (Dried Fruit Compote)

This is a typical Basque Christmas dessert. The dried fruit can be substituted to include dried figs, dates, or whatever you like. The fresh fruit can be substitued with fresh figs, quince, dates, sour Chinese prunes... again whatever takes your fancy.

Serves 6

1 cup dried apricots
1/3 cup raisins
1 cup prunes
1 1/2 cups Rioja red wine (this is a Spanish wine region; if you can't find Riojo wine, substitute with Tempranillo red wine)
4 small tart apples
4 small pears
1 cup water
2/3 cup sugar
1/2 lemon
1/2 cinnamon stick

Cover apricots, raising & prunes with wine & allow to soak for at least 1 hour.
Peel & core apples & pears & cut into wedges.
Place in large saucepan with water & cook over high heat for 5 min.
Add sugar, lemon & cinnamon & boil for 1-2 min more.
Add dried fruits & wine & simmer until soft (around 10 min).
Allow to cool & remove lemon before serving.
Serve warm or cold with a little chantilly (lightly sweetened whipped cream) on side.

Ginger Spiced Cocktails

Makes 1 jug (for around 8 people)

juice & zest of 3 lemons
5cm piece fresh ginger, crushed
3 tbsp sugar
handful fresh mint leaves + extra for garnish
1 cup crushed ice
150ml vodka
4x375ml bottles Bundaberg ginger beer

In mortar, crush together lemon juice & zest, ginger, sugar & mint leaves.
Place in jug with ice & mix well.
Add vodka then top with ginger beer.
Serve immediately garnished with extra mint leaves.
Very refreshing!

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