Bitter Chocolate and Vanilla Mousse
65 ml (2 1/4 floz) milk
2 eggs, separated
145 g (5 oz) sweetened chestnut purée
85 g (3 oz) mascarpone
40 g (1 1/2 oz) caster (superfine) sugar
65 ml (2 1/4 floz) cream
2 tsp cacao nibs
2 1/2 gold-strength gelatine leaves, or
2 tsp gelatine powder dissolved in 60 ml (2 floz/1/4 cup) boiling water
125 ml (4 floz/1/2 cup) espresso coffee
50 ml (1 3/4 floz) dark rum
2 egg whites
65 g (2 1/4 oz) sugar
100 ml (3 1/2 floz) cream
45 g (1 1/2 oz) soft brown sugar
35 g (1 1/4 oz/ 1/4 cup) plain (all-purpose) flour
30 g (1 oz) caster (superfine) sugar
30 g (1 oz) almond meal
25 g (1 oz) chestnut flour
25 g (1 oz) cocoa powder
65 g (2 1/4 oz) unsalted butter, melted
1 egg white
1 tsp caster (superfine) sugar
Grape seed oil for frying
50 g (1 3/4 oz/ 1/4 cup) wild rice
Sea salt flakes
1 tsp cacao nibs
Note: Chestnut puree and flour can be found at Delis and Mediterranean food stores, while half-dome moulds are sold in homeware shops, Shiso is often available in organic or Asian grocers, while violet flowers can be found in gourmet food stores.
Preheat the oven to 170°C (340°F).
Bring the milk to the boil in a small saucepan over a medium heat. Whisk the egg yolks lightly in a bowl. While whisking, slowly add the milk to the egg yolks until combined. Return the mixture to the saucepan and cook over a medium heat, stirring, until the mixture coats the back of the spoon. This will only take a few minutes, so don’t turn your back on it!
Remove the saucepan from the heat and transfer the mixture to a food processor. Add the chestnut purée and mascarpone, process until smooth, and set aside.
Beat the egg whites using an electric mixer for approximately 2–3 minutes, gradually adding the sugar until stiff peaks form.
Whisk the cream using an electric mixer until soft peaks form, about 2–4 minutes. You can use a hand-held mixer if you don’t have an electric mixer at home.
Add the chestnut purée mixture to the cream and fold to combine. Add the egg whites and fold to combine.
Divide the cacao nibs among six 80 ml (2 1/2 floz/ 1/3 cup) half-dome moulds. Spoon the parfait mixture on top to fill the moulds and set aside in the freezer.
Soak the gelatine leaves in ice-cold water for 5–10 minutes until very soft, and squeeze out any excess water. (If you can’t get your hands on gelatine leaves, use gelatine powder dissolved in boiling water.)
Warm the coffee and rum in a small saucepan over a medium heat. Remove the pan from the heat, add the gelatine and stir to combine. Make an ice bath in a large bowl. Strain the coffee–rum mixture into a clean bowl and set aside over the ice bath to cool.
Beat the egg whites using an electric mixer for about 2–3 minutes, gradually adding the sugar until stiff peaks form.
Whisk the cream using an electric mixer until soft peaks form, about 2–4 minutes.
Combine the egg-white mixture, the cooled coffee–rum mixture and the cream, and fold to combine. Set aside in the fridge.
Combine all the dry ingredients in a bowl. Add the butter and mix well. Spread the mixture on a baking tray lined with baking paper and place in the oven to bake until crunchy, about 20 minutes. Remove from the oven and break into chunks. Set aside.
To crystallise the fennel, place the egg white in a bowl and lightly whisk. Dip the fennel fronds in the egg white to coat. Sprinkle with sugar and set aside on a tray.
To puff the wild rice, pour the grape seed oil into a small saucepan until it is onethird full and place over a high heat until the oil is 180°C (360°F). Drop a small breadcrumb into the hot oil to test if it's ready – if it turns a golden colour straight away, the oil is hot enough. Add the rice and deep-fry until puffed. This should take no more than 10 seconds (otherwise, they’ll burn and will be unpleasant to eat). Remove the puffed rice from the oil with a slotted spoon and set aside on paper towel. Lightly sprinkle with sea salt.
Remove the parfait from the freezer and the mousse from the fridge. Scoop some mousse into the bottom of the bowls, sprinkle over the chocolate crumb, puffed rice and some reserved cacao nibs. Tip the parfait into the middle of each bowl. Garnish with violet flowers, shiso leaves and the crystallised fennel fronds.