Chestnut Forest a Modern Tiramisu by Laura Cassai
Chestnut Forest a Modern Tiramisu by Laura Cassai

Chestnut Forest a Modern Tiramisu by Laura Cassai


Ingredients

Parfait:

65mL milk
2 eggs, separated
145g sweetened chestnut purée
85g mascarpone
40g caster (super fine) sugar
65mL cream
2 tsp cacao nibs

Mousse:

2 1/2 gold-strength gelatin leaves, or
2 tsp gelatin powder dissolved in 60mL (1/4 cup) boiling water
125mL (1/2 cup) espresso coffee
50mL dark rum
2 egg whites
65g sugar
100mL cream

Chocolate Crumb:

45g soft brown sugar
35g (1/4 cup) plain (all-purpose) flour
30g caster (super fine) sugar
30g almond meal
25g chestnut flour
25g cocoa powder
65g unsalted butter, melted

Garnish:

1 egg white
Fennel fronds
1 tsp caster (superfine) sugar
Grape seed oil for frying
50g (1/4 cup) wild rice
Sea salt flakes
1 tsp cacao nibs
Violet flowers
Shiso leaves


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.

Method

Parfait:

Pre-heat 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 80mL (1/3 cup) half-dome moulds. Spoon the parfait mixture on top to fill the moulds and set aside in the freezer.

Mousse:

Soak the gelatin 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 gelatin leaves, use gelatin 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 gelatin 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.

Crumb:

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 one-third 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.

Presentation:

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.

Credits: This is an edited extract from My Italian Kitchen by Laura Cassai published by Hardie GrantRRP $39.95 available in stores nationally.

Photo Credits: This is an edited extract from My Italian Kitchen by Laura Cassai published by Hardie GrantRRP $39.95 available in stores nationally.