“This is a fabulous make-ahead pudding. Occasionally, when I don’t have time to prepare the parfait in its entirety, I just make the praline and then fold it through softened vanilla ice cream. If you keep a straight face, no one will ever know...” Alice Hart
Marsala pears with walnut praline parfait
- Preparation time: 50 minutes, plus freezing
- Cooking time: 40 minutes
- Total time: 1 hour 30 minutes
Sunflower oil, for greasing
100g caster sugar
100g walnuts, roughly chopped
115g caster sugar
3 eggs, separated (1 white and 3 yolks)
300ml double cream
1 x ½ vanilla pod, seeds scraped out
100g light brown soft sugar
175ml marsala wine
1 x ½ vanilla pod, split
1 lemon, pared zest
4 large ripe but firm pears, peeled and cored but kept whole
1. Make the praline and parfait the day before. Start with the praline. Lightly oil a baking sheet. Scatter the sugar evenly in a heavy-based frying pan. Heat gently on a medium heat; tilt the pan from time to time â?? donâ??t stir â?? until the melted sugar is a deep amber. Add the walnuts and gently turn into the caramel with a wooden spoon. Spread onto the baking sheet and leave to cool completely. When cold and hard, bash with a rolling pin to break the praline into pieces.
2. For the parfait, put a 1 litre plastic container in the freezer to chill. Put the sugar and egg yolks, lightly beaten, in a heatproof bowl and set over, but not touching, a pan of simmering water. Whisk for 5 minutes to cook the yolks slightly and until the mixture is pale and moussey. Take the bowl off the pan; leave to cool completely, whisking occasionally.
3. In a separate bowl, whisk the egg white to stiff peaks; set aside. Next, whip the cream and vanilla seeds in another bowl until the mixture is just holding its shape. Fold the egg yolk mixture into the cream, then fold in the egg white, taking care not to knock the air out. Fold in two-thirds of the crushed praline; reserve the rest. Pour into the chilled container, cover and freeze for at least 5 hours or overnight.
4. For the pears, preheat the oven to 180Â°C, gas mark 4. Dissolve the sugar in the marsala and 175ml water in a medium-large saucepan over a low heat. Add the vanilla pod and 2 strips pared lemon zest. Bring to the boil and simmer briskly for 2 minutes to reduce slightly.
5. Sit the pears in the pan (they should fit snugly). Cover with a lid and bake in the oven for 25 minutes, until just tender. Remove from the oven, take off the lid and place on the hob over a medium heat for about 10 minutes; let the liquid bubble down to the consistency of maple syrup. Keep turning the pears to coat.
6. Put a pear, upright, on each plate, and spoon over the syrup. Add a scoop of parfait and scatter with the extra praline.