My cooking mojo has suddenly returned and I even started to get excited about new recipes over the weekend. For too long I’ve been doing the same old crowd pleasers and though I love doing a Sunday roast, it’s nice to have a little variation in the desserts at least.
So I leafed through Jane Grigson’s Fruit Book for inspiration. She is a domestic goddess of the Seventies following in the footsteps of Elizabeth David. She writes really well so it’s a pleasure just to read her books for the evocative prose, but her recipes are also really effective. Usually authentic recipes from the French and English traditions, all the ones I’ve tried have worked really well.
I was riffling through the various chapters on the fruits in season now, oranges, lemons, granadillas, guavas, when I came to a recipe that I had all the ingredients for. Not only that, but it would be remarkably cheap to make, a prime consideration when grocery bills are sky-rocketing here as well as everywhere else. The guavas were on the tree in the orchard, the last few of the season, then all it needed was one pot of cream and three egg whites, a bit of sugar and half a lemon… plus a cardamom pod. The addition of the cardamom was what really grabbed me, a subtle taste-tickling extra to the usual flavours of the guava fool that is on our oh-so-regular recipe list.
It was easy, made a whole big bowlful of guava ice cream (called parfait or chilled souffle by Jane Grigson as it has beaten egg white in, which keeps it soft and easy to scoop) that will easily do two Sundays of friends for lunch. Everyone yesterday was wowed by the flavour (except for Middle Daughter, who doesn’t like guavas) and compliments on the guava ice cream kept on coming the next day.
This recipe is probably mostly going to appeal to South Africans. We get guavas in abundance all through the winter here, but I know that in England at least guavas were rarely available when we lived there. This recipe would work with any strongly flavoured fruit though: I can imagine it tasting fabulous with raspberries.
Guava Parfait Recipe
6-7 guavas (about 250g/8oz peeled)
half a lemon
1 cardamom pod
2 tablespoons caster sugar
3 egg whites
250ml/1 cup cream
½ cup/100g sugar
Peel and slice the guavas. Put them in a heavy based pan with slivers of the lemon peel, all the lemon juice, the crushed seeds of the cardamom pod, and 2 tablespoons sugar. Simmer covered until the guavas are soft. Puree the guavas through a sieve.
Whisk the egg whites with a pinch of salt till stiff. Whip the cream until stiff too. Dissolve the sugar in ½ cup of water and boil gently for five minutes to make a syrup. Pour it while still boiling onto the beaten egg whites, with the beater on its top setting and keep beating until the mixture is cool. Fold in the guava puree and whipped cream. Put into a freezer-proof serving dish and freeze. No stirring or ice cream machines required.
If the puree is very sloppy you can use gelatine to help it set, but I didn’t and it was perfect. While I was making this I thought that the amount of fruit puree was too little and that there wouldn’t be enough flavour. Once the parfait had frozen though the flavour intensified amazingly and it was just right. You can play with the amounts, if you use different fruit, adding another half cup of cream and more fruit puree.
So what about the chocolate tart of the title? I was trying to think of a dessert that would complement the guava parfait. I’m cooking a grown-up dinner for my husband’s birthday next weekend: a rare occasion, when the kids get put to bed and we can linger over a meal with friends who will stay the night and have no pressure to drive back to town late at night. My mind keeps returning to an image of a chocolate tart: thin pastry filled with a thin layer of rich bitter chocolate, with a French patisserie feel – the sort of thing that you just have a sliver of and eat with a spoon of refreshing orange sorbet ( yes that is on the menu again by the wishes of the birthday boy). I’ve never made one before. So do you have a recipe that you recommend? I’m seeing a scoop of orange sorbet, a scoop of guava parfait and a wicked slice of dark chocolate tart… and I’m salivating already!