A deconstructed version of Zaher Hallab's quintessential sweet, based around a cashew nut parfait. You will need an espuma gun (cream canister) to make the orange blossom foam (or you can simply omit it).
Brown butter milk
- 1 litre (4 cups) milk
- 900 g unsalted butter, diced
Roasted cashew purée
- 200 g raw cashews
- 500 ml (2 cups) milk
- 400 g thickened cream
- 250 g roasted cashew purée
- 250 g caster sugar
- 50 g liquid glucose
- 50 ml water
- 8 egg yolks (from 65 g eggs)
Brown butter ice-cream
- 450 ml brown butter milk
- 6 egg yolks (from 65 g eggs)
- 70 g caster sugar
Broken baklava crumbs
- 50 g blanched almonds
- 25 g walnuts
- 50 g pine nuts
- 6 fresh filo pastry sheets (see Note)
- 120 g reserved butter from brown butter milk or ghee (see Note), melted
- 50 g cinnamon sugar
Orange blossom foam
- 4 gold-strength gelatine leaves (see Note)
- 350 ml milk
- 150 ml thickened cream
- 50 ml orange blossom water
- 40 g honey and cinnamon syrup or honey
Tahini and salted caramel sponge fingers
- 140 ml thickened cream
- 40 g caster sugar
- 25 g honey
- 30 ml cold water
- 40 g unsalted butter
- 70 g tahini
- 4 store-bought savoiardi (sponge finger biscuits)
- pinch of sea salt flakes
Oven temperatures are for conventional; if using fan-forced (convection), reduce the temperature by 20˚C. | We use Australian tablespoons and cups: 1 teaspoon equals 5 ml; 1 tablespoon equals 20 ml; 1 cup equals 250 ml. | All herbs are fresh (unless specified) and cups are lightly packed. | All vegetables are medium size and peeled, unless specified. | All eggs are 55-60 g, unless specified.
Chilling time 2 hours
Freezing time 2 hours
You will need to begin this recipe 1 day ahead.
To make the brown butter milk, place the milk in a large saucepan over medium-high heat. Bring to the boil and set aside. In a separate wide, deep saucepan over medium-high heat, melt the butter and cook for 6–7 minutes or until the butter foams for the second time and begins to form large bubbles. After a few minutes, the large bubbles will subside and the milk solids will start to caramelise. The butter will begin to turn golden brown and it will have a rich, nutty, caramel smell. This is called a beurre noisette. Slowly pour in the hot milk, being careful as the mixture will rise and splatter. Mix well to combine, then return to the boil. Pour the butter mixture into a container and place in the fridge until the butter hardens and sets.
Once the butter is set, use the end of a wooden spoon to poke two small opposed holes in the solid butter layer. Carefully drain out the milk. Reserve the butter to make the broken baklava crumbs. Strain the milk through a fine sieve and reserve.
To make the roasted cashew purée, preheat the oven to 170°C. Place the cashews on a baking tray and roast for 10–12 minutes or until golden. Transfer the cashews and milk to a medium saucepan and bring to a simmer. Cook for 12–15 minutes or until the cashews are softened. Transfer mixture to a blender and blend until as smooth as possible, with a thick, peanut butter–like consistency. If the mixture is too thick, add some extra milk to help the blades turn. Allow to cool to room temperature.
To make the cashew parfait, line a 30 cm x 20 cm baking tray with baking paper. Combine 75 ml of the cream and the cashew purée in a bowl and mix well to loosen the purée. Stir the sugar, glucose and water in a saucepan over low heat until the sugar dissolves. Increase heat to high and bring to the boil. Cook until the syrup reaches 115°C–118°C on a sugar thermometer. Meanwhile, in a stand mixer on high speed, whisk the egg yolks for 3-4 minutes or until pale and doubled in size. Reduce the speed to low and slowly pour the hot sugar syrup down the side of the bowl, being careful to avoid the beaters. Once all the syrup has been added, increase the speed to high and continue to whisk for 10–12 minutes or until completely cool. Fold the cooled egg mixture through the cashew purée. Beat the remaining cream to stiff peaks and fold through the egg and cashew mixture. Pour into prepared tray, so parfait is 3–4 cm thick. Freeze for 2–3 hours or until solid. Use a 7–8 cm cookie cutter to cut out rounds. Keep frozen until required.
To make the brown butter ice-cream, I would normally prepare the anglaise in the restaurant using a Thermomix. To do so, place all the ingredients in a Thermomix, set to 80°C degrees, and blend for 7 minutes at speed 4. When the time has elapsed, blend on speed 7 for 5 seconds, and then pass through a fine sieve.
To make the anglaise the old–fashioned way, bring the brown butter milk to the boil and set aside. Whisk the egg yolks and sugar until thick and pale, then whisking continuously, slowly pour in the brown butter milk. Return the mixture to the saucepan and place over medium–low heat. Cook, whisking continuously, until the mixture reaches 80°C. Transfer the anglaise to a blender and blend for 10 seconds. Strain through a fine sieve then refrigerate for 2–3 hours or until chilled. Once cooled, pour the anglaise into an ice-cream machine and churn following the manufacturer’s instructions. Freeze until required.
To make the broken baklava crumbs, preheat the oven to 190°C. Line a baking tray with baking paper. Place the almonds in a mortar and pestle and crush well. Add the walnuts and pine nuts and pound to combine. Cut filo sheets in half widthways. Lay 1 filo sheet on prepared tray and brush with reserved melted butter. Add a scattering of the nuts, then dust with cinnamon sugar. Brush another sheet of filo with butter and place on top of the first. Scatter with nuts and cinnamon sugar. Repeat with remaining filo, butter, nuts and cinnamon sugar, finishing with a layer of filo. Transfer to the oven and bake for 15–20 minutes or until golden and crisp. Remove from the oven and cool on the tray. Roughly break up and set aside.
To make the orange blossom foam, bloom the gelatine by covering with cold water and leaving for 5 minutes until soft. Place the milk and cream in a saucepan and bring to the boil, then reduce heat to low. Drain the gelatine and gently squeeze out the excess water. Add gelatin, orange blossom water and honey to cream mixture. Whisk until the gelatin dissolves, then remove from the heat and strain through a fine sieve. Refrigerate until chilled. Fill a cream gun two–thirds full with the chilled cream mixture, and charge with a gas cartridge. Shake vigorously, then charge with another cartridge and shake again. Return to the fridge until ready to use.
To make the tahini and salted caramel sponge fingers, place the cream in a small saucepan, bring to a simmer and set aside. Meanwhile, in another a saucepan, combine the sugar, honey and cold water. Bring to boil and cook for 2 minutes. Whisk in the cream, then the butter, and then the tahini until combined. Remove from the heat and pass through a fine sieve. Allow to cool to room temperature.
Cut each savoiardi in half widthways. Pour over the tahini salted caramel over the sponge fingers steep, turning occasionally, for at least 20 minutes. The soggier the biscuits, the better.
To assemble, ensure you have all the components within arm’s reach. Spoon a tahini and salted caramel–soaked savoiardi into the base of a serving bowl and cover with a frozen parfait round. Top with a scoop of brown butter ice-cream, generously sprinkle with baklava crumbs and finish with burst of orange blossom foam. Serve immediately.
• Fresh filo is much easier to work with than frozen filo. You will find fresh filo in the refrigerated section of the supermarket.
• Ghee is a type of clarified butter, with all the milk solids removed. You can find ghee in Indian grocery stores and some supermarkets.
• Leaf gelatine is flavourless and odourless, and comes in sheets of differing strengths. You can buy leaf gelatine in cake supply stores and specialty baking stores.