Sunday, June 01, 2008

O Blogger Where Art Thou?

White chocolate-espresso parfait sandwiches

Call it a hiatus or call it indolence, call it whatever you want but all I know is that it has been far too long. 5 weeks in fact. It escapes me how I managed to fall off the blogosphere for so long, but I did. And although I'd love to say that I have been trekking on camel-back through the sub-Saharan desert, or navigating icy waters with Greenpeace thwarting harpoon attacks on orcas, there's no such story to tell.

I have been able to do a few photo shoots for publications that will be out later this year (more on that closer to the release date), and taking on a few other things bigger than my plate will allow, but other than that I haven't been doing much at all, well nothing noteworthy or blog-worthy that is. There are a few developments that I will be announcing in a couple of weeks but aside from the ordinary shenanigans that occur in daily life, it's been business as usual, minus the fact that I have managed to circumvent any chronicling of my eating and baking activities on the blog.

I have to say that I haven't been in the groove lately, my mojo for baking hasn't dried up but it seems to have gone astray, or at least into a narcoleptic state. I guess the past few weeks the blog has been going through it's own existential crisis, asking the why am I here, and what am I doing with myself questions. Especially, in light of the world's current state, it's becoming harder and harder to find the real relevance of food blogging. With over half of the world unable to meet peoples' basic nutritional needs, is it really pertinent to be writing about food in such banal and trifling tones?

And this by no means is intended to condemn anyone who loves to eat and eat well, hey, I'm in that group of people too. And although I haven't had the urge to bake and write about food for a few weeks, it's safe to say that my appetite for eating remains insatiable. I guess speaking sincerely, this is what has been going on the blog for a few weeks now, just a quiet reflection on the reason why I blog. And it's naive to think that any one thing is going to solve world hunger, and this post is nothing about that.

Like many of you reading, I love eating, I love food, I love taking photos of my food and I love blogging about it, and I don't think we should stop this discourse on account of those who cannot engage in it. No one should feel remorse for the pursuit of their passions, but I guess my point is that after a little self-reflection, I don't consider this passion mere trite, but I have come to realise that this space we have to write and share about food is a privilege.

So I'm sorry to get all metaphysical on you.

It happens sometimes, when I have too much time on my hands. But if you came here for a recipe, then a recipe you shall get. This is definitely one for those who have some time on their hands as it takes a whopping 3 days to complete.

White chocolate-espresso parfait sandwiches

I've been cooking a heap of recipes from the Australian Gourmet Traveller website lately. I'm obsessed with poring through their archives, gazing with green-eyed envy at the spectacular food photography and styling, wishing I could only emulate their splendidness. I came across this recipe for parfait, and was enamoured by the photograph. I didn't even know what exactly a parfait was, except for what I had learned about it from Donkey on Shrek- which was that parfaits had layers and you'd be a fool not to love one.

So armed with that knowledge I decided it was high time I find out why this dessert was so perfect.
If the French couldn't find a better way to describe the dish than to just call it perfect, then I don't know what else could be better. Now 3 days is a long time to find out why a dessert is exceptionally good. I was tempted to just go find a patisserie and get one just so I didn't have to wait so long. And I guess if you are really the impatient kind and cannot bear 3 days of torture, then you can probably just wait overnight. Nonetheless, this isn't your quickie dessert.

White chocolate-espresso parfait sandwiches

"You know what else everybody likes? Parfaits. Have you ever met a person, you say, "Let's get some parfait," they say, "Hell no, I don't like no parfait"? Parfaits are delicious."
-Donkey

But, if your patience can endure the stretch long enough to wait for this dessert to come into perfection then you won't be sorry. The reward is a the velvety rich texture of white chocolate espresso cream sandwiched between a crunchy hazelnut meringue, dripping in a topping of espresso caramel sauce. If that's not how you describe perfection then I stand corrected, but I'm pretty sure this is as close to perfection as you can get.

The recipe can be a little fiddly, and with all the steps of having to leave mixtures in the refrigerator and freezer overnight, it can test your patience. But the pay-off far exceeds the trouble you have to go. My parfait isn't as pretty as the one on the Gourmet Traveller website, but I bet it tastes just as good. And I must warn, this dessert only lasts as long as your appetite will allow, and in our case, we polished off the whole thing in less time it took to write this post.

White chocolate-espresso parfait sandwiches

Serves 8-12
Adapted from Australian Gourmet Traveller

NOTE: You will need to begin this recipe 2 days ahead.

White chocolate-espresso parfait sandwiches

600ml pouring cream
25ml espresso coffee
3 pieces of lemon peel
330g white chocolate, coarsely chopped

FOR THE HAZELNUT MERINGUE
4 egg whites
110g (½ cup) caster sugar
110g (2/3 cup) icing sugar, sieved
50g ground hazelnuts
20g Dutch-process cocoa, sieved

FOR THE ESPRESSO CARAMEL
150g caster sugar
75g maple syrup
1 tbsp espresso coffee
40g butter, coarsely chopped

Combine cream, coffee and peel in a saucepan, bring just to the boil over medium-high heat, strain over chocolate in a bowl and whisk until smooth.
Cool, whisking occasionally so chocolate doesn’t separate from cream, to room temperature, then refrigerate overnight.
The next day, whisk chocolate mixture until soft peaks form.

MAKING THE MERINGUES
Preheat oven to 100ÂșC.
Using an electric mixer, whisk eggwhites and a pinch of salt until soft peaks form.
With motor running, gradually add caster sugar; whisk until glossy.
Using a metal spoon, fold in icing sugar, hazelnut and cocoa.
Trace 2 rectangles using a 20cm x 30cm cake pan as a template onto baking paper-lined oven trays. Spread meringue evenly onto rectangles; bake for 40 minutes or until crisp. Cool on trays.

MAKING THE CARAMEL
For caramel, combine sugar, maple syrup and ¼ cup water in a small saucepan and stir over medium heat until sugar dissolves.
Increase heat to medium-high and cook for 3-5minutes or until syrup thickens.
Remove from heat, add espresso, swirl to combine.
Add butter, swirl to incorporate, then cool.

Place a meringue rectangle, trimming edges to fit, into a 20cm x 30cm baking paper-lined cake pan.
Drizzle with half the espresso caramel, top with white chocolate mixture and drizzle with remaining espresso caramel.
Top with remaining meringue and freeze overnight.
Remove, cut into squares using a wet sharp knife and serve immediately.

45 comments:

Peabody said...

Your absence is excused by these delish looking treats!

VeggieGirl said...

Jenjen!! You're back!! Thank goodness!! So fun that you've been able to do photo shoots for publications while on your hiatus; and of COURSE I'm glad to read that you've still been eating and baking/cooking, as well :0)

Those parfait sandwiches?!??! WOWZA!!! Truly perfect, as the name (parfait) suggests. Awesome treat to blog about as you return to the blogging world :0)

Marianna said...

Ya, I had been wondering where you had been :-) Nice to see you back with this delicious recipe! It looks fantastic!

Courtney said...

i think we should be thankful that we can eat and photograph and bake and take delight in that fact and share it with others...especially your desserts, as that looks absolutely delicious, and i'm thinking of giving up my next 3 days just to make that and wait impatiently...

cindy* said...

i love your food styling.
i must admit, i have been waiting (patiently) for your next post and this one does not disappoint-it is lovely.

Katie said...

that looks delicious.

glad you're back!!!

Katie said...

wow. that looks scrumptious.

glad you're back. =) your pictures and recipes really feed my macro foodie soul.

e said...

it is so good to see you back. i understand your concerns while there are such food crisis going on. my supermarket shelves are currently devoid of rice; when i saw some ten kilo bags i grabbed them quick! it means i appreciate every morsel. i hope you continue celebrating food and eating -- in these times we should, and in australia we should expecially because we are so fortunate. and perhaps in times like these, it's appropriate to seek comfort in old favourites? you are not being arrogant, you are being celebratory of your pleasures, delights. it's rather like wearing lipstick in war years, good for morale :-) thank you for this lovely recipe! please keep blogging.

Andrea said...

Reflection is a very important part of a balanced life. I am pleased you were able to return to your food blogging. Thank you for sharing your thoughts (and this recipe).

Anonymous said...

These look delish.....will def be making this soon!

Lisa said...

I love the Gourmet Traveller website too, there are so many great recipes, in fact this one caught my eye not long ago ;) Glad to see you back to blogging too!

RecipeGirl said...

You're excused. Those treats look completely droolworthy :)

virjennifer said...

wow! This is my first time on your site and I have to say it's all so delicious!

Next week I think I will try this out, or next month. haha whenever life settles.. I guess that's a bad way to plan life isn't it?

Wonderful pictures, recipes, everything! I'll be a regular I'm sure. :)

Blogally_sevy said...

waah they are absolutely marvelous !
i really like your blog!

Anonymous said...

I've just discover your blog yesterday ! So delicious recipes and what tempting photos !

I'm a french cooking addict (so, sorry for my english) and as I've seen you like greediness, I recommend you a very good (french) web site :

www.puregourmandise.com

it offers you some recipes about cakes, macaroons, pie and others delicious things !

enjoy ! bye bye !

Aran said...

everyone needs a break sometimes but what a great comeback!

Flo Bretzel said...

Your pictures are just amazing!
Flo Bretzel

ChichaJo said...

Glad to see you back! And with something so scrumptious!!! :)

SoupRecipe said...

Hi, your blog is nice...I like your blog...
Wanna exchange link? My blog is about soup recipe, please leave me a msg if you want exchange link with me. Thank you.

ames said...

I totally understand the existential crisis, it can be very easy to get overwhelmed by all the trouble in the world and question your own position in it all. But as you can see from all your comments, what you do is not trite at all, but is adding value and loveliness to many other people's lives, as well as your own! I definitely think this is important, and I love to visit your blog because it is wonderful and inspiring and brightens my day even when I'm overwhelmed. Just my perspective on it.

And that parfait looks absolutely spectacular!

Paula said...

You're back! Your post made me realise how long I've neglected my own little blog. Time flies

Hillary said...

This looks TOO good!

Patti said...

Whoaaaa! My friend and I discovered your parfait bars while food-blogging one night, and we decided that they MUST be made!!! So what if they take 3 days to make... :)

*hannah* said...

Those look wonderful!

wonderland kitchen said...

*drooling*
omg i love everything u prepare

Mcwhisky said...

Sinful! :3

dzire said...

your presence was greatly missed! but I'm so glad you're back :) looking at all the photos of the delish food makes me one happy chappy :)

Sharona May said...

That is fantastic. I could eat 5! Love it!

Sharona May

jasmine said...

Welcome back.

Yes, I often think of the juxtaposition between the fantasy food world of blogging and the real world of droughts and shortages...

j

ces said...

i noticed! but it's all worth it, jenjen! omgosh! 3 days! it looks really divine but i don't think i have that much patience! gimme gimme instead!

Suzana said...

Awesome, as usual! Nice to have you back. :)

Windy said...

As usual, the pictures look lovely and wish I could have it.

I understand your concern; however, that's life - some people can get what they want and some don't. Embrace what you have. Maybe do some charity work to help those unfortunate people?

dazzie said...

I was literally eating my screen DROOLS!!! I tried combining it with this drink called Purple and it tasted yummy! . I suggest you try it too and let me know if you liked it. Purple is high on antioxidants since it is a 7 fruits juice punch and gives a boost to the immune system and prevents cancer and premature ageing too. If you want more information to check whether what I am saying is right you can get it at www.drinkpurple.com . Please let me know if you tried it and liked it or not. You can get it at GNC and drug stores. Saw this post so couldn't help but sharing this.

catarina said...

Hi Jen,
I've never commented on your blog before but I have been an avid reader for quite some time now. I absolutely love your blog - the stories, recipes, pretty pictures...I really look forward to reading your new entry and I missed you while you were on hiatus. One very important purpose of your blog is that it makes me (& many others) very happy! Keep up the great work!

robbie said...

Oh, it's so, so good that you are back! What a delicious looking recipe and my favourite quote from Shrek to top it all off.

My Sweet & Saucy said...

I love these! Your photos are fantastic too!

Danica said...

Holy shit. I thought parfaits were just glasses of layered nonsense! I had no idea THIS could happen! I am in awe of your cooking, blogging, and photographing skillz.

Sophie said...

Yes, you're right. Writing is definitely a privilege. It's also great therapy, as are cooking and baking.

Delicious treats you have here. Your photos are truly delicious and edible!

Devi Priya said...

Yum! Delicous!

Yannis said...

i love your blog and i LOVE this post.....wow.
i'm going to try it out.

check out some of my Greek recipes on my food blog:
mylittlebaklava.blogspot.com

I am going to post a cheesecake baklava recipe soon, and would love your feedback.

Yannis

Charley said...

Very nom nom nom!

My Sweet & Saucy said...

Can you say delicious! The photo just captivates you and makes you want MORE!

deeeeeeena said...

wow. that has me craving something sweet and cold right now. what a good comeback!

Venus ~ Vi said...

Wow, this is the stuff to die for!

Sylvia said...

I wish I had the time to make this! It was a dagger in the heart when it said you need TWO days for it. Boo. I bet it's worth it though. the pictures are great!
-Sylvia
Cigars