Baked Figs on Mascarpone-Cinnamon Cream with Crunchy Parfait
Deep-fried battered figs are the centerpiece of this dessert, served with frozen quenelles of walnut parfait on plates dressed up with cassis puree and mascarpone-cinnamon cream sauce. The vanilla sugar used in several parts of this dish is simply granulated sugar in which a split vanilla bean is stored.
- Crunchy Parfait
- Fine sugar - 1/2 cup
- Walnuts - 1 cup, roughly chopped
- Egg Yolks - 8
- Fine sugar - 1/2 cup
- Vanilla Sugar - 1/4 cup
- Rum - 2 tablespoons
- Brandy - 1 tablespoon
- Heavy (whipping) cream - 2 cups, beaten to soft peaks
- Dry white wine - 1/2 cup
- Vegetable Oil - 1/4 cup
- Flour - 1 cup
- Salt - 1/2 teaspoon
- Grated rind of 1 lemon
- Vanilla Sugar - 1-1/2 tablespoons
- Eggs - 2, separated
- Figs - 8
- Vegetable Oil - 2 cups, for deep frying
- Mascarpone-Cinnamon Cream
- Heavy (whipping) cream - 1/2 cup
- Mascarpone Cheese - 1/2 cup
- Confectioner’s Sugar - 2 tablespoons
- Freshly ground cinnamon - 1 teaspoon
- Rum - 1 tablespoon
- Cassis Sauce
- Black Currants - 1 cup
- Fine Sugar - 3 tablespoons
- Vanilla Sugar - 2 tablespoons
- Water - 1/4 cup
- Confectioner’s sugar for dusting
- Almonds - 1 cup, thinly sliced, lightly toasted
- Mint leaves - 4
To make the crunchy parfait: Lightly oil the surface of a large plate. Put the sugar in a heavy saucepan and melt without stirring over medium heat. Continue cooking without stirring to a deep caramel color, 320 F on a candy thermometer. Remove from heat and stir in the walnuts. Spread in a thin layer over the oiled plate and let cool. Break up the brittle into very fine pieces; this can be done by chopping or by pulsing broken pieces in a food processor.
Put a mixing bowl in a larger pan of very warm water (bain marie) and whisk the egg yolks, sugar, and vanilla sugar until the mixture thickens. Whisk in the rum and brandy. Remove from the bain marie and beat with an electric mixer until the mixture has cooled to room temperature. Stir in the ground walnut brittle with a whisk. Fold a large spoonful of whipped cream into the egg yolk mixture to lighten it, then fold in the remaining whipped cream. Pour into a chilled container and freeze 6 to 8 hours, until firm.
To make the batter: In a mixing bowl, stir the wine, oil, flour, salt, lemon rind, sugar, and egg yolks together. In a separate bowl, beat the egg whites to very soft peaks. Fold into the batter.
Peel the figs. Heat the vegetable oil to 350 F in a deep-fryer or deep saucepan. Dip the figs in the batter, then fry in the oil until golden brown. Remove with a slotted spoon or wire skimmer and drain on paper towels. Do not crowd the fryer; fry in batches if necessary, letting the oil return to temperature between each batch.
To make the cream: Combine the cream, mascarpone, sugar, cinnamon, and rum in a deep bowl and stir with a whisk to a thickened foamy cream. Do not beat all the way to soft peaks; leave the mixture a little runny. Put in a squeeze bottle and set aside.
To make the sauce: Combine all ingredients in a saucepan over medium-high heat and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to medium and cook 10 to 15 minutes, or until the fruit has lost its shape and the mixture is slightly thickened. Strain through a fine-mesh sieve and set aside to cool. Put in a squeeze bottle.
To serve: Take the parfait out of the freezer and let it soften for 3 to 5 minutes. Draw a zig-zagged circle around each dessert plate with the cassis sauce. Fill in the circles with the mascarpone cream. Dust the fried figs with confectioner’s sugar. Slice four of the figs in half. Place a whole fried fig in the center of each plate. Place a large quenelle of frozen parfait on one side of each fig; add two fig halves to each plate. Garnish each with a sprinkle of sliced almonds and a mint leaf.