Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Amaretti and Citrus Curd Parfait




Photo by Steve Shanahan
First published Canberra Times 7 March 2012
It’s one of those weeks when work is busier than usual, kids and extended family require attention and even the family dog decides to add to the chaos and needs an emergency trip to the vet.  This new year flurry always hits and I’m never prepared for the round of birthdays that seem to appear without notice at this time of year.

With a crowd appearing in a few hours time for a birthday celebration, I have dips and crackers sorted, the main dish is seafood; easy and under control, but dessert is elusive today. The pantry still has a lingering bag of Amaretti biscuits left over from a Christmas visitor, which, combined with my fruit bowl of oranges and lemons, inspires an Italian theme.

I am an absolute sucker for lemon and orange curd, so set out to make the curd first so it can go straight into the freezer to cool, ready to assemble the dessert. Ideally, this dessert should be made a few hours in advance to allow the flavours of the ingredients to infuse.

I used a few tablespoons of Grand Marnier in this, although you could also use Limoncello or any citrus flavoured liqueur you have in the cupboard.

Find some pretty glasses to serve it in , so the layers are visible and you have a very easy, but impressive dessert to serve guests.

Citrus curd
½ cup of a mixture of freshly squeezed orange and lemon juice
100g unsalted butter
½ cup sugar
1 egg
3 egg yolks

Amaretti and citrus cream
2 cups pure cream
1/3 cup icing sugar, sifted
2 tbsp Grand Marnier liqueur or Limoncello
200g of crushed Amaretti biscuits
1 quantity of citrus curd
Toasted almonds or orange zest

Make the citrus curd first to ensure it is fully cooled before assembling the dessert. Place the citrus juice and butter in a saucepan over low heat and stir until the butter is melted. Mix the sugar, egg and egg yolks together in a small bowl or jug and slowly drizzle into the saucepan of butter and juice, whisking continually to avoid the egg from curdling. Keeping the pan over a low to medium heat, stir constantly until the mixture thickens. Set aside to cool, or force the cooling by placing in the freezer for 15 minutes.

To make the parfait, place the cream, icing sugar and liqueur in a bowl and whisk until soft creamy peaks form. Stir the cooled citrus curd to remove the skin that may have formed on the top. Spoon half of the citrus curd into four glasses and spoon half of the flavoured cream on top of that to form 2 layers. Top each with the crushed Amaretti biscuits, then spoon over the remaining cream to form a top layer. Drizzle a teaspoon of citrus curd over the top and decorate with toasted almonds or orange zest. Refrigerate for a couple of hours before serving.