CARAMEL NUT PARFAIT
Pecan or walnut halves are excellent in this parfait.
300 g/1½ cups sugar
125 g/1 cup coarsely chopped pecans or walnuts
250 ml/ 1 cup heavy cream, whipped until it holds a soft peak
150g/¾ cup sugar
125 ml/½ cup water
4 egg whites
75 ml/1/3 cup heavy cream, stiffly whipped
6 whole strawberries or 6 walnut or pecan halves
6 parfait or stemmed glasses; piping bag and medium star nozzle
1. Oil a baking sheet. Put the sugar in a heavy pan and heat gently, stirring occasionally, until the sugar melts and has started to caramelize. Stir in the walnuts or pecans and cook the mixture, stirring, to a rich golden-brown caramel – this will happen in a few seconds. Immediately pour the mixture onto the oiled baking sheet and leave until cold and hard. Tie the caramel in a plastic bag and pound with a mallet or rolling pin so it breaks up into fairly coarse granules.
2. For the meringue; Heat the sugar with the water until dissolved; bring to the boil and boil without stirring until the syrup forms a thread between your finger and thumb when a little is lifted on a spoon. Meanwhile stiffly whip the egg whites. Beat in the boiling sugar syrup in a steady stream and continue beating until the meringue is cool and very thick,2-3 minutes. Fold in half the crushed caramel mixture, followed by half the lightly whipped cream. Spoon the mixture into 6 parfait or stemmed glasses: cover and freeze.
3. A short time before serving, decorate the parfaits with rosettes of whipped cream, using a pipping bag and medium star tube. Top each rosette with a strawberry or walnut or pecan half. If the parfaits were made more than 12 hours ahead, let them soften in the refrigerator for about an hour before serving.