Thursday, July 7, 2016

Christmas Melon and Dragon Fruit Parfait with Añejo Tequila Honey Caramel and Thai Banana Coconut Crème Anglaise

     A Southwestern Style Parfait!
     The literal translation of the French word Parfait is "Perfect!"  The original late 1800's French definition of a "Parfait Dessert" was a hand stirred ice cold aerated crème anglaise that has the consistency of soft ice cream.  The original Parfaits were usually layered with caramel and served in a tall dessert glass.    
     As time progressed, the definition of Parfait was a layered dessert that is served in a tall parfait glass.  This means that the layers of a Parfait could be just about anything.  Fresh fruit, fruit compote, syrup, fruit aspic, crème patisserie, sabayon, chantilly, whipped cream or even tapioca pudding can be used to make a modern Parfait.  
     As one can see, the modern definition of Parfait is fairly loose.  To maintain a sense of integrity, when making a Parfait, the ultimate goal is to make a layered dessert in a cup that is perfect!  The ingredients should be light on the palate and the flavor should be angelic.  This is in keeping with the original French Parfait theme.  
     If there ever was a crème anglaise flavor that fits the French Parfait description, it is Thai Banana Crème Anglaise.  Thai Bananas have the richest banana flavor of them all.  The light Thai Banana custard sauce seems to trigger some kind of taste sensation that causes an uncontrollable urge to eat one spoonful of this sauce after another.  Perfect!     
     As an added bonus, Crème Anglaise is also used to make French ice cream.  In fact, the Thai Banana Crème Anglaise in the photos above actually was leftover from making a batch of Thai Banana Ice Cream. 
     Cheap tequila is not always the best choice for cooking, especially when making desserts.  A mid priced tequila will have plenty of blue agave flavor, which makes a big difference.        
     Kah is a mid priced tequila brand that comes in a unique hand painted Día de Muertos skull bottle.  Three Kah Tequilas are pictured in the pictures above.  Kah Silver Tequila comes in a white skull bottle.  The Kah Reposado comes in a rusty tan colored skull bottle.  The black skull bottle is Kah Añejo and this 9 month aged tequila was used to flavor the caramel in today's recipe.  The result was plenty of blue agave flavor and a collectable skull bottle for the kitchen shelf!

     Thai Banana Coconut Crème Anglaise:       
     This recipe yields about 4 cups of flavored crème anglaise.  This is enough for 8 to 10 Parfait desserts.  This is also enough Thai Banana Crème Anglaise to make a small batch of ice cream with 3 cups and use the extra 1 cup to make a couple of Parfaits.  
     Step 1:  Place 4 egg yolks (AA Grade Large Eggs) in a mixing bowl.
     Add 1 cup of cream.  
     Whisk the ingredients till blended.
     Set the mixture aside.
     Step 2:  Place 1 cup of cream in a sauce pot.
     Add 1/4 cup of milk.
     Add 3/4 cup of coconut milk.
     Add 1 1/2 cups of coarsely chopped ripe Thai Bananas. 
     Add 1/3 cup of granulated sugar.
     Add 1/2 teaspoon of pure vanilla extract.  
     Add 1/4 teaspoon of lemon juice.
     Add 1 small pinch of nutmeg. 
     Add 1 small pinch of allspice.
     Add 1 small pinch of cinnamon.
     Add 1 pinch ginger powder.
     Add 4 to 5 drops of yellow food color.  (use organic if it is available) 
     Step 3:  Place the pot over medium low heat.  
     Bring the cream to a gentle simmer.  Stir occasionally.  
     Gently simmer till the bananas become very tender.
     Step 4:  Use an electric blending wand or a food processor to puree the sauce.  
     *Try to do this quickly, so the sauce stays warm.  If the sauce cools, reheat it before adding it to the egg yolks and cream. 
     Step 5:  Slowly pour the warm cream mixture into the cold egg yolk/cream mixture while constantly stirring with a whisk.
     Step 6:  Return the combined crème anglaise mixture to the sauce pot.
     Place the sauce pot over medium low heat.
     Constantly stir the Thai Banana Coconut Crème Anglaise with a whisk as it heats, till the sauce thickens to a thin consistency that easily coats a spoon.  
     *Do not allow the crème anglaise to exceed 140ºF or the sauce will break!    
     Step 7:  Pour the finished sauce into a container.
     Chill the Thai Banana Coconut Crème Anglaise to 41ºF in a refrigerator. 
     Añejo Tequila Honey Caramel
     This recipe yields 2 small portions.  (About 2 1/2 ounces)
     Dark Amber Desert Wildflower Honey was used in this recipe, because it has a very rich flavor.  This type of honey is common in the southwest.  Just about anywhere else, it has to be special ordered.  Any good local honey can be used in its place.
     A mid priced Añejo Tequila has plenty of blue agave flavor.  Kah Añejo Tequila was used in this recipe.    
     Step 1:  Heat a small sauce pot over medium/medium high heat.  
     Add 1/4 cup of water.
     Add 3 tablespoons of granulated sugar.
     Add 1 tablespoon of light brown sugar.
     Step 2:  Boil the ingredients, till the water evaporates and the molten sugar starts to bubble.
     Continue cooking the sugar, till it becomes an amber brown caramel color.
     Step 3:  Reduce the temperature to medium low heat. 
     Immediately add 1/2 cup of water.  (Be careful of the steam!)
     Add 1 tablespoon of Dark Amber Desert Wildflower Honey.  
     Add 1/2 cup of Añejo Tequila. 
     Gently simmer and reduce till the caramel sauce is a medium thick syrup consistency.  
     Step 4:  Chill the Añejo Tequila Honey Caramel till it is just below room temperature.  (About 60ºF)  

     Christmas Melon and Dragon Fruit Parfait with Añejo Tequila Honey Caramel and Thai Banana Coconut Crème Anglaise:
     This recipe yields 1 Parfait.
     Dragon Fruit is a cactus fruit that is native to Mexico.  The flavor is gentle and sweet.  About one half of a dragon fruit is enough for one large parfait style serving.
     Step 1:  Use a paring knife to peel a dragon fruit.  Try to retain as much of the pink color flesh that is next to the skin as possible.
     Cut the dragon fruit into quarter wedges that are about 1/4" thick.
     Place the dragon fruit wedges in a fancy tall stem margarita glass.
     Step 2:  Cut a portion of peeled seeded Christmas Melon into 6 thin spears that are about 4" long.
     Vertically insert the melon spears into the back half of the glass in a row.
     Chill the glass and fruit to about 41ºF to 45ºF.
     Step 3:  Spoon about 3 tablespoons of the Añejo Tequila Honey Caramel over the dragon fruit, so it settles as a thin layer on the bottom of the glass.
     Step 4:  Pour just enough Thai Banana Coconut Crème Anglaise into the glass to almost cover the dragon fruit.  (About 1/3 cup to 1/2 cup.  Try to leave a couple of dragon fruit slices exposed, so they can be seen.)
     Step 5:  Sprinkle 1 pinch of lime zest over the Thai Banana Coconut Crème Anglaise.  
     Garnish with two thin lime wedges. 

     Viola!  Perfect is what this Southwestern style modern French Parfait is all about!