Saturday, June 16, 2012

Blueberry Almond Parfait

Fresh berry parfaits are the ideal summer dessert because they are so light and refreshing, but what I love most about them is how they combine various textures and flavors in every spoonful. A simple formula for a classic summer parfaits starts with a layer of cake 

topped with berries and then sandwiched with a cream of some sort. For this Blueberry Almond Parfait, I made a simple almond frangipane cake, which is very moist, slightly dense and pairs beautifully with fresh berries. I chose blueberries for my fruit, 

cooking one-third of them briefly with a little sugar and then folding in the remaining third with a little lemon juice, which gives them a slightly saucy consistency. For my cream layer, I kept thing simple by whipping up some cream with mascarpone cheese and sugar. 

Though it slipped my mind today, I usually serve this parfait with a biscotti or almond cookie or some sort, though you could also top it off with some lightly toasted almond slices for a bit of crunch.

Blueberry Almond Parfait

Makes 4 servings

Almond Cake:
7 tablespoons (100 g) unsalted butter, at room temperature
1/2 cup (100 g) granulated sugar    
1 cup plus 2 tablespoons (100 g) almond flour
2 large (100 g) eggs
1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon (10 g) all-purpose flour
Pinch of salt
1/2 tsp (2.5 g) vanilla extract
1 tsp (5 g) dark rum

Blueberry Layer:
3 cups fresh blueberries
1/3 cup granulated sugar
1 tablespoon lemon juice

Mascarpone Cream:
1 cup heavy cream
2 tablespoons confectioners’ sugar
½ teaspoon vanilla extract
4 ounces mascarpone cheese

Make the Almond Cake:
1.  Preheat the oven to 350°F. Spray the interior of an 8-inch square baking pan with non-stick cooking spray.
2. In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, mix the butter and sugar together at medium speed until well-combined and smooth, about 2 minutes. Add the almond flour and mix until combined. Add the eggs one at a time, making sure that each addition is incorporated before adding the next. Add the flour, salt, vanilla extract and rum and mix until combined. Scrape the batter into the prepared pan and bake for 20 minutes, until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. Cool the cake set on a wire rack.
3. Cut out eight 2-inch rounds from the cake and set them aside.

Make the Blueberry Layer:
3. In a small saucepan, combine 1 cup of the blueberries with the sugar and cook over medium heat, stirring constantly, until the sugar dissolves and the blueberries give off their liquid, about 2 or 3 minutes. Remove the pan from the heat and stir in the remaining blueberries and lemon juice.

Make the Mascarpone Cream:
4.  In the bowl of an electric mixer, whip all ingredients together at high speed until soft peaks form.

Assemble the parfait:
5. Place an almond cake round in the bottom of  a parfait or wine glass, then top with a  layer of blueberries. Top with a layer of Mascarpone Cream. Repeat the layering once more. Serve immediately or refrigerate until ready to serve.