Nougat and port wine parfait with pomegranate
Ever eaten something that forced you to spend half of your future life underground?
If so, your name is probably Persephone, of Greek mythology fame. She was tricked by Hades into eating a few seeds of pomegranate, thereby sealing her fate as queen of the Underworld (her duties there luckily limited to the winter season, however).
Surely, you will fare better when enjoying this stylish parfait, flavoured with sweet nougat, rich port wine and pomegranate seeds.
Pomegranates has been cultivated and harvested by mankind for thousands of years, and the fruit is positively loaded not only with antioxidants but also with symbolism.
To name a few examples, according to the Qur’an, the fruit grows in the gardens of Paradise. In Christian traditions, the pomegranate is a symbol for the suffering, resurrection and eternal life of Jesus. In Jewish mysticism, “entering the garden of pomegranates” symbolises the mystical experience. And in several other cultures (China, India, Ancient Persia), fertility stand out as one of the main values attached to the fruit.
The name “Pomegranate” derives from Latin and means “seeded apple”. Due to its similarities with that distant mechanical cousin, the fruit has also had the doubtful honour of inspiring the naming of the military ‘grenade’ – something to contemplate for all friends of Monty Python (remember the Holy Hand-grenade?).
So much for the cultural setting – now on to the recipe!
Parfait means “perfect” in French, but – in continental Europe, at least – also denotes a frozen, ice cream-like dessert made with a high amount of cream. Unlike “ordinary” ice creams, European parfaits are traditionally still-frozen, and should normally not even be churned by hand. In other words – they are parfait for making without any ice cream machine!
While the pomegranate is well-known to Ayurvedic medicine for its tonic values, the other ingredients rather belong to the purely hedonistic field.
Besides pomegranate seeds, the recipe calls for sweet nougat and port wine (a world-renowned sweet and rich fortified wine from Portugal). Sherry should also do fine, in case you should prefer that to port wine.
The basic structure of the parfait consists of whipped cream blended together with a custard-like cream – the latter composed of egg yolks and sugar that are mixed together while being heated. When the mixture has reached a rich, creamy state, pieces of nougat and port wine are added, and ultimately, all is carefully blended with the whipped cream.
Once the custard-like cream and the whipped cream has been thoroughly but carefully blended, use it to fill a suitable mould for your parfait – at least in case you would like to add to the final visual beauty of your creation;-) .
For my parfait, I turned to the kids’ collection of sand toys – one of their sand buckets made for a perfectly shaped mould;-) .
To ease the future removal of the parfait, you might cover the inside of the mould with a piece of plastic film or similar. In any case, remember to cover the visible part of the parfait: since it is going to spend at least 24 hours in the freezer, you want to ensure that it does not pick up any strange flavours or turns frosty on the surface.
Once you have put the mould in the freezer, you do not have to do anything until it is time to serve the parfait.
When your parfait has spent its day and night in the freezer, it is ready to be served.
To minimise the time to prepare the parfait (after all, it is going to start to melt after being removed from the freezer), now is a good time to prepare the pomegranate seeds. Cut the pomegranate in four pieces, then turn these pieces inside-out – the seeds will be easy to collect.
The finishing touch – decorating the parfait
With the pomegranate seeds and some additional port wine ready at hand, it is time to put the finishing touch to the parfait.
Remove the mould from the freezer. Like with ice pops, you may have to let the surface of the parfait melt slightly in order to get it out of the mould. A method that worked for me was to place the mould in a bowl of warm water – after a few minutes, the parfait had softened sufficiently. Place it upside down on a serving plate and remove the mould.
Decorate the parfait with the pomegranate seeds and drizzle over the additional port wine. Serve immediately!
Mmm … to me, the creamy parfait and its solid flavours evoked a nostalgic sense of classy desserts of “Sunday dinners past”.
Luckily, however, nothing stops us from enjoying this frozen creation today! And by all means, do not limit your enjoyment to dinner settings! The parfait in the pictures was enjoyed outdoors on a sunny day, at the end of a delicious lunch enjoyed in the company of good friends.
And remember – you do not need any ice cream machine to make it, just 24 hours in a freezer, so why wait? Whip some cream, get hold of a pomegranate and check your home for a suitable mould!
- 250 ml (about 1 cup) whipped cream
- 50 gram soft nougat
- 3 egg yolks
- 100 ml (about 0.4 cup) sugar
- 50 ml (1/4 cup) red or white Port wine (or sweet sherry)
- 2 pomegranates
- 4-8 tablespoons red or white Port wine (or sweet sherry)
- Whip the cream but not too stiff.
- Cut the nougat in pieces.
- In a saucepan, whisk together the egg yolks and the sugar over low heat, until all the sugar has dissolved and the mixture has gained a creamy consistency.
- Remove from the heat, stir a few times while letting the cream cool down. Add the pieces of the nougat and the port wine.
- Blend cautiously the egg-sugar-nougat-port-mixture with the whipped cream.
- Fill a suitable mould and place in the freezer for 24 hours.
- Cut the pomegranates in four pieces and turn them inside-out - this will make it easy to get hold of the seeds.
- Take out the parfait mould from the freezer - put the mould in hot water for a few minutes to loosen the parfait from the mould, place the parfait upside down on a serving plate and remove the mould.
- Sprinkle the parfait with the pomegranate seeds and the remaining port wine. Serve immediately.