Modernist

Can you deep-fry a parfait?

The aim of the lab day today was to see if it is possible to achieve a crispy fried coating on a delicate parfait without ruining the consistency. If successful, the applications are exciting. Deep-fried ice-cream, jellies or custard are all possibilities. For the parfait, I wanted to keep the smooth texture and firm consistency so the challenge was to get the temperature of the parfait at around 50℃ while cooking the outside as high as 200℃ to leave the batter golden and crispy.

The first job was to make the parfait. I used a simple recipe. Put some butter in a saucepan and leave on low until the butter is completely melted. Then leave it to settle and skim off the solids that float to the top. You are left with clarified butter. Meanwhile soften some shallots and garlic in a frying pan on a low heat so they soften but don’t colour. Set aside. Turn up the heat and add chicken livers and some sprigs of thyme. Cook the livers until firm and then deglaze the pan with some port. Add everything to a food processor and blend gently. Keep the processor on and slowly add the clarified butter. Season with salt and pepper and a pinch of mace. Then pass the mixture through a fine sieve.

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The idea is to freeze the parfit down to -18℃ and then batter and deep-fry it and see how it turns out. If it is still frozen when the batter is golden or if it melts before this point there are variables that can be changed. It could be chilled to a different temperature. The oil temperature could be lowered or raised. The battered parfait could be finished off in the oven. By playing around with these elements, it should be possible to achieve the perfect results.

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We froze the parfait into small cups. It took about an hour to freeze completely. Then carefully popped the parfaits out. I made a simple batter using sparkling water, flour, bicarbonate of soda and seasoning. I rolled the parfaits in flour and then dipped them in the batter and fried them at 190℃ until the batter was golden.

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Crispy batter, frozen parfait

 

The batter was lovely and golden after a couple of minutes but when I sliced one open the parfait was still frozen. This was a good result because it is a simple problem to solve. I turned to oil temperature down to 160℃. The aim being to cook the battered parfait for longer so that it would come up to temperature just as the outside was perfect. I cooked the next ball for a little longer and brought it out to find the parfait a little too warm this time and starting to melt. The final test was at 170℃ and produced the perfect result of set parfait surrounded by crispy, golden batter and it was delicious! Good news and next week we are going to be trying out some deep-fried ice cream to take the idea further…

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Golden outside, set in the middle…parfait!

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