This dessert was inspired by a family trip to the Andalusian region of southern Spain, where I was struck by the perfume of citrus and the amazing array of almond-based biscuits, pastries and sweets.
One of the most charming ways to acquire these delicacies is by tapping on the age-worn wooden door of a cloistered Catholic convent, where the nuns have been making these sweets for centuries. Money is slipped into a small hole in the door in exchange for an array of sweet almond delicacies. When I returned home the images of those almond pastries, citrus and flamenco were whirling around in my head. I started with a cake based on ground almonds, marzipan, sugar and eggwhite and the rest of the recipe fell into place. This dessert is topped with a stretched almond biscuit that resembles the twirl of a flamenco skirt.
I love it when the memory of a place or experience inspires a new creation.
Preparation 2 days
Almond ice cream
450 g (1 lb) whole raw almond kernels
1 litre (35 fl oz) milk
150 g (51/2 oz) egg yolk
375 g (13 oz) caster (superfine) sugar
300 g (101/2 oz) flaked almonds, roasted
100 g (31/2 oz) marzipan, finely diced
1 vanilla bean, seeds only
100 g (31/2 oz) plain (all-purpose) flour
2 eggwhites, extra
350 g (12 oz) caster (superfine) sugar
caster sugar, extra, to sprinkle
Lemon crème fraîche
250 g (9 oz) crème fraîche
50 ml (1¾ fl oz) of basic sugar syrup (see Basic Recipes)
5 g (3/16 oz) strained lemon juice
1 litre liquid nitrogen
180 g (61/4 oz) caster (superfine) sugar
90 g (31/4 oz) unsalted butter
125 ml (4 fl oz) strained lemon juice
50 g (1¾ oz) eggwhite
50 g (1¾ oz) caster (superfine) sugar
50 g (1¾ oz) icing (confectioners’) sugar
150 g (51/2 oz) isomalt
45 g (11/2 oz) glucose
45 ml (11/2 fl oz) water
Pulled almond tuiles
330 g (11¾ oz) trimoline (inverted sugar syrup)
330 g (11¾ oz) glucose
100 g (31/2 oz) flaked almonds, roasted
milk biscuit (see basic recipes)
nougat (see basic recipes)
Almond ice cream
1 Roast the almonds whole on a tray in a 180°C (350°F/Gas 4) oven until deeply golden and aromatic. Put the roasted almonds in a food processor and roughly chop.
2 Meanwhile, place the milk in a medium saucepan and bring almost to the boil. Immediately add the almonds while they
are still warm. Remove from heat, cool slightly then cover and allow the almonds to infuse the milk, in the refrigerator, overnight.
3 The next day, reheat the milk and almond mixture until it almost reaches boiling point. Strain through a fine sieve, discarding the solids.
4 Whisk the egg yolks and caster sugar together in a large bowl. Whisk in the hot almond milk. Put the mixture in a double boiler and cook, stirring constantly, until the mixture reaches 85°C (185°F) and has thickened slightly. Strain the mixture through muslin (cheesecloth) into a bowl and cool over ice.
5 Churn in an ice-cream machine until frozen, then transfer to a freezer until required.
1 Preheat oven to 190°C (375°F/Gas 5).
2 In a Robot Coupe or food processor blitz the almonds, marzipan, vanilla seeds and flour to a fine even consistency and set aside.
3 Put the eggs, extra eggwhites and sugar in an electric mixer and whisk on high speed until thick and pale. Fold the dry mixture through the egg mixture.
4 Line two 25 x 35 cm (10 x 14 inch) flat trays with silicone paper or baking paper, divide the combined mixture between them and spread it out to an even 1 cm (3/8 inch) thickness. Bake in the oven approximately 6-8 minutes until golden brown. Sprinkle with fine caster sugar. Transfer the cake, still on the paper, to a cooling rack and allow to cool completely. Put the cake in an airtight container until required.
Lemon crème fraîche
1 Whisk cold crème fraîche, cold sugar syrup and lemon juice together until small soft peaks form.
2 Wearing appropriate protective eyewear and gloves, pour the liquid nitrogen into an insulated bowl or a small styrofoam container (see glossary for more safety information).
3 Put the crème fraîche mixture in a piping bag and pipe the whole quantity into the liquid nitrogen. Allow to freeze for approximately 1 minute then scoop out with a slotted spoon and transfer to a clean bowl. Gently break into small irregular pieces. Store in a sealed container in the freezer until required.
1 Whisk the eggs and sugar together in a medium bowl. Bring the butter and lemon juice to the boil, then, whisking constantly, pour the juice mixture onto the eggs and sugar. Constantly whisk over a double boiler until the mixture thickens. Cool over ice. Transfer to the refrigerator until required.
1 Whisk egg whites to soft peaks. Gradually add the caster sugar as you continue whisking. Once all the sugar is combined and peaks are stiff and glossy, fold through the icing sugar until well combined.
2 Line a baking tray with silicone paper. Put the mixture into a piping bag fitted with a 5 mm (1/4 inch) round nozzle and pipe dots onto the tray. Cook in the oven for approximately 15 minutes or until dry.
1 Line a baking tray with a silicone mat. Combine all ingredients in a small saucepan and stir over high heat until clear. Bring the mixture to 165°C (320°C) then remove from the heat. Spread the mixture onto the tray and allow to set.
2 Break the sugar into pieces, then blitz in a food processor to the texture of small crystals. Pass through a fine drum sieve. Line a baking tray with a silicone mat. Working in batches, spread the crystals out sparsely on the tray. Reheat in a 180°C (350°F/Gas 4) oven for approximately 3 minutes or until crystals melt and reform. Allow to cool then, using a large palette knife, scrape the crystals off the mat and store in an airtight container.
Pulled almond tuiles
1 In a medium saucepan, bring trimoline and glucose to the boil and cook until it reaches a medium caramel colour.
2 Line a baking tray with silicone paper or baking paper. Add almonds to the toffee, mix and pour onto the tray.
3 While the mixture is still warm, top with another sheet of silicone paper or baking paper and use a rolling pin to roll it out until 1 cm (3/8 inch) thick. Allow to cool completely.
4 Once the caramel is cool, blitz it in a food processor to a fine powder.
5 Line a clean baking tray with a silicone mat. Put the powder through a medium-fine sieve to sprinkle evenly over the tray and form a fine, even layer. Melt the powder in a 175°C (345°F/Gas 3-4) oven until it liquefies.
6 While the toffee is still warm, working quickly, use a large sharp knife to cut it into 10 x 15 cm (4 x 6 inch) strips. Lift the strips with a palette knife then, using your hands, pull the shorter edges of the strips apart gently until the toffee is very fine, thin and almost see-through. Twist the pulled toffee to form a shape like a twirling flamenco skirt. Use an electric fan to help cool the twists while you hold them in shape. When they hold their shape without assistance, carefully lay each tuile on a tray, allow to cool thoroughly and keep in an airtight container until required.
1 Break a third of the almond cake into rough 2 cm (3/4 inch) pieces with your hands. Put the cake pieces in a large mixing bowl and add a similar quantity of the meringue dots, crushed milk biscuit, chopped nougat and frozen lemon crème fraîche. Mix gently to combine. The mixture should contain an even amount of each ingredient. Dust the tuiles with icing sugar.
1 Pipe 4 dots of lemon curd into the bottom of each serving bowl. Place a scoop of roasted almond ice cream on top of the curd. Top with 4 heaped tablespoons of the almond cake and meringue mixture. Pipe on 4 dots of bergamot jam. Sprinkle with sugar crystals. Carefully crown the centre of each dish with a tuile. Serve.
The Carousel thanks Organum by Peter Gilmore (Murdoch Books) for this recipe and image. Available to purchase now.