Terri Mercieca’s recipes for vanilla ice-cream parfait sandwich and sundae | Food

My surname is an anagram of ice-cream, so it was kind of inevitable that I’d end up being an ice-cream maker – and I’m fine with that. This vanilla parfait has been with me since I was a whippersnapper pastry apprentice; we didn’t have an ice-cream machine, even though it was the best restaurant in Sydney at the time (1997). It’s a tried, tested and much-loved go-to, and I’m using it as the base for two icy treats: an ice-cream sammie and a sundae. I’ve gone for a tropical Australian vibe, so get your spoons ready, because, let’s face it: everybody loves parfait.

Vanilla parfait

Prep 40 min
Cook 5 min
Freeze 4 hr+
Makes 500g, serving 8-10

3 medium eggs
ml water
0g caster sugar
vanilla bean, split and seeds scraped out
1 big pinch (1g)
sea salt – I use Maldon
450g double cream

Separate the eggs, set the whites aside for the dacquoise (see below) and put the yolks – you need 60g in total – in the bowl of a stand mixer with the whisk attachment in place. Turn on to medium (be gentle because you want to create a lovely foam with small bubbles to make the most stable structure).

While the yolks are mixing, put the water, sugar and vanilla seeds and pod in a small pan on a medium-high heat, and bring up to 116C (use a thermometer) without stirring. Take off the heat, turn down the mixer to low-medium and slowly pour the hot sugar down the side of the bowl, then add the salt; add the vanilla pod, too, to get the most out of it (this stuff ain’t cheap). Once incorporated, turn the mixer back up to medium and mix for 10-15 minutes, until the bowl is cool to the touch and the mixture is thick, glossy and more than doubled in size.

While that’s on the go, whisk the double cream until semi-whipped – you want the whisk to leave lines through it, but not be too stiff.

When the egg mix is ready, turn off the motor and pour in half the whipped cream. Fold in very gently with the whisk , then repeat with the rest of the cream and lift out the vanilla pod (wash and dry it out for another use, such as vanilla sugar).

Pour into a 20cm x 20cm x 3½cm brownie tray lined with greaseproof paper, and freeze overnight or, if you can’t wait that long, at least four hours. If you want to stop here and just enjoy the parfait alone, scoop or slice it into slabs and serve with berries macerated in elderflower cordial and your favourite biscuits.

Coconut dacquoise

Dacquoise is a 17th-century dessert originating from Dax in the south of France. It’s usually a meringue layer with finely ground nuts folded into it, but here I’m using ground toasted shaved coconut instead (you get more flavour from longer threads of coconut than you do from desiccated coconut.

Prep 25 min
Cook 20 min
Makes 1 x 20cm square tin

110g coconut shavings
125g egg whites (reserved from the vanilla parfait above)
40g golden caster sugar
125g golden icing sugar
1 big pinch (1g) sea salt – I use Maldon
¾ tsp (5g) freeze-dried passion fruit, ground fine (optional)

Lightly toast the coconut shavings, then leave to cool. Meanwhile, make a French meringue: in a very clean, stainless-steel bowl, whisk the egg whites until they start to get a little foamy, then slowly whisk in the caster sugar a little at a time. Whisk to stiff peaks, by which time the mix is glossy and thick.

Heat the oven to 170C (150C fan)/325F/gas 3. Blend the coconut with the icing sugar. Using a rubber spatula, gently fold half the coconut mix into the meringue mix, then fold in rest, followed by the salt.

Divide the mix in two and spread out evenly in two lined and greased 20cm square cake tins (ie, the same size as the vanilla parfait). Bake for 15-20 minutes, until dried out on the inside but not coloured. Remove and dust generously with ground freeze-dried passion fruit, if using (you could also use freeze-dried raspberry, strawberry or whatever you fancy), and leave to cool to room temperature.

Passion fruit curd

Curd is dreamy, so maybe double the recipe and save some for brekkie.

Prep 15 min
Cooks 20 min
Makes 400g

100g passion fruit juice (or lime juice)
25g lemon juice
50g whole egg
60g egg yolk
70g sugar
5g cornflour
50g salted butter
, diced

In a small saucepan, bring the passion fruit and lemon juice to a boil. Put the egg and yolk in a medium-sized stainless steel bowl (save the whites for another day), whisk in the sugar, then the cornflour (I’ve learned from experience that it needs to be done in this order or the mix can go a bit weird). Whisk in a small amount of the just-boiled juices, to temper the egg mix, then pour in the rest of the juice and whisk until well combined.

Pour the mix into a clean pan and cook, whisking constantly, on a low-medium heat for no more than five minutes, just until it thickens and starts to come away from the sides of the pan.

Remove from the heat and whisk in the butter one cube at a time, until melted in. Hand-blend until smooth, then pass through a fine sieve into a medium bowl. Cover the surface with baking paper and refrigerate. The curd will now keep for a week or more.

Ice-cream sammie

Prep 20 min
Freeze 10 min

Makes 16 5cm x 5cm sammies

Passion fruit curd (see above)
Vanilla parfait
(see above)
Coconut dacquoise (see above)

Spread half the set curd over one sheet of the dacquoise. Remove the vanilla parfait from the freezer and invert on to the curd, then freeze for 10 minutes to stick that layer together.

Remove from the freezer and spread the rest of the curd over the top of the parfait. Quickly, before the curd freezes from the super-cold parfait, invert the other layer of dacquoise on top. Press down gently with your hands to make sure it’s stuck, then freeze for one hour.

Now the sammie is ready to cut. Turn out the dacquoise, curd and parfait block on to a chopping board and, working quickly, use a hot, dry knife to cut the sandwiches – I like 5cm x 5cm ones, but I’ll leave the size up to you (you may want numerous mini sarnies, or one big sandwich). Return to the freezer, covered, until ready to serve.

Ice-cream sundae

Prep 10 min
Serves 12 generously

Vanilla parfait (see above)
Coconut dacquoise (see above)
Passion fruit curd (see above)

Scoop the parfait into your favourite sundae glass or bowl, randomly pipe little blobs of curd over the top and break up or dice the dacquoise and scatter over the ice-cream in a chaotic fashion. You could add some diced fresh mango and some micro basil leaves, if you want to go wild, or top with the pulp of another passion fruit for extra tang and juiciness.

Terri Mercieca is the owner of Happy Endings, London E3

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  • This article was amended on 4 September 2021 to correct the weight of the egg yolks in the vanilla parfait from 160g to 60g, and to correct the size of the tin required from 30cm x 20cm to 20cm x 20cm