February and March are pretty dry months for local fruit produce and therefore make difficult times for pastry chefs who place great importance on sourcing food from places they can trust and are conscious of their carbon footprint. Times like these require a broad mindset hence a sweet dessert made from a vegetable- the parsnip!
I realise it is not everyone’s first thought when you think of a dessert but it is a terrific choice because of its natural sweetness.
The use of honey in the dessert further sweetens it and enhances the parsnip flavour. Put together with a layer of chocolate sponge as a base and a slim topping of mandarin jelly, garnished with parsnip crisps and honeycomb crumbs and you have a great dessert to see you through the winter months all the way to spring.
Cut the parsnip lengthwise into quarters, cut out the middle part.
Put the parsnip on to a baking tray, cover with foil and roast on 160 degrees for 2-3 hours or until very soft.
Place the cooked parsnip into a blender or liquidize together with the milk and whiz for a few minutes to a puree consistency
(add more milk if needed).
Leave to cool in the fridge.
4 gelatin leaves
335g parsnip puree
350g whipping cream
120g egg whites
Place gelatin in ice cold water and leave to bloom for 5 minutes.
Heat half the amount of the puree and add the gelatine.
Stir in the rest of the puree then whisk, place the bowl over another bigger bowl filled with iced water. Keep whisking from time to time to avoid the puree setting.
Whip the cream lightly and keep in the fridge until needed.
Now for the Italian meringue; place the water, sugar, glucose and honey in a small pan and bring to 116 degrees C.
When the temperature rises to approximately 108degrees C start whisking the egg whites in an electric mixer machine.
Pour the syrup slowly into the whites whisking to a stiff peak.
Whisk the parsnip puree again until free of lumps and fold in the meringue.
You can ether pipe the mousse into glasses or into a frame lined with some sort of sponge sheet or biscuit and leave in the freezer to set for at least 3 hours. Also can be finished off with a fruit glaze.
Picture by Ori