Does anyone else watch Masterchef Australia? It is ten thousand times better than the American version. The talent is insane. In the American version, the contestants try out and they are like "Here, judges, I made you chicken parmesan, I hope it impresses you!", whereas in the Australian version the contestants are like "Hi, judges, I made a tempered chocolate sphere filled with matcha and strawberry sponge cakes, yuzu gel, and white chocolate foam... I just hope it's good enough". Honestly, the chefs in Masterchef Australia are just better, and they are all so nice to each other, and the judges are constructive, and there is no drama, and it's just really a joy to watch. I love it.
Anyway, I watch Masterchef Australia all the time and one of their favorite things to make is parfait because it sets quickly and it's generally a crowd pleaser. On the other hand, it's slightly difficult to make in a rush because if you don't emulsify the eggs properly, then it will result in smaller ice crystals forming when the mixture is frozen, which results in an icy end product as opposed to that creamy melt-in-you-mouth goodness that parfait should be. In the comfort of your own home though, there should be very little standing in your way from making a perfect parfait.
For this one, I could tell you all about the creamy texture or slight bitterness of the chocolate glaze, but it's really the honeycomb that keeps you going in for more. They are like little jewels of happiness sprinkled throughout the dish. They give it this sweet, lingering crunch.... it just rounds out the dish and fills your mind with a sense of long forgotten completeness. The most important part of making this honeycomb is reading the entire recipe before starting, so get your readers on and enjoy!
Butter Count: Heavy Cream
5 egg yolks
1/2 cup caster sugar
3 Tbsp Honey
1 1/4 cups heavy cream
1 1/3 cups mascarpone
1/2 cup sugar
4 Tbsp honey
1 1/2 tsp baking soda
1 handful caramel popcorn
3/4 cup semisweet chocolate
3 Tbsp butter
1 Tbsp light corn syrup
1/4 tsp vanilla extract
1. For the parfait, line a loaf pan with plastic wrap, leaving a grab-able amount on all sides.
2. Place the egg yolks, sugar, and honey in a bowl and beat in a stand mixer with a whisk attachment until the mixture is thick and pale.
3. Heat the milk in a small saucepan over medium-high heat until small bubbles begin to boil up the sides. Gently beat the milk into the egg mixture, then gently fold in the mascarpone with a spatula until well combined. Spread the mixture into the prepared pan, cover with plastic wrap and freeze about 4 hours. You can freeze overnight, but this may result in an icy end product.
4. For the honeycomb, line a baking tray with parchment paper. Place a small saucepan on the stove over low heat. Add the sugar and honey and allow the sugar to melt and fully incorporate into the honey. Increase the heat to medium and allow the mixture to simmer until it has darkened but not burned; the color should be similar to maple syrup. Do not allow the sugar to cook longer than 3 minutes, as the mixture can easily burn.
5. Get a whisk in your hand. Remove the mixture from the heat and very very quickly whisk in the baking soda. After no more than 5 seconds, stop whisking and use a rubber spatula to pour the mixture onto the prepared baking tray. Do not touch the honeycomb until it is completely cooled, and hard, at least 2 hours. When the mixture is completely cooled, shatter it into shards with a blunt object, or slice it with a knife and it will shatter itself. Store the honeycomb in an air-tight container to prevent excess moisture absorption.
NOTE: I did not wait to touch the mixture, and ended up with a massive burn blister on my finger.
NOTE: The honeycomb will flatten during cooling, and absorb moisture from the air, which may introduce a textural gradient to the end product. The way to avoid this is to make sure that you are pouring into a baking sheet, and not something thinner and higher, like a loaf pan. This will prevent the moisture from being inconsistently absorbed, as well as prevent the mixture from crushing itself with its own weight and becoming denser on the bottom than on the top.
6. For the chocolate glaze, add the chocolate chips, butter, and corn syrup to a double boiler over hot but not boiling water. Stir until everything is melted and the mixture is smooth. Add the vanilla and stir to combine. Remove the bowl from the double boiler.
NOTE: Make the chocolate glaze right before serving. It should still be warm when you pour it over the parfait.
7. Remove the parfait from the freezer after completely set and remove it from the loaf pan. You may need to use a knife to separate the edges. Remove the plastic wrap and cut the parfait into 1-inch slices. Pour the chocolate glaze over the top. Sprinkle the honeycomb shards and caramel popcorn over the top.