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A Wicked Good ‘Creamsicle’ Parfait + Giveaway

by Kristina Gill


The classic orange is a fond childhood memory of mine, and the idea of deconstructing it is exciting! Any time the idea of heating sugar to one of its various stages appears in a recipe, it can seem daunting, but don’t be afraid! With a hand mixer and sugar thermometer you can dive in and master the semifreddo, one of the most versatile cold dessert bases — like the base used for this Vanilla Bean Parfait with Orange Granita served at in Boston. This recipe comes from Joanne Chang and Karen Akunowicz’s , which is full of recipes for the delicious food served at the restaurant. So while your parfait and granita are setting up in the freezer, you can prepare an amazing stir-fry, salad, plate of noodles or dumplings for your main meal. —

To win a copy of Myers + Chang at Home, leave an answer in the comments section below: What cooking technique has been the hardest for you to master? Tell us your most memorable attempt, and give us some tips for success!

Why Joanne and Karen love this recipe

Joanne: I eat dessert all day long at my bakery, Flour, so by the time I get to M+C I’m dying for spicy, punchy, garlicky noodles, stir fries, greens and dumplings. Once I’ve had my fill this is the only dessert I want. It’s creamy and cold, light and refreshingly bright. Even when I feel like I can’t eat another bite, put this in front of me and it somehow magically, happily disappears.

Karen: Sometimes our guests will say, “Please don’t ever take the vanilla bean parfait off the menu” and I always reply, “don’t worry, it’s my favorite.” This is a classy, grown-up version of a creamsicle that makes me as excited as hearing the ice cream truck bell ringing when I was a kid. When you want something sweet at the end of the meal, I always feel that it should be light and almost palate cleansing. It should lift you up and send you out the door ready to dance. Simple, crunchy, cold orange granita, over luscious vanilla parfait with fresh citrus slices and mint does just that. It is simply a perfect bite.

Find Joanne on Instagram and Karen .

{Photography by }

Image above: Group dinner at Myers + Chang restaurant

Image above: Vanilla bean parfait with orange granita

Image above: Joanne Chang

Image above: Karen Akunowicz

Vanilla Bean Parfait with Orange Granita

Over the years, we’ve probably gotten no fewer than one thousand comment cards singing the praises of this parfait as a “wicked good” interpretation of the Creamsicle. I didn’t grow up eating typical Americana dessert fare and have never had a Creamsicle, but I remember seeing pictures of them painted on the side of the ice cream truck that would circle the block during hot summers when I was a kid. I pined for this treat—any treat, actually—while instead, a large plate of oranges was waiting for me at home. Oranges were also our nightly dessert. That wasn’t going to fly at Myers+Chang (I have my pastry chef reputation to maintain, after all), so I married fresh orange ice with vanilla bean parfait (essentially an ice cream made without an ice cream maker). There are a gazillion ways to plate it to make it pretty, or fun, or whimsical. It is creamy and refreshing and a lovely way to end a big Asian feast.

Serves 6

Ingredients

  • For the Parfait:
  • 1/2 fresh vanilla bean
  • 6 large egg yolks
  • 2/3 cup sugar
  • 2 cups heavy cream
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 recipe Orange Granita (recipe follows)
  • 2 oranges, peeled and pith removed, sliced into thin rounds
  • 6 to 8 fresh mint leaves
  • For the Orange Granita (Makes 4 cups):
  • 1/3 cup sugar
  • 2 1/2 cups fresh orange juice

Preparation

1

To make the parfait

Line a 9 x 5-inch loaf pan with plastic wrap. Split the vanilla bean in half lengthwise with a sharp small knife and open it up. Use the knife to scrape out the seeds, where all the wonderful vanilla flavor is. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment or in a medium bowl using a hand mixer, whip the egg yolks and vanilla bean seeds on medium speed until the yolks have lightened in color and become somewhat frothy, 3 to 4 minutes.

2

Meanwhile, in a small saucepan, combine the sugar and [1/2] cup water and stir to dissolve the sugar. Clip a candy thermometer to the side of the pan and cook the sugar syrup over high heat until it reaches soft ball stage, 238°F.

3

With the mixer running on low speed, drizzle the hot sugar syrup down the side of the mixer bowl into the yolks. When all the syrup has been incorporated, increase the mixer speed to medium. Whip for 8 to 10 minutes, until the mixture is light and fluffy and cool. Poke your finger in there to test the temperature.

4

Meanwhile, in a separate bowl, whip the heavy cream and salt together until they hold stiff peaks (i.e., when you lift a spoonful of the cream it holds its shape well). Gently fold the whipped cream into the cooled fluffy egg-sugar mixture. Scrape the mixture into the prepared pan and smooth and even out the top. Cover the pan entirely with plastic wrap and freeze for at least 24 hours and up to 1 week.

5

Remove the vanilla parfait from freezer and remove the plastic wrap. Using a hot sharp knife, slice the parfait into six slices and place one on each of six dessert plates. Divide the granita evenly among the six plates. Arrange the orange slices evenly on top of the granita. Thinly slice the mint and sprinkle it evenly on top of all six dishes. Serve immediately.

6

To make the granita

In a medium saucepan, combine the sugar and [1/2] cup water and bring to a boil. Add the orange juice and stir. Transfer to a metal or plastic container that fits in your freezer. Freeze for 3 to 4 hours. Every 30 minutes, use a fork to scrape and mix the granita so it does not freeze into a solid block. It should be completely frozen but still easily spoonable. Cover with plastic wrap and store in the freezer for up to 1 month.

 

Vanilla Bean Parfait with Orange Granita excerpted from MYERS+CHANG AT HOME © 2017 by Joanne Chang with Karen Akunowicz. Reproduced by permission of Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. All rights reserved.

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Comments

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  • It took quite a few attempts for me to master making pastry cream. It was always getting lumpy! Eventually, I found a recipe in Larousse that combines the ingredients in a non-traditional sequence. It worked! Sometimes I think the best thing you can do is look for a writer or method that matches your habits in the kitchen — sometimes just a few words in the instructions can change the outcome!

  • Deep Frying totally scares me…still. The last time I truly tried it I set fire to our window shade…. definitely know more now, but I am still trying to conquer my fear of it!

  • Trying to master perfect — for my taste anyway — eggs, hard boiled and poached. My tips for success? Read a whole lot of recipes, keep trying, and be prepared to eat plenty of not-so-perfect eggs before you strike gold. (My most memorable — and successful — attempt was when I followed Gabrielle Hamilton’s poached egg recipe to the letter.)

  • EVery year my husband and I make some homemade dessert/confection at Christmas for our family. A few years ago, we did chocolate truffles. It was so challenging tempering the chocolate for the outside coating. Some batches were definitely shinier than others. We used a chocolate thermometer but found that the best way was to heat the chocolate very, very slowly.

  • I find it difficult to fold beaten egg whites into other ingredients without deflating them. I probably just do a little too much folding — I know I can probably stop when the egg whites are mostly all smoothly in with just a few minor lumps of egg whites left, but I find it impossible to not go after those lumps and get them incorporated also. What has helped is watching videos of cooks making the same recipe I’m attempting — seeing a few pea-sized white lumps of egg whites in their chocolate mousse* mixtures encourages me to not be so crazy to rid my mousse mixture of the same! (*or cake batter or whatever)

  • Unfortunately I have an electric stovetop in my apartment, so I have yet to master sautéeing garlic. It always gets too hot and I burn it a little.

  • I can’t make a delish sauce to save my life. or stir fry or gravy

    but I’m sure going to try this parfait!

  • Any red meat. It’s an art, one that I haven’t mastered and just recently I stopped trying. (Truth be told it’s part of the reason we eat mostly vegetarian meals.) Recently, while my parents were visiting, I decided to grill up some steaks for my dad’s birthday. I almost seared off my eyebrows! I was happy to go back to veggie stir fry and seafood curries after that.

  • I feel like I’ve had lots of one-off luck with several cooking techniques – making a bechamel, braising meats, making a full-on Thanksgiving dinner – but one technique I can’t grasp is poaching eggs. I’ve tried, and cracked more than a dozen in vain, but for some reason, I just can’t manage.

    On another note, Joanne Chang is a local culinary hero in my area (my entire office frequents Flour on an everyday basis), so it’s awesome to see her featured!

  • I would love to make really good pies, which for me basically comes down to an amazing crust, as fillings are almost always good. There is enough cardboard in the world and you shouldn’t have to eat it for dessert! Unfortunately many pie attempts have resulted in a less then flaky crust.

  • I guess mine falls under baking but I have such a difficult time with pastry!! I’m still working on it so I don’t know if I have any tips to give! But dang! I will get it right some day so any tips y’all have I’d love to hear them!

  • Cooking for guests was intimidating until I narrowed the menu down to “family favorites’”, Things you like that you can practice until you master. Once you master a few dishes, just make the ones you do well! When you are bored with those, learn a new one, and then debut that one. I watch what people take extra helpings of, that stays in the line up.

    Fresh ingredients, something acidic like fresh lemon or vinegar, and nice olive oils or real, sweet unsalted butter….fresh herbs…these things keep flavors clean and snappy, but my real secet weapon is an army of kitchen timers. I can have several things happening at once, pasta boiling, or rice cooking, while broiling something in the oven, or baking a fruit crisp (easy to master and worth it) and the timers help me keep track of everything, they are my secret weapon!

  • It might sound funny but I don’t make my own coffee. I always wait for a coworker or roommate to make it for me. I got over my anxiety about making toffee and caramels but I’m really grateful for Keurigs.

  • My grandma and mom always made their own dumplings including the dumpling skin and filling. I find the skin was the hardest to master! Through lots of trials, my tip is to be patient and let the dough settle for a few hours before rolling each wrapper out.

  • A good pie crust makes the pie fabulous , but it has always been a challenge for me. My original method was to throw the flour and chilled cubes of butter (and adding cold water along the way) in a cold stainless steel bowl and use a pastry cutter to incorporate the ingredients. But then somebody told me to try and “pulse” the ingredients in a food processor. This changed my life! Not only does it speed up the process, but has less chance of getting over worked – which is a bad thing for great pie crust. TIP: Chill everything when making pie dough, including the flour, butter, utensils, water, butter, bowl – everything! Make sure you see your specks of butter in your dough – this will make a very flaky pie crust. Work your dough just enough so that it sticks together nicely when squeezed with your hands. Add water a teaspoon at a time. ;-)

  • I can’t say I’ve mastered it yet, but right now I’m working on learning how to do caramel. The worst mistake so far was when trying to make a caramel sauce for a birthday cake. I added the cream immediately after taking it off the stove and managed to crystalize the whole sauce into weird amorphous lumps (I’m not sure whether it was the temperature difference or too slow stirring). I saved it by putting it back over the heat and stirring slowly until most of the caramel had melted back into the sauce. So far my best tip for success is careful watching; seriously, do not take your eye off that pot for one second no matter how bored.

  • Meat! Anything non-ground or non-chicken. My ex-husband went off meat for years, and I didn’t have a reason to cook much beef or pork. Yet another thing to blame on him!

  • Caramélisation! How hard can warming up sugar be? Apparently very hard! Cream of tartar dissolved in some water and added to the saucepan does the trick and prevents from the sugar getting burnt! BTW, visite Flour in Boston last week – I’m in love!!

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  • Trying to make French Macaron is challenging. They were coming out flat from the oven, but I figured out I was over beating the egg whites. Now I can get nice feet on them by stopping the egg whites right before they stiffen too much.

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  • The hardest thing for me to learn how to cook/perfect was pâte à choux. I would either add the egg in to soon and it would cook them or I would mix it in the mixer to long, if something could go wrong with this recipe I’m sure I’ve done it. So now when I make pâte à choux believe it or not I mix it by hand with a rubber spatula and only
    concrete on this one task. To me this is one of the most versatile recipes in the culinary world I use it for both savory and sweet!!!

  • Adding eggs to soup befuddled me for ages. Most memorably, I once served dinner party guests avgolemono that was basically chicken-flavored egg custard with some rice at the bottom. The secret turns out to be (as it so often does) “low and slow” — and never reheat anything with cornstarch in it.

  • Puff pastry making! I’ve been frustrated for years trying to get it down pat. Every time I get cocky and think I got this… 💥 the pastry Gods send an ego crushing bolt of lightning 🌩 to meld my layers together in a non puff pastry kind of way. I have learned to not attempt puff pastry in the middle of a NYC heat wave from my latest trial and failure. Hooray for the winter ❄️ when my apartment is as cold as a restaurant walk-in.

  • I imagine this is going to sound silly, but my biggest difficulty is following the recipe as it is written. Sometimes with good reason (baking for someone with intolerances, lacking a certain piece of kitchen equipment, trying to make the recipe a bit “healthier” to avoid a complete sugar crash, or I shouldn’t really spend $20 of my graduate student stipend on a tiny packet of butterfly pea powder no matter how pretty the color is). Stress and/or complete laziness may also be factors. But, at its root, I think this tendency stems from a need to get creative with protocols and make things “my own”… most of my daytime (/nighttime) hours are spent in a lab environment where I generally don’t have the luxury to do whatever I want and fail miserably.
    Coincidentally, the work-around I recently found was to cook with a good friend who bought the Myers+Chang At Home cookbook and wanted to test out the recipes. I support her desire to follow the rules (and of course I have to pay respect to the lovely people/geniuses behind the food). The dumpling and curry recipes we have done so far were delicious. And that brings me to why I am writing this, because now I wonder what would happen if I had that book at home without supervision… ;)

  • Definitely sous vide. Have tried it 4 times with chicken, pork and fish. My best results were with chicken. My tip is to buy high quality organic chicken. But that’s my tip for any time you cook chicken. ;)
    Gorgeous photos, wonderful guidance here. Will be bookmarking for future reference!

  • I was so proud when I finally fiigured out how to poach boneless, skinless chichen breasts so the chicken wasn’t overcooked. Since the recipe is very similar to making soup broth, it was really a challenge until I learned that once the water comes to a boil, after adding the chicken, you must time the pot for no more than 9 minutes. Finally, my chicken is moist and not at all tough.

  • Making chili for the first time was an interesting challenge. I synthesized a bunch of recipes I found online and incorporated the ingredients that appealed to me (5 kinds of peppers, dark chocolate, guiness, lamb, lean beef and veal, topped with a creamy english cheddar and avocado) and techniques that matched my skills and equipment (I pureed the beans w a hand mixer). But it was really the process that stuck with me. After every ingredient or spice or every time I added more salt, I tasted. It was great to see how the texture and taste changed over time, and made me more sensitive to the impact of each new ingredient. I remember it as the moment I realized how important constantly tastig and simple salt and pepper were to bringing out flavor. Oh…bonus…I won the office chili cookoff challenge the next day!

  • I used to have a lot of trouble with pie dough. The first few times I tried making pie dough were just so disastrous that I was scared off trying again for quite some time. I was definitely the one to buy a pre-made crust and try to make it look homemade by pressing it into my own pan. But, I really, really wanted to make a beautiful crust like my mom I always did (using my great-grandmother’s recipe), so I tried again, and again, and again…I finally have mastered the technique by keeping all my instruments ice cold (I put the bowl ‘m going to use as well as my pastry cutter in the freezer), using ice water, and letting the dough sit a while before attempting to roll it out.

  • Pasta making! I get tired of kneeding but learned you can use a food processor! Ive yet to try it. Most memorable would be when my housemates all watched me and put it on snap chat because they had never seen such all thing haha

  • Deep frying is my bane. It’s kind of nuts because I make candy all the time and am totally comfortable with using a thermometer regulating temperature. There’s just something about frying that makes me look for another recipe. No words of wisdom because I still haven’t mastered it.

  • French macarons – my arch nemesis! I’m a pretty solid baker and a big fan of your recipes. They’re always a big hit from your homemade Oreos, olive oil focaccia, chocolate chip cookies, to the decadent chocolate tart. French macarons, though, have eluded me for years! After at least 2 dozen attempts with dismal results from many other recipes (too soft, too crispy, too flat, mishapen, etc.), I finally cracked the code last week with some of your tips! Here they are with some of mine added in: 1. Separate egg whites the night before and leave at room temperature for 4 hours; 2. Weigh all ingredients; 3. Do not overmix batter (resist the urge!); 4. Flavor with fruit zest and fresh vanilla beans so that no additional liquid is added (I used saffron threads as well); 5. For color, use powdered color; 6. Leave in an airtight container to store – they actually taste better a day or two later with more delicate texture. Success! I would include a pic if I could!!!

  • Pie crust! No matter how many times I have tried, it either is too dry and crumbles or too wet and just a mess. I now sub in Trader Joes pie crust for my homemade pies and have gotten compliments. No need to perfect!

  • I get intimidated by cooking for sure, but I have found that by repetition and reading enough recipes, most things come out ok. I’m afraid of grilling (fire!), and anything with precision because I’m more of a free style (messy!) cook.

  • Macarons have been my biggest challenge. Sometimes they turn out perfectly, other times they look weird. The mi has to be done just right, and the oven temperature is critical, but there is also an element of trial/error/luck!

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