This is one of my signature dishes, and it embodies my love of hunting and foraging for ingredients in the woods. Although it resembles a still life of the autumn forest floor, the delicious surprise is that it is actually a dessert. Even at my age, I am still childlike and love to add a sense of wonder to my food.
I find that sabayons can be the foundation for so many desserts; by mixing a bit of whipped cream into a cold sabayon then adding whatever flavour you desire – coffee, chocolate, raspberry - you can create thousands of the lightest desserts … and almost guilt-free. The sabayons can be served as mousses or indeed as frozen desserts like this one.
For the meringue stalks
pistachios, crushed and finely chopped
For the chestnut parfait
egg yolks, organic / free range, medium
chestnut purée, sweetened
chestnut purée, unsweetened
marrons glacés, broken
Icing sugar and/or cocoa powder
For the croustade
water, hot from the tap
To finish the croustade
For the coffee Anglaise
coffee beans, roasted for 10 minutes at 160°C and crushed
egg yolks, organic/free range, medium
For the palette leaf
unsalted butter, room temperature
icing sugar, sieved
egg whites, room temperature
plain flour, sieved
cocoa powder, sieved
Preheat the oven to 110°C. Using an electric mixer on maximum speed, whisk the egg whites with the two drops of lemon juice for 1 minute until you have soft peaks. The lemon juice will help to prevent graining. Now gradually whisk in the caster sugar. Whisk at full speed for a further 3 minutes; the peaks will now be shiny, smooth and stiff. Remove the bowl from the machine, then little by little, sieve and fold in the icing sugar, using a spatula and a friend to help. This should take about 2-3 minutes.
Fold in the chopped pistachios and fill a piping bag. Line a tray with greaseproof paper and secure the paper underneath with four small dots of meringue at each corner. Pipe onto it twelve mounds of meringues with small peaks. The pointed peaks will hold the mushroom cups. To achieve this, release pressure on the piping bag as you lift it up. Then pipe twelve smaller mounds using the same technique; if you have too much, pipe some extra ladies fingers of meringue.
Cook the meringue in the preheated oven for 1.5 -2 hours until they have dried out completely inside. They will be the ‘stalks’ of the frozen mushrooms.
Leave them to cool. Reserve in the freezer until you are ready to serve.
Whisk the egg yolks and water together in an electric mixer at high speed for 6-7 minutes until you obtain a light sabayon, which is four times the initial volume. At this stage, the sabayon is not stable as it is uncooked egg yolks.
At the same time, make the syrup. Boil together the water and sugar and bring it to 120°C. When the sabayon is fully developed, lower the speed of the whisk and pour in the hot syrup between the whisk and the side of the bowl. This will not only cook the sabayon (58°C) and make the foam stable; it will also increase the flavour. Cooldown the sabayon, whisking at medium speed, to room temperature.
Whip the cream to soft peaks, then whisk it into the mixed chestnut purées and rum. Fold the mixture into the sabayon. Scatter over the broken marrons glacés and fold them in. Taste and refrigerate. You now have a parfait mixture that is ready to be moulded and frozen.
With a 1.5cm nozzle, pipe the parfait mixture into 10 larger rubber dome moulds, so they are three-quarters full (45g). Pipe the remaining parfait into 10 smaller dome moulds to fill them to the top. Smooth the tops with a palette knife. Please use silicon moulds as they will release the domes easily. They are readily available.
Sink the points of the meringue feet about one third into the respective sized parfait domes. Carefully place them into a freezer to set overnight.
For me, the croustade is one of the great French patisserie classics of our culinary history.
In a mixing bowl, whisk together the egg whites, salt and sugar to a light foam. Add the egg yolks and the hot water. Continue to whisk for 1 minute. In the bowl of a mixer, with a dough hook attachment, add the flour and this egg mixture. On a low speed, mix all the ingredients until the dough comes away from the side of the bowl (about 5-7 minutes). To finish, gradually add the oil until it is completely absorbed (about 5-6 minutes).
Using a scraper, gather the dough and wrap it in cling film. It will not stick as there is enough oil within. The texture will be very soft and wet.
Cling film and rest in the fridge overnight.
Leave the cling filmed croustade mixture in a warm place for 4 hours in order to make it more elastic so that you can stretch it more easily.
Cover your work surface with a large cloth. Now you need a friend to help you to stretch the dough. Remove all jewellery. Facing each other across the table, gradually stretch the dough over the back of your hands, handling it extremely carefully. Dust your hands with a little flour, so the dough does not catch. Gently pull the dough until it becomes so fine it is transparent; it will reach about 70cm long by 35cm wide.
Rest the dough on the table. With a wide soft pastry brush, lightly apply a thin coat of clarified butter over the dough and evenly sprinkle over with caster sugar.
Cut out 10 equal squares, and allow them to dry for about 10 minutes. Crumple them up into small mounds by gently scrunching the centre. Leave them to dry for 6-8 hours at room temperature.
Preheat the oven to 220°C and cook the croustade dough for 2-3 minutes until golden brown and crisp. The fine layers of the croustade will caramelize and give you a great French pastry experience.
In a large heavy-bottomed saucepan, bring the milk, roasted coffee beans and espresso to the boil. Remove from the heat and leave to infuse for 30 minutes.
In a large mixing bowl, cream together the egg yolks and sugar until they turn a pale straw colour.
Strain the infused milk through a very fine sieve onto the whisked egg yolks. Pour the mixture back into a clean pan and bring to a gentle simmer, stirring all the time.
Pour into a china bowl, and cover with cling film to prevent a skin from forming. Serve hot or cold.
In a large bowl, cream the softened butter with the icing sugar. Add one-third of the egg whites and mix until smooth. Add half the sieved flour and mix until smooth. Repeat with the remaining egg white and flour.
Mix in the sieved cocoa powder.
Preheat the oven to 180°C.
Spread your mixture 2mm thick in a leaf stencil onto a tray lined with a silicone mat and bake in the oven for 4 minutes until it starts to turn a darker brown.
Remove from the oven, and with a palette knife, drape the warm leaves over a rolling pin. This will shape them slightly as they cool.
Spoon the coffee Anglaise onto the plate and carefully place the dusted mushrooms, one big and one small, at either side.
Arrange the garnish of the leaf and mixed nuts around the Mushrooms, then serve immediately.
"You can make your life easier by replacing the mixture with filo pastry or brick pastry. Brushed them with clarified butter, dust with caster sugar, crumple and dry, and caramelize in the preheated oven … but you will never have the same experience as with the classic French croustade."
Le Manoir aux Quat'Saisons: The Story of a Modern Classic
A personal tour of Raymond's legendary restaurant-hotel through the four seasons, including 120 recipes from his celebrated kitchens. With spectacular photography of the signature dishes, luxurious rooms and ravishing gardens, and beautiful and witty illustrations throughout, the fairy tale of Belmond Le Manoir is brought charmingly to life.