The perfect dinner party dessert

04:07, Mar 25 2014
DECADENCE PERSONIFIED: It's sublime but this ensemble dish is as easy as falling out of a coconut tree

A lot of people are talking about coconut water, and before trying it I wasn't sure if it would be for me. But strangely enough I like it, although nobody talks of the dark side to the humble coconut.

They can kill - though only a few people die each year from falling coconuts, which is almost as many as die from falling out of coconut trees, and not enough of a worry to cancel your next trip to Fiji.

This week we have a special dessert using coconut. The jelly could not be simpler, but when making it try not to let the milk boil as it will ruin the fresh coconut flavour. You could also infuse lime leaf or orange zest into the liquid.

These hazelnut macaroons are also so easy - if you can whip egg whites you can make them.

My only advice is to keep all your equipment very clean, as any fat or grease will stop the egg whites from expanding and reaching a soft peak. You could also try different types of ground nuts such as walnuts, almonds or pistachios.



For the hazelnut macaroon:
2 cups hazelnuts, toasted and skinned
2 egg whites
1/2 cup castor sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 tbsp plain flour
4 tsp cocoa powder
1 cup shredded coconut
For the coconut jelly:
400ml coconut milk
100g castor sugar
100ml water
5 leaves gold-strength gelatin
For the soft chocolate:
200ml milk
200ml cream
100g sugar
4 egg yolks
500g dark couverture chocolate
100ml amontillado sherry
400ml semi-whipped cream
For assembly:
2 bananas
10 mint leaves

For the hazelnut macaroons:

1. Preheat oven to 150C. Grease two oven trays and line them with baking paper. Process the hazelnuts until finely ground. Beat the egg whites in a large bowl with an electric mixer until soft peaks form.

2. Gradually add the sugar, beating until it is fully dissolved. Stir in the vanilla, sifted flour, cocoa, coconut and ground hazelnuts.

3. Drop rounded tablespoons of mixture on to the trays five centimetres apart. Bake for about 25 minutes, then cool on trays. Keep in an air-tight container until needed.

For the coconut jelly:

4. Heat the coconut milk over a medium heat; don't let it come to the boil. While it is heating, add the sugar and stir until it has dissolved.

5. Soak the gelatin in cold water until it is soft.

6. Take the coconut milk off the heat and let it cool slightly. Remove the gelatin from the water and squeeze out any excess water. Add the gelatin to the warm milk and stir well but don't aerate too much.

7. Pour into a square glass dish and set in the fridge for four hours before using.

For the soft chocolate:

8. Heat the milk and cream in a heavy-based saucepan until it is just about to simmer. Whisk the sugar with the yolks then add the warm cream.

9. Return it all to the saucepan and stir over the heat until it thickens slightly and coats the back of a spoon. Take it off the heat, add the chocolate and sherry then stir until well combined.

10. Before the mix cools too much, fold in the cream and pour into a plastic or glass dish measuring 20x20 centimetres. Cover and place in the fridge. Chill for an hour before using.

To assemble:

11. Break two macaroons in half and put them in a glass or on a plate. Then place a dessert spoon in warm water, scoop a large spoonful from the soft chocolate and place it in the centre of the dish.

12. Chop the jelly into rough two-centimetre cubes and drop them around the chocolate. Slice the banana. Slice the mint into thin strips.

13. Place the banana around the other ingredients and sprinkle the mint over the dish.

13. Place the banana around the other ingredients and sprinkle the mint over the dish.

- Good Food