At the very bottom there is a layer of lightly spiced sautéed apples. Then goes strawberry puree, followed by Frangelico-spiked whipped cream and, finally, crispy buttery hazelnut crisp. The recipe, with some of my adaptations, is from the Top Chef cookbook.

The delicious and exceptionally easy to put together, originally served with fresh strawberries, this parfait is a perfect transitional summer-autumn dessert. But since the summer time, as well as good fresh berries, has well passed, I replaced the fresh strawberries with the puree made from the frozen ones (but picked at their most ripe). The dish was great; I think it’s very much appropriate for any season.

And now I want to return to the book mentioned earlier. This book and a Top Chef 7” Japanese style Santoku knife are for you to win. For the fans of the show, the fifth season of the Emmy-award winning series Top Chef DVD has been recently released and it includes extended interviews and some never-before-seen material.

I believe everyone knows the drill. You leave a comment on this post before midnight (PST) December 17th and I will make the draw and ask the winner to e-mail me the postal address for the goodies to ship. Good Luck!

Serves 4

For the hazelnut crisp:

  • ¼ cup all-purpose flour
  • ¼ cup+2 tbsp cake flour
  • 1 cup confectioners’ sugar
  • 1/8 tsp salt
  • 2 tbsp unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 3 large egg whites
  • 1 ½ tsp pure vanilla extract
  • ¼ cup finely chopped hazelnuts

For the strawberry puree:

  • 8 oz defrosted strawberries
  • About ½ tbsp fine granulated sugar (optional; if the puree is too sour)

For the sautéed apples:

  • 4 tbsp (2 oz) unsalted butter
  • ½ cup granulated sugar
  • 4 large Fuji apples, peeled, cored and cut into 1/8-inch slices
  • ¼ cup fresh orange juice
  • ¼ tsp ground cinnamon
  • ¼ tsp freshly grated nutmeg
  • ¼ tsp salt

For the hazelnut whipped cream:

  • 1 cup heavy cream, chilled
  • 2 tbsp fine granulated sugar
  • 2 tbsp Frangelico liqueur

Make the hazelnut crisp:

Center an oven rack and preheat the oven to 375F. Line a 13×18-inch rimless baking sheet with a silicone mat.

Sift the flours, confectioners’ sugar, and salt into the bowl of an electric mixer. Add the butter, egg whites, and vanilla and beat until thoroughly incorporated. Applying this method, some tiny pieces of butter are still going to be present in the batter. And it’s OK; it will produce a super-crisp cookie with almost honey comb-like surface.
Using an offset spatula, spread the paste evenly and very thinly over the entire surface of the prepared baking sheet. Sprinkle the hazelnuts evenly over the paste.

Bake for 15 to 17 minutes, until golden brown (the crisp will be darker at the edges; do not let it burn). Transfer the crisp on the baking sheet to a cooling rack and cool completely. Break into roughly shaped pieces. Set aside.

Make the strawberry puree:

In a blender or food processor, puree the berries until smooth. Transfer to a bowl (no need to strain) and add a bit of fine granulated sugar (about ½ tbsp should suffice) if the puree seems too sour. Stir to dissolve the sugar. Refrigerate until serving.

Sautee the apples:

Melt the butter in a heavy large skillet over the medium-high heat. Add the sugar. Cook until a grainy sauce forms, about 1 minute. Add the apples. Sprinkle the orange juice, spices, and salt and cook until the apples are tender, translucent and the sauce is thickened, about 10-15 minutes, stirring often. Cool until slightly warm.

Whip the cream:

In a chilled bowl with chilled beaters, whip the cream with the sugar until it starts thickening, then add the liqueur and whip until soft peaks form.

Assemble the dessert:

Divide the apples among 4 dessert dishes. Top with the strawberry puree and a generous dollop of whipped cream. Stick the hazelnut crisp into the top and serve immediately.