2 March 2008

Creme Parfait for Mother's Day

This is my Mum's version of a dessert that was served in the 70s in the fancy "Кристал" (Kristal) cafe in Sofia in Bulgaria.

She's been making it regularly and at some points my Dad didn't bother with a plate, but just worked his way through the baking pan.



2 dl plain flour
1 tsp baking powder
4 large eggs
1.5 dl granulated sugar
2 - 3 dl orange juice


1 litre fresh custard
12 sheets of gelatine
5 dl double cream
5 tbsp icing sugar


1 dl double cream
1 tbsp icing sugar
chocolate thins

  1. Mix the flour and the baking powder well.
  2. Whisk the eggs and sugar white and fluffy.
  3. Slowly add the flour to the egg and sugar mixture, while whisking.
  4. Line a shallow baking pan of about 30 x 40 cm with baking paper making sure that it folds up the edges.
  5. Pour the mixture into the pan and level out with a spatula. Tap the whole pan a couple of times to make the mixture settle.
  6. Bake in the middle of the oven at 200 degrees C or gas mark 6 until the base goes golden brown.
  7. Take out and turn over, either on a second sheet of baking paper that has a little granulated sugar sprinkled on it, or better, straight back into the baking pan and peel off the baking paper while the base is still hot. The base needs to be back in the baking pan and left to cool down.
  8. Heat up the custard while stirring so it doesn't burn.
  9. In the mean time, soak the sheets of gelatine in cold water for a few minutes.
  10. When the custard is hot take it off the heat, squeeze out the exess water from the gelatine and add it to the custard and stir in well. The custard will go quite runny once the gelatine has dissoved, that's OK.
  11. Let the custard cool down completely.
  12. Add the icing sugar to the double cream and whip it to stiff peaks.
  13. Carefully stir in the whipped cream into the custard, this will double the cream in volume.
  14. Distribute the orange juice over the sponge base and let it soak in for a couple of minutes.
  15. Pour the cream over the base, level out with a spatula and also give the pan a tap like before.
  16. Place in the fridge overnight to set.
  17. For serving, cut the creme parfait into squares, whip the cream and icing sugar and place a teaspoonful on each square and push in a chocolate thin in the middle.
Normally my Mum makes custard from powder and it's a lot sweeter than the fresh one. Unfortunately I didn't think it through and didn't add extra sugar, so my creme parfait was fairly bland. I also cut too large squares and it was too big and felt a bit heavy. I'll try to post an alternative recipe for the custard, I think a variety without eggs would be lighter.

This is the very basic one. But it'll work very well with bits of fruit - strawberries or blueberries - or even with chopped nuts or chocolate. All can be added to the cream before pouring it over the base.

The quantity of gelatine is what was recommended on the packet for one litre. This is the second time I use gelatine, so I'm not entirely confident on this, but the final result had the correct texture, so I guess it was OK.

Decoration is also quite easy to vary with chocolate sprinkles or whatever you fancy. My Mum made this dessert when we visited for New Year and she had red and green coctail cherries that she pushed into the blobs of whipped cream on top of each square.

From the brief search on google, this is quite different from what is called parfait in other countries.

Update Tuesday 4th March:
My Mum had forgotten the sugar in her recipe. Also the cream is not custard, but a cream based on potato starch. Corn starch works as well. These are the proportions:

1.5 dl milk
1 tbsp starch
1 tbsp granulated sugar

This would of course need the addition of some flavouring.

She also suggested I use some of the wonderful white cherry jam to sort out the lack of sweetness.

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