Eric Wolfinger
Pistachio Parfait with Cherry Pit Crumble, Red Wine Meringue & Cocoa Nibs
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Pistachio Parfait with Cherry Pit Crumble, Red Wine Meringue & Cocoa Nibs

December 21st, 2013

This recipe has been adapted from Manresa: An Edible Reflection by David Kinch with Christine Muhlke―a book featured in Word-to-Table Cooking, Food Arts' yearly roundup of chef-authored cookbooks.

“Not that long ago, Silicon Valley was considered the Garden of Eden, thanks to its perfect growing conditions for all kinds of stone fruits and other orchard crops. Andy Mariani of Andy’s Orchard in Morgan Hill, just south of San Jose, grows some of the greatest fruit we’ve tasted anywhere in the world—not only his cherries but also an incredible variety of nectarines, peaches, and apricots. We do all that we can to take advantage of his extraordinary produce, adding a bit of mahleb, a haunting spice made from ground cherry pits. We love this combination of pistachio and cherry so much that we go back to it year after year.”

Serves 8 to 10 (requires advance preparation)

Red wine cherry sauce:

  • 3.5 oz. (100g) Bing cherries, pitted
  • 6 1/2 Tbsps. (100g) red wine
  • agar-agar powder (1 percent of weight)
  1. Cook cherries and wine over medium heat until softened; remove from heat; marinate mixture overnight.

  2. Blend, strain, then weigh cherry puree; weigh out agar-agar equaling 1 percent of the weight (for example, for 100g puree, use 1g agar-agar); you should have about 6.2 oz. (175g) puree.

  3. Shear in agar-agar, or slowly sprinkle it over the puree, while whisking until it’s completely hydrated; bring mixture to a boil; cool over ice bath until it solidifies and cools completely; break the solid gel into chunks; puree in blender until gel is custard-smooth, fluid, and shiny; reserve in refrigerator.

Mahleb bread:

  • 4 3/4 cups plus 2 Tbsps. (780g) bread flour
  • 2 cups (465ml) whole milk
  • 1 1/2 Tbsps. (12g) ground mahleb spice
  • 2/3 cup (155g) unsalted butter, softened
  • 3 Tbsps. plus 1 tsp. (40g) granulated sugar
  • 4 1/2 tsps. (23g) kosher salt
  • 0.6 oz. (16g) fresh yeast (scant 1 cake)
  1. Combine all ingredients in bowl of a mixer fitted with a dough hook; mix on low speed 2 minutes; increase speed and mix another 4 minutes; transfer dough to oiled bowl; proof until dough doubles in size.

  2. Fold dough; proof again until dough doubles in size.

  3. Oil pain de mie pan; roll dough into 1/2” thick rectangle (about the same length as the pan); roll dough into a cylinder shape; place in oiled pan; proof dough until doubled in size.

  4. Heat oven to 350°F (175°C).

  5. When dough has proofed, cover pan and bake (about 45 minutes); remove loaf from pan; cool completely; wrap bread tightly in plastic wrap; freeze overnight, or until solid.

Cherry pit crumble:

  • 2/3 cup (150g) unsalted butter, melted
  • 3/4 cup (150g) granulated sugar
  • 2 tsps. (10g) kosher salt
  1. Heat oven to 300°F (150°C).

  2. Trim edges of mahleb loaf to remove the crust; grate 14 oz. (400g) of bread into crumbs, using coarse side of box grater; on sheet pan, toss crumbs with melted butter, sugar, and salt until evenly coated; bake 6 to 10 minutes, until golden brown, removing pan from oven every 3 minutes to toss; reserve.

Pistachio parfait:

  • 2 Tbsps. plus 1 tsp. (35ml) water
  • 3 (35g) lg. egg yolks
  • 1 Tbsp. (12g) granulated sugar
  • 1/2 cup (135g) pistachio paste
  • 1/8 tsp. (1g) kosher salt
  • approx. 1 1/2 sheets (3.5g) silver gelatin, bloomed in cold water
  • 1 cup (235g) heavy cream, whipped to soft peaks
  1. Line half sheet pan (13" by 18" by 1” pan) with acetate.

  2. Whisk water, egg yolks, and sugar together in mixing bowl set over double boiler, until the sugar dissolves. Transfer bowl to a mixer fitted with a whisk attachment; mix on medium speed until light and fluffy.

  3. Combine pistachio paste, salt, and gelatin in a pan; heat just until gelatin melts; fold into yolk mixture; fold whipped cream into pistachio/egg mixture; pour onto lined sheet pan; reserve in refrigerator until set.

Pistachio tuile:

  • 3/4 cup (100g) pistachio flour
  • 1/8 tsp. (1g) kosher salt
  • 50ml simple syrup
  • 1/4 cup (25g) raw Iranian pistachios, finely chopped
  • 1 1/2 Tbsps. (12g) cocoa nibs
  • 1 Tbsp. (12g) turbinado sugar
  • 1/4 tsp. (1g) pistachio oil
  • 1/2 tsp. (2g) Murray River sea salt
  1. Mix pistachio flour, kosher salt, and simple syrup together to form a paste; roll the paste out between 2 silicone baking mats; place the mats on half sheet tray; freeze until solid.

  2. Heat oven to 320°F (160°C).

  3. Combine pistachios, cocoa nibs, sugar, oil, and sea salt in a bowl; peel top baking mat off frozen pistachio paste; sprinkle pistachio mixture over paste; place in oven; bake 6 minutes; remove from oven; cool; reserve.

Cherry sheet:

  • 1 lb. (450g) Bing cherries, stemmed
  • 12ml simple syrup
  • 1/2 lime, zested
  • 1/4 vanilla bean, split
  • 0.5g agar-agar powder, softened in water
  • 1/4 sheet (0.6g) silver gelatin, bloomed in cold water
  1. Place cherries in nonreactive bowl; wrap bowl tightly with plastic wrap; place bowl over double boiler; simmer 30 to 40 minutes, until cherries release all their juices; strain liquid, discard solids; combine 1/4 cup (60g) juice with simple syrup, lime zest, and vanilla bean in a small pan; bring to a boil; remove from heat; seal pan with plastic wrap; steep 10 minutes; strain.

  2. Line 5" by 8” flat-bottomed tray or shallow pan with acetate.

  3. Place 3 Tbsps. plus 1 tsp. (50g) juice in a pot; slowly whisk in agar-agar; continue whisking, while bringing mixture to a boil over high heat; while boiling, whisk in gelatin until fully incorporated; pour mixture onto prepared tray to form a thin, even sheet; reserve until set.

Red wine meringue:

  • 3 (100g) lg. egg whites
  • 1/8 tsp. (0.5g) cream of tartar
  • 1 cup (200g) granulated sugar
  • 5 Tbsps. (75ml) red wine reduction (reduced by half)

Combine egg whites, cream of tartar, and sugar in bowl set over double boiler; whisk until sugar is dissolved; pour contents into bowl of a mixer fitted with a whisk attachment; whisk on high until the meringue is stiff; slowly drizzle in red wine reduction; transfer meringue to pastry bag fitted with #801 plain tip; reserve.


  • 15 Bing cherries, halved and pitted
  • 20 oxalis (wood sorrel) leaves
  1. Cut about 30 pieces of pistachio tuile with small ring mold; slice cherry sheet lengthwise into 1/2”-wide strips, 1 per serving; cut pistachio parfait into 3" to 4” diameter rounds with larger ring mold, 1 per serving.

  2. Wrap 1 cherry strip around each piece of parfait; place off-center on serving plate; pipe 8 to 9 meringue kisses on each plate; caramelize with kitchen torch; garnish with several pools red wine/cherry sauce; top with cherry halves, tuile rounds, a spoonful of cherry pit crumble, and a few oxalis leaves.