"This dish needs to be started 48 hours ahead, but it's worth it for the fine texture and the homemade mascarpone," says Cibej. "You can add a few dried sour cherries to the cherry mixture for extra flavour."
- 100 gm caster sugar
- ½ vanilla bean, seeds scraped
- 400 gm cherries, pitted (see note)
- 500 ml pouring cream (2 cups)
- 2 tsp lemon juice
- 125 gm caster sugar
- Finely grated rind of ½ lemon
- 125 ml espresso-strength coffee (½ cup)
- 25 ml Nocello (see note)
- 100 gm hazelnuts
- For greasing: vegetable oil
- 80 gm caster sugar
- 1For mascarpone, bring cream to the boil in a saucepan. Add lemon juice, stir, remove from heat, then pour into a 2 litre non-reactive bowl and set aside to cool (20 minutes), then refrigerate until set (overnight). Pour into a muslin-lined fine sieve, cover, weight with a plate and refrigerate until well drained (overnight). Remove mascarpone from muslin and store in a non-reactive bowl until required. Mascarpone will keep refrigerated for 2-4 days.
- 2Meanwhile, for espresso granita, combine sugar and 125ml water in a saucepan and bring to the boil, then reduce heat to low and simmer until slightly syrupy (2 minutes). Remove from heat, add lemon rind, coffee, Nocello and 75ml water, transfer to a shallow tray and freeze, stirring with a fork every 30 minutes, until ice crystals form (approximately two hours).
- 3Combine sugar, vanilla bean and seeds and 200ml water in a saucepan, stir, bring to the boil, then reduce heat to low and simmer until slightly syrupy (2 minutes). Add half the cherries (and dried cherries if using) and cook until beginning to soften (5-7 minutes). Add remaining cherries and simmer until just tender (2-3 minutes). Set aside to cool, then refrigerate until chilled. The syrup should be sticky and thick at this point; if too runny, remove fruit, return syrup to heat and reduce to desired consistency.
- 4Meanwhile, for hazelnut praline, preheat oven to 180C. Roast hazelnuts on an oven tray until lightly coloured (12-15 minutes), rub in a tea towel to remove skins (discard), then spread on a greased oven tray lined with baking paper and set aside. Combine sugar and 60ml water in a small saucepan and stir over medium heat until sugar dissolves, brushing down sides of pan with a wet pastry brush to prevent sugar crystals forming (10 minutes). Bring to the boil, then cook until light golden (3-4 minutes). Pour over hazelnuts and set aside until cool. Break into medium pieces and pulse in a food processor to fine crumbs.
- 5Spoon mascarpone into six 250ml glasses, top with cherries, syrup and granita. Sprinkle over praline and serve.
Note If cherries are unavailable, substitute berries. Nocello is a walnut and hazelnut liqueur available from select delicatessens.
Drink Suggestion: Moscato Passito di Pantelleria or Recioto della Valpolicella. Drink suggestion by Giorgio de Maria