Nesselrode, Part 1: the Count, the Cook, and their Pudding

March 31, 1814. With the Austrian, Prussian, and Russian armies having defeated Napoleon at the Battle of Paris, the War of the Sixth Coalition is now over. Tsar Alexander I of Russia receives the key to the French capital from Talleyrand, and enters the city at the head of the army, cheered by the crowd. Talleyrand, master of political flip-flopping, started to distance himself from Napoleon several years earlier, and is now eager to participate in the new government. He sends a message, through the Russian diplomat Count Karl Nesselrode, offering the tsar a place to stay at his palace.

Talleyrand’s chef at this time is none other than Antonin Carême, the first celebrity chef of sorts. So impressive is his cuisine that Alexander I takes Carême with him when he moves from Talleyrand’s digs to the Elysée Palace. During these few months of Russian presence in Paris, Carême creates a luxurious chestnut ice dessert in honor of Count Nesselrode. The Nesselrode Pudding is born — or, at least, this is how the story goes according to Ian Kelly’s excellent Carême biography, Cooking for Kings.

Nesselrode Pudding

My own Nesselrode pudding harkens back pretty closely to Carême’s original recipe, except I serve it in individual molds, and I’ve come up with other elements partly so my plates didn’t look half empty. But the biscotti and the fruits not only provide complementary textures and colors, they also echo the orange, raisin, and cherry flavor combination that’s found in the rich chestnut pudding itself.

For the pudding, you will need a pyramid silicon mold: each pyramid measures 2.75″ length x 2.75″ width x 1.5″ high and contains 2.5 fl. oz. This is the same mold I used for my Baked Paskha, so if you need to rationalize the purchase, it’s actually more useful than it first seems 🙂 The biscotti recipe yields 6 extra pieces, but it would be hard to scale down the proportions. The candied orange peel also yields more than you’ll need, but that should be just enough to use in this post’s sequel when I publish it!

Candied orange peel
Yields about 2.4 oz candied orange peel

1 navel orange
4 oz water
7 oz sugar

  • Carefully peel and separate the orange into its natural segments. Reserve the segments.
  • Cut the peel into 1/4″ x 3″ strips. Weigh 2 oz, and discard the rest.
  • Blanch the orange peel in boiling water for 7 minutes. Drain and repeat two more times.
  • In a small saucepan, heat the water and sugar to 230 F, stirring constantly. Add the peel, cover, and simmer over low heat for 60 minutes.
  • Drain the orange peel, and let cool on a rack for 30 minutes.

Nesselrode fruit mixture
Yields 6 servings

0.5 oz golden raisins
0.75 oz dried cherries, halved
0.25 oz candied orange peel, brunoise
0.5 oz maraschino liqueur
0.5 oz Armenian brandy

  • Place the raisins, cherries, orange peel, maraschino, and brandy in a small saucepan. Cover with a lid, and cook over low heat for 10 minutes.
  • Remove from the heat, and reserve for 1 hour.

Nesselrode puddings
Yields 6 servings

2.5 oz cooked peeled chestnuts
4 oz sugar
2 oz water
1/2 tsp pure vanilla extract
8 oz heavy cream
3 egg yolks
Nesselrode fruit mixture
1 egg white

  • Cook the chestnuts in a pot of boiling water for 5 minutes, then drain and reserve.
  • Place the sugar, water, and vanilla extract in a small saucepan, and heat until dissolved, stirring constantly.
  • Transfer the sugar syrup to a blender with the chestnuts, add half of the heavy cream, then process until smooth.
  • While blending on low speed, add the egg yolks, then return to the saucepan, and cook to 165 F, stirring constantly. Pass the custard through a chinois, mix in the Nesselrode fruit mixture (including the alcohol), and let cool. Refrigerate for at least 4 hours.
  • In two separate bowls, beat the rest of the heavy cream and the egg whites to medium peaks. Fold both the whipped cream and beaten white into the custard. Pour the mixture into 6 silicon pyramids (2.5 fl. oz each), and freeze.

Nesselrode Biscotti
Yields about 12 biscotti

1.5 oz butter
1 oz sugar, plus 1 tbsp for sprinkling
1 oz brown sugar
1 egg
1/2 tsp pure vanilla extract
4.7 oz flour, sifted
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/8 tsp baking soda
1/8 tsp salt
1/16 tsp garam masala
2.2 oz dried cherries, halved
2.2 oz golden raisins
1 oz candied orange peel
1 egg white

  • In the bowl of an electric mixer fit with the paddle attachment, mix the butter, sugar, and brown sugar over medium speed until fluffy. Mix in the egg and vanilla extract.
  • Add the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and garam masala, then beat until homogeneous, still on medium speed. Add the dried cherries, raisins, and orange peel, and mix for another 30 seconds. Shape into a ball, wrap in plastic film, and let rest for 30 minutes.
  • On a floured surface, shape the dough into a 3″x7″ rectangle. Transfer to a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Beat the egg white, and brush onto the dough on all sides. Sprinkle sugar on top. Bake in a 325 F oven for 35-40 minutes, until the center is firm and medium brown.
  • Transfer to a rack, and let cool for 30 minutes.
  • Cut the log into 12 slices, and toast in a 200 F oven for about 60 minutes, flipping after 30 minutes, until crisp on both sides. Reserve.

Nesselrode Pudding

Assembly
Yields 6 servings

6 oz orange juice
6 orange segments
18 kompot cherries (see here)
18 green grapes

Nesselrode puddings
6 Nesselrode biscotti

  • In a small saucepan over medium heat, reduce the orange juice to a thick syrup. Add the orange segments, coat, and let cool.
  • Pat dry the cherries. Peel the grapes.
  • On each plate, unmold a pudding in the center. Rest a biscotti on one side, and arrange an orange segment, 3 cherries, and 3 grapes on the remaining sides. Serve immediately.
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3 thoughts on “Nesselrode, Part 1: the Count, the Cook, and their Pudding

  1. Pingback: Nesselrode, Part 2: the Restaurateur, the Old-Timers, and their Pie | Food Perestroika

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