A colorfully seductive dish, this light, yet alluring dessert of soft, juicy fruits is perfect for a spring or summer refresher. In this simple salad, we capture distinctly different flavors – sweet, tart and savory – and wrap them together in a subtle tarragon and honey cream. We also provide a variation for presentation – a sexy timbale of fruits – so have fun and experiment with whatever variation suits your style and comfort level.
For the tarragon cream:
4 egg yolks
¼ cup sugar
2 tablespoons honey
½ cup water
1 tablespoon fresh tarragon, chopped
½ vanilla bean, seeds only (optional)
A pinch salt
½ cup heavy cream, whipped to medium peaks
For the tarragon syrup:
½ cup water
½ cup sugar
½ teaspoon fresh tarragon, chopped
½ teaspoon pink peppercorns
For the fruit salad:
½ a pineapple, cored and cut into 1-inch triangles
1 pint strawberries, stems removed and quartered
4 kiwi fruits, peeled and cut into ¼ inch thick slices and then halved
2 mangoes, peeled, cored and cut into ½ inch cubes
A few fresh tarragon leaves for garnish
Fine mesh sieve, handheld or electric mixer, sharp knives (chef and pairing), whisk
Prepare the tarragon cream:
Combine the egg yolks, sugar, honey, water, tarragon, vanilla seeds and salt in a double boiler or a medium shallow bowl set over a simmering pot of water, making sure the bottom of the bowl does not touch the water. Cook, whisking constantly until the mixture thickens and appears foamy, glossy, and has tripled in volume, for about 4-5 minutes.
Remove from heat and cover the bowl with plastic wrap. Chill in the refrigerator until cooled. Using a fine mesh sieve, strain the cream to remove any bits of tarragon.
Once cooled, gently fold the whipped cream into the base. Set aside until service.
[Chef’s Note: This cream is actually a variation of a sabayon or a cousin of the light, egg-based Italian dessert zabaglione. The sabayon must not get too hot or boil during cooking or it will become grainy. It should never get so hot that you cannot stick a clean finger in it; but if it begins to feel too hot, remove the bowl briefly from the heat, beating continuously, until the mixture cools slightly, and then return the bowl to the heat and continue cooking. Allow the cream to cool before straining so the tarragon will impart a deeper flavor in the final product. It will keep covered and refrigerated for up to 3 days.]
Prepare the syrup:
Combine the water, sugar and tarragon in a small saucepan over medium heat. Bring to a boil, cover and remove from the heat. Allow the syrup to steep for 10 minutes, and then strain through a fine mesh sieve to remove the tarragon leaves. Chill until ready for use.
[Chef’s Note: This makes slightly more syrup than needed, but you can save the remainder for another use, as this is great in iced teas, other fruit salads or alcoholic beverages.]
Prepare the fruit salad:
In a large mixing bowl, toss the cut fruits with ¼ cup of the syrup. Spoon the fruits into individual bowls, drizzle with the tarragon cream and garnish with fresh tarragon leaves if desired. Enjoy!
For the timbale version:
Dice all fruits into 1/16 inch cubes and mix with ¼ cup of the syrup. Allow to sit for 10-15 minutes and then strain the mixture to remove some of the extra juices. Tightly pack the fruits into six 2-inch circular ring molds set on individual plates. Place a large spoonful of the tarragon cream on the plate, and using the back of a spoon, drag the cream upwards along the curve of the plate to create an attractive design. Carefully remove the molds from the fruit and serve immediately.
You may substitute mint for the tarragon in this recipe, as well as use white wine instead of water for the syrup or in the cream, or even vary the fruits. Fruits which go well with minted syrup are red and green seedless grapes, pears and Granny Smith apples.