You don’t usually think of using celery in desserts. But I like to look at the properties of some vegetables and think about using them in a different way. It occurred to me that a very tough stem like celery could translate well if you candied it, showcasing a vegetable that’s too often overlooked!
This parfait has so many wonderful elements—it’s creamy but with sweet crunchiness from the celery and salty crunchiness from the pistachios. Star anise and cinnamon add a depth of spice.
In a medium saucepan, bring the sugar and 2 cups water to a boil over high heat. Reduce the heat and add the celery, star anise, and cinnamon. Simmer, stirring occasionally, until the celery is soft and sticky, about 45 minutes.
The candied celery and its syrup can be stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator for
Remove the celery from the syrup with a slotted spoon and transfer to parchment paper.
Discard the cinnamon and star anise.
Preheat the oven to 300ºF.
In a small bowl, combine the pomegranate molasses and melted butter. Brush one sheet of phyllo dough with a thin layer of the pomegranate mixture.
Place another sheet of phyllo on top and brush with more of the molasses mixture. Repeat with 2 more sheets of phyllo to make a second stack. Line 2 baking sheets with
Transfer the crisps to racks and cool to room temperature.
Repeat with the remaining phyllo to make 4 large crisps.
Break the phyllo into large pieces. The crisps can be stored in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 3 days.
In a small saucepan, combine the sugar and corn syrup and cook over medium heat until the mixture reaches 275ºF on a candy thermometer.
In a standing mixer with a whisk attachment, whip the egg whites on high speed until they form
In a separate bowl, whip the heavy cream into soft peaks.
Fold the candied celery into the egg whites, reaching down to the bottom of the bowl with a spatula to gently fold the mixture onto itself until the candied celery is well incorporated.
Fold in the whipped cream. Transfer to an airtight container and freeze until set, about 2 hours. The parfait cream will keep in the freezer for up to 8 hours. It is best served the day it is made.
To Assemble the Parfaits
Coarsely crumble some of the pomegranate crisp and place in the the bottom of 4 parfait cups, coffee cups, or other dessert cups. Top with a dollop of the parfait cream. Continue layering the parfait cream and crisps, ending with the cream. Top with one or two large crisps and garnish with the pistachios if using. (You could also layer the crisps and parfait cream in a large bowl and spoon individual portions into dessert bowls. Serve right away.