Caramelized sugar and custard hide fresh fruit in puffed pastry cups. As polenta is just another name for American johnnycake, so flour tortillas, when fried into a crispy basket shape, are similar to puff pastry. Chef Michael Roberts’ concept of using them as holders for a delicious and easy-to-construct dessert has been copied around the country with good reason — they are easy to create and fun to serve. The baskets can be fried and the custard made up to a day in advance. Keep the baskets in a dry place or in an airtight container.
- Oil for deep-frying
- Flour tortillas - 4
- Egg Yolks - 4
- Sugar - 1/2 cup
- Crème Fraiche - 1/2 cup
- Heavy (whipping) cream - 1 cup
- Vanilla Extract - 1/4 teaspoon
- Bittersweet Chocolate - 4 ounces, melted
- Assorted Fresh Fruit - 2 cups, sliced
- Dark Brown Sugar - 4 tablespoons, strawberries
- Strawberries - 4 whole
To make the tostada cups: Heat the oil to 375 F in a deep heavy saucepan; a drop of water should explode when it touches the oil. Using a strainer or a tortilla basket-maker made for this purpose, hold a flour tortilla down in the oil until it forms a cup shape. Remove the strainer and keep the tortilla cup submerged by pressing down gently with tongs. Fry until golden brown. Remove with the tongs. Drain upside down on paper towels. Repeat with the remaining tortillas.
To prepare the custard: Beat the egg yolks until light and lemon colored. Add the sugar and continue to beat until thick. Add the crème fraiche, heavy cream, and vanilla and beat in the top of a double boiler over simmering water until the mixture thickens and coats the back of a wooden spoon. Do not allow it to boil or the egg yolks will curdle. Press a sheet of plastic wrap onto the surface so no skin will form. Allow to cool, then refrigerate until needed.
To assemble and serve: Paint the outside of the cups with melted chocolate and allow it to harden. Divide the fruit among the cups, top with custard, and sprinkle with brown sugar. Using a heated salamander heated under the broiler, “brand” the sugar so that it caramelizes. If you do not have a salamander, drizzle the custard with chocolate syrup. Do not put the custards under the broiler or the chocolate “paint” will melt. Garnish each tostada with a whole strawberry.