Fresh Fruit Strip ►
Chef John Caluda has a pastry chef’s love of embellishment, but don’t be daunted by his recipe. Although it has a number of elements — a puff pastry shell, pastry cream, a layer of sliced fruits, an apricot glaze, and two sauces — each of them is simple to make, and the result is spectacular.
- Pastry Cream
- Gelatin - 1-1/2 sheets (alt. 1 teaspoon powdered gelatin and 2 tablespoons cold milk)
- Milk - 2 cups
- Sugar - 1/2 cup
- Egg Yolks - 4
- Cornstarch - 2 tablespoons
- Unsalted Butter - 2 tablespoons
- Fruit Strip
- Sugar - 1/3 cup
- Water - 2/3 cup
- Puff Pastry - 1 sheet, thawed, frozen
- Egg - 1, beaten
- Raspberry Jam - 1 tablespoon, seedless
- Heavy (Whipping) Cream - 2 cups
- Amaretto or Grand Marnier - 1 tablespoon
- Strawberries - 6 to 8 large, hulled
- Mangos - 2, peeled and pitted (alt. peaches)
- Raspberries - fresh, (alt. blackberries)
- Apricot Jam - 1 cup
- White Chocolate Sauce
- Heavy (Whipping) Cream - 1/2 cup
- White Chocolate - 8 ounces, chopped
- Grand Marnier - 1 tablespoon (alt. other orange-flavored liqueur)
- Fruit Sauce
- Seasonal Fruit - 2 cups, peeled, diced
- Sugar to Taste
- Bittersweet Chocolate - 1/2 pound, chopped
- Vanilla Ice Cream - 6 scoops
To make the pastry cream: Soak the sheet of gelatin in cold water to cover. Or, if using gelatin powder, place the 2 tablespoons of cold milk in a cup and stir in the gelatin to dissolve; set aside.
Combine 2 cups milk and 1/4 cup of the sugar in a medium saute pan and bring to a boil over medium heat. Meanwhile, in a medium bowl, whisk together the egg yolks and 1/4 cup of the sugar until the mixture thickens so that it forms a ribbon when drizzled back upon itself. Gradually whisk half of the hot milk into the yolk mixture. Add the yolk mixture back to the milk in the pan and cook over low heat, stirring constantly, until the mixture thickens and starts to boil. Remove from heat. Drain the gelatin sheets if using. Add the gelatin, cornstarch, and butter to the custard; whisk to combine. Let cool completely. If chilling overnight, press a sheet of plastic wrap on the surface and place in the refrigerator.
To make the fruit strips: In a small saucepan, combine the 1/3 cup of sugar and 2/3 cup of water and bring to a boil, swirling to combine. Cook 3 minutes, until it reaches a boil and the sugar is completely dissolved. Take off the heat and set aside to cool; this is simple syrup, and it will keep up to 3 weeks in the refrigerator.
Preheat the oven to 350 F. Line a baking sheet with baking parchment, or grease it. Cut the puff pastry sheets in half to make two strips, 3 to 4 inches wide and 10 to 11 inches long. Cut two 1/2-inch strips lengthwise from one of the strips. Cut two 4-inch-by-1/2-inch strips. Brush the edges of the remaining whole strip with beaten egg. Place a 1/2-inch strip on each long edge of the 4-inch strip and press down lightly. Repeat at the ends with the short pieces, cutting to fit; the finished pastry will be a long rectangle with low sides. Prick the center of the strip with a fork to keep it from rising too much. Place on the prepared pan and let sit for 15 minutes. Brush the tops of the 1/2-inch strips with beaten egg and place a piece of baking parchment on top, letting it stick to the egg wash. Bake for 5 to 10 minutes, or until the pastry starts to brown. Remove the paper from the top of the pastry, reduce the oven to 325 F, and bake for 15 more minutes, or until puffed and golden. (You may have to straighten the sides of the pastry with a knife.) Let cool on a wire rack. Spread the center of the pastry with the raspberry jam.
In a deep, medium bowl, beat the heavy cream until stiff peaks form. Set aside 1/2 cup of whipped cream for garnish. Whisk the pastry cream until smooth (pass it through a fine-meshed sieve if it is lumpy). Flavor with Amaretto or Grand Marnier; fold in the whipped cream.
Using a pastry bag fitted with a 1/2-inch plain tip, pipe the custard over the jam in the center of the strip. Fill in the pastry box; smooth the top. Cut the strawberries and mango or peaches in thin slices. Reserve the six largest strawberry slices. Arrange berries and fruit slices decoratively across the pastry cream in the pastry box. Combine the cooled simple syrup and apricot jam in a small saucepan and warm over medium-low heat; cook until reduced by one third, about 4 to 5 minutes. Brush the hot glaze evenly over the fruit. Chill the fruit strip in the refrigerator for 30 minutes.
To make the white chocolate sauce: In the top of a double boiler over barely simmering water, melt the white chocolate, stirring until smooth. Remove from heat and stir in the heavy cream and Grand Marnier. Set aside.
To make the fruit sauce: Puree the diced fruit in a food processor or food mill. Strain the puree through a fine-meshed sieve. Sweeten to taste with sugar.
To serve: In the top of a double boiler over barely simmering water, melt the bittersweet chocolate, stirring until smooth. Cover half of each of six plates with white chocolate sauce; cover the other half with fruit puree. Put the melted bittersweet chocolate in a small piping cone and decorate the perimeter and seam of the sauces with dots of chocolate. Pull a toothpick through the chocolate dots in one direction to create a design. Cut the fruit strip into 6 pieces and place one across both sauces on each plate. Place a dot of melted bittersweet chocolate in the white chocolate sauce and pull through it in three places, from the center outwards, twisting as you pull to create a swirled design. Garnish the plate at one end of each fruit strip with a dollop of the reserved whipped cream and a reserved strawberry slice.