- Yield: 10
Gratin of Strawberries ►
The lovely dessert is, quite literally, strawberries and cream. Golden glazed sugar caps pretty molds of strawberries and pastry cream lighted with Italian meringue. The cream mixture gets a little bite from fresh lemon juice. The chef suggests making your own molds by cutting plastic pipe into 2-inch segments; since these molds are not cooked, the plastic works just fine.
- Strawberries - 1 cup large, fresh, stemmed and halved
- Vanilla Genoise Cake - 1
- Sugar - 4 ounces
- Water - 5 ounces
- Egg Whites - 8
- Lemon Juice - 2 ounces, fresh
- Pastry Cream - 10 ounces, vanilla
- Gelatin Powder - 1 packet, unflavored
- Sugar - 1 cup, granulated
- Crème Anglaise - 1 cup
- Strawberry Puree - 1-1/4 cups
Lightly butter and sugar ten 3- to 4-inch molds. Place the molds on a sheet pan lined with parchment paper. Slice the genoise into very thin circles to fit in the bottoms of the molds. Line the molds with sliced strawberries, cut-side facing outward, points up. In a saucepan, combine the sugar and water and cook to 250 F (soft-ball stage). While it is heating, place the egg whites in the bowl of an electric mixer and beat to medium peaks. With the mixer still beating, gradually pour the hot syrup into the egg whites. Continue whipping to firm peaks; this is Italian meringue, more stable than regular meringue made without the sugar syrup. Set aside.
In a non-aluminum metal bowl, combine the lemon juice with half of the pastry cream. Add the remaining pastry cream and place the bowl over a pan of simmering water. Whip the pastry creams together over the heat. When the cream is quite hot, take off the heat and dissolve the gelatin powder in the hot pastry cream. When dissolved and smooth, fold a large spoonful of meringue into the pastry cream, then gently fold the pastry cream into the meringue. Spoon this mixture into the centers of the strawberry molds; smooth the tops. Chill at least 2 hours in the refrigerator.
To serve: Unmold on a baking sheet. Sprinkle the tops with a little sugar. Glaze quickly under a hot broiler or with a small kitchen torch. Using a spatula, slip a mold onto each chilled dessert plate. Put the crème anglaise and strawberry puree into separate squeeze bottles and decorate the plates with drizzles of each.