What a great simple dish for the warm summer months, crisp sheets of golden puff pastry topped with thick custard, wild strawberries, caramelized strawberries, basil and a sweet strawberry sorbet.
Meringue & shards drops
200g Eggs whites
1 vanilla pod
4 egg yolks
80g custard powder/cornflour
100g strawberry puree
4g stabilizer (optional
Crisp puff pastry
200g roll puff pastry
50g icing sugar
Make the sorbet first, this will need time to age and to harden once churned. Place the water, dextrose sugar and stabilizer if using into a thick based pan. Place over a medium heat and stir until all the ingredients have dissolved into the water. Remove from the heat and pass through a fine sieve onto the cold puree. Place into the fridge to age for at least 4 hours
Now for the pastry cream, heat the milk, cream & vanilla until just steaming remove from the heat and place the egg yolks, sugar & custard powder into a bowl. Whisk this immediately as the sugar can start to cure the egg if left too long. Temper the warm milk mixture into the eggs by adding one label at a time until whisk constantly. Once half of the warm mix is incorporated add the egg mix back to the pan with the remaining milk. Place back over a low heat and whisk constantly until the mix just boils. It is tempting to do this over a higher heat, the lower and slower you do this the smoother your pastry cream will be. Once the mix boils pass through a fine sieve cover the surface directly with cling film and chill.
To make the meringue drops & shards line 2 baking trays or dehydrator trays with silpat mat or baking paper with baking paper. Make a swiss meringue by placing the egg whites & caster sugar into a heatproof bowl and place over a pan of simmering water. Whisk constantly until the sugar dissolves, the temp should not exceed 50c, once this temperature is reached remove from the heat and continue to whisk until fluffy & cool. This can be transferred to a mixer for the final stage. Place ½ of the meringue into a piping bag with a 1/4in plain nozzle and pipe drops onto the baking tray, as you go to pull the nozzle away push back down to create nice peaks. Take the remaining meringue and spread with a palette knife thinly over the baking paper. To jazz these up you can zest over fresh lemon juice or sprinkle some freeze-dried raspberries over. Place into the dehydrator until crisp. If you don't have a dehydrator, place it into the oven on the lowest setting with the door slightly open. Once crisp keep in an airtight container.
Finally, make the crispy puff pastry, preheat the oven to 220c. Line a flat baking tray with baking paper, lay the puff pastry on top, and dock with a fork (To "dock" a pastry means to prick a pie crust with a fork before baking. This technique is a simple way to poke holes in the pastry dough. This allows the steam to escape so that the pie crust doesn't puff up in the oven. Usually, this technique is used when blind baking a pie crust before filling) Dust the puff pastry with a good coating of icing sugar, this will help caramelize the pastry. Lay another sheet of baking paper over the pastry and place a flat based tray on top. Bake @ 220c for 8-10mins until the pastry is dark golden & crisp. While still warm cut into 10x20cm rectangles.
Pipe a little pastry cream into the center of the plate, top with a crisp fuff pastry sheet, pipe a good amount of pastry cream onto the crisp puff pastry. Take some fresh strawberries, hull and half them, sprinkle with a little sugar and blow torch until golden, arrange these on top of the pastry cream. Add some wild strawberries ( I like to serve these frozen), crush over some meringue drops, add a spoon of crumble next to the pastry to hold down the sorbet, top with a good scoop of strawberry sorbet. Finish with some baby basil leaves & some crushed freeze-dried strawberries.