Saturday, May 28, 2011

Gordon Ramsay's Strawberry Glory

"The totness of the balsameeck vinegah against the sweetness of the strawburries is mind-blowing" - Chef Gordon Ramsay.

We couldn't have said it better ourselves. This dessert is balanced on so many levels - temperature, texture, flavor, and color. The caramelized balsamic vinegar syrup enhances the tangy sweetness of the fresh berries, and the super sweet crunchy meringue bits are perfectly suspended in the creamy, silky smooth whipped cream lightened vanilla bean pastry cream. We never thought meringue would taste so addictingly delicious! They are basically crunchy explosions of sugary marshmallowy flavor. Alone they are cloyingly sweet, but against the tart berries, balsamic caramel syrup, and lightly sweetened cream, they are perfect.

Also, being the meringue noobs we were, we toasted them a little too much so they lost their snowy white color and instead turned a light tan. This actually added some additional caramelized flavor! Also, we didn't put the meringues in an airtight container overnight so they were soft the next morning, to our dismay. But after 5 minutes in the oven at 250 degrees F, they became crunchy once more upon returning to room temperature. The pastry cream is to die for; barely sweetened, with a hint of vanilla and the perfect silky smooth texture. We suspect that the use of both cornstarch and flour enables a creamy texture that isn't too gummy or runny.

Chef Ramsay used vanilla ice cream and a "good ol' English wafer" to garnish, but we opted for our raspberry ice cream and a fresh mint sprig. The only things we would change are to add more balsamic vinegar and sugar to make a richer, more flavorful syrup, and to make sure that the heat is very high to enable maximum caramelization. A few extra meringue crumbs in the parfait wouldn't be bad either.

oh hello!

Gordon Ramsay Strawberry Glory

Serves 4 - 6

Approx 80g meringues, crushed

300g fresh strawberries, quartered

Icing sugar to dust (be generous!)

Balsamic vinegar to drizzle (go heavy!)

240ml double cream

1 tbsp icing sugar

4- 6 scoops vanilla ice cream (we used raspberry)

Plain chocolate to grate (skipped this; added more meringue)

Wafer fans to garnish (didn't have these! used mint)

For the crème pâtissière (makes about 320g):

150 ml milk

100ml double cream

20g plain flour

15g cornflour (cornstarch)

3 free range large egg yolks

40g caster sugar

1. For the crème patissière base: heat the milk and cream in a heavy-based saucepan until almost boiling. Sift the flour and cornflour together. Beat the egg yolks and sugar together in a large bowl then mix in the flour. Add a splash of the hot creamy milk and whisk well until the mixture is smooth, then gradually whisk in the rest of the milk. Pour back into the pan and whisk over a medium-low heat for 3-5 minutes until thickened and smooth. Transfer to a bowl, cover and cool to room temperature, stirring occasionally to prevent a skin forming.

2. Quarter the strawberries and dust with icing sugar. Drizzle over the balsamic vinegar and toss to coat. Quickly cook the strawberries in a hot pan for 1minute until the strawberries just begin to break down. Spoon on to a plate and allow to cool.

3. Whip the double cream with a tablespoon of icing sugar to soft peak stage. Mix the whipped cream and crème patisserie together - the mixture should be two thirds cream to one third crème patisserie.

4. Layer the bottom of the glasses with some strawberries, scatter over some meringue then pipe over a little of the mixed cream. Repeat the layering as necessary and top with a spoonful of ice cream, a drizzle of sauce and a grating of chocolate. Garnish with a fan wafer and serve at once.

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