Eton mess with strawberries and basil
“A simple dessert and a great way to showcase quality fruit. The mixture of the custard and whipped cream pulls this dessert up from the average category, especially with the vanilla pod. Basil and strawberry go wonderfully together and the better the fruit, the better this dish will eat. It looks pretty fancy as well!”
700ml/3 cups double cream
4 egg yolks
2 vanilla pods, seeds scraped out
80g/2.8 oz icing sugar, sifted, plus extra for the coulis
100g/3.5 oz ripe strawberries
4 premade meringue nests, lightly crushed
A few small basil leaves, to garnish
Place 500ml/2 cups of the cream in a saucepan and bring to the boil.
While it’s boiling, place the egg yolks, vanilla seeds and pods and icing sugar in a bowl and mix. Once the liquid has boiled, pour the warm cream on top and mix. Then return the mixture to the pan and cook over a medium heat, stirring constantly, until the cream begins to thicken and coats the back of a spoon. Remove from the heat and leave to cool slightly, then chill in the fridge. Remove the vanilla pods.
When the custard is cold, lightly whip the remaining 200ml/1 cup of cream and fold through the custard. Whisk again until thick and holding stiff peaks.
To make the coulis, place one-third of the strawberries in a blender with a little icing sugar to taste and blend to a sauce consistency. Cut the rest of the strawberries into chunks.
Assemble the dessert in cocktail glasses, adding layers of vanilla cream, coulis, crushed meringue and strawberries until the glasses are full. Finish with crushed meringue and some small basil leaves.
Excerpt taken from Flavour: Everyday Food Made Exceptional by Mark Moriarty, published by Gill Books.