Sunday was a classy affair with a surprise from my best friend, a woman who is the most giving, selfless, thoughtful person I know.
After a rough past year, a pact was made that no gifts would be given (her birthday is a few days prior to mine). As usual, she couldn’t stick to this and advised me a few days preceding our catch up that she had a surprise for me.
She told me this with the knowledge I hate surprises. Immediately after this declaration of “I have a surprise for you!”
I stated, “I hate surprises.”
I could hear her smile on the other end of the phone as she said “I know.”
With plenty of hours between telling me this and the actual surprise, I thought and rattled about what this surprise could be, my time was wasted as I came up with nothing.
Walking into the fanciest hotel in the country I realized what we were going to, high tea which is a traditional afternoon tea with finger food involving sandwiches, scones and cakes accompanied by, well, tea of course.
I had never been to high tea, it involves savories on a tiered stand with one morsel for each person, accompanied by your chosen tea from the menu. If this were an infomercial though, this is where I would say “but that’s not all” because next comes dessert from a cart.
My best friend didn’t listen to the layout of events and as we ate our way through our savories and drank our tea we found ourselves stuffed with more food then what we’d imagined was consumed.
Sure enough, complete with savories she got up to leave and I gave her the bad news that dessert was still to come. A mixture of panic and reality set on her face as she declared, “I’m so full, I don’t think I can eat anymore.”
Fair enough to say, dessert was short for both of us.
Now amongst a seven hour hike, a weekend involving approximately 10 hours of driving and afternoon high tea, I stuck to my promise of strawberry dessert. Following in the footsteps of the delicious strawberry tart I had at high tea yesterday, I have been more inspired to make this recipe that I have adapted.
This is a mix of two recipes from two sources and a little improv on my part, but it all goes so well together that it might as well be a recipe in itself.
Note: I love custard and it’s well known that the richest custard is found in Portuguese tarts, so that’s exactly the custard I have adapted below. Its rich, creamy and everything custard should be.
Vanilla Roasted Strawberries and Custard
Adapted from Msn.co.nz and Donna Hay Dec/Jan 2012
Vanilla Roasted Strawberries
500g strawberries, hulled
1/3 cup superfine/caster sugar
1 vanilla bean, split and seeds scraped
Peel of 1 orange
4 Tbsp superfine/caster sugar
4 Tbsp icy-cold water
3 level Tbsp plain flour
3 egg yolks
1 strip lemon rind
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
Preheat the oven to 220C or 430F.
Line a baking tray with two layers of baking paper and fold three sides over.
Combine the strawberries, sugar, vanilla bean and orange peel together and place between the baking sheets. Close over the last side and place in the preheated over for 10 minutes when a pleasant sweet aroma is wafting through your kitchen.
Remove from the oven and allow to cool.
For the custard, place the sugar and icy-cold water in a saucepan on a medium heat. Stir with a metal spoon to ensure sugar has dissolved, then let bubble for 2 minutes, do not let caramelize. Set the sugar syrup aside.
Place three quarters of the milk into a saucepan with the vanilla extract and lemon rind over a simmering heat, ensuring not to boil.
Meanwhile, make a smooth paste with the flour and remaining milk, then add the yolks and mix until combined. Mix in the hot milk once the paste is smooth enough.
Return the custard to a low-to-medium heat, stirring constantly to thicken and ensure a smooth consistency. Once thickened to a point where it sticks on the back of the spoon, add in the sugar syrup and stir until well combined. Lastly, add the cream and stir until thickened.
Remove and allow to cool for 5 minutes.
Spoon the custard into a small serving glass halfway up. Then spoon the strawberries on top. Garnish with finely chopped pistachios and pour over two tablespoons of the strawberry sauce on top.
This can be served warm or cold.