Look at these. Aren’t they just beautiful?
Summer may be long gone but berries haven’t left us yet and I can’t be more grateful. You see, I love strawberries. Like really love them. You all know I’m a citrus girl through and through but if you really put me under the pump, you might find out that secretly, strawberries are my favourite fruits in cooking. Jams, jellies, ice creams, sorbets, coulis, tarts… the humble strawberry is my true love.
This dessert is just pure strawberry love. If there’s anything that celebrates all that is sweet and wonderful about this fruit, it’d be this. A chilled Strawberry Ice Cream Soda paired with a simple Strawberry Tart. And it’s ridiculously easy to make and most of the elements can be prepared in advanced and left in the fridge to chill. Simple but fabulous.
This also involves my one favourite thing in the whole wide world… créme patissiere (pastry cream). I always like to make double the mixture so half can be for the recipe and the other half for me to eat with a spoon. If I could pick one dessert to eat for the rest of my life it’d be sweet pastry with créme patissiere. Oh baby.
The best part is the awesome Strawberry Ice Cream Soda. Hooray for the inner child! Otherwise known as Floats or Spiders in Oz, these takes me back to the days in Malaysia when A&W Root Beer Floats were the height of indulgence. And nothing was better than a spider with coke and vanilla ice cream in a hot Perth summer in the bygone days of my childhood. I always love a bit of nostalgia with my dessert.
I never feel complete without ending on something sweet after a meal but if you’ve gorged yourself silly (like I did one Easter Sunday), the last thing you want is something rich like chocolate (actually you want it but you don’t want to deal with the messy aftermath of gluttony). So what a better way to end on a light and refreshing note? You could even skip the tart and indulge in a tall milkshake glass of strawberry ice cream soda by its lonesome especially on a hot summer’s day… or in our case to hold on to the last shreds of summer *shiver*.
375g strawberries, hulled and coarsely chopped
120g icing sugar
1 vanilla bean (halved and beans scraped) / 1.5 tsp vanilla bean paste or extract
Vanilla ice cream
For the strawberry purée: in a blender or food processor, ground strawberries, icing sugar and vanilla together until completely pulverised. Strain through a fine meshed sieve into a bowl/container and chill in the fridge.
1 vanilla bean (halved and beans scraped) / 1.5 tsp vanilla bean paste or extract (I’m a vanilla fiend so I always like to add more)
2 large egg yolks
1 large whole egg
125g caster sugar
40g plain flour, sifted
Heat the milk and vanilla in a pan over medium heat. In the meantime, whisk the egg yolks, egg and sugar together until it’s pale and thickened. Add in the flour and whisk until combined.
Bring the milk mixture to the boil and immediately remove from heat. While continuously whisking the egg mixture, slowly pour in the milk in a slow stream until all combined.
Pour the mixture back into a clean pot and cook over a medium heat, constantly stirring to prevent the bottom from scorching until it’s a thick custard.
Pour into a bowl or container, sift over icing sugar (to prevent a skin from forming) and cool completely. Alternatively you could cover the surface closely with plastic wrap.
150g strawberries – hulled and chopped
75ml sugar syrup (recipe at the bottom of post)
In a pan over medium-low heat, add the strawberries and sugar syrup. Using your wooden spoon or a potato masher, crush the strawberries into the syrup until pulverised. Cook until thick and syrupy (about 5-10 mins). Strain through a fine meshed sieved and allow to chill.
A sheet of butter puff pastry (you can use pre-frozen or you can make it yourself)
Perfect whole strawberries, hulled and sliced lengthways
Preheat your oven and bake your puff pastry on a baking tray according to manufacturer’s or puff pastry recipe’s instructions. After about 5-10 minutes of baking, place a baking sheet over your puff pastry to prevent it from rising too much and to keep it even. Bake until it’s golden and allow to cool on a wire rack completely. Slice 4 rectangular batons to your size preference.
With a piping bag, pipe a layer of crème patissiere neatly onto your pastry bases. Layer the strawberry slices over the top and brush with the strawberry glaze. Transfer to your serving plates.
In a separate bowl or glass, pour in about 1/4 cup of the strawberry purée (from Ice cream soda recipe) and add a scoop of vanilla ice cream. Pour some soda water in a separate cup and place both alongside the tart on your serving platter.
When served, pour in the soda water to the strawberry purée and ice cream and watch it fizz and foam. Dig in with a spoon. Feel free to add more strawberry purée if you like it sweeter or more ice cream if you like it creamier.
Alternatively serve in tall milkshake glasses with a tall straw and long spoon. Let the ice cream melt into it, stir and enjoy the milkshake goodness.
220g caster sugar
In a pan over low heat, stir the sugar and water constantly until sugar has dissolved. Increase the heat and bring to a boil and boil for 3 minutes. Turn off the heat and cool completely. Can be stored in the fridge for up to a month.
All recipes (except for créme patissiere) adapted from Katrina Kanetani.