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. Immediatley 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.'
I thought and rattled about what it could be for days and came up with nothing.

As we walked into the fanciest hotel in the country I realized what we were going to - high tea - a traditional afternoon tea with finger food involving sandwiches, scones and cakes accompanied by, well, tea of course.

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 its 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.

Roasted Strawberries and Custard 
Serves 10

Portuguese Custard
Adapted from Portuguese Custard

4 Tbsp superfine/caster sugar
4 Tbsp icy-cold water
3 level Tbsp plain flour
175ml milk
3 egg yolks
1 strip lemon rind
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
100ml cream

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 medium heat. Do not let 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.

Place over low-to-medium heat, stirring constantly to ensure a smooth consistency. Once thickened to a point where it sticks on the back of the spoon add in the sugar syrup, stirring until well combined. Then add the cream and stir until thickened.

Set aside.
Vanilla Roasted Strawberries
Adapted from Donna Hay, Dec/Jan 2012 issue

500g strawberries, hulled
1/3 cup superfine/caster sugar
1 vanilla bean, split and seeds scraped
Peel of 1 orange

Preheat the oven to 220C or 430F.

Line a baking tray with two layers of baking paper and fold three sides over.

Mix all ingredients together and place between the baking sheets. Close over the last side and place in the preheated over for 10 minutes. 
You will know the strawberries are done when you can smell them.

Remove from the oven and allow to cool for 5 minutes.
To Serve:
Spoon the custard into a small serving glass halfway up. Then spoon the strawberries on top (note: some will sink into the warm custard).

To garnish, finely chop pistachios and add to two tablespoons of the strawberry sauce, pour over the top.

Can be eaten warm or cold.

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