A fresh basil syrup is an inspired pairing with this strawberry dessert, which is garnished with some delicate tuiles.
For the ice cream, place the milk, cream and vanilla pod and seeds into a heavy-based pan and gently bring just to the boil. Remove from the heat and set aside. Remove the vanilla pod. (Wash the pod with warm water and dry it, then store in an airtight jar of sugar to make vanilla sugar.)
Whisk the egg yolks and sugar together in a bowl until pale and fluffy. Pour in a few tablespoons of the warm milk and cream mixture and whisk well to combine, then whisk in the remaining milk and cream.
Return the mixture to a clean pan and place over a low heat, stirring continuously until the mixture thickens enough to coat the back of a wooden spoon. Set aside to cool completely, then chill in the fridge before transferring to the bowl of an ice cream maker. Churn the mixture according to the manufacturer’s instructions.
Transfer the churned ice cream into a freezer-proof container and place into the freezer to firm up.
For the champagne jellies, soften the gelatine leaves in a bowl of cold water for five minutes.
Meanwhile, place the water and sugar in a pan and bring to the simmer, stirring until the sugar has dissolved. Remove from the heat. Drain the gelatine leaves, squeezing out any excess water with your hands, and add to the hot sugar mixture. Stir until dissolved.
Pour in the champagne, stir well, then pour the mixture into individual moulds. Allow to cool slightly, then place into the fridge to chill until set.
For the strawberry bavarois, whisk the egg whites in a bowl until soft peaks form when the whisk is removed.
Place the sugar and water in a pan and gently heat until the sugar has dissolved. Bring the mixture to the boil and cook until the temperature of the mixture reaches 115C/239F (check using a sugar themometer).
Once the sugar syrup reaches the correct temperature, slowly pour it into the whisked egg whites while whisking continuously. Continue to whisk until all of the sugar syrup has been incorporated and the meringue is thick and glossy.
Soften the gelatine in a bowl of cold water for five minutes. Meanwhile, gently heat the strawberry purée in a pan. Drain the gelatine, squeezing out any excess water with your hands, and stir the softened leaves into the warm strawberry purée until dissolved. Pour into a large mixing bowl and set aside to cool slightly.
Whisk the double cream in a bowl until soft peaks form when the whisk is removed. Fold the meringue into the strawberry mixture until well combined, then fold in the whipped cream.
Lightly grease the insides of four chef’s rings, and cover one end with cling film. Place onto a baking tray, then divide the strawberry bavarois mixture evenly among the moulds. Place into the freezer to chill before serving.
Preheat the oven to 170C/325F/Gas 3.
For the shortbread, cream the butter and sugar together until pale and fluffy, then mix in the flour until smooth and well combined. Shape into a ball, wrap in cling film and place into the fridge to chill for 20 minutes.
Roll out the shortbread dough on a lightly floured work surface until it is the thickness of a pound coin. Using four chef’s rings (the same size as the ones used for the Bavarois), cut out four shortbread discs.
Transfer the shortbread discs, still in the chef’s rings, onto a baking tray and bake for 30 minutes, or until lightly golden. Remove and set aside to cool on a wire rack.
Increase the oven temperature to 180C/350F/Gas 4.
For the poppy seed tuiles, mix the flour, poppy seeds and caster sugar together in a bowl, then stir in the orange juice and melted butter to form a smooth paste.
Scrape the mixture onto a silicone baking sheet and place a sheet of parchment paper over. Roll out until the tuile mixture is 3mm thick. Bake for 10-12 minutes, or until lightly golden, then set aside to cool for 2-3 minutes before cutting into rounds with a biscuit cutter. Place the discs onto a wire rack to cool and harden.
For the sugar tuiles, place the fondant icing and glucose into a pan and bring to the boil. Cook until the mixture reaches 156C/312F on a sugar thermometer. Remove from the heat and stir in a few drops of red food colouring.
Pour the sugar mixture out onto a silicone baking sheet and smooth out to 3mm thick using a palette knife. Set aside to cool for 2-3 minutes before cutting out shapes using a biscuit cutter.
For the basil syrup, place the glucose and water into a pan and gently heat. Add the basil until just wilted, then transfer the mixture to a food processor and blend until smooth. Pass the mixture through a fine sieve, discarding the solids, and transfer into a squeeze bottle ready for serving.
For the red sugar discs, mix the sugar with a few drops of red food colouring until the sugar is evenly red in colour. Place four chef’s rings on a silicone baking sheet and dust over the red sugar to create four circles. Place into the hot oven until melted, then remove and set aside to cool and harden.
To serve, turn the champagne jellies out onto serving plates. Place a red sugar disc on each plate, next to the jelly, and place a shortbread disc on top. Remove the bavarois from the freezer and remove from the chef’s rings before placing on top of the shortbread. Make quenelles of the vanilla ice cream and place alongside the bavarois. Garnish the jelly with the poppy seed and sugar tuiles and drizzle around the basil syrup.
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The finalists are sent to cook at the celebrated Osteria Francescana restaurant in Italy.
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