Birthday dinners are very special occasions in our house. It is the time of year when you hear mum say the magic words “What would you like me to make?” and you go away to contemplate and think, sometimes for days. My mum is an exceptional cook, and I know that everyone says that about their mum. But really, my mum is amazing in the kitchen. So when you have birthday choosing rights for a meal of anything you want (because she can literally make anything you want), then yes, it is pretty darn exciting.
Even though we have access to a wealth of different dishes she can make us, it is the old favourites we ask for every time. For me it is a family recipe mum has made a gazillion times, called Crème bavaroise á la vanilla which directly translates into Bavarian vanilla cream. It is an indulgent dessert, each bite a feather light little pillow of cream and vanilla with the beautiful balance of the strawberry coulis swirled through. And when eaten on your birthday you do not fret over the thought of all the calories, you simply enjoy every bite of the velvety smooth creaminess.
Normally we have a layer of strawberry or raspberry coulis, but for those who are less fond of a fruity topping a chocolate ganache would work equally well (albeit very sweet). I used actual vanilla beans, but you can substitute that with vanilla extract or vanilla paste. I also used thickened cream (so it is even more indulgent) but the recipe calls for pouring cream, so you can use either. It is rather time consuming, so I would recommend getting on it at least 3-4 hours prior to serving.
Bavarian Vanilla Cream
6 egg yolks
1 vanilla bean
8 sheets of gelatine (or 1½ tbs gelatine powder)
- Cut the vanilla bean in half and scrape the seeds into a saucepan, pour in the milk and bring the boil.
- If you are using gelatine sheets, soak these in cold water.
- Mix together the egg yolks and sugar. Slowly start adding the milk mixing very well to avoid scrambling the eggs.
- Over medium heat, continually stir the whole mixture until it coats the back of a spoon and then take off the heat.
- Remove the gelatine sheets from the water, squeezing out any excess water. Stir the gelatine into the milk mixture. (If you are using gelatine powder, sprinkle over the hot milk mixture and mix very well).
- The milk mixture then needs to cool down until just before it starts setting, you can either have the bowl sitting in an ice-bath or have it in the freezer. Either way, make sure you stir it regularly. (I put my mixture in the freezer for about 30 minutes, and stirred it about every 5 minutes). When it is ready it will have a thickened consistency.
- Start whipping the cream and gently fold the milk mixture into the whip cream.
- Pour the cream mixture into small ramekins, glasses or even teacups.
- Place glasses (ramekins or teacups) in the fridge to set for at least 2 hours or more.
1 punnet of strawberries
2 tbs castor sugar
3 tbs water
2 sheets of gelatine (or 1 tsp)
1 tbs brandy (optional)
- Place the strawberries in a food processor, blend and then strain the pulp through a sieve.
- If using gelatine sheets, soak these in cold water.
- In a small saucepan stir the castor sugar into the water and bring to a boil. Leave it boiling for a few minutes then take off the heat.
- If you are using brandy, stir it into the syrup.
- Remove the gelatine sheets from the water, squeezing out any excess water. Stir the gelatine into the syrup. (If you are using gelatine powder, sprinkle over the syrup and mix well).
- Whisk the syrup into the strawberries.
- After the custard has been in the fridge for about an hour, gently pour the strawberry coulis over each serving and put back into the fridge for at least another hour.
…be fearless, and have fun!