Summer smells of strawberries

Recipe: Jamie at The Cake Eating Co.
Photos: Josh at Hohua Photography

My favourite thing about summer is the fact that in the space of a few months my garden becomes laden with fresh fruit. Berries are my favourite and strawberries seem to be the only one that I manage to grow with any level of success. If only they grew on trees it would be so much easier!

This recipe is a mix of quirky flavours which come together in delicious harmony. If you haven't tried either balsamic or peppered strawberries by themselves before make sure you do. They are delicious on their own or as a side to pretty much everything. I am a little bias though as I don't think a strawberry can do any wrong. 

I had a little bit of fun and made this dessert in a 1970's colour palate of oranges, pinks and browns. If you want to liven it up a little try cutting the balsamic glaze and replacing it with a mint sauce or try making a burnt milk custard.

I have garnished this dessert with little flowers from the garden, violas (my favourite) and geraniums. I choose all the flowering plants in my garden so that they are also edible. They go great not just on desserts but also add delicious pops of colour in salads and are complimentary flavours in infusions with many herbs and fruits. 

Peppered strawberry cheesecake

250g mascarpone cream
250g cream cheese
100ml cream
100g strawberries (sliced and coat with cracked pepper. Leave to sit for at least 30 minutes)
140g castor sugar
3t gelatin powder
60ml water

1. Soak the gelatine in the cold water to rehydrate.
2. In a food processor blend the mascarpone, cream cheese, sugar and strawberries
3. Bring the cream to the boil, remove from heat and mix in gelatine. Add to food processor and blend until well mixed in.
4. Pour into a tin to set. I have use 3" tart tins for mini cheesecakes. They will take at least 2 hours to set. 

Cheesecake base 'crumble'
100g butter
50g icing sugar
100g flour
50g rice flour
20g honey

1. Cream butter and sugar until pale. Beat in honey.
2. Sift flours together and fold in. 
3. Roll out dough on a lightly floured bench, transfer to a lined tray and bake for 12 minutes until golden. Leave to cool. 
4. Using your hands or a food processor break the biscuit down to a crumb.

Balsamic glaze
100ml balsamic vinegar
100ml brown sugar

Combine the two ingredients in a pot over a medium heat. Cook until they form a thick syrup, remove from heat and set aside.
n.b. Keep your eye on the pot the whole time during this process. It is a small volume and will easily burn.

Strawberry compote
100g strawberry
1 teaspoon cracked pepper
10g sugar
Combine ingredients in a pot. Cook over a low heat until the strawberries are soft. Blend until smooth.

Mint creme
150ml cream
1/2 teaspoon gelatine
20ml cold water
20g sugar
20g fresh mint

1. Hydrate the gelatine in the cold water.
2. Bring the mint, cream and sugar to the boil in a saucepan. Set aside for 20 minutes to let the mint infuse.
3. Bring the cream mix back to the heat, strain through a sieve onto the gelatine. Mix in and let set for a couple of hours.
4. Once set whip with a hand held mixer.

To assemble
Brush the balsamic glaze over the plate, over the top of this crumble the base biscuit.
Slice the cheesecake in half and place on top of the biscuit. Pipe or spoon the compote and creme around the plate. Finish with fresh flowers, mint and cracked pepper 

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