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JOY OF BAKING

Strawberry verrines

(Beatrice Peltre for The Boston Globe)
By Beatrice Peltre
July 20, 2011

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Serves 8

The idea behind a verrine is to arrange different layers of food inside a small glass. In this summery recipe, start with a layer of store-bought ladyfingers cut into small pieces. Add a layer of fresh strawberries lightly tossed in sugar with chopped green pistachios - for color and texture. Pour in vanilla-flavored custard and finish with a layer of strawberries and pistachios. The result is pretty and rewarding.

1 pound strawberries, hulled and cut into 1/2-inch pieces
3 tablespoons unsalted shelled green pistachios, finely chopped
1 tablespoon + 1/3 cup sugar
2 cups whole milk
1 vanilla bean, split open and seeds scraped out
2 large eggs plus 2 extra yolks
1/4 cup cornstarch
12 4-inch store-bought (or homemade) ladyfingers, cut into 1/2-inch pieces

1. Have on hand eight 1-cup glasses.

2. In a large bowl, combine the strawberries with 2 tablespoons pistachios and 1 tablespoon sugar. Stir gently. Cover and refrigerate.

3. In a saucepan, combine the milk and vanilla seeds and bean. Bring to a simmer and remove from the heat. Cover and set aside for 30 minutes. Strain and keep warm.

4. In a bowl, whisk the eggs, extra yolks, and remaining 1/3 cup sugar until light. Whisk in the cornstarch. Continue beating while you slowly pour in the warm milk.

5. Return the mixture to the saucepan. Cook on medium-low heat, stirring constantly with a wooden spoon, until the custard thickens and coats the spoon. Remove from the heat and transfer to a clean bowl. Let the custard cool completely, stirring occasionally to prevent a skin from forming.

6. In each glass, arrange a layer of ladyfingers and a layer of strawberries (reserve 1/2 cup strawberries for the last layer). Add a layer of custard and finish with the remaining berries. Cover each verrine with plastic wrap. Set on a tray and refrigerate for several hours.

7. Before serving, garnish each verrine with the remaining 1 tablespoon pistachios.