This is a lovely recipe that can be prepared well in advance, allowing you time to enjoy your romantic evening meal without having to keep checking the dessert. Yes, it’s a bit fiddly but the results taste as good as they look.
To make the strawberry meringues
1. Pre-heat the oven to 140°C/280°F.
2. Whisk the egg whites until they form soft peaks. Now add the caster sugar one tablespoon at a time beating each one before adding the next. Keep going until all of the sugar is incorporated and the egg whites are firm. If you have a small child to hand you can check that you have achieved the correct consistency by holding the bowl upside down over their head. If the child gets dirty then you should have beaten them for longer.
3. Pound the strawberries into a pestle and mortar until you have a mixture comprising small chunks and dust. Stir carefully into the meringue mixture.
4. Turn the piping bag inside out and paint thick pink stripes down it. Now turn the piping bag the right way round, fit the nozzle and fill with the meringue mixture.
5. Pipe the meringue mixture onto a baking sheet into whatever shape you prefer, but a heart shape works well for a romantic pudding.
6. Place in the oven for 30 minutes. After this time turn the oven down to 120°C/240°F and leave for another 30 minutes. The aim is to dry the egg whites out rather than cook them.
7. Remove from the oven and leave to cool on a wire rack. They will keep in an airtight container for a couple of days.
For the basil ice cream
1. Put the basil leaves and the sugar into a small food blender. Blitz well until you have a gorgeous green powder.
2. Whisk the sugar and egg yolks together until pale.
3. Heat the milk and cream together in a saucepan until almost boiling. Remove from the heat and pour over the egg yolk mixture, beating constantly.
4. Pour the mixture back into the saucepan and return to a low heat and stir constantly until it is thick and coats the back of a spoon.
5. Remove from heat and pour into a glass bowl through a sieve with a fine mesh. Sit that bowl inside another, larger bowl, filled with ice. Stir regularly until it is chilled.
6. Pour the cold mixture into a freezer-proof container, sieving it again.
7. Freeze, beating every 30 minutes with a whisk or a spoon until smooth and completely frozen. This might take 3-4 hours.
8. Cover and keep frozen until needed. Remove from the freezer half-an-hour before you need to serve it to allow it time to soften a little.
Visit our dessert page for more great pudding recipes.