Strawberry Gratin (Strawberries Under a Creamy Blanket)


Slightly softened fruits, hidden under a light creamy vanilla-scented blanket… This how I imagined a strawberry gratin and at first it seemed an easy task. I made a quick research on internet, found a reliable-looking recipe and… a disaster. Then, another recipe and another inedible, mushy result. Then I decided to find my own method, turning to foolproof basics. I quartered the fruits, covered them in pastry cream (crème pâtissière), baked for 15 minutes and this obvious, straightforward solution worked perfectly. If you like strawberries and pastry cream in fruit tarts, you will probably enjoy them in this warm, light gratin.

This dessert is an excellent way to use up leftover egg yolks. If you start with whole eggs, click here to browse some egg white using ideas.

If you don’t like the idea of a warm strawberry dessert, you might like this Yogurt Strawberry Mousse I have recently wrote about:


TIPS: I strongly advice to serve this dessert warm (not hot). When it cools down, it somehow loses its charm.

Vanilla is not necessary here, but in my opinion it enhances the strawberry taste.

You can prepare this dessert in two stages (in two days). First make the pastry cream, refrigerate it overnight (well covered) and, if you still have some cream left the following day 😉 , prepare the final stage just before serving.

Unless you have health problems which forbid you even its smallest intake, do not skip the butter in the pastry cream! Even if you are on a diet. This is only one tablespoon divided into six portions, but it changes the taste and texture a lot. (The worst thing you could do here though would be substituting butter with margarine…).

Special equipment: 6 x 9 cm/3,5 in shallow round baking dishes (or similarly sized baking dishes)

Ingredients (serves 6):

24 big strawberries

(6 tablespoons almond slivers)

Pastry cream (crème pâtissière, based on Pierre Hermé’s recipe (from “Plaisirs sucrés”), the best I have ever found):

250 ml (about 1 cup) milk 

2 tablespoons corn starch

2 heaped tablespoons caster sugar 

1/2 – 1 vanilla pod

2 egg yolks

1 heaped tablespoon butter 

Prepare the pastry cream.

Bring to boil 3/4 of the milk with the vanilla pod cut in two lengthwise.

Put aside and let it cool down.

Scrape off the two vanilla pieces so that the small vanilla grains stay in the milk.

Combine the yolks, the sugar, the corn starch and the remaining 1/4 cold milk.

Strain the warm vanilla milk, constantly stirring, into the yolks mixture.

Discard the vanilla pod (wash it, dry it thoroughly and put into a confectioner’s sugar jar: you’ll have vanilla scented sugar).

Put back the obtained mixture into the pan and constantly stirring bring to boil.

Put aside when it thickens to the cream consistency.

If the cream is not smooth and you see many lumps, mix it in a blender or rub through a sieve.

When the cream is no longer hot, but still very warm, combine it with butter.

Preheat the oven to 200°C (about 400°F).

Prepare 6 individual baking dishes.

Quarter the big strawberries and distribute equally among the dishes. (If the strawberries are small you can halve them or even leave whole).

Spread the pastry cream equally on the top of each dish, sprinkle with almond slivers and bake for 15 minutes (until the almonds start changing colour).
Serve warm.

(You can sprinkle the gratins with some brown sugar and burn it with a torch just before serving, but make sure you don’t burn the almonds).

36 Replies to “Strawberry Gratin (Strawberries Under a Creamy Blanket)”

  1. This is indeed the perfect idea to use the leftover egg yolks from the coconut cookies Sissi! Your cream looks exactly as you describe it! Delicious!

    1. Thank you, Katerina. You are totally right: two quick and easy desserts and no leftovers 😉

  2. You really make amazing desserts Sissi. Simple, elegant and just the right amount of sweet to keep us all healthy ;-). I hope to have some time over the father’s day weekend to do a little baking… I think I will keep both of your recent strawberry creations in mind; our resident ‘dad’ would be delighted with either one so I may just wait to see what the weather brings to decide on warm or cold (dreary and cold here this week 🙁 ).

    1. Thank you so much, Kelly. I’m glad you like it and also approve of the healthy side 😉 This is good even when it’s warm and sunny outside, but of course not as refreshing as a mousse for example… I hope you can try either!

  3. It’s always so annoying when a recipe doesn’t work out, particularly from a reliable source, I can certainly feel your pain Sissi. This gratin looks like a lovely, elegant winter-time dish but with the cool temperatures we’re having in Ontario, it might just hit the spot! I’m still on the lookout for local strawberries.

    1. Thanks a lot, Eva. For me this gratin opens many light but not moussy nor super cold dessert possibilities. I will certainly prepare it with other fruits too. It seems that Canadian strawberries start late. In France (I buy most strawberries in France) there is an early variety called gariguette (it doesn’t have a deep taste but a wonderful, strong aroma) and it starts as early as April (this year a bit later though because spring was very cold).

    1. Thanks a lot, A_Boleyn. The almonds sprinkled on top are sufficient as a crust 😉 Just joking. I also looooove tarts with pastry cream and raw fruit, but I prefer them with a very thin French pastry case (not American style).

  4. This sounds like a neat idea – I never had a sweet gratin before. The photograph makes it look very “cheesey” too, in colour and consistency (in a good way though, I mean), so gratin is definitely a very apt description!

    It’s a shame when recipes don’t work out – my wife has stopped following American cake/cookie recipes for the time-being. We’re starting to wonder if the nation is fuelled by sugar or something. She’s made about 3 things recently… a cake, and two types of cookie, and every single one was SO sweet. Like, outrageously, tooth-meltingly sweet… at least 2x sweeter as we normally like cookies. It’s not even a problem in measuring… I bought a set of “cups” when I was in England so we can measure it correctly now!

    1. Thank you, Charles. Me neither 😉 This is probably why I had no idea if the recipes were trustworthy (I took them from big known websites).
      You know, when I prepare any new sweet recipe (unless I know the blogger and know she/he prefers less sugar or unless it’s my Alain Ducasse’s book: he puts a perfect amount of sugar!) I cut down sugar by half automatically without even thinking. On the other hand, I had the same experience with… my Moomin Cookery book! I once made a cocoa cake, a very simple one, and it was so sickly sweet, even my husband (who prefers sweeter desserts) said it was too much.
      The only super sweet thing I love is caramel and dulce de leche, otherwise I could never swallow the traditional half-sugar half-fruit jam. My mum’s jams were always a bit tangy and mine are too (I usually put 30% of sugar and 70% fruits, if fruits are sweet). For me sugar in certain sweets is like for some people too much chili: there is no taste, just sweetness…

  5. Ooooooh, another good strawberry recipe to try out! I must admit that crème pâtissière intimidates me, but the sound of strawberry gratin makes those fears a bit more insignificant 😉

    1. Thank you, Irina. Pastry cream is really easy. You should try making it and simply cover even raw strawberries with it. Pure heaven!

  6. You got me at creamy blanket hahaha…looks absolutely divine and recipe just as delicious! Even that Yogurt Strawberry Mousse is yumilicious–could eat it right now! I should stop visiting blogs late at night, now I have to eat! 😀

    1. Thank you so much, Sandra. The mousse is very refreshing, but both desserts are light and quick to prepare (maybe not in the middle of the night!).

    1. Thank you, Dedy. I have also already planned it with blueberries when they come into season.

  7. Never hade a strawberry gratin. Custard and raw strawberries or strawberry compote yes, but never baked, must absolutely give it a try 🙂

  8. I would have love this dish when we still had strawberries here Sissi. Now there is no way that I can buy strawberries until November ='( , so I ll have to be satisfied with your pictures for the time being. You are one naughty lady for teasing me and leaving me salivating. 😉

    hmpf that sucks with the tried recipes. I hate when that happens, so sorry Sissi. Not that it’s my mistake but I know how irritating it can be (especially when you are hungry!)

    1. Thank you, Helene. Sorry you have no more strawberries, but this can be made with any fruit really!

  9. What a decadent Strawberry Gratin! I love creamy pastry cream mix with the sweet and tart strawberries. Can’t wait to try this.

    1. Thank you, Kiran. Actually it’s one of the rare baked desserts where in my opinion strawberries do not lose their delicate taste and aroma.

  10. Hmm interesting, never really associated gratins with sweet stuff but of course, leave it up to the ever creative Sissi to come up with something liek that 😉 I still can’t iamgine how this might taste, but l do liek strawberries and I do liek pastry cream so I think I will liek this. Got so many strawberry recipes bookmarked as strawberries are so delicious in season right now!

    1. Thank you so much, Shuhan. Unfortunately I have not invented it 😉 There are many strawberry gratin recipes on internet, but I agree it’s not a very popular way to serve them. I liked it because contrary to long-baked cakes here strawberries keep their delicate charm.

  11. Interesting to see a French pastry cream recipe using corn flour, I thought they would use cream. I am still waiting to see a French recipe using margarine, or with a glass recipe using margarine:)

    1. Mr. Three-Cookies, of course you will never see margarine in any of my dishes! Usually pastry cream contains (no cream!) milk, yolks, white flour and a bit of butter (but not always). In recent years white flour started to be substituted by corn flour because it gives a more elegant, lighter result. Some French people use margarine alas… but not as much as in certain other countries.

  12. What a unique strawberry dish! I just saw Strawberry Sushi on someone’s blog, and now another surprise. Never expected to see strawberry in “gratin” before because Japanese “gratin” usually is savory. 😀 Warm gratin sounds so comforting and delicious!

    1. Thank you so much, Nami. Strawberry sushi??? It doesn’t sound very appetising to be frank… even though I like strawberries with savoury flavours too.

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