Strawberry 'Rose'

(Rosace de Fraises)

SERVES 4

When making his version of this dish, chef Philippe Rochat sprinkles crunchy white-chocolate-covered rice flakes over the blancmange before topping it with strawberries. If you don't have six-inch circular forms at home, try using the rings of springform pans instead, or simply pour the blancmange into the center of each plate and tip it around to form a rough six-inch circle.

FOR THE BLANCMANGE:
1⁄3 cup whole almonds, finely ground
1⁄3 cup milk
1⁄3 cup sugar
1 3-gram gelatin sheet
3⁄4 cup heavy cream

FOR THE STRAWBERRY SYRUP:
2 lbs. strawberries (about 7 cups),
trimmed and coarsely chopped
1 cup sugar
3 tbsp. fresh lemon juice

1 lb. strawberries, trimmed and very thinly sliced

1. For the blancmange: Put almonds, milk, and sugar into a small pot and bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Remove pot from heat, cover, and let infuse for 10 minutes. Strain through a fine sieve into a small bowl, gently pressing on almonds with back of a wooden spoon. Discard almonds; set almond milk aside.

2. Meanwhile, put gelatin sheet into a large bowl of cold water and let completely soften but not dissolve, about 15 minutes. Remove gelatin sheet from water, discarding water, and gently squeeze gelatin to remove excess water. Put almond milk and cream into a small pot and bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Remove from heat, add gelatin sheet, and stir until gelatin is dissolved.

3. Place four 6" circular forms on 4 large dinner plates (large enough to leave 1 1⁄2"-2" of space between form and edge of plate). Divide blancmange between plates, pouring it into center of forms. Carefully transfer plates to refrigerator and let chill until set, about 1 hour.

4. For the strawberry syrup: Pour enough water into a large pot for it to reach a depth of 3"; bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Put chopped strawberries, sugar, and lemon juice into a large heatproof bowl; stir well. Set bowl over pot (water shouldn't touch bottom of bowl), reduce heat to medium-low, and cook until strawberries release all their juice, 60-70 minutes. Strain syrup through a fine sieve, allowing it to drip into a bowl without pressing strawberries (discard strawberries or reserve for another use).

5. To assemble: Carefully remove the form from each plate of blancmange. Arrange sliced strawberries over blancmange, overlapping them slightly, in 4 concentric circles like the petals of a flower, to form a roselike arrangement that completely covers the blancmange (strawberries will hang over the edge of the blancmange a little). Pour strawberry syrup evenly around each "rose", allowing it to fill the plates. Serve immediately.