Strawberry Crisp with Orange and Cardomom

Save some strawberries for this dessert crisp:
Strawberry Crisp with Orange and Cardamom

Now that it’s officially June, I am obsessed with strawberries. When June rolls around, I behave as though I haven’t seen a strawberry since, well, forever. Full disclosure: I live in California (a.k.a. the land of strawberries), so this is not the actual case. However this hoarding reflex – which I fully embrace – originated when I lived in Denmark, and I’m sticking to it.

Danish strawberry season is fleeting and fickle. If you are lucky, the season cooperates and strawberries will grow, almost before your eyes. It’s a window of time when there’s no holding back; when the name of the game is to gorge on the berries while you can, ever aware that this moment will soon pass. Any surplus that you can’t devour (bless you) or bake into a nightly rotation of berry-full desserts, are frozen and preserved for later consumption as a nostalgic taste of summer sunshine during the dark winter months.

Now that I live in California and there’s less urgency in stocking up on these summery berries, I still revel in the memory and indulge in over-consumption. And when I’ve tired of stuffing my face with fresh berries, I add them to easy desserts, such as this fruit crisp.

Strawberry Crisp with Orange and Cardamom

Active time: 15 minutes
Total time: 45 to 65 minutes, plus cooling time
Serves: 6 to 8

1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 cup (packed) light brown sugar
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1/2 teaspoon ground cardamom
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup unsalted butter, chilled, cut into ½-inch cubes
1/4 cup chopped almonds (optional)

2 pounds strawberries, hulled, halved if small, quartered if large
1/4 cup granulated sugar
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon fresh orange juice
1 teaspoon finely grated orange zest
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon ground cardamom
Pinch of salt

  1. Make the topping: Combine the flour, sugars, cardamom, cinnamon, and salt in bowl of a food processor. Pulse once or twice to combine. Add the butter and pulse until the topping resembles coarse meal. Transfer to a bowl and mix in the almonds, if using. Cover the bowl and chill until use. (The topping may be made up to one day in advance.)
  2. Heat the oven to 375°F.
  3. Combine all of the filling ingredients together in a bowl and gently stir to combine. Spoon the filling into an 8 by 8-inch baking dish or 6 to 8 individual ramekins. Evenly cover with the topping. Transfer to the oven and bake until the top is golden and the fruit is bubbling, 45 to 50 minutes for the baking dish, 30 to 35 minutes for the ramekins. Remove from the oven and cool to lukewarm or room temperature before serving, to allow the flavors to develop. Serve with whipped cream or vanilla ice cream.

Frozen Meringue Cream with Summer Berry Compote

Berries and Cream 2.0

Summer Berry Compote and Frozen Whipped Cream

Who doesn’t like berries and whipped cream for a simple summer dessert? Sweet, freshly picked summer berries and cream are the height of ease and good flavor, and a combination I rely on throughout the summer season. Sometimes, though, if I want to up the presentation a notch, I make this frozen dessert. The good news is that this version is also easy to make, and it should be prepared at least 8 hours in advance of serving, so it’s a great do-ahead dessert when entertaining.

To make it, I fold crumbled store-bought meringues into the whipped cream and freeze the cream in a loaf pan. The meringues add a nice light crunch and a jolt of sugar to the cream. Once frozen, the “loaf” can be sliced and served with fresh berries spooned on top. It’s fresh, light, and luscious, and always a crowd pleaser.

To make the frozen cream, first lightly oil the loaf pan, and then line it with plastic wrap. This allows for easy removal from the pan once frozen. The whipped cream is delicate, so should only be frozen for 8 to 24 hours. Once the loaf is removed from the pan and sliced, eat it immediately, because the cream will quickly begin to soften. Also, in the past I’ve added berries to the loaf, but I find that they remain frozen while the cream softens, which is not ideal for eating, so I spoon fresh berries, or, in this case, a compote over the top. 

Iced Meringues and Cream with Berry Compote

Active Time: 25 minutes
Total Time: 25 minutes, plus freezing time and cooling time
Serves 8.

Iced Meringue Cream:
3 ounces meringues, divided
2 cups heavy cream
3 tablespoons sifted confectioners sugar
1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract

3/4 pound fresh berries, such as raspberries, blackberries, strawberries
2 tablespoons sugar
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice

1. Lightly oil a 9 x 5-inch loaf pan. Line with plastic wrap, leaving a 3-inch overhang on all sides. Crumble 1/3 of the meringues, leaving large chunks intact, and spread over the bottom of the pan.

2. Beat the cream in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a whisk attachment until traces of the whisk appear. Add the sugar and vanilla and continue to beat until soft peaks form.

3. Crumble the remaining meringues and gently fold into the cream. Pour into the pan and spread the cream evenly on top. Cover with the plastic overhang, and then cover the pan entirely with another piece of plastic wrap. Freeze for at least 8 hours or overnight.

4. Prepare the compote: Combine the berries, sugar and lemon juice in a medium saucepan over medium-low heat. Cook until the sugar dissolves and the berries break down and release their juices, 5 to 7 minutes, stirring frequently. Remove from the heat and cool completely.

5. To serve, remove the frozen meringue cream from the freezer. Unwrap the plastic and invert the cream onto a serving platter. Remove any remaining plastic. Cut into serving slices and serve with the compote spooned over each slice.

Strawberry Mess

Strawberry Fool

~ Strawberries, Whipped Cream, Mascarpone, Meringue ~

Sometimes presentation is overrated. Eton Mess is a British dessert that’s  an unapologetic mishmash of fruit, cream and crumbled meringues turned about and plunked in a glass or bowl. It’s the kind of mix that appeals to kids and adults alike. Its messy appearance belies its swoonworthy results with gently sweetened and ethereal whipped cream punctuated by juicy strawberries and crisp bits of sugary meringue. You can’t go wrong with this recipe which is a great way to highlight summer’s fresh berries. The only effort required is a little cream-whipping – and trying not to get too carried away with licking the spoon.

Strawberry (Eton) Mess

For a little variation, I’ve added mascarpone to the whipped cream, which adds extra(!) richness and more body to the cream.

Serves 4 to 6.

1 pound (500 g) strawberries
3 tablespoons granulated sugar, divided
1 cup (250 ml) whipping cream
8 ounces (125 g) mascarpone cheese
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
4 (3-inch) meringue shells or 12 meringue buttons, coarsely crumbled

Set aside 3 unblemished strawberries.  Hull and quarter the remaining berries. Place in a bowl and sprinkle with 1 tablespoon sugar. Turn to coat then set aside.
Whip the cream and mascarpone in bowl of electric mixer fitted with a whisk attachment until beginning to thicken. Add 2 tablespoons sugar and vanilla. Continue to beat until soft peaks form. Fold the quartered strawberries into the cream, then fold in the meringues with any fine sugary dust. Spoon into glasses or serving bowls. Cut reserved strawberries in half lengthwise and arrange on top of cream as garnish.

If you like this, you might enjoy these TasteFood recipes:
Simple Strawberry Cake
Lemon Bars
Yogurt Parfaits with Rhubarb Compote

Flourless Chocolate Cake with Strawberries and Cream

flourless chocolate cake tastefoodStrawberries, Cream, Chocolate…

Or, more precisely, a wedge of luscious silky-rich chocolate cake with billows of  airy cream and sun-kissed strawberries. Parse it as you may, emphasize it as you must, this is one dessert that will please chocoholics and fruity fiends alike.

I made this cake for a crowd last weekend, and it easily served 12 with a few slices to spare. A tiny sliver goes a long way – or maybe not, depending on your inclination. Choose the best quality dark chocolate you can lay your hands on, because it makes all the difference. The gently sugared cream and naturally sweetened strawberries perfectly round out and balance the chocolatey richness, which, naturally,  helps you eat more.

flourless chocolate cake tastefoodThere was, I promise, a bounty of strawberries when I served this cake, but the berry eaters in the group devoured them before I could use the harvest as a photo prop.

Glazed Flourless Chocolate Cake
slightly adapted from a Bon Appetit recipe

Serves 12.

12 ounces dark high quality chocolate (70-72%)
3/4 cup unsalted butter
6 large eggs, separated
12 tablespoons granulated sugar, divided
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1/4 cup heavy cream
1/4 cup dark corn syrup
4 1/2 ounces dark chocolate, finely chopped, plus extra for grating

Whipped cream

Heat oven to 350° F (180 C). Butter a 9-inch diameter springform pan. Line the bottom with parchment paper. Butter the parchment. Sprinkle with unsweetened cocoa powder and tap out the excess. Wrap the outside of the pan with foil to prevent leakage.

Combine chocolate and butter in a double boiler or heat-proof bowl placed over a saucepan of simmering water. Stir frequently until melted and smooth. Remove from heat.

Beat egg yolks and 6 tablespoons sugar in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a whisk attachment until light and thick, about 3 minutes. Transfer eggs to a large bowl; thoroughly clean and dry mixing bowl and whisk attachment.

Fold the melted chocolate into the egg yolks. Stir in the vanilla. In the clean mixing bowl, beat egg whites until soft peaks form. Gradually add remaining 6 tablespoons sugar until medium-firm peaks form. Fold the whites into the chocolate in 3 additions. Pour into prepared pan.

Bake until top is slightly puffed and cracked and a knife inserted into center comes out with moist crumbs, 40 to 50 minutes. Cool cake completely in pan on a wire rack.

While the cake is cooling, prepare the glaze. Heat cream and syrup in a small saucepan just until it begins to simmer. Remove from heat. Add chocolate and whisk until smooth.

Gently press down on the top of the cake to even thickness. Remove pan side. Invert cake onto a plate. Remove and discard parchment. Pour the glaze over the center of the cake. Spread the glaze over the top and down the sides of the cake, using a flat icing spatula to smooth the glaze. Sprinkle with grated chocolate. Chill in refrigerator until firm, about 10 minutes. Serve at room temperature with whipped cream and fresh strawberries.

More chocolate? If you insist…
Chocolate Chocolate Chunk Muffins from Brown Eyed Baker
Almond Butter Chocolate Chip Cookies from TasteFood
Chocolate Custard Cake from White on Rice Couple
Rich Chocolate Brownies from TasteFood

Strawberry Ricotta Bruschetta with Lemon and Arugula

Strawberries are not just for dessert. They are also stunning in salads, lending sweet acidity to the peppery earthiness of greens. In this case, strawberries are jumbled with arugula as a topping for bruschetta. Creamy, lemon flecked ricotta anchors the salad to the bread, while a balsamic vinaigrette dresses the dish. Hello Spring!

Strawberry Ricotta Bruschetta with Lemon and Arugula

Be sure to use a fresh ricotta for this recipe. A creamy, mild goat cheese may be used in place of the ricotta. Makes 2.

2 large strawberries, hulled, thinly sliced
2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
2 slices peasant or levain bread
Extra virgin olive oil
Sea salt
1/4 cup fresh ricotta or mild goat cheese, room temperature
1 teaspoon finely grated lemon zest
1/2 cup arugula leaves, washed and dried
Freshly ground black pepper

Toss the strawberries and balsamic vinegar together in a small bowl; set aside. Preheat oven broiler. Brush bread slices with olive oil. Sprinkle with a little salt. Broil in the oven until golden brown, turning once.
Smear the ricotta over the bread slices. Sprinkle with lemon zest. Pile arugula on the bruschetta. Remove the strawberries from the vinegar, shaking off excess liquid, and arrange over the arugula. Whisk 2 tablespoons of olive oil and a pinch of salt into the remaining vinegar. Drizzle over and around the bruschetta. Garnish with black pepper.

Loving Lemons: Lemon Mascarpone Cheesecake with Strawberries

Loving Lemons: Lemon Mascarpone Cheesecake with Strawberries

Lemon Cheesecake

You say spring, and I say lemons. Bright, citrusy and readily available, we can count on lemons to greet us, as we shake off the winter doldrums and usher spring into our kitchens. This cheesecake is a springtime favorite. Creamy, elegant and redolent with lemon, it pairs mascarpone and cream cheese with rich results. Macerated strawberries are the final touch, bringing a little extra sunshine to your plate.

Lemon Mascarpone Cheesecake with Strawberries

An easy version of a timeless classic.  Prepare this cake one day before serving. Serves 10 – 12.

For the crust:
8 ounces graham crackers or digestive biscuits, broken in pieces
3 tablespoons brown sugar
1/2 cup unsalted butter, melted

For the filling:
20 ounces cream cheese, room temperature
8 ounces  Mascarpone cheese, room temperature
3/4 cup sugar
3 large eggs
2 tablespoons lemon zest
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice

For the strawberries:
1 pound strawberries, hulled, halved
3 tablespoons sugar
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice

Make crust:
Preheat oven to 350 F. Tightly wrap the outside of a 9 inch springform pan with foil.
Combine graham crackers and brown sugar in bowl of food processor and finely grind.  Add butter and blend using on/off turns until crumbs are moist and clumping together.  Press crumbs evenly into bottom and 1 inch up side of springform pan.  Chill while preparing filling.

Make filling:
Beat cream cheese, mascarpone and sugar in bowl of electric mixer until light and fluffy.  Add eggs one at a time, beating 30 seconds after each.  Mix in lemon zest and juice. Pour filling into crust.  Place cake on a baking sheet. Bake until cake is puffed at edges and center moves slightly when shaken, about one hour.  Transfer to rack and cool completely.  Cover and chill overnight.

Make strawberries:
Toss strawberries with sugar and lemon juice in a large bowl.  Allow to sit one hour before serving.  (Can be prepared 3 hours in advance.  Cover and refrigerate.  Bring to room temperature before serving.)

To serve cake, run knife around sides of pan to loosen.  Release pan sides.  Place cake on plate and cut in slices.  Serve with strawberries.

Strawberry Cream Parfaits with Black Pepper and Balsamic Syrup

Strawberry Balsamic

Strawberries, balsamic vinegar and … black pepper? If you haven’t tried this combination, it’s high-time you did. Strawberries and balsamic vinegar pair beautifully. The murky sweetness of balsamic vinegar complements the strawberries, while it’s sharpness is softened by the perfumed fruit. Black pepper, the dark horse of this trio, slips into the background, discreetly brightening the flavors, with just a hint of a bite.

Traditionally, strawberries are simply tossed with a few tablespoons of vinegar and allowed to sit for an hour or two. In this recipe, the balsamic vinegar is transformed into a viscous syrup with sugar and lemon juice before tossing with the strawberries. In Italian terms, this would be the double shot of espresso in your cup.

These parfaits show off the macerated strawberries, layered with a dreamy mousse of whipped mascarpone cream. It’s an easy dessert to prepare with show-stopping results. Alternatively, serve the strawberries with ice cream, semifreddo or panna cotta – or simply as they are with a biscotti and that double espresso on the side.

Strawberry Cream Parfaits with Black Pepper and Balsamic Syrup

Begin this recipe at least one hour before serving. Each of the components may be made in advance for last minute assembly before serving. Serves 8-10.

For the syrup:
1/2 cup balsamic vinegar
1 tablespoon sugar
1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lemon juice

For the berries:
3 pounds strawberries
1 tablespoon sugar
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

For the mascarpone cream:
1 1/2 cups whipping cream
8 ounces chilled mascarpone cheese
1 tablespoon sugar
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

Freshly grated lemon zest
Black pepper
Mint leaves

Prepare the syrup:
Combine vinegar, sugar and lemon juice in small saucepan. Heat over medium heat, stirring until sugar dissolves. Boil until syrup is reduced by half, about 4 minutes. Transfer to a small bowl and cool to room temperature. (Syrup may be made one day in advance. Cover and refrigerate).

Prepare the berries:
Reserve 8-10 whole strawberries. Hull and halve the remaining strawberries (quarter if large). Combine the hulled strawberries, the cooled syrup, sugar and black pepper in a bowl and gently toss to combine. Let sit at room temperature for at least 30 minutes or refrigerate up to 2 hours.

Prepare the mascarpone cream:
Combine whipping cream, mascarpone cheese, 1 tablespoon sugar and vanilla in bowl of electric mixer. Beat until soft peaks form. (May be prepared up to 4 hours in advance. Cover and refrigerate.)

Divide half the strawberries among 8-10 glasses or bowls. Spoon cream over the strawberries to cover. Spoon remaining strawberries over cream. Top with a dollop of cream. Drizzle with any remaining syrup. Garnish with reserved strawberry, lemon zest, black pepper and mint leaves.