Are you drooling yet?
The story is, I keep seeing strawberries everywhere, at the market, at the store… and they all look so good! They are organic, too, so no pesky pesticides. Most of all, strawberries are terrifically photogenic so… I bought some. I eat them in the morning, sliced with plain yogurt for breakfast, but that is no recipe to post on a blog, is it?
This gets us to the other part of the story, which is where I explain why I am late with most of my blog posts these days. I was in the throes of the most odious, boring, taxing (literally) job ever, the kind that could not be procrastinated any further: tax papers. You know all about that, don’t you? Though I would much rather have been cooking, or hiking, or basically doing anything but, that other job left me with no time for anything else. Result: a backlog of images to edit and articles to write. Pant, pant….
Strawberries, sliced and dusted with sugar, then splashed with good Balsamic vinegar are an almost classic Italian combination – a seriously good one. But then so is mascarpone, and the three combined together reach food-for-the-Angels status. This dessert is super easy, requires no baking, hardly any cooking, and is moaning good. That is a technical term, FYI. You do not even need a recipe, but since I made notes while I added and whisked, I will provide you with one.
The ingredients are few and simple. I could also say they are inexpensive, except that good Balsamic vinegar can be pricey, but I can’t stand the crappy ones, so there you go.
STRAWBERRY & MASCARPONE CREAM WITH BALSAMIC REDUCTION
– 400 gr. (14.10 oz.) fresh strawberries + a few extra for decoration
– 250 gr. (8.8 oz.) Italian mascarpone at room temperature – it is really better to get the one imported from Italy, though I know it is not always easy to find
– 250 ml. (just over 1 cup, or 8.4 fl. oz.) fresh whipping cream
– 100 ml. (1/3 cup or ca. 3.4 fl. oz.) good quality Balsamic vinegar
– 50 gr. (4 Tablespoons) sugar
– 40 gr. (5 Tablespoons) powder sugar, sieved to get rid of lumps
– fresh mint for decoration
You will also need 6 small single portion cups, bowls, glasses or jars. I got these at Pier 1.
1. Prepare the Balsamic reduction. Place the Balsamic vinegar and the 4 Tablespoons of sugar in a small saucepan and bring gently to a simmer, mixing until the sugar has dissolved. Let it simmer on medium for 3-4 minutes until lightly thickened and reduced. Do not overcook or it will become too thick and ‘burnt’. Set aside and let cool to room temperature, which will thicken it some more. The final result needs to be syrupy.
2. Rinse the strawberries and carefully pat dry. Set aside the ones you will use for decoration, then trim off the green top and hard core from the others and cut into small cubes. Set aside.
3. Place the mascarpone in a medium-large bowl, add half the powder sugar, and whip until creamy. You can use a hand whisk or an electric mixer, as you like. In a chilled bowl, place the whipping cream and the rest of the powder sugar and whip with an electric beater until fluffy and firm. Gently blend the whipped cream into the mascarpone using a whisk at first, stirring slowly a couple of times, then finishing with a spatula, using circular movements to avoid deflating the cream.
4. Assemble. Spoon some strawberries into the bottom of each glass, then drizzle with the Balsamic syrup, tilting the container so that some of the drizzle goes up the sides. Place the mascarpone cream in a pastry bag with a tip of your choice (I used a plain one) and top the strawberries with a layer of cream. Then do another layer of strawberries, followed by a little drizzle (no need to go up the sides again), then top with one more layer of cream. Finish with a little more strawberries and Balsamic drizzle. Decorate with a little dollop of mascarpone cream, a strawberry and a sprig of fresh mint.
5. Last step: lick the bowls.
The dessert can be served immediately, or covered and placed in the refrigerator. It is perfectly good the next day as well, so it can be made a day ahead – maybe save the final strawberry and mint decoration till the last minute. It is also good placed in a lidded jar and taken to a picnic in a cooler.
The cram and strawberry flavors are pure divinity, and the tartness of the Balsamic reduction is a good match for the richness of the double cream.
And now… Let me take you down ’cause I’m going to Strawberry Fields…. nothing is real, and nothing to get hung about…. Strawberry Fields forever.
Is the song stuck in your head now? Good, now we are even.
By the way, I have been meaning to ask: what is your favorite way of eating strawberries? And which is your favorite dessert to make with them? And you do not have to limit yourself to one. Let me know in the comments.
If you have enjoyed this recipe, you might also enjoy these other desserts: