We aren’t really bakers. Gary does his masterful creme brulee, but anything that you really have to measure and bake just doesn’t work well in our kitchen…we are more of the add a dash here and a pinch there kind of people. I have been dabbling in desserts lately though that are relatively simple, don’t require a lot o precise measurements, have a big wow factor, and have low sugar and fat levels compared to something bought at the pastry shop. We made this simple strawberries and cream recipe the other night for a dinner party. I have done something similar with balsamic vinegar before, but this time I used a good dash of Cointreau instead of vinegar, as well as the juice and zest of a blood orange to really drive the orange flavor home. Add in fresh herbs and just a touch of freshly ground pepper and you have a sweet and savory dessert. Light and delicious!!
Cointreau Strawberries and Cream
2 pints strawberries, hulled, cleaned and cut into halves or quarters depending on size (you want each piece to be about the same size)
1/4 cup sugar + 1 tablespoon
1/2 cup Cointreau or other orange liqueur
1 tablespoon fresh basil, chopped
1 1/2 tablespoons fresh mint, chopped
1/4 teaspoon each salt and pepper
Zest and juice of 1 blood orange + segments of an additional blood orange for garnish
1 pint heavy whipping cream
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
Several hours prior to when you would like to eat the berries begin to macerate them by pouring them into a deep bowl. Add the 1/4 cup sugar, liqueur, orange zest and juice, mint, basil and 1/4 teaspoon each salt and pepper. Stir well to incorporate all the flavors. Refrigerate. Continue to stir the mixture every 20 minutes or so until ready to serve. The strawberries should be softened when ready to serve. 30 minutes prior to serving place a mixing bowl in the freezer for 5 minutes, then remove and add the cream, remaining sugar and vanilla extract to the bowl. Using a hand held mixer or whisk begin whipping the cream until very stiff peaks are formed. I like the cream to be nice and firm, but whip it to your desired consistency. Add more sugar if you like. The berries will be sweet so keeping the sugar in the cream keep this nicely balanced. To serve – layer the berries into a glass or serving dish, add a dollop of cream and garnish with a blood orange segment and a sliver of mint.