Locally we are blessed with beautiful produce this time of year. Those tasty little berries are one of my favourites. We serve them on salads, in our scones, or with goat cheese on crostini and brie. These versatile little gems aren’t just for jam … although there is nothing like fresh strawberry jam on toast.
I found a recipe in the winter for “Strawberry Blessing” and decided to save it until the berries were available locally. I have to tell you, it is very difficult for me to keep to a recipe – well, kind of impossible. I can’t resist the temptation to develop it and create a new one. For the first run, I do try to keep things as close to the guide as possible and then make some notes. This recipe is traditionally made with mascarpone, an Italian sweet cheese. Cream cheese can be sweetened to achieve a similar result.
Enjoy our local strawberry blessings, however you choose to serve them. Here is the latest version of my take on the tasty treat for you to serve at the next barbecue or family gathering.
1-1/2 cups strawberry jam
1/4 cup warm water
1/3 cup orange juice
3 tbsp Grand Marnier
1-1/3 cups whipping cream
6 tbsp sugar
2 tsp vanilla
1-1/4 pound mascarpone cheese
2 tbsp lemon zest
Juice of 1 lemon
1 pound of berries
2 tbsp sugar
5 mint leaves
16 lady fingers
In a pot, mix 1 cup of jam, water, orange juice and whisk together; bring to a simmer and allow to cool. Add the Grand Marnier.
In a bowl, whisk the whipping cream, 6 tbsp sugar and vanilla until stiff peaks form. In another bowl, whip mascarpone cheese until soft and smooth. Add in the lemon zest and juice of 1 lemon, and whip together;
Add the whipped cream, with a small amount first to allow the mascarpone cheese to get smooth. Then add the rest of the whipped cream.
Slice strawberries, add sugar and chopped mint.
Line a 9×9 pan with plastic wrap. Spread half of the cheese mix over the plastic wrap. Add a layer of sliced berries. Spread the half of the remaining strawberry jam over the cheese mix;
Dip lady fingers in the jam water and place over the jam rounded side down;
Place another layer of cheese mix, berries, jam and more lady fingers;
Cover with plastic wrap and place in fridge to stand for 4 hours.
Unwrap and flip onto serving platter. Decorate with berries and mint and serve.