April 4, 2006

A Parfait? C'est Parfait!

It's springtime in Paris and how do I know? Strawberries invaded the markets last week and who am I to resist such temptation? After spending too many euros at the open market near the Ternes metro, (marché Poncelet-Bayen) Paul and I returned home with our loot, lusting after those perfectly ripe berries.

It's rare when you actually get to buy produce at its peak, and therefore, eat it at its best. For those occasions, you don't need to embellish your ingredients very much and this recipe worked perfectly for a simple dessert last week.

Strawberries with Honey-Vanilla Mascarpone Cream
recipe by Ina Garten

3 cups strawberries (any berries work, of course)
1 cup mascarpone cheese
4 Tbsp honey
1 Tbsp pure vanilla extract
3-4 Tbsp heavy cream
1/2 cup whipped cream (I didn't do this, just added more cream)

Cut up strawberries however you like. In another bowl, combine the cheese, honey, vanilla, and cream until smooth. Taste and add honey if you prefer something sweeter. Layer berries and mascarpone cream in a short goblet or other pretty glass. Grate some good chocolate on top and serve with a nice square of dark chocolate on the side, or perhaps a cookie. This and a short espresso will surely round out a lovely meal, even if it does get you a few Bree Van de Kamp comparisons. Screw 'em, you're a goddess. Serves 4.

A few notes: I remember mascarpone cheese being ridiculously expensive in the US. In France, any sort of cream cheese is expensive, but mascarpone is cheaper than other American-style cream cheese. Of course, the texture of mascarpone is luscious, but I think regular cream cheese would work fine. I'm sure you could even make this almost fat-free if so inclined. Also, I cut up the berries and made the mascarpone mixture in advance, keeping them separate in the fridge, then assembled the parfaits at the last minute.

More to come for these strawberries...stay tuned!

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