Thursday, May 28, 2009

Aunt Margaret's strawberry delight


A few weeks ago, before it was strawberry season, my grandma tempted me with a dessert my Aunt Margaret used to make: strawberry delight.

Aunt Margaret was one of the fancier members of the family. She was always impeccably dressed and when I was young, she would give me her perfume and make-up samples from Neiman Marcus.

Like Aunt Margaret, strawberry delight sounded swank. And when my grandma gave me the recipe, she admitted that strawberry delight was both elaborate and delicious. But she then added no dessert could compare to eating fresh, ripe berries either on their own or with cream on a flaky biscuit split in two.

Dazzled by the name, however, I insisted on making strawberry delight when I bought my first pints of the juicy red berries at the farmer’s market last week.



Strawberry delight is very similar to a fool, where the berries are mashed and then stirred into whipped cream. This dessert differs, however, by the addition of a buttery pecan crust and a meringue that’s folded into the strawberries and cream.

Now, if I had any sense, I would have heeded my grandmother’s advice and kept it simple. But I like a challenge and when I was faced with whipping a couple of egg whites into a meringue without a stand mixer, I knew I had to give it a try. How hard could it be? I make whipped cream all the time with my eggbeater so I assumed that a meringue could hardly be all that more work.

One hour later, I was still struggling to make my egg whites fluff while the strawberries sat on the counter mocking me with their easy beauty. Tired of spinning the eggbeater, I took my meringue and folded it into the whipped cream and berries. I spread the whipped concoction over the crust and then put it into the freezer to chill overnight.

In the morning, when I pulled the pan out of the freezer I was stuck by how the peaks in the dessert looked like the topography of a pretty pink world. I cut out a piece and took a bite. It was buttery, nutty, creamy and fruity. It had been a lot of work, but it was indeed good.

Desserts such as this are frilly and fun and remind me of summer garden parties or church potlucks; there is a certain nostalgia when you dip your spoon into a creamy, cold square.



That said, my grandma made an excellent point about simpler pleasures. And this time of the year when the summertime fruits are making their debuts, I do believe that nothing beats eating them as they were made, still fresh, juicy and warm from the sun.

Strawberry Delight
Ingredients for the crust:
1 cup flour
1/4 cup firmly packed brown sugar
1 cup chopped pecans
1/2 cup melted butter
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
1/8 teaspoon nutmeg
Pinch of salt

Ingredients for the filling:
2 cups of fresh strawberries, sliced in half
1/4 cup of brown sugar
1/2 cup sugar
2 teaspoons of lemon juice
2 egg whites
8 oz. of heavy cream
1/8 teaspoon of ground ginger
1 teaspoon of vanilla

Method:
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

Mix the crust ingredients and bake in a 9x13 pan for 20 minutes.

Stir the brown sugar into the sliced strawberries and let macerate at room temperature for half an hour or until juicy.

Beat the egg whites, lemon juice and sugar until light and fluffy. Then whip the cream until also light and fluffy and then stir into it the vanilla and ginger.

Add the strawberries to the whipped cream and then fold in the meringue.

Spread the fluffy strawberry filling over the crust, cover well and then freeze overnight or for at least six hours.

Before serving, let it thaw a bit and then cut into squares.

Alternatively, you could freeze the crust and filling into six or eight bowls or glasses and serve it that way.

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40 comments:

Deana said...

Sounds so yummy. Can't wait to try this. Such a great summer dessert. Too bad my daughter doesn't like strawberries...she will be missing out. I guess I will have to eat hers....too bad!

Lickedspoon said...

You made me laugh with your egg white story, a laugh of recognition... This looks delicious, though I agree with you about a ripe strawberry being perfect just as it is. In England, we have a much-loved summer pudding called Eton Mess, essentially whipped cream, broken meringue and strawberries folded together. Legend has it, it was 'invented' when a Labrador sat on a hamper on the way to picnic at the school from which it takes its name.

lisaiscooking said...

Fresh berries are a wonderful thing all by themselves, but this dessert looks delicious too. I think I would like this kind of soft and melty, left out of the freezer for awhile.

Sarah said...

Looks delicious, even if you are right about strawberries being perfect on their own!

Lynda said...

This desert looks so delicious! I love anything with strawberies, but I agree with your grandma, that eating them straight from the vine is one of life's greatest pleasures!

Anne said...

Ohhhh yes, this looks amazing. And just in time! Strawberries are in full swing out here, and today is CSA box day, which means I'm getting probably 6-8 pints of strawberries. This will be a great way to enjoy some of them!

Erica said...

Both your photos and writing are absolutely beautiful. Thanks for blogging. :)

Mary at My New 30 said...

Goodness! That looks AND sounds just yummy!!

Lisa (dinner party) said...

I love this post. Makes me excited for strawberries--got to get to the farmer's market this weekend.

Lisa (Homesick Texan) said...

Deana--That just means more for you!

Lickedspoon--A Labrador? What a story!

LisaisCooking--It's especially wonderful after it's thawed for a while.

Sarah--You can't bean a strawberry by itself!

Lynda--I'm sad to say that I have never had that experience, and that is something that needs to change!

Anne--It's definitely a good way to use up some of them.

Erica--Oh, thank you--what a sweet thing to say!

Mary--It is indeed!

Lisa--Yep, they should be just about everywhere by now.

laura said...

Looks like yummy, sugary perfection.

Bee said...

I'm so happy that it is strawberry season . . .

kickpleat said...

This looks so refreshing and pretty! I can imagine it's a lot of work - especially with just a whisk (youch!), but it looks worth it, even if for the memories.

Paula said...

Oh yeah, this looks good! Strawberry harvest is just a couple weeks away, and I can hardly wait! Love this! Reminds me of a dessert I had as a kid. It's so pretty, too! YUM!

ltothej34 said...

ooooh. that sounds delicious. nothing better than fresh strawberries bursting with flavor like that....the lightness of the dish makes me think of strawberries floating on a cloud....great recipe. can't wait to make it! keep the excellent blog coming...u have many fans!

Tommy said...

This is the second aunt you have told us about. Quite the family tree by the sounds of it.

Mothers or Father's side of the family ?

ARLENE said...

I've forgotten what a fresh strawberry tastes like. After buying and throwing away several containers from the supermarket, I've just decided to wait until they appear in the farmers' markets. This looks exquisite.

Fit.2be.Friends said...

That looks sooo good!

Amy C Evans said...

Hmm, Kurt grew up with his Michigan grandmother making his favorite dessert: cherry delight. I've made it a couple of times now, and it sure is yummy. Might just have to try strawberries.

Jill said...

You don't happen to have the recipe for Los Tio's Queso? I miss that more than the velveeta and ro-tel variety.

Jodie said...

Oh, I'm so ready for another strawberry dessert. My husband made two gorgeous strawberry rhubarb sugar-free pies two weeks in a row. I had a real (bisquit based) strawberry shortcake in March at the Irish Festival. I even named my new adopted dog Seamus Shortcake, in honor of that yummy shortcake!

Bren said...

samples! a nice way to tell you she thought about you w/out really spending money! LOL! love that.
great recipe and story!

zoe said...

I love the meringue in there! Delish!

unconfidentialcook said...

I rarely do anything (except drizzle with balsamic glaze) with strawberries because they are perfect on their own-- but this looks like a great indulgence.

Jill said...

I'm linking to you in a couple of days. I'm on this horrible bikini diet for my trip to Mexico and your blog has turned into food porn for me.

Kimberley said...

it looks and sounds soooooo yummy. it reminded me of this time of year, when i was a kid, my mom would have us go picking with us, and then she would make a years worth of strawberry jam. i'm going to passed this along to her too! thank you :)

Sarah D. (Motown Maiden) said...

How could I have forgotten this recipe?!? I remember this from when I was younger and it was so tasty and refreshing. Thanks for jogging my memory :)

Susan from Food Blogga said...

This dessert is swank, just like Aunt Margaret.

Linda said...

The biscuit recipe you linked to is my "go to" biscuit recipe now--and I've been baking for 45 years! That recipe makes one fine biscuit.

I was going to bookmark this recipe and try it "sometime", but then I read your words "buttery, nutty, creamy and fruity"; now I'm on the prowl for some berries.

kcenya1950 said...

Your grandma must have been friends with my mother in law. She gave me this recipe years ago and I had forgotten about it. Thanks so much for reminding me. It is a fabulous recipe. And the crust is great with lots of other things too.

Dallas from Bitchin' Kitchen said...

Wow, this is a SERIOUSLY delicious looking recipe. Fantastic combo of flavors and textures. Cannot wait to try it for myself after I visit the market this weekend.

Noner said...

Made the dessert this past weekend - it was a big hit. The pecan crust was favored by all. The strawberry meringue/whipped cream topping tastes like a light ice cream. Delicious and EASY to make.

honeysmom said...

Strawberries are about finished in SC for the year. It is getting too hot. But the peaches are here and I can't wait to get my first ones later this week. I wonder if the same process could be used with fresh peaches. Peaches are my absolute favorite and I love that they are available all summer long.
I so enjoy your blog!

Anonymous said...

I made this last week and served it Saturday night at a dinnr party and was immediately praised for this wonderful dessert..even from a grumpy person who claims not to like desserts....I encourage everyone to try the recipe and commit to the time it takes to whip it up properly!!!!

Lisa (Homesick Texan) said...

Honeysmom--I bet it would be good with peaches or blueberries, too.

Sam said...

What a great combination of colors and flavors. Dessert looks so colourful, so beautiful.... and I bet it tasted so delicious :) Yummy!

Anna said...

I was searching your recipes when I came across this one! It looks delicious and I can not wait to make it :)

Kathy Stephenson said...

OMGosh! I can't believe I found a recipe so similar to the one my grandma made. The one I make doesn't require meringue, although it does require egg whites. I use frozen strawberries as well, so I can make my Strawberry Delight all year long

Cris925 said...

My mother made this just today and couldn't stop talking about how easy it was, not to mention delicious. Considering my mothers complete lack of experience in making sweets that says a lot.

Anonymous said...

I have made this recipe half a dozen times or so since you first posted it, and I wanted to (finally) tell you *thank you* for passing it along! I just finished making it for Mother's Day lunch with berries from my farmers' market. I've also made this using peaches, which turned out wonderfully -- I may try blueberries or blackberries soon. One more thing -- I usually use a springform pan, which makes for a beautiful presentation. : )

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