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Strawberry Desserts

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Strawberry Desserts on www.virginiawillis.com

Strawberries are the most popular berry fruit in the world, and while they are available in grocery stores every week of the year, spring is their true season, at least in the South.

For clarity, Florida strawberry season is actually December through April, but that’s pretty far South near Plant City. For the rest of the South — strawberries are a spring fruit. But wait, there’s more confusion. Strawberries aren’t actually a fruit or a berry; they are instead the “enlarged receptacle of the strawberry flower.” Wait, what? That kind of language can make my eyes cross.

Strawberries are a member of the rose family. They aren’t true berries, like blueberries. (Technically, a berry has its seeds on the inside.) And, to be super geeky, each seed on a strawberry is considered by botanists to be its own separate fruit.

Regardless of the correct botanical terminology, strawberries are a most welcome salute to spring. Their bright red bursts of color and flavor are refreshing after the winter months of apples, pears, and citrus.

Strawberry Desserts on www.virginiawillis.com

How to Choose Strawberries

Choose strawberries that have a good aroma and sweet fragrance. When ripe, the color of strawberry varieties can vary from a more medium red to deep red, so color is not always the best indicator. However, since they do not ripen after being picked, only choose strawberries that are fully red without any creamy white or pale green, with fresh-looking caps and perky green leaves.

Health-wise, strawberries are fantastic with a good amount of fiber and more vitamin C than any other berry. Topped with a spoonful of plain yogurt, they are a sweet-tart, wonderful, and delicious way to start your day.

However, we all have destiny, I believe. And, to me there’s no doubt that strawberries shine their brightest in dessert. It’s a creamy, indulgent, and awesome spring fling. Strawberries and cream are classic decadence. Absolutely nothing beats the taste of real whipped cream. There’s a bit of science behind the combination — check out my Strawberries and Cream Cobbler in Cooking with Virginia to find out more about it.

Here’s another link to check out with a bushel basket of links to summer desserts plus my recipe for Cornmeal Skillet Cake that would be perfect topped with strawberries.

The texture of this airy semifreddo is somewhere between frozen mousse and gelato. The word in Italian means “half-cold,” and it’s velvety soft, creamy, rich, and delicious. If you give it a try, let me know what you think!

Bon Appétit Y’all!
Virginia Willis

Strawberry Desserts on www.virginiawillis.com

 

Strawberry Semifreddo

Makes 8 3-oz servings
Prep Time10 mins
Freezing Time1 hr
Total Time10 mins
Course: Dessert
Cuisine: American, French, Italian
Servings: 8
Author: Virginia Willis

Ingredients

  • 2 large eggs
  • ¼ cup granulated sugar
  • ¼ teaspoon fine sea salt
  • 1 cup strawberry puree
  • 1 cup heavy whipping cream, chilled
  • Fresh strawberries, for serving

Instructions

  • Place a large saucepan with 2-inches of water over high heat. Bring the water to a boil then reduce the heat to maintain a simmer. Whisk the eggs, sugar and salt together in a medium bowl. Set the bowl atop the simmering saucepan, making sure the bottom of the bowl does not touch the water. Whisk constantly, over the heat, until the mixture reaches 170°degrees F and has thickened slightly, approximately 5 minutes.
  • Remove the bowl from the heat, add the strawberry puree and whisk until combined. If necessary, chill over a bowl of ice or refrigerate until cooled to room temperature.
  • Using a hand held mixer, whisk the chilled cream in a large mixing bowl until medium peaks form. Fold whipped cream into strawberry mixture until well combined. Transfer to molds and freeze until firm, at least 6 hours. Unmold and serve with fresh strawberries.

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Virginia Willis

Georgia-born French-trained Chef Virginia Willis’ biography includes making chocolate chip cookies with Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson, foraging for berries in the Alaskan wilderness, harvesting capers in the shadow of a smoldering volcano in Sicily, and hunting for truffles in France. She is talent and chef-instructor for the digital streaming platform Food Network Kitchen. Her segments feature authentic and innovative Southern cooking. She was the celebrity chef at the Mansion at Churchill Downs for the 143rd running of the Kentucky Derby. Virginia has spoken at SXSW, cooked for the James Beard Foundation, and beguiled celebrities such as Bill Clinton, Morgan Freeman, and Jane Fonda with her cooking — but it all started in her grandmother’s country kitchen. Recently, her work has been inspired by her weight loss success story, Virginia has lost 65# and kept it off for over 1 1/2 years! “If a French-trained, Southern chef can do it, you can, too.” She is the author of Fresh Start; Secrets of the Southern Table; Lighten Up, Y’all; Bon Appétit, Y’all; Basic to Brilliant, Y’all; Okra; and Grits. Lighten Up, Y’all won a James Beard Foundation Award of Excellence in the Focus on Health Category. Lighten Up, Y’all as well as her first cookbook, Bon Appétit, Y’all, were finalists in the Best American Cookbook for the International Association of Cookbook Awards and were also named by the Georgia Center of the Book as “Books Georgians Should Read.” She is the former TV kitchen director for Martha Stewart Living, Bobby Flay, and Nathalie Dupree; has worked in Michelin-starred restaurants; and traveled the world producing food stories – from making cheese in California to escargot farming in France. She has appeared on Food Network’s Chopped, CBS This Morning, Fox Family and Friends, Martha Stewart Living, and as a judge on Throwdown with Bobby Flay. She’s been featured in the New York Times, the Washington Post, People Magazine, Eater, and Food52 and has contributed to Eating Well, GRLSQUASH, Culture, Garden & Gun, and Bon Appétit, and more. The Chicago Tribune praised her as one of “Seven Food Writers You Need to Know.” Her legion of fans loves her down-to-earth attitude, approachable spirit, and traveling exploits. Her culinary consulting company, Virginia Willis Culinary Enterprises, Inc specializes in content creation, recipe development, culinary editorial and production services, cookbook writing, media training, spokesperson and brand representation, and public speaking. Virginia is on the Monterey Bay Aquarium’s Seafood Watch Blue Ribbon Task Force, the Atlanta Community Food Bank Advisory Board, as well as the Community Farmers Market Advisory Board. She is a food and hunger advocate for No Kid Hungry and a premier member of the No Kid Hungry Atlanta Society. She a member of The James Beard Foundation, Chef’s Collaborative, Georgia Organics, and Southern Foodways Alliance.

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