Spring’s new bumper crop of berries is a dessert lover’s best friend. These refreshingly sweet-tart fruits are the perfect topping for simple treats like custards and whipped cream, creating a myriad of fresh, delicious ways to top off a meal.
Head to the farmers’ market this week and take advantage of the season’s first berries with these four desserts, all showcasing their ripe flavors in a unique light.
1 sheet puff pastry (1/2 package), thawed according to package instructions and unfolded
1 egg, lightly beaten
1 1/2 cups thinly sliced strawberries
Juice of 1/2 lemon
1 Tbs. granulated sugar
1 cup heavy cream
Confectioners’ sugar for dusting
Preheat an oven to 375°F. On a lightly floured board, roll out the pastry sheet to 1/4-inch thickness. Cut in half lengthwise. Transfer the 2 rectangles to a rimmed baking sheet. Prick them evenly all over with a fork and brush with the beaten egg. Bake until the pastry is puffed and golden, about 20 minutes.
Meanwhile, in a bowl, stir together the strawberries, lemon juice and sugar. Set aside. In another bowl, using a whisk, whip the cream until soft peaks form.
Using a serrated knife, slice 1 rectangle horizontally to create 2 layers. Use the uncut rectangle as the base. Top with half of the whipped cream and one-third of the strawberries. Repeat with the remaining ingredients to create 2 more layers, finishing with just strawberries. Dust with confectioners’ sugar just before serving. Serves 6.
Blueberry-Lime Ginger Tartlets
For the lime curd:
1 cup granulated sugar
2 whole eggs plus 4 egg yolks
8 Tbs. (1 stick) cold unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
1/2 cup plus 2 Tbs. fresh lime juice
1 tsp. grated lime zest
10 oz. gingersnap cookies (30 to 40 cookies), coarsely broken
6 Tbs. (3/4 stick) unsalted butter, melted
2 1/2 cups blueberries
Confectioners’ sugar for dusting
To make the lime curd, in a bowl, whisk together the granulated sugar, whole eggs and egg yolks. In a saucepan over low heat, combine the butter and lime juice and heat, stirring, until the butter melts. Add the egg mixture to the saucepan and cook, stirring constantly, until the mixture has thickened and coats the back of a wooden spoon, about 5 minutes.
Remove the pan from the heat and transfer the curd to a small heatproof container. Cover with plastic wrap, pressing it onto the surface, and refrigerate until ready to serve. Let come to room temperature before using. Stir in the lime zest just before serving. You will need 1 cup of the lime curd for the tartlets; reserve the rest for another use.
Preheat an oven to 350°F. In a food processor, grind the gingersnaps to fine crumbs. Transfer to a bowl, add the melted butter and stir until thoroughly combined. Press the mixture evenly into the bottoms and sides of 4 tartlet pans with removable bottoms, each 4 3/4 inches in diameter. Bake until the crusts are a deep gold, about 12 minutes. Transfer to a wire rack and let cool completely.
Remove the tartlet shells from the pans and fill with the lime curd. Top with the blueberries. Finely grate the zest from the lime and sprinkle over the tartlets. Add a squeeze of lime juice over each tartlet. Dust with confectioners’ sugar just before serving. Serves 4.
Cherries with Vanilla Mascarpone
1 1/2 lbs. Rainier cherries
1 cup mascarpone cheese
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1 tsp. sugar
Place cherries in a serving bowl. In a separate bowl, stir together mascarpone, vanilla and sugar. Transfer to a small serving bowl. Add ice to bowl of cherries. Serve mascarpone mixture alongside. Serves 4 to 6.
Mixed Berries with Sabayon
2 cups mixed berries
4 egg yolks, at room temperature
Grated zest from 1 lemon
1/4 cup plus 2 Tbs. granulated sugar
3/4 cup dessert wine, such as Muscat, at room temperature
Powdered sugar for dusting
Fill a bowl three-fourths full with ice water and set aside. Pour 2 inches water into a saucepan and bring to a gentle boil. Meanwhile, divide berries among 6 small ovenproof plates or ramekins.
In a large stainless-steel bowl, whisk together egg yolks, lemon zest and sugar until pale and slightly thickened, about 2 minutes. Add wine. Set bowl over the gently boiling water and whisk constantly until sabayon is thick and has doubled in volume, about 8 minutes. Immediately set bowl in ice-water bath.
Preheat boiler. Spoon sabayon evenly over berries. Place plates on a rimmed baking sheet and broil until sabayon is golden, about 3 minutes. Remove from oven and dust with powdered sugar. Serve at once. Serves 6.