Not Your Granny’s Berries and Cream
Balsamic vinegar, fresh black pepper and coconut whipped cream add an elegant spin to this classic treat.
Photos by Leah Lizarondo
Last week, I confessed my CSA-induced panic attacks. I must be a sucker for punishment, because I still go to farmers’ markets. But I just can’t help it. I’m almost compelled to do it. If weekly CSA boxes are presents, weekly visits to the farmers’ market is food church.
Most women get a high from going to a mall and shopping. I do too, but it’s not the same high I get from bags of fresh produce that I KNOW was just picked and I KNOW didn’t have to travel thousands of miles to get to me. I also love getting to know the people who farmed the food I’m about to enjoy to show them how grateful I am for the literal fruits of their labor.
This week, the market was teeming with berries. The last of the season’s strawberries and the first of the raspberries, black raspberries and cherries. Reds and deep purples. Sweet and tart. Due to the heatwave, I dreamily imagined cold berries wrapped in velvety whipped cream. And as usual, my lack of this virtue called “patience” served me well. This recipe is yet again another quick, no-cook dessert. Waiting is for boring people. And while I love my berry pies, my friends have the patience to make pies that I am lucky enough to benefit from. Life is good.
This take on berries and cream has a slight twist. If you’ve never had strawberries marinated in balsamic vinegar, what have you been waiting for? It’s time! I’ve always felt that dipping strawberries in white sugar defiles them somewhat. White sugar is nutritionally bereft and I try to avoid it in my cooking (I keep none at home, which forces me to experiment with whole sweeteners). Instead, marinating strawberries in balsamic vinegar and a little bit of palm sugar brings out all the strawberries’ natural goodness without overpowering it. Then adding a sprinkle of freshly cracked black pepper gives it an edge that I love.
The whipped cream I use in this recipe is made from coconut milk. As with the strawberries, I also add a generous amount of freshly cracked black pepper to it (try to add it to your usual white icing or whipped cream, too – it makes it even more delicious).
The coconut whipped cream is great on anything you would usually eat with boring old Reddi-Wip. It’s a good reason to always keep a can in the fridge!
Balsamic Strawberries with Black Pepper and Coconut Whipped Cream
The active time for this recipe is 15 minutes max. You will need an hour to let the strawberries marinate.
- 3 cups thickly sliced fresh strawberries
- 2 T good balsamic vinegar
- 2 T coconut palm sugar (or rapadura, cane sugar, turbinado, maple sugar)*
- ¼-1/2 t fresh ground black pepper (optional but try it!)
1. Mix marinade ingredients in a small bowl and stir until all the sugar is melted.
2. Pour over the strawberries and mix. Let marinate at room temperature, for at least an hour, stirring occasionally.
3. Place in a serving bowl, top with coconut whipped cream and sprinkle with more black pepper and a sprinkling of sugar.
*These sugars are available at The East End Food Co-Op, Whole Foods or online.