Thursday, May 16, 2013

(Vegetarian) Cooking at Home: Strawberries with Mascarpone Cream

I love Mascarpone cheese - it's so versatile. Of course, its mild sweetness made it an obvious choice for desserts, but I occasionally used it for savory dishes with some success too in the past (for example, it's good for some cream-based sauces for meat or pasta - you got a more interesting flavor then just double cream)

For desserts, most people relate the cheese to tiramisu in which whipped mascarpone cheese was mixed with egg whites and layed with liquor and coffee-dipped ladyfingers, but I also love the combination of hulled strawberries and mascarpone - it's creamy with a hint of sweetness for a subtle and classy dessert (not something overly rich or like a sugar bomb)

This was the last part of the vegetarian cooking demo I did for a local magazine for a 4-course dinner menu, so I did make use of the balsamic gastrique I made for the salad earlier, to add on the flavors. It's optional but at least I do recommend a drop of balsamic vinegar at the end - you would be surprised at the enhancement it brought to the dish. I filled a small glass tumbler almost like a trifle, but it works with a small ceramic bowl as well.

Now I think I ran out of new vegetarian dishes I know how to cook. =)

Strawberries with Mascarpone Cream (and Balsamic Gastrique - optional)

1.5 cups of strawberries
250g mascarpone cheese
0.5 cup of whipping cream
4 tablespoon of sugar
1 mint leaf (optional)

(Optional - Gastrique Sauce)
2 tablespoon of white sugar
1/4 cup of balsamic vinegar


1. Cut strawberries into small dices - save one whole strawberry for garnish at the end. Put them in a bowl and add 2 tablespoon of sugar. Set aside for 30 minutes.

2. (Optional) Prepare gastrique: Put sugar in a saucepan. Heat over medium heat until sugar begins to melt. Do not stir the sugar until the sugar dissolves and turn into a deep golden caramel. Pour in balsamic vinegar (careful - liquid may splatter). Stir until the caramel melts in the vinegar. Continue to boil until the mixture begins to thicken, about 5 minutes. Pour into a small bowl or squeeze bottle and set aside.

3. In one mixing bowl, put in the mascarpone cheese and whip until soft. In another mixing bowl, put in the whipping cream and sugar, whip until firm peak formed. Fold in mascarpone cheese and mix slowly into the cream. Pour into a bowl or piping bag. Set aside.

4. Take a glass, and put strawberries into the bottom of the glass, add some cream and spread. Repeat with more strawberries and cream (in the same order). Do that until you reach the top. Put the whole strawberry on top of the glass. You can leave that in refrigerator to chill and set, or serve immediately.

5. Before serving, optionally garnish with mint leaf and the balsamic gastrique sauce.

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