Like most commercial jellies and jams, fresh fruit desserts tend to be too sweet. Buy a pie at a restaurant and chances are it will be cloying. Even at home, when I cut the sugar in half, many pies and cobblers taste overly sweet. Which is why, after eating so many strawberry-centric desserts these past few days, I went in search of a berry dessert that would break this pattern.
I found it in Simply Sensational Desserts, by Francois Payard, a recipient of the prestigious James Beard “Pastry Chef of the Year” award and owner of New York’s famed Payard Patisserie. In it, there is no creme anglaise, no sweet tart dough, no whipped cream and hardly any sugar.
Instead, there are strawberries, two tablespoons of sugar and a smidgen of butter. Oh, and balsamic vinegar to “open your palate,” as it says in the recipe. If you’re concerned it’s too haute for the kiddos, it’s really not. My two-year-old ate more of out my bowl than I did, and my four-year-old finished his strawberries then tipped the bowl and drank the sauce.
Fricassee of Strawberries with Balsamic Vinegar
from Simply Sensational Desserts by Francois Payard
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
2 tablespoons sugar
2 pints ripe strawberries, washed, hulled and cut into quarters
1 tablespoon good-quality aged balsamic vinegar
1. Melt the butter in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the sugar and strawberries and cook, tossing the strawberries to coat them evenly, for about 1 minute. Add the balsamic vinegar and toss the strawberries until coated.
2. Spoon the strawberries into six shallow bowls and serve immediately.