Strawberries and cream - three little words that evoke summer, in all its deliciousness
Last week we were invited to a big lunch party, where the hostess was happy to accept some contributions for dessert. We were eating outside, milling around, fairly casual, so I thought that individual desserts could be the way to go.
I put together these little 'verrines' (French for mini portions in glass tumblers). They could not be simpler, all you need is fresh strawberries, whipping cream, tiny meringues and a sprinkling of sugar.
Having washed and hulled the strawberries, I took a handful and blended them in a bowl with some sugar to taste. This makes the fresh coulis that gives a pop of colour at the base of the verrine. Of the remaining strawberries, some were left whole and some were sliced.
I beat the whipping cream until it would hold in soft peaks. My meringues came from our local baker, who sells his home baked meringues in small packets, and they are so pretty and regular in their size and shape that I don't see the point in making them myself. For this dessert, some meringues are left whole to decorate and the rest are cut or broken into pieces.
To assemble the verrines, simply pour a little coulis into the base of the glass, followed by some broken meringue. Carefully spoon in some whipped cream, then a few slices of strawberries. Another dollop of cream, a final spoonful of coulis, a beautiful little strawberry and a perfect meringue sitting on the top and you are done!
These can be made ahead of time, they'll sit in the fridge quite happily for hours before your meal, they could even be made the day before if you are pushed for time.
So when it came to bringing my dessert to our friends I decided to have some fun, they all looked so pretty in a row. I laid them out on an old French teacloth, with a red monogram in the centre, to match the strawberries. The overflow of strawberries were piled into a small tureen from my collection, and I took them over with some roses cut from the garden just before we went.
What can I say? I have such fun putting together a few pretties, especially when I can gift them to a friend.
I wish you all a wonderful weekend, whether you are at the height of a hot summer or heading into fall, may you find something lovely to share with a friend!