A highlight of spring for me, something I await with intense anticipation, is the moment local strawberries hit the farmers market. They are entirely different from the berries you get in the store year-round: small, delicate, plump with juice, deep ruby red and powerfully fragrant. Each week I buy as many as I can carry, and the feasting begins. I go through a fair share of them right out of the container, pile them on cereal, stir them into yogurt, whir them into smoothies, blend them into sauce, toss them on salads and, of course, work them into sumptuous, healthful desserts.
The accompanying recipe is one of my all-time favorites, a treat that takes strawberries and whipped cream to another level by piling them into parfaits with a crumble of amaretti cookies. The berries are simply tossed with a little lemon juice and honey and allowed to sit for a few moments so they relax, meld together and become even more sumptuous. The whipped cream is folded with Greek yogurt - which imparts a lovely, gentle tang as well as health benefits - and a touch of almond extract for aromatic flavor.
The berries and cream are layered, with the crushed cookies placed strategically between them, so the cookie crumbs absorb the berry juices, and on top, where they lend a contrasting crunch. It's a simple but stunning dessert you could make any time of year to rave reviews. But there is certainly no better time to make it than now.
STRAWBERRY AMARETTO PARFAITS
MAKE AHEAD: The parfaits can be assembled, covered and refrigerated up to 8 hours in advance; leave off the final topping of amaretti crumbs until just before serving.
• 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
• 1 tablespoon honey
• 16 ounces strawberries, hulled and sliced
• 1/3 cup well-chilled heavy cream
• 2 tablespoons sugar
• 1/4 teaspoon almond extract
• 1/3 cup plain low-fat Greek-style yogurt
• 14 small amaretti cookies (2 ounces)
Whisk together the lemon juice and honey in a medium bowl. Add the strawberries and toss gently to coat.
Combine the heavy cream, sugar and almond extract in the bowl of a stand mixer or handheld electric mixer; beat for about 2 minutes on high speed until soft peaks form. Use a spatula to gently fold in the yogurt.
Place the cookies in a zip-top bag; seal, pressing as much air out as possible, then use a rolling pin or mallet to crush them to the consistency of large crumbs.
To make the parfaits, dollop 1 tablespoon of the whipped cream mixture into each serving bowl or glass. Top each portion with 2 tablespoons of the cookie crumbs, then a quarter of the dressed, sliced berries. Complete the layering with 1 tablespoon of the whipped cream mixture, then 1 tablespoon of cookie crumbs.
Serve right away.
Nutrition | Per serving (using half the cream mixture): 110 calories, 2 g protein, 17 g carbohydrates, 4 g fat, 3 g saturated fat, 15 mg cholesterol, 10 mg sodium, 1 g dietary fiber, 15 g sugar