I shaped this dinner party dessert around the strawberries I bought this week, from my favourite-ever Turkish supermarket in Tooting, south London. Normally, I wouldn’t even glance at a strawberry in March, but this very sensible resolve went out of the window when I walked past these babies and their powerfully sweet, ripe fragrance wafted past my nose.
How was this achieved, out of season? Of course, I suspect some kind of funny business. They were perfectly ripe, fragrant, juicy and sweet. Some of the nicest strawberries I’ve eaten. In March. Any insights?
I give you two options in this post for serving your strawberries, both with their own merits and both absolutely delicious – a sauce or just plain, fresh strawberries. The sauce is more forgiving, so if you only have less-than-perfect strawberries available, this may be the option to go for.
Made with my beautiful, mysterious strawberries, a tiny sprinkle of brown sugar and a good squeeze of lemon juice, this sauce was a taste sensation. Everything I loved about the sour, sugary, jelly sweets I used to eat, but with none of the grossness and gelatine. Highly concentrated flavour, super sweet and sour at the same time, and packed with intense strawberry flavour.
You can leave the strawberries in pieces in the sauce or blend it to make a smooth, strikingly coloured, satiny sauce. You may wish to sieve the sauce for a refined look and mouthfeel, but this is very much optional. Then spoon or drizzle, the choice is yours.
The other option is just lovely, shiny, fresh, ripe, tasty strawberries – my personal choice. But this relies on having lovely, shiny, fresh, ripe, tasty strawberries.
For the shortbread I used my favourite, well-tested recipe from Cook’s Illustrated. Simple and quick to come together (as long as you have a blender of some kind), it is crumbly, lightly sweet and beautifully buttery.
Using the traditional addition of powdered oats, it has a delicate flavour that is a little overpowered by the other components of this dessert – so be sure to try a biscuit by itself so you can fully appreciate it!
The shortbread is not vegan and I can’t think of any good way to make it so. The buttery flavour is so important to the overall success of the biscuit. Perhaps something like coconut fat would work – does anyone have experience using this to make biscuits?
The strawberry sauce, however, is both vegan and gluten-free. And yummy!
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