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Author Notes: I have made this dessert for many years, and it never fails to surprise and please. Strawberries macerate in an intense balsamic vinegar syrup with black pepper. The pepper, surprisingly, does not overpower but discreetly enhances the flavors with a hint of a bite. The strawberries are delicious on their own or simply with a dollop of whipped cream. For a fancier presentation I'll serve them in a glass layered with fluffy whipped cream and mascarpone cheese and a generous drizzle of the balsamic syrup. —TasteFood
For the balsamic syrup:
- 1/2 cup balsamic vinegar
- 2 tablespoons sugar
- 1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lemon juice
- Combine vinegar, sugar and lemon juice in a small saucepan. Bring to a boil, stirring until the sugar dissolves. Boil until syrup is reduced by half, 3-4 minutes. Transfer to a small bowl and cool completely. (Syrup may be made up to one day in advance. Cover and refrigerate.)
For the parfaits
- 2 pounds fresh strawberries, hulled and quartered
- 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, plus extra for garnish
- 2 cups whipping cream
- 8 ounces Mascarpone cheese, chilled
- 2 tablespoons sugar
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- fresh mint leaves
- freshly grated lemon zest
- One hour before serving, combine strawberries and balsamic syrup in a large bowl. Sprinkle with 1 teaspoon black pepper and gently toss to combine. Let sit at room temperature for one hour.
- Combine whipping cream, Mascarpone cheese, sugar and vanilla extract in bowl of electric mixer. Beat until soft peaks form. (Cream may be prepared up to 4 hours in advance. Cover and refrigerate.)
- Assemble parfaits: Divide half the strawberries among 8 glasses or bowls. Spoon cream over strawberries to cover. Spoon remaining strawberries over cream. Top with a dollop of cream. Drizzle with any remaining syrup.
- To garnish, grind a little black pepper over cream and garnish with mint leaves and grated lemon zest.
- This recipe was entered in the contest for Your Best Strawberries
- This recipe was entered in the contest for Your Best Italian Dessert