Weeknight Cooking

Fresh Strawberries in a Pink Cloud

June  6, 2011

Fresh Strawberries in a Pink Cloud

- Jenny


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That’s right, I used all caps! But isn’t that how all of you feel in the markets now, eyeballing these expensive little baskets of berries after a rainy and cold spring that was a bit too long on beets? Here in the D.C. area I have seen at least two varieties: a small wonderfully-sweet one that tastes so much of Los Angeles that I can see the mountains from Olympic Blvd. when I bite into them, and larger ones that are less flavorful but none the less very welcome in my kitchen.

So buy the best strawberries you can find, and the rest of everything else when you whip up AppleAnnie’s Fresh Strawberries in a Pink Cloud as soon as you can. Yes indeed, this is one of those recipes that is more about shopping than cooking, but conceptually it is so brilliant that I could think of three instant occasions for making it. 

  1. The neighbor stops by looking for a little chow and you want to show off, but sort of in a subtle way, as in “this old thing?” Pffff!
  2. You look out the car window and see someone who looks suspiciously like your 7 year-old child walking door to door along your very street selling her “artwork.” You need a lure to bring her home.
  3. You feel strawberries and cream is a cliché and want to elevate it for a party.

There is very little prep here, other than to macerate those berries for as long as you have time. While that’s going on, put together your cloud just as AppleAnnie instructs, using the best cheeses you can find. In my case, that was The Blue Ridge Dairy Company, a Virginia maker of yogurt and cheeses sold at the Dupont Farmer’s market and Whole Foods in the wilds of Tenleytown. A local food52er introduced me and I am loving it. Even better, if you have, say, three cups of shallots that need to be sliced up for a dinner recipe, ask your friend/neighbor/house guest to do it for you while you prepare this dessert. Flatter them by saying they have superior knife skills you've long admired.

Oh and by the way, how did I not find AppleAnnie’s recipes earlier than this week? She is a baker and librarian! Don’t you want to go to her house, whip up a pound cake and talk to her about everything that was wrong with Freedom?

So anyway, as you can see, this whole dessert sort of makes itself while you eat dinner. You can double it or increase it by any size really, almost totally by eye. If you run low on mascarpone you will be none the worse for it. Don’t skip the part where you add the juice because it does make the cloud a lovely color of pink. Further, as the 4 year-old formerly in my immediate vicinity would attest, this is a divine breakfast, too. 


Prepared strawberries:

  • 1 tablespoon Meyer lemon juice (or regular lemon juice)

The pink cloud:

  • 1/4 cup drained juice from the prepared strawberries
  • 1/2 teaspoon grated Meyer lemon or regular lemon zest
  • Heat honey, raw sugar, and water in microwaveable bowl for about 30 seconds, to soften honey and dissolve sugar.
  • Stir in balsamic and lemon juice until well blended.
  • Let cool a minute and pour the syrup over the strawberries.
  • Refrigerate for a few hours or overnight, until the strawberries have released ¼-1/2 cups of juice
  • In a food processor blend ¼-1/3 cup of the strawberry juice with the mascarpone cheese.
  • Add the ricotta and vanilla to the mascarpone, and blend just until mixed. Add a little more strawberry juice to get a nice pink tint.
  • For each serving, put 1/3 to 1/2 cup of the ricotta mixture in a small dessert bowl, and then spoon an equal amount of sliced strawberries on top.

By day, Jennifer Steinhauer, aka Jenny, covers Congress for The New York Times. By night, she is an obsessive cook.

Jennifer Steinhauer

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Written by: Jestei

The ratio of people to cake is too big.


AppleAnnie June 6, 2011
So happy that you had a good outcome with this recipe Jenny. This was our first week with local strawberries in northern Ohio, the variety here is EarliStar. It is heaven to cut open a strawberry that is red to the core. When improvising this recipe last year, I used an amazing lavender honey.
mcs3000 June 7, 2011
I bought a double flat of strawberries from one of my favorite farmers. I made Mrs. Wheelbarrow's strawberry + mint jam, pop tarts, smoothies and ice cream. I gave a bunch away. And I still have more strawberries, so I'm excited to make this recipe. Thank you both!
Jestei June 7, 2011
that sounds wonderful. could one season honey with their own lavender for a few?
boulangere June 7, 2011
Yes indeed. Warm it up, add the lavender, keep warm for a bit, strain, consume.
Sagegreen June 6, 2011
So nice to read Jenny today and see AppleAnnie's recipe featured!
Jestei June 7, 2011
i hope you enjoy it
Waverly June 6, 2011
I know several little people who would love this for breakfast....some big ones too. Thanks, Jenny.
Jestei June 7, 2011
yes have no shame about dessert breakfast!
boulangere June 6, 2011
One of my favorite breakfasts is dessert.
Jestei June 7, 2011
me too
JoanG June 6, 2011
I tired this dessert and it is pure heaven! Thanks for featuring it Jenny!
Jestei June 7, 2011
i am so happy you concur!
MrsWheelbarrow June 6, 2011
I found out that the smaller berries are 'Early Glow'. They're really good this year. Must make this recipe soon - thank you for highlighting another winner!
Jestei June 7, 2011
they remind me of sea scapes.
MrsWheelbarrow June 6, 2011
I found out that the smaller berries are 'Early Glow'. They're really good this year.
How did I miss this one! I'm so glad you've highlighted this great, simple dessert. I have all the ingredients and will be making this one as soon as I can find some great, local strawberries. We've had so much rain and cold weather, the flavor of the strawberries have suffered here. They need some sunshine! And so do I....
Jestei June 7, 2011
i hope you have some soon. it is the true taste of summer
lorigoldsby June 6, 2011
Agreed. But no flaws in Jenny's writing or AppleAnnie's recipe. I've never added honey to my macerated strawberries--imagine it will balance the balsamic nicely.
Jestei June 7, 2011
it really does
Burnt O. June 6, 2011
I'm so glad I'm not the only one who found "Freedom" flawed! I never made it through to the end. Just lost interest.
mcs3000 June 7, 2011
Jestei June 7, 2011
i finished it. but it unnerved me.