Strawberry Cream Parfaits with Black Pepper and Balsamic Syrup

March 14, 2010
3 Ratings
  • Serves 8
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

What You'll Need
  • For the balsamic syrup:
  • 1/2 cup balsamic vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • 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
  1. For the balsamic syrup:
  2. 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.)
  1. For the parfaits
  2. 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.
  3. 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.)
  4. 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.
  5. To garnish, grind a little black pepper over cream and garnish with mint leaves and grated lemon zest.

See what other Food52ers are saying.

  • drbabs
  • cheese1227
  • mrslarkin
  • TheWimpyVegetarian
  • Kelsey Banfield
    Kelsey Banfield

15 Reviews

drbabs June 17, 2010
I made tastefood's Strawberry Cream Parfaits for a dinner party last night. We all really enjoyed it. It was great to take to a dinner party because you could do everything ahead of time and then just put it together while coffee was brewing. The balsamic syrup was delicious (warning--the vinegar fumes are overpowering when it is reducing!), and the black pepper gave it a nice kick. The cream was very rich and not too sweet--some of us liked it that way and some of us wanted a little more flavor (Folding lemon zest or finely chopped mint into the middle layer were both suggested.) My only quibble--and it's minor-- was that the flavor of the strawberries kind of got lost in the syrup, which has a really strong flavor. (That might be OK if the strawberries are just OK, but strawberries are SO great right now.) I think next time I will prepare the strawberries and sprinkle a teaspoon or so of turbinado sugar over them, and then use the syrup as a drizzle in between layers instead of soaking the strawberries in it.
cheese1227 June 2, 2010
Very interesting combo.
TasteFood June 2, 2010
Try it, you'll like it :)
mrslarkin May 31, 2010
This is how I want to eat my strawberries! Thanks for the recipe.
TheWimpyVegetarian March 17, 2010
Looks great! I think the addition of the black pepper is such an interesting one and looking forward to trying these strawberries with the mascarpone whipped cream.
Kelsey B. March 16, 2010
This is so pretty and looks fantastic. I love strawberries with balsamic and this recipe looks perfect for a spring dessert!
NakedBeet March 16, 2010
melissav March 15, 2010
Yum. I love berries and balsamic but this takes it to a whole new level!
TasteFood March 15, 2010
Thank you, melissav!
monkeymom March 15, 2010
Beautiful! I do love your glassware.
TasteFood March 15, 2010
Thanks, Monkey Mom. It was so nice to meet you last week!
shayma March 14, 2010
oh that's gorgeous. i love the photo so much.
TasteFood March 15, 2010
Thanks, Shayma!
chez L. March 14, 2010
great photo and sounds delicious
TasteFood March 15, 2010
Thank you - I hope you try it!