Strawberry season is in full swing here in FL. (Coincidentally, today is National Strawberry Day.) As soon as I saw them in the store, I knew I had to make something with them. There is certainly no dearth of strawberry recipes to choose from, which is why I had some trouble settling on just one recipe. I finally picked this one, because even though there are a few steps involved, the preparation is actually rather easy. And it has an added bonus of using up all those extra egg whites from making custard-based ice creams. Plus, I'm a sucker for a frozen whipped cream layer thing; it takes me back to the days of frozen jello-Cool Whip creations from when I was a kid.
Honestly, I wasn't sure about these for the first few bites; the strawberry layer stays kind of hard for a bit and the flavor isn't that pronounced. But after I let the bars stand a few minutes, the strawberry layer softened up and the top layer got nice and creamy - almost mousse-like. When I was cutting a few pieces to take photos of, I kept eating the little slivers of the edges and before I knew it, I had eaten at least the equivalent of 2 pieces worth.
This recipe lends itself to multiple variations. You could certainly change up the berries used; anything with a somewhat tart bite would be good. Along the same lines, a peaches and cream combo (using the slightly tart Georgia peaches) or an orange and cream combo would be wonderful variations. Please let me know if you try any of these combos.
Strawberries and Cream Bars
Adapted from Pip & Ebby, who adapted it from Martha Stewart
I chose not to strain the strawberry seeds as they were quite small, but please do if this is a concern of yours or if you are using berries with larger seeds. Be sure to let the bars stand a few minutes to enjoy them the best.
2 pounds strawberries, hulled, halved if large (6 cups)
1 1/2 cups sugar, divided
Coarse salt (I forgot this)
7 large egg whites, room temperature*
2/3 cup cold heavy cream
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
In a large bowl, combine the strawberries and 3/4 cup sugar. Let macerate until the sugar turns liquid, about 30 minutes or so. Blend until smooth the strawberries and their liquid plus a pinch of salt. Strain, if desired. Either: (1) Pour the mixture into a 9-by-13-inch baking dish. Transfer to freezer and scrape with a fork every 30 minutes until mixture is thick and slushy, 2 hours. Or, (2) freeze the mixture in your ice cream maker according to the manufacturers instructions and then transfer to the baking dish. Smooth top with a rubber spatula.
Notes: This recipe uses raw egg whites; if you're concerned about that, replace with pasteurized egg whites, which can be found in the dairy aisle. (Although, I'm not sure if they'll whip up nicely, so decide what's important to you.)