Farewell To The Late Season Strawberry

The late season local strawberries are the sweetest. I’m not sure if this is because they actually are, or because I know they are the last and so I must wait until next summer for that true strawberry flavor. Because of this I always celebrate their departure by gilding the lily (or berry). I love to embellish these fleeting favorites and make Chocolate Truffle Strawberries. And at first bite you will be in love too, simply because¬† the crunch of good chocolate, the juicy sweetness of the strawberry flesh, and the ooze of the creamy ricotta filling with just a little crunch of almond is irresistible.

This is a berry most of us pick up by the hull, and bite. We love the immediacy of it:¬† the juice running down our chins and that incredible sweetness with just a hint of tang. When I am cutting so carefully, and watching just how far up I’m slicing as to not cut through the hull, it gives me a true appreciation of the delicacy and beauty of this berry.

I completely cut through the berry on the left to show the filling process. All those bits that I have scooped out- I use them in yogurt. I close up the berry halves, push through a toothpick to secure them, and dip. In the Art On The Menu kitchen, the last strawberries of the season are really something to look forward to!

I clipped this recipe from a local paper years ago, and have made many changes over the years. I went back to the online archives, but could not find a credit for this recipe. This is my version with many changes to the original.

Chocolate Truffle Strawberries

1/2 # good bittersweet chocolate, chopped for melting
1/2 Tablespoon unsalted butter
12 large strawberries washed and patted dry
1 tablespoon finely chopped slivered almonds
3 Tablespoons ricotta
3 Tablespoons softened cream cheese
1 Tablespoon powdered sugar
2 drops Fiori di Sicilia ( from King Arthur Flour) or any flavoring of choice. I like this flavoring because it is a highly aromatic blend of citrus and vanilla
Baking sheet lined with parchment

Cut each berry in half 3/4 of the way, vertically. Do not cut through the hull. Using the small end of a melon baller, cut a small cavity in one half of the berry. Set these berries aside.

In a small bowl, mix softened cream cheese and ricotta with a spoon until incorporated. Mix in nuts, powdered sugar and flavoring. The mix should be soft while still holding it’s shape.

Spoon a small amount into each berry cavity (1/2 tsp or less). Close berry together and secure with toothpick. Prepare them all, and set aside.

Over medium heat, melt chocolate and butter in double boiler ( I use a 1 quart on top to ensure depth of chocolate). Stir chocolate to test it’s smoothness and liquidity.

Hold strawberry by toothpick and dip into chocolate deep enough to cover 3/4 of each berry. Turn over and allow to set on prepared baking sheet.

Refrigerate until ready to serve.

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