Music and Mascarpone….

The other night five of my girlfriends and I spent the most beautiful evening outside, under the stars listening to Ray LaMontagne and David Gray perform.  Between the 65 degree weather, delicious food and amazing music the night was pretty much perfect! Ray LaMontagne and David Gray are two of my favorite artists and to hear them while the lights of downtown buildings sparkled above and the breeze off Lake Michigan was just enough to give you that first taste of fall, it was fantastic!
I knew there were to be lots of giggles, lots of story telling and lots of wine while sitting on a blanket with my ladies.  So that morning I was trying to think of something easily portable, delicious and not too heavy to bring for dessert.  I’ve been trying to use as many berries as possible as I know the end of their deliciousness is nearing, and Chicago stores will soon be shipping strawberries in from Florida, California or even crazy places like Brazil or who knows where…..So I knew strawberries were meant to be part of the evening.  I also thought it would be fun to incorporate some booze and maybe add a creamy element (taleggio? Crème fraiche? Vanilla bean whipped cream?). Then a lightbulb went off and I went to work on my quick and fabulous dessert- red wine marinated strawberries with creamy mascarpone cheese. I mean, really? Yeah, amazeballs.  The strawberries themselves were so bright red and sweet, the wine I used was a red blend from Italy with just enough tannins to let the strawberries shine through, just a touch of honey mixed in and I let them marinate for about 6 hours until we left for the show.  When it came time to assemble I speared the strawberries, plopped a nice spoonful of dreamy mascarpone cheese on top and then dipped the mascarpone section of the berry in turbinado sugar. Lovely!
So, the next time you need something simple, sweet and at the same time decadent try this out! You could even make it into a trifle (first drain off the wine), add some chunked pound cake, some crushed up cookies or even just some toasted almonds and you’ll have a really beautiful dessert that people will think is just sumptuous and seductive…..
Red Wine Macerated Strawberries with Mascarpone
  • 8 oz. ripe strawberries, hulled and halved
  • enough red wine to cover the strawberries in your container (about 1 cup)
  • 2 T. honey or agave
  • 8 oz. mascarpone cheese
  • ¼ cup turbinado sugar
The morning you plan on serving the strawberries combine them with the wine, cover and refrigerate until time to serve (at least 4-5 hours up to 12).  When ready to serve, if you are at a picnic use a wooden skewer to spear the strawberry.  Next put a dollop of the mascarpone on top and then roll the mascarpone section of the berry in the turbinado sugar.
*Alternatively, if you want to serve this at a dinner party-drain the strawberries and divide into 5-6 small dessert dishes.  Top with a few tablespoons of mascarpone cheese and sprinkle the top with turbinado sugar (or maybe some orange blossom honey!) and sprinkle with toasted almonds, crushed cookies (amaretti cookies would be divine!) or some chunked yellow cake.