Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Strawberry Topping

One of my favorite late-night snacks to make is strawberry topping. I love to have it on ice cream, but today I had no ice cream, only the last few slices of a store-bought angel food cake. Aren't you sorry for me?

This time I made it with frozen strawberries, but it's great with fresh berries or frozen berries of any sort. Step one is to boil the berries. Well, I should clarify that. Tonight, my first step was to dump a couple handsful of strawberries and some sugar into the pot and set it to boiling. In the past, I have occasionally tried caramelizing the sugar first, but it didn't seem to make much difference in the flavor, so I don't usually do that. You can leave the sugar out, if you like--after all, berries tend to be sweet, and you'll probably be using this sauce to top something else sweet. You can also experiment with white sugar, brown sugar, honey, or whatever other sweeteners you like.

I tend to let it go at a pretty strong boil for a while--you want to break down the cells of the berries so they're easier to smash. You also want to get rid of some of the water, so the sauce thickens up. (Remember, it will also thicken some as it cools.) Once the berries begin to break down, I use a fork or a potato masher to squash the berries. I like my sauce pretty lumpy, with large chunks of strawberry, but you may want it smoother, depending on your purposes. I'm sure an immersion blender, regular blender, or food processor would also work well!

When the sauce is almost at the thickness and smoothness you want, you can toast your angelfood cake, if that's what you're using the topping for. It's absolutely not necessary, but it's a nice touch. I often add a bit of vanilla or almond extract to the sauce at this point, but, again, it's not a necessary step.

Spoon the sauce over your cake, ice cream, or whatever else, and enjoy!  (I apologize for the dark color of the sauce in this photo--it was night time and apparently my lighting wasn't quite up to par.)

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