Warm Mocha Tart


I  had better finish up my 10 ideas for strawberries before strawberries go out of season! Fortunately this idea is good for fresh cherries too, not to mention figs.

Chocolate dipped strawberries(cherries, figs…)  are easy and fun to make.  Any child (of any age) would love to help you with dipping. Choose a brand of chocolate that you love to nibble. (And choose a bar of chocolate rather than chocolate chips or anything called “chocolate coating,” even if it is sold in the same aisle as the fruit. Chocolate chips won’t melt well, and the so called chocolate coating sold in the produce aisle is not delicious enough. No need to “temper” the chocolate to keep it shiny: the secret to preventing the chocolate from turning gray and streaky is to dry and chill the fruit before dipping, then refrigerate it as soon after dipping as possible.


Serves 15 or more


About 2 pints small or medium strawberries (with or without stems), or up to 36 large

strawberries with stems, or 1 ¼ pounds cherries with stems

8 ounces bittersweet or semisweet chocolate, coarsely chopped, or milk or white chocolate, finely chopped


Cookie sheets

Fluted paper candy cups (optional)
Rinse the fruit gently and spread it out on a tray lined with paper towels. The fruit should be as dry as possible before dipping; if necessary, pat it dry or use a cupped hand to cradle each piece gently in a soft dishtowel or a paper towel. Refrigerate until chilled.

Line the cookie sheets with parchment paper. Put the chocolate in a small heatproof bowl, preferably stainless steel. Bring an inch of water to a simmer in a wide skillet. If using semisweet or bittersweet chocolate, set the bowl directly in the skillet and keep the water at a bare simmer. If using milk or white chocolate, turn the heat off under the skillet and wait for 60 seconds before putting the bowl in the hot water.

Stir dark chocolate frequently, milk and white chocolate almost constantly, until almost entirely melted, then remove the bowl, wipe the bottom dry, and stir to finish melting the chocolate. The chocolate should be warm and fluid, but not hot. Grasp fruit by the stem or the shoulders and dip it about two-thirds of the way into the chocolate, or deeper if you like. Lift the fruit above the chocolate and shake off the excess, letting it drip back into the bowl, then very gently wipe a little excess chocolate from one side of the fruit on the edge of the bowl, set it on a lined cookie sheet, wiped side down, and slide it forward slightly to prevent a puddle of chocolate from forming at the tip. Refrigerate each tray as soon as it’s filled, and keep refrigerated until ready to serve. Serve any time after the chocolate has set enough that you can peel the fruit cleanly from the parchment. Transfer each one to a fluted candy cup, if desired.

If you are making chocolate dipped cherries, be sure to warn you guests that the cherries all have pits!

For more ideas for strawberries, see recent posts and my new book, Sinfully Easy Delicious Desserts (Artisan 2012) by Alice Medrich 


Did you know that strawberries and sesame are divine together?

To find out, serve a bowl of ripe strawberries layered with chopped halvah (as much or as little as you like) and topped with unsweetened whipped cream and more halvah.
That’s the recipe. Really, that is all there is to it. 
I’m not even taking a photo. You know what strawberries and cream look like so just imagine it laced with bits of yummy, sweet, rich, sesame halvah. Alternatively, you can fold the halvah into the cream to make halvah whipped cream, and then slather the berries with it. Either way: delish!
There is only one problem with this recipe (not counting the possibility that you might actually dislike halvah, in which can you can skip to the last paragraph):
You have to go out of your way to find superb sesame halvah choices here in the US. The ubiquitous American-made halvah found in supermarkets, gourmet shops, and delis is disappointing.  I hope no one judges all halvah by that one.  Meanwhile, I have been tweeting and emailing with David Lebovitz www.davidlebovitz.com, @davidlebovitz) during his Israeli trip last week and drooling over his reports of great halvah (and hummus etc.).  And I’ve been remembering some stunning Lebanese (or was it Turkish?) halvah—with rose water and pistachios— that I tasted here, in a local Palestinian restaurant a few years ago.
So yes, even in Berkeley, one has to out of their way for good halvah. Having just written that, I realized that I regularly go out of my way for special ingredients, so why not spend an hour or two looking for halvah? I’ll bring home everything I can find within a reasonable radius and invite a couple halvah lovers in to taste. Then I’ll take a photo…
Meanwhile, back to strawberries and cream:  If you really hate halvah, or if you can’t find good halvah, or if you need instant gratification while looking for some good halvah, you can substitute crushed peanut brittle, almond brittle, or any kind of toffee with nuts, for the halvah. I didn’t say this would be the same as using halvah (not at all) but it will produce a very easy crowd pleaser: what’s not to love about crunchy, nutty, sweet, and buttery, bits of crushed toffee with berries and cream? I normally make my own caramelized nuts for this, but buying brittle or toffee while shopping for the berries and cream is quicker and very smart indeed.

For more ideas for strawberries, see recent and upcoming posts and my new book, Sinfully Easy Delicious Desserts (Artisan 2012) by Alice Medrich 


Open a modest bottle of red for this, or use wine left from a party. It's even ok to mix different kinds…no one will know.

Pour red wine over whole or halved ripe strawberries, adding about 2 tablespoons of sugar (to taste) per cup of wine and a squeeze of lemon juice. Macerate at room temperature for up to an hour, and then chill for up to an hour. Serve the fruit with some of it’s liquid.
Here is the bonus: 
After the strawberries are gone you may have lots of liquid left in the serving bowl. Simmer it until it has thickened to a syrupy sauce. Serve over vanilla ice cream, with or without new fresh strawberries. 
Photo by Sang An


For more ideas for strawberries, see recent and upcoming posts.  Also see my new book, Sinfully Easy Delicious Desserts(Artisan 2012) by Alice Medrich, page 48. 

Cocktail time at last!

Several years ago I celebrated the publication of my new book, Pure Dessert, with a party at the Hangar One/St. George Spirits Tasting Room. Better still (so to speak) the party was not actually in the tasting room, but in the hangar in front of the gorgeous copper still.  So chic yet industrial, and of course it smelled divine in there. Obviously we drank cocktails with all of the desserts. Two of them featured ripe strawberries.


By Bay Area writer and mixologist, Lou Bustamante

1 muddled ripe strawberry

1/2 ounce lemon juice

1/2 ounce simple syrup

1 1/2 ounces Hangar One Mandarin Blossom Vodka 

1/4 ounce St. George Absinthe Verte

Shake all of the ingredients with ice, strain and serve up, in a martini glass. 


By Voka Vixen, Andie Ferman

1 1/2 ounces St. George Single Malt Whiskey (or a non-peaty single malt of your choice)
1/4 ounce lemon juice

1 muddled ripe strawberry

Dash of simple syrup

Shake all of the ingredients with ice, strain and serve up, in a sour glass. 

For more ideas for strawberries, see recent posts.  Also see my new book, Sinfully Easy Delicious Desserts(Artisan 2012), page 48. 

Does anyone else remember brunch in 70’s?  Yes, quiche was there, and very chic indeed.  But I especially remember this seriously simple and delicious dessert: a bowl of ripe strawberries was served, flanked with a dish of sour cream and a dish of brown sugar. Guests dipped a berry into the sour cream then into the sugar.  Finger food!  In more formal circles than ours, I suspect that each guest had their own little plate…

Either way, you can recapture and elevate this lovely retro dish by trading in ordinary brown sugar for dark muscovado sugar (one of my obsessions).  Stick with the sour cream (who doesn’t love sour cream?) or swap it for crème fraiche, or labneh, or drained yogurt, or any other slightly tangy or tart fresh cheese or cultured milk.  Could anything be easier?

For more things to do with ripe strawberries, see recent and upcoming posts.  Also see my new book, Sinfully Easy Delicious Desserts(Artisan 2012) by Alice Medrich.




Make sorbet without an ice cream machine? No cooking either? You can prep this sweet and refreshing dessert in fewer minutes (not counting freezing time) than it would take you to go out and buy it. It’s also a perfect way to use those delicious leftover berries that no longer look party fresh. Preserves instead of sugar syrup contribute a smooth texture and complex flavor. Serve the sorbet plain or with a little whipped cream or a dab of crème fraîche right from the carton. Oh, and yes, you can skip the balsamic vinegar; just replace it with water. That’s it.

Makes almost 3 cups
1 pound (4 cups) ripe, flavorful strawberries
½ cup plus 2 tablespoons strawberry (or raspberry) preserves

Pinch of salt

A small lemon

2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice, or to taste

4 teaspoons balsamic vinegar, or to taste

¼ cup water


Food processor or blender

Rinse and hull the berries and put them in the food processor or blender with ½ cup of the preserves and the salt. Finely grate zest from half of the lemon into the processor bowl. Puree until smooth. Add the lemon juice, vinegar, and water and pulse to mix. Taste and add the remaining jam as necessary for sweetness and adjust the lemon juice, vinegar, and salt if necessary. The puree should taste a bit sweeter than you think it should and have a little zip to it.


Scrape the mixture into a shallow pan, cover, and freeze until hard, 3 to 4 hours.


Break the frozen mixture into chunks with a fork and process in the food processor or blender until there are no more frozen pieces to process, stopping to redistribute the mixture from time to time, until it is smooth and creamy and lightened in color. 



It may be frozen enough to serve right out of the food processor, or you can scrape it into a container and return it to the freezer until needed. If the sorbet freezes too hard, let it soften in the fridge for about 15 minutes, or carefully soften it in the microwave on the defrost setting, a few seconds at a time.
For more ideas for strawberries, see my new book, Sinfully Easy Delicious Desserts(Artisan 2012) by Alice Medrich, page 48.


I know. No one really needs a recipe for serving ripe strawberries topped with whipped cream, right? But I thought I would start with my basics (Alice’s Rules, so to speak) and let everyone take it (or not) from there.   

The strawberries:Start with great tasting berries. Don’t assume that the biggest strawberries are the best; the big guys are often the least tasty and odd shaped and odd sized small ones are sometimes spectacular. Great strawberries don’t need to be sugared, and unless you prefer otherwise, and you needn’t sweeten the cream either! If you don’t shop at a market (or farmers' market) where tasting is assumed, ask for a taste before you buy. You will be surprised at how often you will get a “yes”. Make friends with that farmer or produce person, you are going to need him/her (and a knife) later, when melons are in season!
Here’s how to keep ripe strawberries in good condition for several days: when you get home from the market pick through and discard any berries with a moldy or otherwise rotten spot. Spread berries (without rinsing them) in a single layer on a double layer of paper towels in a shallow container. Cover the berries with another paper towel. Cover and refrigerate the container. They should last for several days this way. Rinse and hull berries as you need them
The cream: Use great cream. Look for only one ingredient on the carton or bottle: cream. Don’t buy pre-sweetened cream or dairy topping or cream in an aerosol can (yes, I know how much fun that can be…but save it). The best tasting cream is not ultra-pasteurized nor is it stabilized with carrageenan (or anything else). Ultra-pasteurized cream has the faint flavor of canned milk and carrageenan produces a silky texture at the cost of flavor…
If you add vanilla extract to your cream, use pure (not artificial) extract. Don’t believe anyone who says no one can taste (or smell) the difference. Vanilla is nice, but not essential to good whipped cream. 
If you sweeten your whipped cream, use granulated rather than powdered sugar. Powdered sugar tastes faintly of the starch that is added to keep the sugar from clumping. Adjust the sugar towards the end of beating; sweetened cream tastes less sweet when it is fluffy than when it is fluid.
Reminder: Cream must be very cold or it will not whip properly: it will either refuse to thicken or it will curdle. If you are just back from the store and the cream has been in your shopping basket and car for a while, refrigerate it again before you try to whip it. Start with a chilled bowl and beaters for a little extra whipped cream insurance!
Whipping the cream: Using chilled beaters (or a hand held whisk), beat 1 cup of cream with ½ teaspoon or more vanilla (if using), in a chilled bowl until it holds a soft shape. Gradually add 2-3 teaspoons sugar (to taste), and beat until it holds a good shape but is not too stiff.






For more things to do with strawberries, see upcoming posts. And see my new book, Sinfully Easy Delicious Desserts(Artisan 2012) for more strawberry ideas and ten ways to flavor whipped cream!