Put fresh berries to good use with these desserts

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Dan Bolyard/courtesy photo Strawberry shortcake, whether the berries come from your own patch or the store, is a sweet summer treat.

Now that the weather has warmed up, our berry patch is producing lots of berries. Strawberries and raspberries have been very productive here, so I’ve been looking for ways to use them up, beyond eating them fresh out of the patch.

One of my favorites is strawberry shortcake. Occasionally raspberries get the call for the dish, but the strawberries are more traditional. Just imagine a handful of fresh-picked berries plopped on a piece of cake and then topped with freshly-whipped cream.

I know not everyone has a berry patch. The ones at the store can fill in. When choosing strawberries, look for smaller bright red ones. Darker red usually means they are overripe and they won’t last as long. Look at the bottom of the package too. Beware of any berries that have dripped. Raspberries should look bright and be firm. Watch for spots of mold, or the absorbent pad in the bottom of the package being soaked with juices.

Pound cake is good choice for the cake, as is angel food. Both should lack strong flavors so the berries won’t be overwhelmed.

POUND CAKE

2 1/2 cups sugar

1 cup butter

7 eggs

6 tablespoons cornstarch

2 5/8 cups flour

1 cup heavy cream

2 tablespoons vanilla extract

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease and flour a 10-inch tube pan. Set aside. Cream together the sugar and butter until light. Continue beating and add 7 eggs, one at a time; beating well after each egg . Mix together flour and cornstarch. Beat half of the flour mixture into the egg and sugar mixture. Mix in 1\2 cup cream, and then beat in the remainder of the flour mixture. Finish by beating in remaining cream and vanilla. Pour into prepared pan and bake for about 60 to 75 minutes. Cool on rack for 10 minutes before using.

ANGEL FOOD CAKE

1 cup sifted cake flour

1 1/2 cups sugar

10-12 egg whites at room temperature

1 1/4 teaspoon cream of tartar

Pinch of salt

1 teaspoon vanilla

1/4 teaspoon almond extract

Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Sift flour with 1/2 cup of the sugar. Beat the egg whites until foamy. Add the cream of tartar and salt and beat until soft moist peaks form when the beater is withdrawn. Add the remaining sugar, about 2 tablespoons at a time, beating it in after each addition. Add vanilla and almond extract. Sift about 1/4 cup of the flour-sugar mixture at a time over the meringue and cut and folk it in just until no flour shows. Turn into an ungreased angel flood pan (the round one with the hole in the middle) and bake about 1 hour. Remove from the oven and invert pan; let cake cool in pan.

INDIVIDUAL STRAWBERRY SHORTCAKE

1 small piece of cake

1 1/4 cup sliced fresh strawberries

3 tablespoons sugar

1/2 teaspoon vanilla

1/3 cup whipped topping

Line a medium glass dish with sliced sponge cake. In a small bowl, toss the strawberries with the sugar.

In a separate bowl, add the vanilla to the whipped topping. Sprinkle some berries over the cake, then add a layer of whipped topping.

STRAWBERRY RASPBERRY SMOOTHIE

1 1/2 cups orange juice

1 cup ice cubes

1 cup banana slices

1 cup strawberries

1 cup raspberries

Place orange juice and ice in a blender. Process long enough to crush ice. Place in remaining fruit and process until desired smoothness is achieved. Serve right away.

RASPBERRY FROZEN YOGURT

3 cups raspberries

1 cup milk

2/3 cup sugar

1/4 cup light corn syrup

1 tablespoon cornstarch

1 cup plain yogurt

In food processor, add raspberries. Process until smooth. Strain and discard seeds. Set aside. Combine sugar and corn starch in a small saucepan. Add milk; bring to a boil, and cook 1 minute, stirring constantly. Remove from heat. Stir in raspberry puree and corn syrup. Cool completely. Combine raspberry mixture and yogurt in bowl; stir well. Cover and chill for 8 hours. Pour raspberry mixture into an ice cream maker. Freeze according to manufacturer’s instructions. Allow to ripen 1 hour in freezer can.

STRAWBERRY FREEZER JAM

5 cups fresh strawberries, stemmed

4 cups of sugar

3/4 cup water

1 package (1 3/4-ounce) powdered fruit pectin

Crush strawberries completely. Measure 2 cups strawberries with juices into bowl. Thoroughly mix in sugar; set aside 10 minutes. Combine water and pectin in saucepan. Bring to boil and boil one minute, stirring constantly. Stir pectin mixture into strawberries; continue stirring 3 minutes. Ladle quickly into sterilized freezer jars or containers, allowing 1/2 inch head space. Cover lids. Let stand at room temperature 24 hours. Store in freezer. If jam is to be used with 2 or 3 weeks, store in refrigerator. Makes 2 1/2 cups.

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