Strawberries are on the wane here in Southern California. They’re really at a peak of ripeness and sweetness, though. So I bought two big boxes of berries to use for a company dinner. First I made my much-loved Strawberry Gazpacho. Since I’ve written it up before, you can click on the recipe title above and get to the original posting for it. With super ripe berries, the gazpacho had a wonderful sweet taste.
The remaining I used in the dessert. No longer do I have the original recipe for this. My notes, though, tell me it was in a Sunset Magazine. Since I found it listed in one of my military officer’s wives’ cookbooks dating back to about 1968, I know it’s at least that old. I even remember when I first made it – I was living at Whidbey Island, Washington – learning to cook and enjoying the compact kitchen I had in the small but new home I was living in at the time. Strawberries make their entrance there in late May or early June (my recollection anyway) and once the main crops were picked, the fields near Oak Harbor opened up for people to pick their own “jam” berries. But even those were very tasty; they were just small. Perfectly ripe, however.
Making this over the years (but not for at least 15-20) I’d forgotten some of the procedures, and had to refresh my memory. My typed up recipe also contained an error; fortunately, however, I recognized something was missing and went to look it up on the internet. I found several sources for this recipe, and with the exception of two ingredients, they were all the same. The differences were in the original recipe too, as I recall. This can be made with frozen berries if you want – in which case you decrease the amount of sugar. A more recent version suggested using Cool Whip instead of heavy cream if you prefer, so I included that in my recipe, although I’ve never made it that way.
First you make a sweet crumb mixture. While it’s baking you can work on the filling (strawberries, lemon juice, egg whites and heavy cream or Cool Whip). Once the baked mixture is cooled and crumbled up well, 2/3 of it is sprinkled on the bottom of a 9×13 pan. I stuck that in the freezer while I finished up the filling. The recipes all said to combine the berries, the egg whites, sugar and lemon juice and whip it all up until soft peaks form. I thought that sounded so very odd – the sliced berries would be totally decimated. I wanted them to remain in a more solid form, so I only folded in the berries at the end. Then you combine the whipped cream or Cool Whip with it, carefully spoon it over the crumbs in the pan, sprinkled the remaining crumbs on top and freeze. When ready to serve, you can decorate the square with some additional strawberries, even drizzle some strawberry juice around the plate.
What I did forget was that once frozen, this dessert needs to defrost a little bit before you even attempt to cut it up. Ten minutes out didn’t seem to be enough time. It still cracked in odd directions, and is hard to eat. It still tasted good, but with mostly frozen chunks of berries in it, it really needs that defrosting time to make it easily edible. None of the recipes I found online indicate that, and it’s been too many years since I made this to remember. So, whatever method you use, fresh or frozen berries, cream or Cool Whip, this is a refreshing dessert, and really quite easy to make.
Frosty Strawberry Squares
Recipe By: From an old Sunset magazine
Serving Size: 12
1 cup flour
1/4 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup walnuts — chopped
2 whole egg whites
1/2 cup unsalted butter — melted
1 cup sugar — or 2/3 cup if using frozen berries
2 tablespoons lemon juice
2 cups strawberries — sliced
1 cup heavy cream, whipped or 16 ounces Cool Whip® — defrosted
1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C).
2. To make the crust: combine flour, nuts, and brown sugar. Add melted butter, tossing to combine the ingredients. Spread the mixture evenly in a 9×13 inch pan.
3. Bake the crust at 350 degrees F (175 degrees C) for 15 minutes, stirring occasionally until lightly browned. Remove from pan and set aside to cool. Sprinkle 2/3 of the crust mixture in a 9×13 inch pan. Reserve the remaining crust mixture for the top.
4. Filling: In large bowl whip the egg whites until firm, then add the strawberries, sugar and lemon juice. Fold whipped topping into the mixture. Carefully spoon filling over the crust mixture. Sprinkle the remaining crust mixture on top. Cover and freeze for 6 hours or until firm. (You will need the full 6 hours). Allow pan to sit at room temperature for 10-20 minutes before serving.
Per Serving: 342 Calories; 18g Fat (48.6% calories from fat); 3g Protein; 40g Carbohydrate; 1g Dietary Fiber; 21mg Cholesterol; 22mg Sodium.