For better or worse, I don’t have a sweet tooth and have never been a big fan of desserts and sweet treats.
Nevertheless, I can appreciate why some people are so passionate about dessert. After all, sweetness is usually associated with happiness and don’t everyone believe in a happy ending?
Well not me, or so it seems.
I have previously written about tragic endings which make love stories great. The good nature of the human spirit naturally yearns for a happy resolution. But when this feeling is provoked by a sense of bitter-sweet, it keeps us gripped and engaged. It breaks our heart because we cannot fully rejoice.
The contrast of bitter tragedy makes a story ending that much sweeter if only it ended the way we desired. Similarly, when sour or bitterness is cleverly balanced with sweetness in a food recipe, the outcome can be magical.
For this same reason, I believe French chocolatier Henri Le Roux, inventor of the salted butter caramel in the late 1970s was passionate in trying to discover a nouveau taste dimension – one that would make the taste of sweetness even more unforgettable.
So, after more than three and a half years of food blogging and recently inspired by a sweet yet citrusy dessert, I have finally penned my first blog post about a dessert recipe.
Well, it’s actually half a dessert recipe because I can think of so many delightful marriages for these brandied strawberrries. Their versatility is only limited by your imagination.
When I was a kid growing up in Malaysia, my favourite fruit was strawberries because they were often beautifully depicted in fairy tales and children stories. I was fascinated by the vibrant red and seed patterns on each strawberry. If strawberries came with vanilla ice-cream as they often did, I would finish the ice-cream first. Then, I would slowly savour the smaller strawberries first, leaving the biggest ones for last.
And about the only place in tropical Malaysia where one can find strawberries is in Cameron Highlands where the cooler climate is more conducive for it to thrive. I fondly remember it was only during family holidays to the highlands that I was able to get a taste of this elusive, fairy tale-like fruit.
It also did me no favours when lollies were sickly sweet with the artificial flavouring of strawberry. And the harder it was to find fresh strawberries, the more I loved them.
The romanticism of strawberries has waned as I grew older but I will always associate them fondly with my childhood.
- 12 – 15 large strawberries, stems removed and halved lengthwise
- 1 large lemon, juiced and set aside
- 6 tablespoons brown sugar
- 3 cups of water
- Half cup of Hennessy Cognac or any good drinking brandy (do not use cooking brandy)
- Heat water in a cooking pot until just simmering then add sugar and bring to a boil;
- When the liquid begins to turn light brown, turn heat down to a gentle simmer and add Hennessy Very Special Cognac while whisking the caramel to allow brandy to infuse and evaporate for about 5 minutes;
- Turn off heat and let the caramel cool;
- Once the caramel is almost room temperature, stir in lemon juice and place strawberries into the pot, cut side down to infuse the brandied caramel. Hold up pot and gently swirl the caramel to coat the strawberries;
- Keep brandied strawberries refrigerated in sealed glass jars.
- You can substitute the 3 cups water & 6 tablespoons brown sugar with 3 cups of fresh orange juice for a more citrusy taste. I used caramel to enhance the sweetness of the strawberries. The lemon juice is important to balance the sweetness of sugar.
- Be cautious when preparing caramel because the liquid is extremely hot.
- Allow the caramel to cool before adding strawberries to maintain firmness and prevent the fruit from becoming too soft.
- If you’re feeling lazy and really don’t want to go through the hassle of cooking, just souse the strawberries in a decent bottle of dessert wine for a few days.
Brandied strawberries will add vibrant colour and sweetness to a variety of desserts. Try adding them to:
- Breakfast granola
- Citrusy lime or lemon sorbet
- Panna cotta
- Vanilla or chocolate ice-cream
- Plain or vanilla yoghurt
- Chocolate pudding
- White chocolate parfait
- Fruit jelly
- Turkish delight
- Creme caramel
- Citrus fruits like orange, grapefruit and pomelo
- Winter rhubarb and yoghurt
I have used 500 gm of Suncoast Harvest strawberries for this recipe. See details at the bottom of this blog post.
I did not refer to any other brandied strawberries recipes on the internet and just used some common cooking sense.
This is a relatively simple recipe which require a small amount of ingredients and cooking time. For someone who never prepares sweet treats and attempting a self-styled dessert recipe for the first time, I am extremely pleased with the outcome.
Well there are happy endings after all. Even for me, or so it seems.
So dear readers, what was your favourite fruit when you were a kid and why?
ChopinandMysaucepan used Suncoast Harvest strawberries from Queensland that’s available when in season at Coles supermarkets. Two 250 gm punnets of these strawberries retail for $3 or $6 per kg.
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