In early June, the first strawberries start to appear in Norwegian markets, and summer truly begins. Most Norwegians serve them simply, with cream. In this variation, the strawberries and cream are spiked with vanilla, producing divine results. Serve the dessert with shortbread cookies, if desired.
2/3 cup water
1/2 cup sugar
1 vanilla bean, halved lengthwise
4 pints (8 cups) strawberries
1 (8-oz.) container mascarpone cheese*
1/4 cup sugar
3/4 cup heavy whipping cream
1. Place water, 1/2 cup sugar and vanilla bean in medium saucepan; bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Boil 2 minutes. Remove from heat; cool. Remove and reserve vanilla bean. Place sugar syrup in blender.
2. Reserve 6 whole strawberries. Slice remaining berries; reserve 1 1/2 cups for garnish. Place remaining sliced berries in blender with sugar syrup; blend until smooth. Strain to remove seeds.
3. Scrape seeds from reserved vanilla bean; place in large bowl, along with mascarpone cheese and 1/4 cup sugar. Beat at medium speed until smooth. Slowly add cream; beat until stiff peaks form.
4. Using 2 spoons, shape cream mixture into 3 ovals for each serving; place in center of large rimmed plate. Pour strained strawberry mixture around cream; garnish with reserved sliced and whole strawberries.
TIP *Mascarpone cheese is a double- or triple-cream cheese from Italy. Look for it in the dairy section of the supermarket or in Italian markets.
PER SERVING: 390 calories, 25 g total fat (15 g saturated fat), 4.5 g protein, 40.5 g carbohydrate, 82.5 mg cholesterol, 125 mg sodium, 4.5 g fiber