Macerated Berries

While I was in the UK over the summer I had one day to spend with my good friend Davina from Paper + White.  She treated me to a perfect British day.  Having moved from her glorious Black and White at the foot of Mt Faber, Davina is now living in a picturesque village in Cambridgeshire in an equally stunning property only moments away from the river.  If the setting wasn’t British enough, the day we visited it was the rowing regatta and in true Paper + White style, Davina catered for us in the most stylish way.  Wicker hampers bursting with homemade goodies, chilled champagne and vintage blankets and cushions to lie back on.  The sun even shone.

For dessert we had a British classic – macerated berries with a little crème fraîche and shortbread.  The perfect easy dessert.  I have re-created it here as it is a fantastic way to end a dinner party.  It barely rates as a recipe but if you make the shortbread then it just about tips the scales into a recipe.

The perfect dessert

Macerated Berries with Shortbread

Serves 4

Note: You can macerate berries in anything you like.  It just kind of means soaking.  I have used a simple version of sugar and orange juice but you could use alcohol, balsamic vinegar, some kind of syrup – the choice is yours.

1 punnet each of strawberries, raspberries, blueberries and blackberries
1/4 cup orange juice
1/4 cup sugar
Crème fraîche, to serve

Trim the tops from the strawberries and cut into chunks similar in size to the other berries, or simply halve them if they are only small.  Combine berries in a bowl with the orange juice and sugar.  Leave to macerate in the fridge for at least 2 hours or if you can, overnight.

To serve, place a couple of spoonfuls of berries in a glass or bowl, top with a dollop of creme fraîche and serve with a shortbread (your guests can then decide if they would like to crumble their shortbread into the berries to make a ‘crumble’ or simply nibble alongside the berries).

Shortbread

4 oz butter, softened at room temperature
2 oz caster sugar, plus extra for sprinkling
6 oz plain flour, sifted

Preheat oven to 150°C.  Start by softening the butter using a wooden spoon.  Beat until the butter is very soft then add the caster sugar.  Continue to beat using the wooden spoon until the butter and sugar are well incorporated.  Add the sifted flour and mix with the wooden spoon until just coming together and then use your hands to bring the mixture into a dough.

Sprinkle a little caster sugar onto a wooden board and lightly and quickly roll out the dough to about 3mm thick and cut out using whichever shape you prefer.  (If the rolling pin is sticking then sprinkle with a little caster sugar).  Place on baking paper on a tray and bake for 30 minutes.  They should have just a hint of colour without having turned golden.

Place on a wire rack to cool and sprinkle with caster sugar.

Berry dessert