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Fresh strawberry shortcake calls for the best-ever bottom — the perfect dough pillow to sop up all of those luscious juices and add substance to those delicate heart-shaped fruits. But why settle for sticky, spongy pre-made cups when you can make these delicious biscuits?

Of course, you can get pretty foolish over a sweet fruit puree in a Strawberry-Rhubarb Fool, and for a star turn at your next spring or summer gathering, serve Strawberry Cheesecake Tart. Only the crust needs to be baked for the cheesecake, making it an easy — and pretty — dessert.

Strawberry Shortcake

2 (16-ounces) containers fresh strawberries, quartered

3/4 cup sugar, divided

1/4 teaspoon almond extract (optional)

1 cup whipping cream

2 tablespoons sugar

2 3/4 cups all-purpose flour

4 teaspoons baking powder

3/4 cup cold butter, cut up

2 large eggs, lightly beaten

1 (8-ounces) container sour cream

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Garnish: fresh mint sprigs

Combine strawberries, 1/2 cup sugar, and, if desired, almond extract. Cover berry mixture, and let stand 2 hours.

Beat whipping cream at medium speed with an electric mixer until foamy; gradually add 2 tablespoons sugar, beating until soft peaks form. Cover and chill up to 2 hours.

Combine flour, remaining 1/4 cup sugar and baking powder in a large bowl; cut butter into flour mixture with a pastry blender or two forks until crumbly.

Whisk together eggs, sour cream and vanilla until blended; add to flour mixture, stirring just until dry ingredients are moistened. Drop dough by lightly greased 1/3 cupfuls onto a lightly greased baking sheet. (Coat cup with vegetable cooking spray after each drop.)

Bake at 450 F for 12 to 15 minutes or until golden.

Split shortcakes in half horizontally. Spoon about 1/2 cup berry mixture onto each shortcake bottom; top each with a rounded tablespoon chilled whipped cream, and cover with tops. Serve with remaining whipped cream. Garnish, if desired.

Source: Southern Living magazine

Strawberry Cheesecake Tart

CRUST:

1/2 cup butter, softenend

1/3 cup sugar

1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour

2 tablespoons milk

1/2 teaspoon almond extract

FILLING:

1 cup heavy whipping cream

1 cup (3.4 ounce) package cheesecake-flavored instant pudding and pie filling mix

1 (8-ounce) package cream cheese, softened

TOPPING:

2 cups sliced fresh strawberries

1/4 cup strawberry jam, melted

Heat oven to 400 F. Combine butter and sugar in bowl; beat at medium speed until creamy. Add flour, milk and almond extract; beat at low speed, scraping bowl often, until mixture leaves sides of bowl and forms a ball.

Press dough onto bottom and up sides of greased 10-inch tart pan; prick with fork. Bake 15-18 minutes or until light golden brown. Cool completely.

Combine all filling ingredients in bowl. Beat at medium speed, scraping bowl often, until creamy. Spread over cooled crust. Refrigerate at least 1 hour.

Arrange strawberries over filling just before serving; brush or drizzle strawberries with melted jam.

Source: Land o’ Lakes

Strawberry-Rhubarb Fool

3 cups fresh rhubarb, cut into 1/2 inch pieces

1/2 cup sugar

1/3 cup water

1 pint (2 cups) fresh strawberries, hulled

1 cup heavy whipping cream

2 tablespoons sugar

Strawberry halves, if desired

Place rhubarb, 1/2 cup sugar and water in saucepan. Cook over medium-high heat, stirring occasionally, 20-25 minutes until rhubarb is very soft.

Place rhubarb mixture and strawberries into 5-cup blender container or food processor bowl fitted with metal blade. Cover; pulse until blended but not entirely pureed. Pour mixture into bowl. Cover; refrigerate 2 hours or until chilled.

Beat chilled whipping cream in chilled bowl at high speed, scraping bowl often, until soft peaks form. Continue beating, gradually adding sugar, until stiff peaks form.

Divide strawberry-rhubarb mixture into 6 dessert dishes. Dollop each serving with about 1/3 cup cream mixture just before serving; swirl gently with knife for marbled effect. Garnish with strawberry halves, if desired.

Source: Land o’Lakes

Vanilla Strawberries with Lemon Ricotta

1 vanilla extract

3 tablespoons honey, or more to taste

2 teaspoons lemon juice

Pinch of salt

3 cups strawberries, , hulled and quartered

2 cups part-skim ricotta cheese

2 tablespoons freshly grated lemon zest

If using vanilla bean, halve lengthwise. Using the tip of a small sharp knife, scrape the seeds from the pod into a medium bowl. Add honey, lemon juice and salt (and vanilla extract if not using a vanilla bean); whisk until well combined. Add strawberries and stir to combine. Let stand at room temperature for at least 15 minutes and up to 2 hours, stirring occasionally.

Just before serving, combine ricotta and lemon zest in another bowl.

Taste the strawberry mixture; if it’s too tart, add a little more honey. To serve, spoon 1/2 cup of the ricotta into each of 4 dessert bowls and top each with about 1/3 cup of the strawberries. Serve immediately.

Source: McCormick Kitchens

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Arts/Special Sections Editor

Special Sections Editor for the Courier

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