Thank Amy for selecting something this week for the Sunday Slow Bakers that didn't require turning on the oven. We have had a serious heat wave here in Santa Barbara, and I think last night was the hottest I've ever been in our house. Baking would have been extremely unpleasant.
Yet I had a small dinner party, and I needed to do something for dessert. It was actually a few weeks ago that I made this recipe for the the first time. If I had been smart I would have photographed and written about then and been done with it. But the truth of the matter is that I wasn't terribly wild about the dessert. I didn't like the black pepper in the cream and the chianti took away a little of the flavor of the strawberries for me. It wasn't bad, it just wasn't my thing.
So last night I thought I would leave the strawberries plain, and I would skip the black pepper completely. Instead I added a little bit of freshly grated allspice to the cream as I mixed it. I also cut back on the ricotta. I opted for a one to one ratio of the cream and ricotta. So one cup of ricotta instead of one and a quarter cups. It definitely tasted better to me. I don't think I added enough allspice, so a few cranks of the mill was not enough. I should have added more like a teaspoon or perhaps a different spice or mixture of spices. Some freshly grated nutmeg would have been nice.
For my dinner party I served it, not plain in the pretty dessert glass pictured above, but with ice cream. (I have to confess I just made that one so that I could photograph it.) My friend, Harriet, brought some of her homemade strawberry ice cream and I made some chocolate sorbet, so the strawberries were merely part of a trio.
Looking at the photo now it reminds me of the ice cream of my childhood: Neapolitan. Remember that? All summer there would be cartons of that in our freezer. It came in a half gallon rectangular carton that had a stripe of each flavor: vanilla, strawberry and chocolate. I think you were meant to serve it in slices, so that each person had an equal amount of each. But we always seemed to serve it in scoops, and I always wanted more chocolate than the other two flavors. I don't think I've had Neapolitan ice cream since I was about 14 years old, but the image of it does seem to be imprinted on my brain.
This dessert, of course, really has nothing to do with Neapolitan ice cream other than triggering the memory for me. Though it wasn't a knock your socks off kind of dessert, I think it turned out very well. The strawberry ice cream was very flavorful and not overly sweet. The chocolate sorbet was a dark almost bittersweet chocolate flavor that would have been too strong on its own. And the strawberries added a nice balance to all that. It didn't hurt that I found some dead ripe, juicy and delicious strawberries at the Farmer's Market that morning. And best of all it was a cool refreshing dessert that did not require the oven.