- The Washington Times - Tuesday, August 15, 2006

I first noticed it a few years ago during one of my semiannual visits to Paris. The French, I observed, had gone crazy over serving foods in glasses. I spotted such savory creations as chilled smoked salmon purees topped with diced cucumbers mounded in shot glasses, or I’d see juice glasses filled with layers of cooked vegetables bound with an icy cold gelee.

The pastry chefs certainly wanted to be part of this trend and would spoon dark chocolate mousse into a glass and top it with white chocolate mousse, or serve their version of tiramisu in small glistening glasses. Now, several years later, this fad seems to have taken hold and is more popular than ever.

This serving style has become part of my own repertoire when I entertain at home. Often, I pull out clear glasses and fill them with either a savory or a sweet combination. The simplest preparations, I’ve noticed, look quite stylish when presented this way.

Take, for instance, the recipe for marinated strawberries with mascarpone cream that follows. Nothing could be more basic. Fresh sliced berries are sweetened with sugar and flavored with fresh lemon and orange juices, and served with citrus-scented mascarpone cream.

The berries, of course, could be mounded in a large bowl accompanied by a dish of the mascarpone, but for very little effort, you can turn this dessert into a distinctive finale.

All that is necessary is to ladle the strawberries, along with some of their delicious juices, into short, wide-mouthed glasses, top them with a snowy layer of mascarpone, and add a sprig of mint.

I’ve served this dessert recently and am making it again for a small summer supper. It takes about 30 minutes to assemble and can be prepared a couple of hours ahead.

Best of all, my guests swoon when I bring these colorful confections to the table, assuming that they take much more time to prepare than the modest half hour required.

I smile and don’t reveal my secret ingredients — those sparkling glasses.

Marinated strawberries with mascarpone cream

The strawberries can be prepared 2 hours ahead; cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate.

24 ounces strawberries (4 heaping cups)

1/4 cup sugar, plus extra if needed

1/4 cup fresh orange juice

2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice

MASCARPONE CREAM:

8 ounces (1 cup) mascarpone

3/4 cup heavy or whipping cream, divided

1/4 cup sugar

3 tablespoons lemon juice

2 teaspoons orange zest

1 teaspoon lemon zest

6 mint sprigs for garnish

6 eight-ounce, wide-rimmed glasses or 6 large wine glasses or 6 martini glasses

Hull the strawberries, then slice them and place them in a large, nonreactive bowl. Add 1/4 cup sugar, orange juice, and lemon juice. Toss gently to combine and marinate the berries at room temperature 30 minutes.

Taste and, if you like, use an additional 1 to 2 teaspoons sugar.

For the mascarpone cream, place the mascarpone in a medium mixing bowl and add 1/4 cup of the heavy or whipping cream, sugar, lemon juice, and the orange and lemon zests. Stir well to combine.

With an electric mixer on high speed, beat the remaining ½ cup cream until soft peaks form. Then fold the cream into the mascarpone mixture.

Divide the berries evenly among the 6 glasses, spooning some of the juices that will have collected in the bowl into each glass. Then divide the mascarpone cream mixture evenly and spread a layer of it over the berries in each glass.

To serve, top each portion with a mint sprig.

Makes 6 servings.

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