- The Washington Times - Wednesday, June 17, 2009

It’s hard to pass through a farmers market this time of year without emerging on the other side with at least one pint of freshly picked berries tucked into the shopping bag. Sweet thumb-sized strawberries, dusky blueberries, berries with names you’ve never heard before — it’s tempting to try them all.

At home (if any berries even make it home), you can sprinkle them over morning cereal or eat them for dessert with a little whipped cream and brown sugar. You can also make muffins or scones if you’re feeling extra industrious and throw a handful of berries into the batter. Smeared with a little butter, these baked treats are what lazy summer mornings are all about.

There are more dazzling ways to show off these seasonal beauties, especially the rare varieties that make such brief appearances in the markets.

Berry and white chocolate pudding parfait

Makes 4 individual parfaits.

2 cups whole milk or heavy cream, divided

4 ounces white chocolate, broken into small bits

2 tablespoons cornstarch

1/4 cup sugar

1/4 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

8 large graham cracker squares, crumbled

1 pint of berries, washed

For the pudding: Combine 1 3/4 cups of the milk and all chocolate in a medium-sized saucepan over medium heat. Stir occasionally until the chocolate has completely melted.

Meanwhile, whisk together the remaining 1/4 cup of milk, the cornstarch, the sugar, and the salt. Make sure there are no lumps remaining from the cornstarch.

When the chocolate has melted, pour the cornstarch mixture into the pan while whisking slowly. Continue whisking until the liquid starts to thicken slightly, about five minutes. Turn the heat down to medium-low, and use a heatproof spoon to stir the pudding gently as it thickens. Make sure to scrape the bottom of the pan occasionally so the milk doesn’t scorch.

The pudding is ready when it’s the consistency of a thick cream sauce, if the surface jiggles slightly when tapped, and when drips from the end of the spoon stay suspended on the surface of the pudding for at least three seconds. This should take another 6 to 8 minutes from the time you turned down the heat.

Off the heat, stir in the vanilla. Let the pudding cool to room temperature, stirring occasionally to prevent a skin from forming.

To make the parfaits: Spoon half an inch of the cooled pudding into the bottom of four clear glass cups. Add a layer of graham cracker crumbles and then a layer of berries on top. Repeat these layers until the glasses are full, finishing with a layer of pudding and a few berries.

It’s best to prepare the parfaits as close to serving as possible. The pudding can be prepared ahead and refrigerated. Assembled parfaits can be refrigerated for up to an hour.

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