Best served same day

I was honored to have my paintings as the featured collection for the month of June at the Altamont Free Library. When it came time to take the show down, we celebrated with a party to benefit the Mohawk Hudson Land Conservancy through sales of prints and cards. Nancy and I catered the party ourselves with mini desserts we made from local strawberries, blueberries, and raspberries, which had reached a crescendo of ripeness right about then. 

The day was hot. The fruit was ripe. And every recipe said “best served same day.” With five different desserts on tap, it was a bit like an episode of “Chopped,” except we started cooking at 7:00 a.m. and finished about 5:00. All were new to us and we went a little overboard because we weren’t sure if they’d all work and they all looked so yummy. One I wouldn’t make again but the rest were true gems. Unfortunately there are no pictures of our own work because we were too damn busy and stressed! But if you’re looking for berry desserts, follow these four to the letter and we’ll endorse 100%.

Roasted Strawberry Goat Cheese Squares

Loved the roasted strawberries! Our berries were fresh from the field but not super sweet. Balsamic vinegar and maple syrup intensified the flavor and created a really delicious syrup. There was a lot of strawberry mixture left over, which I used on yogurt or oatmeal for several days. The puff pastry was easy to work with. Nancy used a biscuit cutter to score the tops. The added mint leaves were simple too.


Raspberry Madeleines

Nancy usually makes Madeleines at Christmas. Having them with buried raspberries in summer was an unexpected treat. We don’t have central air conditioning and by midday our kitchen was a sauna. So we closed off one room and ran the A.C. up full, creating a “cool room” for the pastries. This way we were able to sprinkle powdered sugar without it melting into everything. One question — why is there always too much Madeleine batter for the number of cookies in the pan?

Raspberry Financiers

What a GREAT discovery! These cookies were originally made in the financial district in Paris and designed for busy bankers to pop in their pockets on the way to work. Perfect party food, non? These have raspberries added 4 minutes into baking so they don’t sink down into the batter. The whole recipe worked perfectly and it took all my willpower not devour them all as I organized the platters.


American Beauty: Cornmeal-Berry Sheet Cake

What a perfect cake! The cornmeal gave the cake a nice texture. It felt, somehow casual, but dressier than a coffee cake. The blueberries and raspberries are sprinkled over the top in abundance and they sink in but leave pockets of syrupy goodness that hint at what’s to come. I cut the cake into 11/2 inch squares and put them on cupcake paper cups. The 9 x 13 sheet cake made a lot of little bites and they were the backbone of the platters — with the fancier pastries used as accents. And best yet, even though the recipe recommends serving same day, we brought back the extra and it kept in the refrigerator for a week!


Berries from Maynard Farms and Altamont Orchards.