Brighten up your day with a strawberry dessert

Yes! Local strawberries are ripe for the picking. I know this because last Saturday my neighbor gifted us a quart of berries he’d picked that morning. I made a buttery shortcake, cleaned and sugared the berries, and on Sunday, while it was pouring down rain, we enjoyed fresh strawberry shortcake with plenty of whipped cream, which made the day seem a little brighter.

My berries may be gone, but visions of more mouthwatering desserts are never-ending. A fresh strawberry pie perhaps, or a strawberry-rhubarb cobbler, a delicious combination of sweet and tart, perfectly served warm with a scoop of vanilla ice cream.

For goodies on the go, there are white chocolate blondie bars with sliced strawberries folded into the batter…mmm. Looks like a trip to the farm market is in my future. Are you sharing my visions?

Fresh Strawberry Pie

9-inch pie shell, baked

6 cups strawberries, hulled, washed and drained

1 cup sugar

3 T. cornstarch

1/2 cup water

4 to 5 drops red food coloring, if desired

Whipped cream

Directions: In small bowl, crush enough strawberries to make 1 cup. In medium saucepan, combine sugar and cornstarch. Add crushed berries and water. Cook till mixture boils and thickens, stirring constantly. Stir in food coloring. Cool.

Spoon remaining whole or sliced strawberries into cooled pie shell. Pour cooked strawberry mixture over top. Refrigerate 3 hours, or till set. To serve, top slices with whipped cream. Serves 6 to 8.

White Chocolate Strawberry Blondies

5 ounces white chocolate, chopped

1/3 cup unsalted butter, cut into pieces

2 eggs

1 tsp. vanilla extract

1 cup all-purpose flour

1/4 tsp. baking powder

1/4 tsp. salt

1 cup strawberries, hulled and halved

Directions: Line the bottom and sides of 8×8-inch square baking pan with parchment paper, leaving a slight overhang (helps to remove blondies from pan when baked.) Butter parchment.

In double boiler or a bowl set over a pot of gently simmering water, melt chocolate and butter, stirring constantly, till smooth. Remove from heat and stir in sugar. Allow to cool to just above room temperature (it may appear to separate but that’s ok.)

Whisk in eggs and vanilla till smooth. Add flour, baking powder and salt. Stir till just incorporated and no dry flour remains. Fold in strawberries; pour into prepared pan.

Bake in preheated 350-degree oven 25 to 30 minutes or till top is lightly golden and a toothpick inserted near center comes our clean. Place on wire rack to cool completely.

Use the parchment paper to lift bars out of pan. Cut into 2-inch squares. Store in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to three days. Serves 16.

Strawberry-Rhubarb Cobbler

2 cups fresh sliced strawberries

2 cups sliced rhubarb, cooked

1 cup plus 2 T. sugar, divided

6 T. butter, softened, divided

1 T. cornstarch

1 tsp. vanilla extract

1 cup all-purpose flour

1 egg

1/4 tsp. salt

Directions: In medium saucepan simmer rhubarb in a little sugared water till tender. Meanwhile, grease an 8-inch square baking pan. In large bowl, combine strawberries, cooked rhubarb, 1 cup sugar, 2 tablespoons butter, cornstarch and vanilla. Mix well and pour into baking pan.

In a medium bowl, combine the flour, egg, salt, the remaining sugar and butter. Mix till crumbly then sprinkle over the fruit. Bake in preheated 400-degree oven 40 to 45 minutes or till bubbly and topping is golden. Serve warm with vanilla ice cream, if desired. Serves 6.