Originally created 05/25/05

Dessert is summertime twist on Italian classic



Whether you stop by a strawberry farm and pick your own, purchase them from a corner stand or make a Saturday trip to the farmers market, there are many ways to enjoy fresh strawberries.

For a special dessert, try Berimisu, a berried-up version of the Italian dessert tiramisu. Fresh berries are layered with cake and a creamy filling for a simple-to-prepare meal finale.

This recipe also works well with other berries, including blueberries, raspberries or blackberries. A combination of three or four berries is really delicious, but during the height of strawberry season, I keep it simple and use only fresh local strawberries.

The cake for the Berimisu depends on what's available at your supermarket and your nutritional considerations. For the moistest confection, I like to use a whole vanilla cream cake. The cake is glazed, which adds an extra dimension of flavor. If you can't find a cream cake at your supermarket or wish to prepare a reduced-fat version, substitute two thawed fat-free frozen pound cakes.

Mascarpone cheese, a slightly sweet, creamy Italian cheese, usually is used when preparing tiramisu. The cheese, however, can be expensive (about $4 for eight ounces), and is not available at all grocery stores. Reduced-fat cream cheese (Neufchatel) is a good substitute and is available everywhere. When you're in the mood to splurge, give the recipe a try using the mascarpone.

The recipe makes 16 servings, but it can be cut in half. You also can follow the recipe and share one of these layered desserts with a friend or neighbor.

Berimisu

1 10-ounce package "light" or regular strawberries in syrup, defrosted

1 quart fresh strawberries, washed and dried, hulled and sliced, or a combination of strawberries and washed and dried blueberries, raspberries and blackberries (2 cups berries in all)

1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice

2 8-ounce blocks reduced-fat cream cheese, at room temperature

1/2 cup powdered sugar pint whipping cream, whipped to stiff peaks*

1 prepared bakery round, glazed vanilla cream cake or pound cake loaf, sliced horizontally into 5 layers

Powdered sugar, for garnish

Fresh mint sprigs, for garnishFresh strawberries, for garnish

Place defrosted strawberries and syrup in a blender or food processor fitted with a metal blade and puree until smooth. Pour into a medium bowl and stir in the fresh berries and lemon juice. Cover and refrigerate until ready to use.

Place the cream cheese and powdered sugar in a medium bowl and beat with a hand mixer until smooth. Fold in the whipped topping, blending gently until the whipped topping is incorporated.

To assemble, line two loaf pans with plastic wrap, allowing the wrap to extend over the sides of the pans. Lay one layer of the cake slices on the bottom of each pan. (If using a vanilla cream cake, begin by placing the glazed layer facing down.) Remove the berry mixture from the refrigerator, and spoon some over the cake layers. Spread of the cheese mixture over each layer of cake. Top with another layer of cake and repeat the procedure until the cake and cheese mixture is used, ending with a layer of cake. Pull plastic wrap over the cake, and refrigerate until ready to serve.

Invert the Berimisu onto a cutting board and remove the plastic wrap. Slice into 1-inch slices and sprinkle with powdered sugar.Makes 16 servings.

*2 cups regular, reduced-fat or fat free nondairy whipped topping can be substituted.

Nutritional information per serving: Made with glazed vanilla cream cake: 320 calories, 12.5 grams fat (2.5 grams saturated), 414 milligrams sodium, 38 grams carbohydrates and 7 grams protein

Made with fat-free Sara Lee pound cake: 183 calories, 3 grams fat (1 gram saturated), 305 milligrams sodium, 5 milligrams cholesterol: 5 milligrams, 33 grams carbohydrates and 6 grams protein: 6 grams

Nutritional analysis provided by Registered Dietician Rachel B. Drew, nutritional education specialist for the Richmond County School Nutrition Program, in conjunction with the Augusta Area Dietetic Association.Coming next week: Karin's Mega Mini Burgers are easy and bake right up in the bun.

See Karin prepare the recipe at noon Tuesday on WJBF-TV (Channel 6).

WRITE TO KARIN CALLOWAY IN CARE OF THE AUGUSTA CHRONICLE NEWSROOM, P.O. BOX 1928, AUGUSTA, GA 30903-1928. OR SEND E-MAIL TO KARIN.CALLOWAY@COMCAST.NET. YOU CAN FIND PREVIOUS QUICK COOKING RECIPES THROUGH THE ONLINE ARCHIVE AT AUGUSTACHRONICLE.COM/KARIN.