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I have long-held a love/hate relationship with this dessert.  When ripe strawberries are abundant in early summer, our family takes full advantage of dessert possibilities.  Between strawberry shortcake and tarts, pies and jam, cooked desserts often preside.

A frosty strawberry treat then is a delicious variant.  This cool strawberry topping is reminiscent of home-made strawberry ice cream, bursting with flavour and perfectly smooth.  The crumble adds complexity to the dish, with a subtle walnut crunch.  As my grandfather declared upon finishing his piece, “Well, that certainly slips down quite nicely!”

On the other hand, this dessert is incredibly labour intensive. It is technically easy to assemble, but requires large amounts strawberry hulling and beating of egg whites and creams. At the best of times, you hold the beater for five, six, seven minutes before suddenly  the two egg whites somehow defy belief, when they nearly quintuple in volume to form the base of the tasty strawberry topping.  Our cottage’s electric hand-held beaters may even pre-date the birth of my parents, easily doubling the time required to whip the egg whites into shape.  It’s definitely worth every second to make, although I am now lobbying for new electric beaters (or dare I say a KitchenAid?) at my cottage!

Frosty Strawberry Squares

(Makes one 9 by 13 inch pan, or 12 generous servings)

Ingredients:

CRUMBLE

1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour

3/4 cup melted butter

3/8 cup brown sugar (6 tablespoons)

3/4 cup chopped walnuts

STRAWBERRY TOPPING

2 egg whites

1 cup white sugar

Generous 2 cups sliced strawberries

2 tbsp. lemon juice

1 cup whipping cream

Directions:

Combine crumble ingredients until mixed thoroughly.  Sprinkle evenly over a cookie sheet to form coarse crumbs. Bake at 350 F for 20 minutes, stirring occasionally, until crumbs are lightly toasted.  Allow to cool slightly.

Beat the egg whites, sugar, strawberries and lemon juice until soft peaks form, about 10 to 12 minutes.  (Use an electric hand-held beater, or even better, a KitchenAid). Whip the cream to soft peaks and fold it into the strawberry mixtures.

Layer two-thirds of the crumbs at the bottom of a 9 by 13 inch dish.  Pour the strawberry topping overtop.  Decorate with remaining one-third of the crumbs and extra strawberries.  Freeze for 4-6 hours before serving.  Bon appetit!

– Catherine

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