It's been very warm here the last several weeks so I'm taking advantage of the last days of summer with a frozen fruit salad. Summer is my favorite season and I never seem to want to let it go.
Frozen fruit salad is a classic frozen dessert, quite refreshing for a hot day, and a favorite of busy moms as an alternative to ice cream without the churning. As a child, during the summer there was always a tray of frozen fruit salad in my mother’s freezer. Old- fashion frozen fruit salads from the fifties were a mixture of cream cheese, whipped heavy cream or Cool Whip, mayonnaise, and miniature marshmallows combined with drained fruit cocktail, chopped canned pineapple, grapes, and sometimes maraschino cherries, frozen in metal ice trays and sliced while still frozen. It was either served as simple dessert to cool the palate, or for fancy occasions and ladies luncheons, as a salad on a big curly leaf of lettuce.
Enter the Lee brothers, Matt and Ted, two classy southern gentlemen from Charleston, South Carolina, known for their culinary Low Country lore and numerous cookbooks for southerners and would-be southerners. The brothers updated this frozen treat and turned it into a very glamorous dessert that they’ve named Strawberry Delight. The Lee’s version of frozen fruit salad is a cream and buttermilk mixture, swirled with fresh strawberry sauce, tiny marshmallows with an added crunch of crispy vanilla wafers and toasted pecans. Frozen fruit salad is very easy to make, but it does require a bit of stirring on your part to keep the ingredients evenly distributed and for the dish to set up properly. It’s as easy as opening the freezer, stirring, and returning the loaf pan back to the freezer a couple of times until it’s ready to serve. The recipe makes a lot, so we divided in half and used one small loaf.
The only things I might add is that it’s nice to chill the serving platter and plates in the freezer, but never chill the forks. Instead, place the forks in the refrigerator for a few minutes before serving. Look to your garden for flowers and greenery and choose whatever is fresh. If you want to make the dish your own, simply use the recipe as an outline for other fruit choices. I always enjoy sliced grapes in frozen fruit salad.
The Lee brothers suggest you serve this elegant but simple dessert by “turning the entire frozen loaf upside down onto a platter, surround with flowers and greenery, and slice off individual portions with a knife – a silver one of course, the blade warmed first in hot water. After all, in Charleston, it’s all about the ceremony.”
From Chefs Matt & Ted Lee & Garden & Gun magazine, - serves 8
1 lb. fresh strawberries, trimmed and halved
⅔ cup sugar, divided
1 pint heavy cream
2 pinches kosher salt
1 cup half-and-half
1 cup buttermilk, preferably whole
24 vanilla wafer cookies (about 3 oz.), crumbled to oyster-cracker-size pieces
1 cup chopped pecans, toasted
3 oz. mini-marshmallows (about 2 cups)
Here’s a link to the full recipe itself with pictures and instructions and another link to a printable copy. The recipe takes 1 hour, plus 4 to 6 hours to set. For the Lee brother’s charming story behind their development of the recipe and their quest to wrangle the recipe from a plantation owner and her cook, follow this link to the article in Garden and Gun magazine.
This will be shared with Foodie Friday at Rattlebridge Farm, Miz Helen’s Country Kitchen Full Plate Thursday, and Foodie Friday at Simple Recipes.