How to Make a Simple Strawberry Topping
Simple, Versatile Strawberry Topping
Since I've been married, I've learned to cook lots of new things that I was never concerned with before. I lived at home with my parents until I jumped the broom and my mom cooked every meal. She's a GREAT cook so I never bothered to try to do a meal myself (although I guess that I should have been in the kitchen at least watching how she made things). Anyway, one of my favorite meals to cook is breakfast. I love to make a hearty, stomach-filling breakfast for my two guys (son and husband). In the last couple of months I believe that I have mastered the homemade waffle. We all love them, but I had a great desire to take my waffles to the next level. In popped the idea of a fruit topping and what better fruit than a strawberry. Not only can the fruit be used as a breakfast topping, but it can also be used for desserts. I'm still perfecting my homemade cheesecake, but this topping really makes it great in the meantime. The strawberry toppings that I am about to tell you about will also go well on strawberry shortcake, pancakes, ice cream, cakes and blintzes. Really, how you use it is only limited by your imagination. I'll start with the simplest and increase the difficulty level as we go. None of these recipes require more than 2-3 ingredients and only take a few minutes of prep to make.
Strawberry Topping Made in the Refrigerator
This first method is super simple. Take a pint (or two or however much you need) and cut the tops off to remove the leaves from the strawberries. Next, quarter each strawberry. Put your clean, stemmed strawberries in an appropriate sized bowl and add sugar. I start with 1/3 cup to 1/2 cup of sugar, depending on the amount of strawberries. You want enough sugar to coat the strawberries. Stir until the juice from the strawberries and sugar have joined together. All lumps of sugar won't necessarily be dissolved, but you should not see stark white granules of sugar. Don't stir it more than a minute or two. The goal is to spread the sugar around and get it moistened, not to mash the strawberries. Once your sugar is added, just stick the bowl in the fridge and let it sit at least a couple of hours. I recommend letting it sit overnight, but if time is tight 2 hours will do fine. As the bowl sits, more juice will be drawn from your sliced strawberries. The strawberries will basically macerate in their own juices. The longer it sits the more juice that will be produced. You can control how thin your strawberry syrup is by letting it sit more or less. This is the method that I personally use for making my strawberry shortcakes. Super simple.
Strawberry Toppings for Cakes
Simple Strawberry Topping Made in a Skillet
Rinse and stem a pint of strawberries. Depending on what kind of final look you want to achieve, cut your strawberries up in halves or quarters. Put a dry skillet on the stove top and turn it on to medium-high. Add your strawberries to the skillet. Warm your skillet for about 2-3 minutes until you have a little juice in the pan and the strawberries are starting to soften. Next, add about 1/3 cup of sugar and 1 teaspoon of vanilla extract (these two ingredient amounts can be increased if you desire, according to your tastes). Cook this down for 5-10 minutes. You will end up with a semi-thick syrup and soft strawberries. When doing this method, you can hold back a small portion of your clean, sliced strawberries and add them at the end of the process. This will give you a more solid topping. On the flip side, if you want it to be more like strawberry chunks then smash your strawberries with a spoon as they cook. This way you can control whether it is more like a sauce or more like a solid topping. I've personally used the recipe to top a yellow cake that I made for my dad's birthday. It was thin enough, that I was able to spoon it over the top of the cake and achieve the attractive drippings over the edge of the cake.
A Smooth Strawberry Topping
You will basically do the above skillet method with an additional step. After you have cooked down your sugar, vanilla and strawberries for about 5 minutes, you will put your strawberry mixture in a blender and chop it in short bursts. Check frequently to make sure that you are achieving the consistency that you desire. If you chop more than you wanted to you can always add a little cornstarch (1-2 teaspoons at a time) and cook it to all to a boil, until it's reached your desired consistency. If you have to add cornstarch, check for flavor after you've boiled it and cooked it down. You may wish to add a little lemon juice and/or more sugar (we're talking tablespoons and teaspoons, not cups). You can also pass your cooked strawberries through cheesecloth or a strainer to remove large chunks, if you do not wish to use the blender.