Strawberry Fields

Sweets that take the cake

Time for a fruity standing O: The juicy delights that sing out “summer” are back as strawberries take center stage.
The N.C. Strawberry Association (www.ncstrawberry.com) wants everyone to know the curtain has risen on a banner year: The quality is good and the crop bountiful.

The second half of strawberry season, which is June in the Triangle, is often the best, says Debby Wechsler, executive secretary of the association.

“The strawberries have more sweetness and flavor because they’ve had more time to ripen,” she explains. “So get out there and pick strawberries, fill your freezer and enjoy them all year long.”

How do we love them? Let me count the ways.

When it’s this fresh, you can keep it simple. Just pop the red wonders right into your mouth or dip them in whipped cream first for a dollop of indulgence.

Even if you want to get more creative, it doesn’t have to become a major production. The winners of the Strawberry Dessert Contest (held last month at the N.C. Farmers Market in Raleigh) offer everything from down-home delicacies to finishes with a foreign accent. Here’s what they have in common: The recipes are easy because they use shortcut products that even Strawberry Shortcake would approve.

Click here for more information about North Carolina Strawberries.

Also, find a NC Strawberry Farm near you!

Strawberry Cheesecake Trifle

(1st place 2008 by Cathey E. Lane of Raleigh)

Fruit layer & puree:

5 cups fresh strawberries, sliced in half

Strawberry cake layer:

1 box Pillsbury Moist Supreme Strawberry Premium Cake Mix
3 medium eggs, whisked
cup vegetable oil
cup water
1 cup strawberry puree (5-6 large strawberries pureed
in a blender with cup water)

Cheesecake mousse layer:

1 envelope Dream Whip Whipped Topping Mix,
prepared as directed and set aside
½ cup skim milk (can also use 2% or 1% milk or soy milk)
½ teaspoon vanilla
1 box (3.4 ounces) Jell-O cheesecake flavor Instant Pudding & Pie Filling mix
1-1/2 cups skim milk (can use soy milk)
1 can whipped light cream

Cake: Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Prepare two 9-inch round cake pans with Pam baking spray. Blend cake mix, eggs, oil and water in a large bowl until moistened. Add strawberry puree and beat with a mixer on medium speed 2 minutes until smooth. Pour equal amounts of batter into pans and bake 25-30 minutes.
Remove from oven and allow to cool 10 minutes before turning out onto cooling racks. When completely cooled, cut cake into 1- to 1-1/2-inch squares and set aside until ready to assemble the trifle.

Cheesecake mousse layer: Combine pudding mix and milk in large bowl. Blend 2 minutes until smooth and thickening. Fold the prepared whipped topping into the pudding. Refrigerate until ready to assemble the trifle.

Assembling the trifle: Using a trifle bowl or a large clear fruit bowl, fill in layers as follows: Layer of fresh sliced strawberries (about 2 cups); thin layer of cheesecake mousse (about 1-1/4 cups); layer of strawberry cake cubes; thin layer of cheesecake mousse (about 1-1/4 cups); layer of fresh sliced strawberries (about 2 cups); thin layer of cheesecake mousse (about 1-1/4 cups); layer of strawberry cake cubes.

Refrigerate. Just before serving, top with whipped cream and garnish with fresh strawberries.

Strawberry Crunch Cheesecake

2nd place 2008 by Donna Barefoot of Benson)

Strawberry sauce:

2 cups finely chopped strawberries
2 tablespoons cornstarch
1/2 cup granulated sugar


1- cups Shortbread Sandies (crushed)
3 tablespoons granulated sugar
3 tablespoons melted margarine


1 can condensed milk
3/4 cup water
1 small box cheesecake pudding & pie filling
Two 8-ounce boxes strawberry cream cheese spread
One 8-ounce package cream cheese, softened
3 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla
Whipped cream for garnish

Strawberry sauce: Cook strawberries with cornstarch and sugar until thick and set aside.

Crust: Mix crust ingredients well and press into an 8-inch spring form pan.

Filling: Mix condensed milk, water and pudding and pie filling 2 minutes and set aside. Cream cheeses. Add eggs one at the time. Stir in vanilla. Add first filling mixture to this and mix until combined.

Pour over crust. Bake 55 minutes at 375 degrees. Spread strawberry sauce over top.

Chill and garnish with whipped cream (suggestion: French vanilla flavor).

Alice’s Strawberry Heaven

(3rd place 2008 by Alice Waiden of Wake Forest)

3 cups sliced fresh strawberries (sweetened)
1 regular container Cool Whip
One 8-ounce package cream cheese
1 can sweetened condensed milk
1 large box vanilla instant pudding mix
3 cups cold milk
1 box vanilla wafers

Slice three cups of fresh strawberries and toss with sugar to sweeten. In a separate bowl mix 3 cups of cold milk with 1 box of vanilla pudding mix until thick, then add Cool Whip, cream cheese and condensed milk. Stir until well blended.

Using a trifle dish, place one layer of vanilla wafers, then fresh strawberries, then the pudding mix. Layer in this order until all ingredients are used, ending with the pudding mix.

With remainder of the cookies, crush fine and sprinkle on top of entire dessert. Garnish with whole strawberries.

Ooie Gooie Strawberry Bread

(1st place 2007 by Michael Hamrick of Apex)

1 box yellow cake mix
1 box confectioners’ sugar
pound fresh strawberries
16 ounces strawberry glaze
8 ounces cream cheese
1 stick melted butter
7 ounces Reddi-Whip
4 eggs
cup flour
Cooking oil

Mix cake mix, butter and 1 egg. Press into a greased and floured 9 x 13 inch pan. Mix cream cheese, confectioners’ sugar and 3 eggs. Pour over other mixture.

Bake at 350 degrees for 35 minutes or until golden. Cool.

Top in center with fresh strawberries and glaze. Line the border with whipped topping.

N. C. Strawberry Dessert

(2nd place 2007 by Sarah Spaugh of Winston Salem)


1- cups self-rising flour
cup butter, melted
4 tablespoons powdered sugar
cup chopped pecans

First Layer:

1- packages cream cheese, softened (8 ounce size, 12 ounces total)
1 cup powdered sugar
1- cups Cool Whip

Second Layer:

1- cups sugar
5 tablespoons cornstarch
cup water
2- cups 7-Up or Sprite
One 3-ounce package strawberry Jell-O
1 quart or more sliced fresh strawberries


1 pint whipping cream
3 tablespoons pulverized sugar
Jumbo strawberries for garnish

Combine crust ingredients, pat in 9 x 13 inch pan and bake 20 minutes at 350 degrees. Cool.

Combine first layer ingredients. Mix well and spread on chilled crust. Chill again. For second layer, combine in saucepan the sugar, cornstarch, salt, 7-Up and water. Cook until thickened. Remove from heat and add Jell-O. Cool, then add strawberries. Put over first layer.

Refrigerate. Whip whipping cream; add pulverized sugar. Spread whipped cream over strawberry layer. Top with jumbo strawberries for garnish.

Strawberry Almond Pound Cake

(3rd place 2007 by Mary Boury of Knightdale)


Krusteaz pound cake mix
2 teaspoons pure almond extract
2 cups chopped strawberries
1 teaspoon vanilla


Philadelphia Ready-To-Eat Cheesecake Filling
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 teaspoon pure almond extract
2 cups sliced strawberries

Prepare pound cake as directed. Fold in strawberries, vanilla and almond extract. Bake; may need additional baking time. Cool completely.

Slice horizontally into 4 layers. Stir vanilla and almond extract into cheesecake filling. Layer pound cake, filling and sliced strawberries. Chill.

Strawberry Cake

(Children’s winner 2007 by Taylor Prince of Raleigh)

4 eggs
cup vegetable oil
1 package strawberry Jell-O
cup water
1 pack French vanilla cake mix
1 cups fresh strawberries (needs to be frozen)


1 stick butter, softened
1 pound powdered sugar
Half-and-half or cream, as needed
2 cups (or more) strained strawberries

Mix first 5 ingredients and then pour into cake mix. Beat well. Put into two round layer pans and bake at 350 degrees for 25 minutes. Crush frozen strawberries and put between layers.

For icing, cream butter with sugar, adding cream as needed to obtain proper icing consistency. Add strawberries. Mix together and spread on cake.

Strawberry Filled Oatmeal Bars

(Winner by Maria Hanna of Kernersville)

1 cup all-purpose flour
1 cup oats
cup packed brown sugar
1/4 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 cup butter

Strawberry filling:

2 cups sliced strawberries
2 tablespoons water
2 tablespoons sugar
1 tablespoon cornstarch

Mix all dry ingredients and then add butter until mixture resembles coarse crumbs. Meanwhile, cook strawberries, water and sugar on the stove about 5 minutes, then add cornstarch and cook, and stir until thickened.

Press 1/2 of dry mixture into ungreased 9x9x2 inch baking dish. Spread strawberry filing on top. Cover with remaining dry mixture. Bake in 350-degree oven for 30-35 minutes or until the top is golden.

Cool in the pan on a wire rack. Cut into bars.

Carolina Strawberry Tiramisu

(Winner by Amanda Boury of Raleigh)

4 cups strawberries
1 tablespoon vanilla syrup
cup amaretto liqueur
8 ounces mascarpone cheese
cup whipping cream
Cocoa powder

Puree 2 cups of strawberries. Whip whipping cream until soft peaks form. Whip in mascarpone cheese, vanilla syrup and amaretto.

In a large bowl or other deep dish, place a layer of ladyfingers that have been soaked briefly (less than a minute) in pureed strawberries. Add a layer of sliced strawberries and then a layer of the whipped cream mixture. Repeat. Top with cocoa powder.

Chill for 2 hours before serving.

Strawberry Sensation Cake

(Winner by Mattie Fowler of Winston-Salem)

2- cups cake flour
2- teaspoons baking powder
2 cups white sugar
One (3 ounce) package strawberry flavored gelatin
1 cup butter, softened
4 eggs
1 cup milk
1teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 cup pureed fresh strawberries


3 (1.55 ounces each) Hershey chocolate bars, chopped
1-1/2 cups heavy cream
2 tablespoons sugar
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

Cream cheese frosting:

1 stick butter, softened
One (8 ounce) package cream cheese, softened
4 cups confectioner’s sugar
2 teaspoons vanilla extract


4-6 whole fresh strawberries, washed
1-½ cups fresh strawberries, sliced
1 cup semisweet chocolate chips, melted
1 tablespoon shortening

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease and flour three 9-inch round cake pans. Mix flour and baking powder together and set aside. In a large bowl on medium speed, beat sugar, gelatin and butter until fluffy (about 4 minutes with a heavy duty mixer, 6 minutes with a less powerful one).

Add eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition. Beat in flour and milk alternately, beginning and ending with flour. Fold in 1 teaspoon vanilla and pureed strawberries. Divide equally into three 9-inch round cake pans.

Bake at 350 degrees for 25 minutes or until toothpick inserted into cake comes out clean. Cool for 10 minutes in the pans on wire racks, then remove from pans onto racks and cool completely.

Filling: Beat whipping cream, 2 tablespoons sugar and ½ teaspoon vanilla on high until stiff. Fold in ½ cup chopped chocolate bars. Store in refrigerator until ready to use.

Frosting: Bat the butter and cream cheese until fluffy, about 1 minute. Add the powdered sugar and vanilla and beat until desired consistency.

Chocolate dipped strawberries: Rinse strawberries and dry thoroughly on paper towels. (Chocolate will not stick to wet strawberries.) Set aside. Place chocolate morsels and shortening in top of a double boiler; bring water to boil. Reduce heat to low and cook until chocolate melts. Cool chocolate to lukewarm (110 degrees). Grasp strawberries by the top and dip in chocolate mixture. Place on a wire rack sprayed with vegetable cooking spray and chill until firm.

Assembly: Cover two cooled layers with 1/3 of the filling, then stack all three. Frost sides of cake with the frosting. Pipe and edge the frosting around cake top. Spread remaining 1/3 of filling on cake top. Garnish top of cake with dipped strawberries. Put sliced strawberries around base of cake.

A Slice of Stawberry Heaven

(Winner by Jennifer Roberts of Morrisville)

2 cups strawberries, divided
Juice of half a lemon
8 ounces cream cheese, softened
1 cup white sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 pint heavy whipping cream
2 packages (3 ounces each) ladyfinger cookies

In a blender, puree one cup of sliced strawberries together with the juice of half a lemon. Set aside. In a large bowl, whip together cream cheese, sugar and vanilla. In a separate bowl, beat whipping cream until stiff peaks form. Carefully fold whipped cream and strawberry puree into cream cheese mixture.

Line a 9-inch spring-form pan with plastic wrap. Arrange ladyfingers around the sides and bottom of pan, standing ladyfingers lengthwise around the sides of the pan. Pour half the filling into the pan, then arrange about 1/2 cup of sliced strawberries over the filling.

Place a layer of ladyfingers on top of strawberries. Pour remaining filling over ladyfingers. Place the remaining strawberries, either whole or sliced, on top of the final layer of filling.

Refrigerate overnight and remove from pan once thoroughly chilled.

Martha Washington Pies

(Winner by Dorothy Fann of Clayton)

4 egg whites
teaspoon cream of tartar
1 cup plus 1 tablespoon sugar, divided
1 cup finely chopped pecans
cup crushed saltines (about 12 crackers)
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
6 cups sliced fresh strawberries
cup reduced-fat whipped topping

In a large mixing bowl, beat egg whites and cream of tartar on medium speed until soft peaks form. Gradually beat in 1 cup of sugar, 2 tablespoons at a time on high until stiff and gloss peaks form and sugar is dissolved.

Fold in nuts, crackers and vanilla.

Drop by rounded 1/3 cupfuls onto parchment-lined backing sheets. Shape into 3-1/2-inch rounds with back of a spoon. Bake at 300 degrees for 25-30 minutes or until set. Turn oven off, and leave in oven with door closed 2 hours.

Toss strawberries with the remaining sugar, then spoon 2/3 cup onto each shell. Dollop each with whipped topping.

Strawberry Delight

(Winner by Dawn Prince of Raleigh)

1- cups chopped pretzels
1 cup chopped pecans
3 tablespoons brown sugar
1- sticks butter
8 ounces Cool Whip
8 ounces cream cheese
1 cup sugar
1 large box strawberry gelatin
2 cups boiling water
3 cups fresh strawberries, chopped and frozen

Crust: Melt butter. Mix in pretzels, nuts and brown sugar. Pat into pan. Bake at 350 degrees 10 minutes. Cool completely.

Filling: Whip cream cheese and sugar. Fold in Cool Whip. Spread on cooled crust.

Topping: Mix and dissolve gelatin in boiling water. Stir in frozen strawberries. This helps to partially congeal gelatin. Spread onto filling. Refrigerate.

Strawberry Mascarpone Tart

(Winner by Rhonda Bullins of Madison)


1 cup plus 2 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
1 cup granulated sugar
2 tablespoons milk
1 egg yolk
1- cups all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon powdered sugar
1 teaspoon salt

Mascarpone filling:

One 16-ounce package Mascarpone cheese
1 cup sugar
1 cup whipping cream
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
1 teaspoon grated orange rind

Marinated strawberries with balsamicawberry syrup:

3 pints fresh strawberries, sliced
1/2 cup balsamic vinegar
3 tablespoons sugar

Filling: Stir together all ingredients until smooth.

Marinated strawberries with balsamicawberry syrup: Toss together all ingredients until sugar is dissolved. Cover and chill for 2 hours, stirring occasionally. Pour chilled mixture through fine wire-mesh strainer into saucepan, reserving berries for tart. Boil liquid over medium-high heat for 2 minutes, stirring constantly until reduced to syrup. Remove from heat and cool.

Crust and Tart: Beat butter at medium high until creamy. Gradually add 1/3 cup granulated sugar, beating well. Add milk and egg yolk, beating until blended. Combine flour, powdered sugar and salt. Add to butter mixture, beating at low speed just until dough forms. Shape dough into disk, wrap in plastic, and chill for 2 hours. Roll dough to ¼-inch thickness on floured surface, then carefully press into bottom and two inches up sides of spring-form pan. Freeze for 10 minutes. Line dough with aluminum foil and apply pie weights or died beans.

Bake at 400 degrees for 6 minutes; remove weights and foil and bake 6-10 more minutes until firm (not brown). Cool on wire rack. Gently run a knife around edge of pan and release sides. Spread mascarpone filling in shell. Arrange marinated strawberries over tart. Cut into slices and drizzle with balsamicawberry syrup. Serve immediately.