What with all the COVID-19 worry and pandemic panic, we may have all forgotten that spring is in the air. And yet, here we are, the sun shining earlier, the day longer, that tantalizing fragrance in the air.

And if you want a taste of spring, just reach for some berries. From blueberries to raspberries to strawberries and blackberries, these little gems are harbingers of hope. Bursting with flavour and goodness, packed with nutrients and health, berries are guaranteed to lift everyone’s spirits.

Here’s a selection of berry-based treats – keep in mind you can mix and match the berries of your choice and always come up with a winning treat!

Floating Fruit in Wine. (Foodland Ontario)

Foodland Ontario

Floating Fruit in Wine

Elegant and refreshing, this sensational dessert is perfect for a warm summer evening. Courtesy of Foodland Ontario (Foodlandontario.ca)

  • 2 envelopes unflavoured gelatin
  • 1 bottle (750 mL) dry white wine (Riesling, unoaked Chardonnay)
  • 1 cup (250 mL) granulated sugar
  • 4 cups (1 L) mixed berries (strawberries, raspberries, blackberries, blueberries)

In saucepan, sprinkle gelatin over 1 cup (250 mL) of the wine; let stand for 1 minute to soften. Add sugar and stir over medium heat until gelatin and sugar dissolves. Remove from heat. Stir in remaining wine until blended. Divide among 8 wine or martini glasses, champagne flutes or glass dessert dishes, filling about two-thirds full. Chill until almost set, 30 to 40 minutes.

Meanwhile, lightly rinse and dry berries. Cut strawberries into halves or quarters, depending on size. Divide berries among glasses, gently pushing fruit below wine mixture. Refrigerate until set, about 3 hours.

Serves 8.

Trifle-ing Easy Berry Dessert. (Foodland Ontario)

Bountiful seasonal berries, sweetened yogurt and angel food cake make this a luscious and healthy simple summer dessert. Courtesy of Foodland Ontario (Foodlandontario.ca)

  • 5 cups (1.25 L) mixed berries (blueberries, raspberries, blackberries, strawberries)
  • 2 Tbsp. (30 mL) granulated sugar
  • 1 Tbsp. (15 mL) orange liqueur, optional
  • 1 angel food cake
  • 1 container (750 g) French vanilla yogurt
  • fresh mint leaves

Cut strawberries into halves or quarters, depending on size. In bowl, sprinkle berries with sugar, and liqueur if desired, toss gently and set aside.

Cut cake into cubes. In 8-cup (2 L) glass serving bowl, layer one-third of cake cubes, one-third of the berries and one-third of the yogurt. Repeat layers twice, saving some berries for garnish. Cover and refrigerate for 2 to 6 hours (not overnight).

Garnish with reserved berries and mint just before serving.

Serves 8.

Mini Pavolvas meringues. Recipe courtesy of Californiastrawberries.com.

– California Strawberries

Mini Pavolvas
Nothing says spring like this gorgeous dessert, made easier with the purchase of store-bought meringues. Recipe courtesy of Californiastrawberries.com.

  • 6 store-bought meringues
  • 1/2 cup (125 mL) heavy whipping cream
  • 1/2 cup (125 mL) cream cheese room temperature
  • 2 Tbsp. (30 mL) sugar superfine baker’s sugar or cane sugar
  • pinch kosher salt
  •  1/2 tsp. (2 mL) pure vanilla
  • macerated strawberries
  • 1 vanilla bean scraped (set vanilla scraping aside)
  • 2 Tbsp. (30 mL) sugar
  • 2 cups (500 mL) fresh strawberries, hulled and sliced
  • squeeze of lemon juice

To make cheesecake mousse: Whip heavy cream in a bowl until soft peaks form. Transfer to a mixing bowl and set aside. Beat cream cheese, sugar, salt, and vanilla on medium-high speed until soft and smooth. With mixer on medium-low speed, slowly add whipped cream, a little bit at a time and fold just until completely smooth. Chill in fridge for about an hour.

To make macerated strawberries: Add vanilla bean scrapings to sugar and blend thoroughly. Pour sugar over strawberries and add a squeeze of lemon juice. Toss and set aside for 10 minutes before serving.

To assemble: Divide cheesecake mousse over the top of each individual meringue. Spoon strawberries and their juices over pavlovas and serve immediately.

Serves 6.

Strawberry Mango Dessert Parfait. Recipe courtesy of Californiastrawberries.com.

– California Strawberries

Strawberry Mango Dessert Parfait

The mango plays the perfect foil to the strawberry in this refreshing dessert. Recipe courtesy of Californiastrawberries.com.

  • 2 cups (500 mL), stemmed and halved strawberries
  • 1 to 2 medium mangoes peeled and thinly sliced
  • 2 Tbsp. (30 mL) fresh orange juice
  • 1 1/2 cups (375 mL) whipping cream
  • 1 cup (250 mL) store-bought lemon curd
  • 20 plain vanilla cookies or vanilla wafers, crushed
  • fresh mint sprigs for garnish

In a medium size bowl, toss together first four ingredients. Beat whipping cream with lemon curd at low speed with an electric mixer until blended. Gradually increase speed, beating until medium peaks form. In a medium glass bowl, layer one third of fruit mixture followed by curd mixture. Top with half of crushed cookies. Repeat layers once. Top with remaining fruit mixture and curd mixture. Cover and chill for about 1 hour. Garnish with extra whipping cream and mint sprigs, before serving.

Serves 4-6.

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