When my daughter was born I needed almost as much coddling as she did. Becoming a mother was wonderful, but I was overwhelmed by my new role. Thankfully, my family and friends swooped in to help, patiently answering my questions, tidying my home, and - perhaps most importantly - bringing me delicious homemade food. You see, during those tender first weeks I was simply too tired to cook. I hadn't yet figured out how to be a Naptime Chef, and was exhausted by my new around-the-clock schedule. Instead, I was nourished, both emotionally and physically, by the near constant stream of goodies brought to my kitchen.
Last month my friend Priscilla had her first baby, a perfect little girl named Grace. Recalling my own experience, I Naptime Chef-ed Priscilla a sweet treat before I went to meet her new family. I knew it would be more than welcome. Deciding what to make for her was not hard. While I was browsing at the market I came across a few quarts of fresh strawberries and picked them up without a second thought. A cheery fruit dessert seemed like the perfect thing to give a new mom.
For this special visit I chose to fill the strawberries with a light cream cheese frosting, and top them with toasted sliced almonds. I love this preparation because each berry tastes like an individual strawberry cheesecake. At times I have taken it a step further and dipped the strawberries in dark chocolate. But, on this occasion, I opted not to. The berries I purchased were perfectly fresh from the field, I didn't want to cover up their sun-ripened flavor.
I make this recipe often during the summer because it is perfect for Naptime Chef-ing. The assembly is a snap, taking less than 30 minutes to complete. Every time I serve these to friends or family they always receives rave reviews. I know Priscilla loved them, she emailed me to say she had polished them off in less than two days! I will be bringing her another batch this summer. We have already agreed that, when Grace's nap schedule improves, I am going to Priscilla' s home to teach her how to become a Naptime Chef, too.
Naptime's Stuffed Strawberries with Toasted Almonds
adapted from an old recipe from my mother-in-law, source unknown
20-25 fresh strawberries
8 oz. cream cheese
3 T. confectioners sugar
1 t. vanilla extract
1 pinch of cinnamon (optional)
1/2 c. sliced almonds, toasted
1. Wash and dry fresh strawberries. Carefully trim the bottom of each berry so that it will stand up on a plate. With a melon baller, scoop off the top and stem. The berry will be hallow inside.
2. In a mixer, whip the cream cheese until it is light and fluffy. Add confections sugar, vanilla and pinch of cinnamon. Beat until fully combined.
3. Fill a medium size Ziploc bag with the cream cheese mixture. Cut off a corner of the bag to make it function like a pastry bag.
4. Gently squeeze the cream cheese through the open corner of the bag and carefully fill each strawberry with a generous amount of cream cheese. Top each berry with 2 or 3 toasted sliced almonds. Serve.
Naptime Recipe Props: Feel free to play around with this recipe. You could add chocolate to the cream cheese to make a chocolate filling, or dip the stuffed berries in chocolate. They are excellent to serve for dessert at a party, or add to any buffet table.
Naptime Stopwatch: Preparing this dessert takes about 20 minutes. There is simply no way you can go wrong. It will easily yield two dozen filled strawberries, perfect for feeding a crowd or for family snacking.
Naptime Reviews: This is a great summer dessert or snack that everyone adores. My daughter likes to eat the cream cheese filling with her fingers first, then eats the strawberry separately.