For this easy dessert of caramelized strawberries with ricotta, ripe berries are cooked in butter and sugar until golden, then spooned over ricotta cheese and showered with fresh mint. It’s an incredibly elegant dessert that comes together in just 15 minutes.
Adapted from Francis Mallmann | Green Fire | Artisan, 2022
Strawberries have a strong affinity for dairy. The English adore their strawberries and cream while watching tennis players compete at Wimbledon. Strawberry shortcake with whipped cream is an American dessert classic. Eastern Europeans prepare blintzes with strawberries and farmer cheese.
In this sumptuous dessert of caramelized strawberries, I cook sugar, butter, and strawberries and spoon the molten stew over a dollop of ricotta topped with fresh mint.–Francis Mallmann
Caramelized Strawberry FAQs
How do I choose the best strawberries?
Always look for berries that are bright red, shiny, and with fresh-looking, little green hats (stems). Avoid pink-hued berries (unless you happen across some of those fancy Pink-A-Boo berries or pineberries, but save those for another recipe). Strawberries ripen on the vine – once picked they don’t continue to ripen. The best berries are allowed to ripen completely and are picked at their peak, and are completely red, juicy, and full of flavor.
Once you get them home, refrigerate your berries unwashed, and keep them dry until you’re ready to use them. Rinse them under cool water while they still have their tops on, then gently blot dry.
What other ways can I use caramelized strawberries?
Our testers got creative, as usual. We think you’ll love the berries with ricotta and mint as written, but imagine them spooned over cottage cheese, yogurt, or even oatmeal at breakfast time – or over goat cheese or a wheel of brie as an appetizer or light lunch – or drizzled over shortcakes, sponge or angel food cakes along with a scoop of ice cream for dessert. The plain ricotta base could also be swapped for this sweet whipped ricotta cream.
- 2 pints ripe strawberries hulled and halved
- 1/2 cup granulated sugar
- 4 tablespoons (2 oz) cold unsalted butter cut into 6 pieces
- 1 teaspoon grated lemon zest preferably organic, (optional)
- 1 1/2 cups full-fat ricotta cheese chilled
- A handful of fresh mint leaves
- Prepare a fire or grill for medium-low heat and set a grate over it. Alternatively, you can prepare this on the stovetop.
- Place the berries in a large bowl. Add the sugar and gently toss the berries to thoroughly coat.
- Pour the berries into a 9- or 10-inch (23 or 25 cm) cast-iron skillet and dot with the butter. Set the pan on the grill grate or on the stovetop over medium heat and cook until the sugar melts and the berries begin to caramelize, 5 to 6 minutes. Stir occasionally as the butter melts into the caramelized sugar and berries and forms a sauce.
- Remove the skillet from the heat and strain the sauce into a bowl, leaving the berries in the warm skillet. Return the pan to the heat and let the berries cook until they begin to brown, 3 to 4 minutes.
- If using lemon zest, stir it into the ricotta cheese.
- Spoon the ricotta onto a serving dish and top with the roasted berries. Shower with the mint and serve the warm sauce on the side.
If you make this recipe, snap a photo and hashtag it #LeitesCulinaria. We’d love to see your creations on Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter.
Recipe Testers’ Reviews
With strawberry season upon us, this recipe for caramelized strawberries with ricotta felt like the perfect delicious dessert for any spring occasion. And it turned out to be so quick and simple, too!
I ended up making this on the stovetop for a family brunch, and we ate it alongside mimosas and pancakes. What a perfect combo!
The strawberries softened up so nicely, and I’d be happy to swim in the fruity sauce for the rest of my life! It was just the right level of sweetness, with the ricotta adding a mellow, creamy richness and the mint keeping everything fresh and bright. As wonderful as this version is, this recipe seems like it could also serve as an excellent starting point for a zillion different variations – a mascarpone whipped cream or yogurt instead of the ricotta, other fruits in addition to the strawberries, putting everything on top of a sponge cake or butter cake, etc. This 15-minute elegant dessert (or brunch dish in our house!) is a keeper!
It is almost spring here in the Midwest, and almost strawberry season, but, not quite yet. So this was tempting, as a prelude to spring. And it was a tasty little mid-afternoon morsel of a snack, which we served alongside our favorite beverage, hot tea, and a serious black tea, plain, no sweetener, and no more dairy!
No one would have been unhappy nibbling on the caramelized strawberries prior to the mix with the ricotta and mint, though it would hardly have been a dish at that point.
Absolutely as described, this dessert indeed is ‘sumptuous.’
Once you’ve hulled the strawberries, the dish comes together in minutes, the timing is described precisely.
The only tricky part for us was the direction to drain the caramel — we used a very heavy pan, and holding the hot pan with one hand while trying to pour the liquid off the strawberries was daunting. Instead, we just pushed the caramel as best we could to the edges of the pan and gave the strawberries another two minutes on the middle part of the pan.
This is a very pretty dish and should be served immediately. The flavors are divine, very rich, so we served small portions of the ricotta (Bellwether Farms — fabulous) with lots of the strawberries and a drizzle of the caramel. The next morning the strawberries had faded, but we heated up what was left and served on yogurt. Pretty great way to start a day.
The idea of this recipe was a bit of a stretch for my family even to consider — cooking fresh, top-quality strawberries is, frankly, a ‘clutch-my-pearls scandalous notion’ to us. Our grandmother only served the very best fresh strawberries, lightly macerated in powdered sugar, over whipped cream and biscuits, or piled high in the finest lard crust you ever could imagine.
Why would anyone ‘roast’ a strawberry? Well. We were un-informed. This recipe is why.
The strawberries are cooked just long enough to begin to be jam-y, but not too long to lose their bright flavor, and with the simple buttery caramel, altogether it’s a revelation. The syrup is even more divine on day two. We will make again, certainly, and next time we’ll serve over ice cream.
Originally published June 16, 2022
If you make this recipe, snap a photo and hashtag it #LeitesCulinaria. We'd love to see your creations on Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter.
These caramelized strawberries with ricotta were everything I had hoped they would be, and then some. Given that I was using supermarket strawberries, I can only imagine how incredible this would be during local strawberry season. It’s quick and delicious.
I used a cast-iron skillet on the stovetop. I served this in individual portions, instead of a “communal” dish.
The roasted strawberries were excellent atop panko-crusted, fried slices of goat cheese on a salad. I think any leftover sauce would make a terrific vinaigrette. I made a second batch, and served them over ice cream and as part of a caprese salad. I love options!!!