From our party – Ricotta with Vanilla-Sugar Croutons and Berry Syrup

Ricotta, berry and crouton pots

Ricotta, berry and crouton pots

This unique dessert is easy to make and perfect year round.  Great with fresh berries if they are in season, but equally tasty with frozen berries as well.  Strawberries, raspberries and blueberries all work well together or alone.  And beware, the croutons are addictive… cut a few extra as you will find yourself nibbling on them as you are putting the dessert together!

Ingredients Serves 4

Vanilla Sugar

2 cups sugar

1 vanilla bean

Croutons

1/4 (4 ounces) ciabatta loaf, cut into 1-inch cubes

3 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted

2 tablespoons vanilla sugar

Syrup

1/2 cup orange juice (from 1 medium orange)

1/4 cup fresh lemon juice (from 1 lemon)

1/2 cup sugar

1 bag frozen, organic mixed berries (16 ounces)

Ricotta

1 1/2 cups whole milk ricotta cheese

3 teaspoons orange zest (from 1 medium orange)

1 teaspoon lemon zest (from 1 lemon)

1 tablespoon vanilla sugar

1 tablespoon thinly sliced fresh mint leaves

To Make

Vanilla Sugar (makes 2 cups, will keep for at least 3 months – shake before using)

  1. Place the sugar in the bowl of a food processor.
  2. Using a paring knife, slice the vanilla bean in half, lengthways, and scrape out the seeds. Add the vanilla seeds to the sugar.
  3. Pulse 10 to 15 times until the vanilla and sugar are combined.
  4. Cut the empty vanilla pod into 1-inch pieces and place in a glass mason jar. Add the vanilla sugar to the jar and seal. Shake the jar before using.

Croutons

  1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.
  2. In a medium bowl, toss together the bread cubes and melted butter.
  3. Add the vanilla sugar and toss until the bread cubes are coated in sugar.
  4. Arrange the bread cubes in a single layer on a parchment-lined baking sheet and bake until golden brown, about 8 to 10 minutes. Cool completely.

Syrup

  1. In a small saucepan, bring the orange juice, lemon juice, and sugar to a simmer, over medium-low heat. Stir until the sugar has dissolved, about 2 to 3 minutes.
  2. Add the berries and simmer until the fruit softens, about 6 to 8 minutes. Cool the syrup to room temperature.

Ricotta

Combine all the ingredients in a medium bowl. Mix well.

To Serve

Divide the ricotta mixture between 4 decorative dessert bowls. Spoon the fruit syrup over the ricotta and top with the croutons. Garnish with the sliced mint.

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