As I’ve written before, I love strawberry desserts. Years of birthday strawberry shortcake in mid-April has made me hard-wired to want berries in early spring. Unfortunately, strawberries aren’t at their best for another few weeks. That leaves me with fierce cravings and nothing but a pint of dull Driscoll’s to fill the void. I learned from my mom that a quick cure for bland strawberries is to toss them in sugar and let them rest. I’ve also had good luck cooking them with sugar to make a compote, and now, thanks to Bon Appétit, I’m also a fan of roasting them with sugar and salt.
I was drawn in by the Roasted Strawberry Trifles with Lemon Cream on my first flip through the April issue. I can rarely pass up a trifle, especially one with strawberries. I was intrigued by the trick of roasting the strawberries to “intensif[y] their sweetness” and I loved the idea of lemon cream in place of the usual custard. I paused, though, when I read that the recipe called for a crumble mixed with granola. Where was the booze-soaked sponge cake? It sounded more like a parfait than a trifle…but then I stopped myself from grumbling because I like parfaits, too.Now that I’ve knocked back one of these multi-layered treasures, I’ve decided they should be called parfait trifles, because they’re perfect. The strawberries turned soft, juicy, and shiny in the oven. The sprinkle of flaky salt mixed with the sugar kept the sweetness in check and made the berries taste very grown-up. As for the crumble, it was an irresistible pile of buttery cookie rubble. The ingredients seemed a bit unusual—flour, brown sugar, vanilla, salt, butter, and basil—but it worked. Just like Bon Appétit‘s strawberry shortcake from 2014, the basil added a very subtle herbal note that went surprisingly well with the strawberries. The recipe called for adding granola to the crumble, but I’m not sure the granola was absolutely necessary. It did stretch the crumble and add one more layer of slightly sweet texture (I used a plain store-bought granola), but in a pinch, I might skip it. The lemon cream pulled together the crunch and the berries into one big beautiful mess. The cream was softer than pudding or custard, but richer than whipped cream, and I found myself stealing spoonfuls of it straight from the bowl. I’m pretty sure I didn’t get the texture exactly right (it seemed a little thick on top and thin on the bottom), but it didn’t matter at all. It was tangy and divine. If you find yourself longing for strawberries, but can’t wait for peak season, I highly recommend digging a spoon deep into these parfait trifles. You can find the recipe in the April 2016 issue of Bon Appétit or here. I followed the recipe exactly, using all-purpose flour (not gluten-free) and regular flaky sea salt (not smoked).