Macerated Berries: The Easiest Summer Dessert

Macerated berries might be the simplest, most elegant summer dessert possible. Check out how to combine fresh berries with liquor or other liquids.

We’ve already discussed how to make dessert easy by turning fresh fruit into cobbler. But there’s an even simpler summer dessert you can try: macerated berries. In honor of National Grand Marnier Day on July 14 and National Tequila Day on July 24, check out how to combine fresh berries with liquor or other liquids to create amazing desserts.

What Is Maceration?

At the risk of sounding like a question on the SAT, macerating is to fruit as marinating is to meat. Macerated berries are soaked in liquid — citrus juice, balsamic vinegar, liquor — which draws out the moisture in the berries and infuses the berries with the soaking liquid. Over time, the berries soften and the flavors combine. You can add other ingredients, like citrus zest and herbs such as mint, to further enhance the taste of the berries.

The best part is that all you have to do is leave the berries alone while they macerate. The longer they sit and soak, the more pronounced the flavors will be.

Macerated Berries: Juice, Vinegar, Liquor

Robyn from Add a Pinch makes it easy: she’s got the details for macerating berries with citrus juice, balsamic vinegar, or liquor. She also offers a few delicious ideas for using your macerated berries. We’re tempted to macerate strawberries with balsamic vinegar and serve with goat cheese and crusty bread. Berries macerated with juice would be delicious over French toast, pancakes or waffles.

Carrie’s Experimental Kitchen does the same, except she uses amaretto for her berries. She suggests topping ice cream or pound cake with macerated berries, which sounds like a perfect summer dessert. Dust with powdered sugar using this handy shaker for an extra special touch.

You can also make homemade whipped cream to top the berries. It’s really easy: whip heavy cream by hand or in a stand mixer until it stands up in peaks. Add sugar and vanilla extract to taste.

Grand Marnier Strawberry Sundaes

Think of these sundaes from Saveur as a grown-up version of the strawberry sundaes of your childhood. Instead of sauce from a jar or plastic bottle, make your own with strawberries macerated in equal parts orange juice and Grand Marnier. Definitely spring for premium vanilla ice cream too.

Red White and Blue Mini Trifles

These mini trifles from Christina’s Cucina are a fantastic way to use macerated berries, and they’re so easy too. No need to bake; just break up some ladyfingers or vanilla wafers. While you could put everything into a single trifle dish, we like the idea of making adult versions with Grand Marnier and kid versions with orange juice. Just be sure to keep straight which ones are which when serving them.

Tequila Lime Berry Crisp

Don’t use all the tequila for margaritas; save enough to make this crisp from The Crepes of Wrath. In this recipe, the berries macerate in tequila, while the lime zest gives the streusel topping a kick too. We’re partial to the Le Creuset pie dish in cassis purple to coordinate with the color of the berries. Heed Sydney’s warning to use a baking sheet to catch overflowing juices so you don’t have to scrub the bottom of your oven. Also, definitely let this dessert cool for a bit before serving.

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