3 Simple sweet dishes for mom

Pureed strawberries, red wine and fresh basil make

Pureed strawberries, red wine and fresh basil make a decadent tasting and surprisingly healthful frozen dessert that even the most inexperienced cook can master. (Credit: Marge Perry)

Marge Perry

Newsday columnist Marge Perry Marge Perry

Marge Perry, Newsday's weekly 3 Simple columnist, also writes, broadcasts,

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TIP Egg whites should be room temperature when beaten; cream should be very cold.

STRAWBERRY-BASIL GRANITA

1/2 cup water

1/3 cup sugar

1/4 cup red wine

16 ounces strawberries (about 4 cups)

1 tablespoon chopped fresh basil (plus leaves for garnish)

1. Combine water and sugar in a small saucepan; bring to a boil, stir and immediately lower heat to simmer. Stir until sugar is dissolved, about 2 minutes. Remove from heat, stir in wine and let stand.

2. Remove stems from the berries and puree in food processor until fairly smooth. Combine with sugar-wine mixture and basil, and transfer to a shallow baking dish (9 by 7 inches or 8 by 8 inches). Drape loosely with plastic wrap and place in freezer. After a couple of hours, and occasionally thereafter, scrape freezing mixture with the tines of a fork to loosen and crumble. Allow to freeze overnight.

3. Before serving, scrape with a fork one final time until mixture resembles finely shaved ice. Spoon into wine or martini glasses and garnish each serving with a sprig of basil.

Makes 4 servings.

Nutritional analysis per serving 89 calories, 1 g protein, 21 g carbohydrates, 2 g fiber, 0 g fat, 2 mg sodium

ANGEL FOOD TUNNEL CAKE WITH BERRIES AND WHIPPED CREAM

16 ounces strawberries, sliced

2 cups blueberries

1/4 cup granulated sugar

3/4 cup heavy cream, chilled

3/4 cup confectioners' sugar

1/2 teaspoon vanilla

1 (15-ounce) store-bought angel food cake

1. Combine the strawberries, blueberries and granulated sugar in a bowl.

2. Combine cream, sugar and vanilla in bowl; beat with electric mixer until stiff peaks form.

3. Cut the cake horizontally about 1 1/2 inches down from the top; carefully set the top aside. With a small knife, cut a tunnel in the bottom of the cake, leaving a 1-inch wall on both sides. Fill the tunnel with all but about 1 cup of the berries; spoon all but about 1 cup of the whipped cream over the berries and place the top back on the cake.

4. Decorate the top of the cake with the berries and small dollops of the whipped cream.

Makes 8 servings.

Nutritional analysis per serving 305 calories, 4 g protein, 54 g carbohydrates, 2 g fiber, 9 g fat, 5 g saturated fat, 407 mg sodium

WHIPPED CREAM AND BERRY-FILLED MERINGUE NESTS WITH CHOCOLATE SHAVINGS

3 large egg whites, at room temperature

1/4 teaspoon cream of tartar

1/2 teaspoon vanilla

3/4 cup sugar

3/4 cup heavy cream, chilled

3/4 cup confectioners' sugar

3 cups berries (any combination blueberry, blackberry, sliced strawberry, raspberry)

1-ounce block chocolate at room temperature

1. Preheat oven to 225 degrees. Line a baking sheet pan with parchment paper.

2. Beat egg whites, cream of tartar and vanilla until soft peaks form. With mixer running, add sugar, 2 tablespoons at a time, mixing between each addition to keep mixture smooth. Beat until mixture is glossy and stiff peaks form. Drop into 8 evenly spaced mounds on baking sheet. Use back of spoon to shape each mound into a round cup 3 inches around with a shallow rim or wall. Bake meringue cups for 1 hour, or until they are set and dry. Turn oven off and let meringues sit inside oven for another hour. Remove from oven and cool completely on wire racks.

3. Meanwhile, make the filling. Beat the cream and confectioners' sugar with an electric mixer until stiff peaks form. Gently fold in the berries and spoon into the prepared meringues.

4. Use a vegetable peeler to shave the chocolate; sprinkle the shavings over the meringues.

Makes 8 servings.

Nutritional analysis per serving 251 calories, 2 g protein, 41 g carbohydrates, 1 g fiber, 10 g fat, 6 g saturated fat, 30 mg sodium