When you think of a gratin, what comes to mind? Something in shades of white and beige? Something starchy and cheesy? Something that makes your belt buckle cry “Uncle!”? Well, strawberry gratin is like no gratin you’ve seen (or tasted) before. It’s sweet, summery, and simple. As in six ingredients, 10 minutes from start to finish simple. Intrigued? I know I was.
The first time I heard of a fruit gratin was on Smitten Kitchen. She made her version with raspberries and just two other ingredients (sour cream and brown sugar). I was interested in this seemingly fool-proof dessert, but put the idea of making it on the back burner of my mind until I came across a second version of a fruit gratin (this time with strawberries) in Classic Stars Desserts, an awesome cookbook given to me by my master chef sister-in-law for my bday. This particular gratin recipe uses vanilla extract, half-and-half, and Kosher salt in addition to the fruit, sour cream, and dark brown sugar, but still seemed manageable enough for my weeknight dessert ambitions.
The prep time for this dessert took all of 10 minutes. The most time-intensive part was hulling and quartering (and taste testing) the strawberries. After you’ve completed that step, you simply drop a palm-full of strawberry quarters into your ramekin, spread on a thin layer of the sour cream/vanilla extract/salt/half-and-half mixture, and sprinkle with as much brown sugar as you see fit. Pop that sucker under the broiler for 1 minute (seriously, could this be any easier?), take it out, and marvel at the caramelized brown sugar glazing the top of your delicious treat. By the time you’re done with that, the ramekin shouldn’t be so blazing hot, and you can dig in with reckless abandon.
What you’ll find is a dessert that is sweet and creamy and just a little bit tangy. The brown sugar and sour cream layers melt just a bit under the broiler, spreading their deliciousness to the lower layers of strawberries and giving you a perfect bite with each spoonful. You’ll feel decadent and glamorous, which I think anyone can appreciate on their average work night.
from Classic Stars Desserts
4 pints strawberries (about 8 cups), hulled and quartered
1 and 1/2 cups sour cream
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
Pinch of Kosher salt
3 tablespoons half-and-half
1/2 cup firmly packed dark brown sugar
Preheat the broiler. Arrange the strawberries in the bottoms of 6 shallow flameproof ramekins or other individual baking dishes.
In a bowl, whisk together the sour cream, vanilla, salt, and half-and-half. Spoon a thin layer of the mixture evenly over the strawberries. Sprinkle the brown sugar evenly on top.
Arrange the dishes on a baking sheet, slip under the broiler about 4 inches from the heat source, and broil until the sugar has melted, about 1 minute. Serve immediately.