We cancelled our travel plan for the weekend due to being overwhelmed by life and family illness, and instead spent a relaxing weekend visiting friends, and eating a lot of good food. I mean a lot! I spent a lot of time in the kitchen but stuck with relatively simple dishes. Like this quick and festive dessert that was easy and will certainly be brought to many BBQs this year. Once the cover came off these guys they did not last very long and the Monkey ate as many as his pudgy little hands could steal before the adults got to them. I used almond extract for this batch but I think I will use vanilla next time. I also toasted the pecans and did half topped with the chopped toasted pecans and half topped with mini chocolate chips. Once in the tray they were so cute all red and white I decided to fill in the remaining area with blueberries and blackberries to make it 4th friendly.... also a hit, and a keeper of an idea. Couldn't be simplier and a huge hit... what more can you ask for? What's that you say? To be able to eat dairy so you can enjoy your own dessert... why yes that would have been nice too. :)
adapted from Food Network
20 whole large strawberries, hulled
8 ounces cream cheese, softened (next time I will use marscapone, they were out of the good cream cheese and I think the store brand was a little too cheesy)
1/4 cup confectioners' powdered sugar
1/4 teaspoon vanilla or almond extract
2/3 cup chopped pecans
Cut a thin slice from the bottom of each strawberry so the berries stand upright. Place berries, cut side down, on a serving platter. Carefully cut the berries into 4 wedges, cutting almost to, but not through, the bottoms with a criss-cross cut. Fan wedges just slightly, taking care not to break them (this fanning did not occur easily for my set... see detail about investing in bakers bag for next time). Set aside.
In a mixing bowl, beat together the cream cheese, sugar, and vanilla until combined but still stiff. Using a teaspoon or pastry bag with decorative tip (I used a ziplock sandwich bag with the corner cut off but will definitely spend the extra $2 for a bakers bag for next time), fill the strawberries with the cream cheese mixture. Sprinkle chopped pecans on top of the stuffed strawberries. Cover and refrigerate until ready to serve.