Sweetheart Strawberry Crostini is very easy to make. But, you do have to have a few special ingredients on hand. For example, Mascarpone cheese. You really need to use Mascarpone cheese!
Why not substitute cream cheese?
While almost the same consistency as cream cheese, Mascarpone is more delicate in flavor. To me, it taste like a thicker version of English Devon cream or clotted cream. While cream cheese will work fine in a pinch, it just doesn’t send these cute little Sweetheart Strawberry Crostini over the top!
Plus, by using Mascarpone cheese, you are keeping all the flavors in the Italian family with the balsamic vinegar and the fresh basil – yum!
Here’s a bonus: mascarpone is almost half the calories of butter!
For the crostini part of this recipe, I used a buttermilk white bread. Any plain and simple bread, a bread unadorned with nuts and seeds, will do. I used my 3″ heart-shaped cookie cutter to cut out the hearts. Then, I placed them on a cookie sheet and toasted them in the oven for a few minutes until golden brown. Both sides are toasted, so turn them over to toast the other side, too.
A tip: when cutting out the crostini for Sweetheart Strawberry Crostini, place your cookie cutter as close to the edge as possible. This will give you enough leftover area to make mini-sweetheart croutons! Stay tuned for that recipe coming on Thursday.
Less waste, too. Save the leftover pieces to feed the birds or if you are lucky enough to live near coots (the water fowl kind, not your relatives!), save them to feed the American Coots! I always have a bag of coot food in my freezer.
After the crostini come out of the oven, transfer them from the baking sheet to a cookie cooling rack. Because if you don’t, the underside of your crostini will get soggy from condensation. I actually let mine sit out on the cookie sheet all night and then assembled my Sweetheart Strawberry Crostini the next day. So, if making Sweetheart Strawberry Crostini for a crowd, you can make it in stages.
Chop up a few strawberries and macerate them in balsamic vinegar and sugar for at least an hour (or overnight). Chiffonade a few basil leaves and zest a lemon and then assemble. That’s it! These are sure to be a hit with guests or your honey!
Here’s the recipe:
- 8 slices of buttermilk white bread
- 1 cup of fresh strawberries, hulled and chopped into ¼-inch pieces
- 5 large basil leaves, rolled up like a cigar and cut into chiffonade strips
- ½ of lemon for zest (reserve the rest of the lemon and the leftover lemon for another use)
- 2 teaspoons balsamic vinegar
- 1 teaspoon granulated sugar
- 4 ounces Mascarpone cheese
- Preheat oven to broil.
- Using a 3-inch heart-shaped cookie cutter, cut one heart from each slice of bread.
- Place on cookie sheet and brown under broiler until golden, turning half way for even browning.
- Remove from oven, flip each heart-shaped crostini over and brown the other side (this just takes a few minutes; don't leave unattended or they may burn!).
- Remove from oven and transfer to a cookie cooling rack and cool completely or overnight.
- Place chopped strawberries into a small non-reactive (glass or plastic) bowl.
- Add vinegar and sugar and stir to combine.
- Refrigerate at least an hour or overnight.
- Using a dinner knife or a butter knife, carefully spread Mascarpone cheese onto each heart-shaped crostini toast.
- Remove strawberries from refrigerator, add basil strips and stir to combine.
- Spoon macerated strawberries and basil on top of Mascarpone, dividing evenly.
- Zest lemon over top.
- Serve immediately.
(other Valentine’s Day posts)