This recipe for Strawberry Squares, a frozen treat that combines strawberries, meringue, whipped cream and sugar all frozen on top of a base layer that includes brown sugar and walnuts, is a favorite of mine from long ago. I still remember the reason I didn’t make it very often though and why it eventually lost favor with me. It was a mess to make.
Whipping the egg whites and whipping cream was easy enough but it was the addition of those strawberries that did me in. They would wrap around the beaters of my little handheld mixer and whip that mixture all over the place. So making this dessert was a true labor of love; it also meant wiping down not just counter tops but the floor and often cabinets too!
So what inspired me to give it another try beyond nostalgia (trust me I had no nostalgia for the mess!). A couple of things. First, I can’t discount my love of strawberries and how I love to find new ways to use the bounty of the amazing berries we get in the spring; I’m remembering how much I loved this dessert and it was time. The resulting texture is much like ice cream and when coupled with the combination of the brown sugar, flour, butter and nut crumble; it is simple yet simply divine.
Secondly I had found that my larger capacity stand mixture made the work easier but I still made an adjustment this time around. It may not have thrown out as much of the mix the last time, but I wanted NONE sprayed against my cabinets. I discovered there really is no good reason to have to whip the berries with the egg whites on high speed; I just macerated them for a bit to release their juices and then folded them in when I mixed together the meringue and whipping cream. SO much better; can you say HOORAH? Otherwise I might still be cleaning those cabinets!
I think this dessert is a great example of our food culture. A friend of mine, Liz with the blog ‘That Skinny Chick Can Bake‘ recently published the same dessert. I hate to admit it but I didn’t put two and two together until I was making mine again and it hit me that Liz’s recent photo was so very similar and son of a gun…it was the SAME dessert! Called Mile High Strawberry Pie Dessert that was handed down from her mom I can’t help but think that it was a hand me down that took it’s name from being made in Denver; you know…that city that is a Mile High?
A couple of years ago I noticed the same thing when Amy of the website ‘She Wears Many Hats’ published a post about this same dessert and she made a point of attributing them to her Aunt Carole’s “Hearts Go Home for the Holidays” Cookbook; a cookbook her aunt had compiled for family members with her favorite recipes.
I knew as soon as I saw the recipe that it was the same one for Strawberry Squares that I had used for years from an old version of ‘Better Homes and Gardens New Cookbook’ published in the early 70’s. I suppose if I were BH&G I could make quite a scene with Amy and Liz not attributing this recipe properly but the truth is…who knows where it originally came from and quite frankly…who cares? I’ve made a few other adjustments too; it’s different but still completely recognizable. For one thing I no longer use frozen berries and have to adjust the sugar like my notes indicate!
No one used to expect that their name would forever be attached to a recipe. We just wanted to share with others something we loved. It really was that simple.
I love how one recipe for Strawberry Squares has spread far and wide and taken on meaning and even different names in different parts of the country. This is a great dessert and I love seeing people spread the word; it is so perfect for summer when great strawberries are abundant and something ice cold is appreciated. For me, food and the preparation of it is about nurturing and caring for others. Our sharing it should be for the same reasons. Just my two cents! 🙂