Macerating is just a fancy term for marinating the fruit and letting the natural juices start to seep out and slightly soften the fruit. Although the photo shows only strawberries, the recipe calls for a berry mix. Use whatever you like, whatever you have on hand, or whatever looks good at the store or market. Do make sure to use a high quality balsamic vinegar for the best results. I actually buy relatively inexpensive bottles of balsamic vinegar (like the ones at Costco) and let them age, unopened in the bottle, for a year or more - the vinegar is noticeably improved for a lot less money than buying a fancy aged bottle. But if you have the chance and the funds to splurge on a really special aged balsamic vinegar, you too will fall in love! I've paired the berries in this recipe with one of my favorite baked goods - lemon pound cake. If you don't have time to make it, serve the berries solo or sub in a store bought cake or your choosing - pound cake, short cake, or angel food cake are all good choices. You can also substitute plain whipped cream for the mascarpone. I just seem to like all things Italian!
Macerated Berries on Lemon Pound Cake
Use whatever berries are available for this versatile recipe - either a single type of a combination as listed here.
2 pints strawberries
1 pint raspberries
1 pint blackberries
2 tablespoons brown sugar
2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar, aged is best
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
8 ounces butter, unsalted, at room temperature, (2 sticks)
1 cup sugar
4 large eggs
1 tablespoon lemon zest (1 lemon)
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
8 ounces mascarpone cheese, at room temperature
2 tablespoons heavy cream
2 ounces powdered sugar
Combine all berries with brown sugar and vinegar and toss gently to coat. Set aside for 1 to 3 hours to allow berries to break down slightly. Preheat oven to 325°F. Grease and flour an 8 1/2 by 4 1/2 by 3-inch loaf pan. Sift together flour, baking powder, and salt and set aside. Combine butter and sugar in the bowl of a mixer and cream on high speed. With mixer on low, slowly add dry ingredients to bowl, alternating with eggs. Scrape down sides of bowl to mix completely. Add zest, juice, and vanilla, and beat until just incorporated. Pour batter into prepared pan. Bake until a tester inserted into the center comes out clean and cake is golden brown on top, about 1 hour. Remove pound cake from the oven and allow it to rest in the pan for 10 minutes, and then remove and let cool on a wire rack for at least 30 minutes before slicing. Meanwhile, combine mascarpone with cream, then stir in powdered sugar. To serve, spoon a generous serving of berries over a slice of pound cake and top with a dollop of sweetened mascarpone cheese.