I used three kinds of roses to decorate this cake. Three are the people I dedicate this post to.
#1 – To my Mom
I hate it that I yell at you, get angry at you, and that I only recently learned to not leave my stuff where it shouldn’t be. I hate it that living together is a little more difficult now that I’m used to live by myself, And I hate that you can’t take a vacation from all the people who expect you to take care of everyone and everything, be it lawns or people.
But I figured out why my love for you manifests itself in such a harsh way. I figured we fight with people who care about us most because we are not scared that they’re gonna leave us. We fight because we genuinely love each other. We fight because we try to constantly try to protect each other.
A mother’s love is not something you earn or gain. It is the love that looks us in the eyes knowing that we are faulty, imperfect and crooked, and doesn’t really care that we are. It is that kind of moving love that nobody ever talks about, because it is hefty with humanity and it is difficult for people to talk about humanity because acknowledging that we are only human is scary.
Thank you for reminding me that the kind of relationship I want is with people I know I can yell at.
We all have our ways of being beautiful and imperfect. Someday, I want to be beautiful and imperfect in a way that is similar to yours.
#2 – To Peter
I know you love romantic things,
and I must be the only person on this planet who considers chinese restaurants romantic,
so all I can say is:
My ringtone hasn’t changed.
It is still the most beautiful pop song I know,
And I see the day when many a young boy or girl will listen to your songs while waiting for their trains in their stations – much as you waited for those planes for Japan or Israel, and your voice will make the wait less harsh, solitude less piercing, and turn their feelings into the sweet hues of red and pink that are akin to passionate feelings and that I always imagined to be the color of your vocal cords.
Happy birthday, Peter.
#3 – To the guy who left roses on my windshield
Dear person who left a rose on the window of my car,
I know who you are. I always do.
I know you are a person who does not like to compliment a girl’s eyes, because some phrases just sound too much like out of a movie and movie quotes are too cliché for real life.
I love the obstinacy with which you avert your eyes from mine when we cross sights.
Like those people in New York trains who look at the black, nonexistent scenery dashing outside the window with stern religiousness.
Yet, how beautiful it is to surrender to each other’s gaze and exchange a smile.
I am unromantic and you are down-to-earth, and I do not appreciate receiving flowers, for they will wilt and lose their shimmering beauty.
So, next time, just look at me. Look at me, and give me a smile. It’s probably the closest we’ll ever get.
NOW to the actual cake!
This is a light, raw, refreshing desserts which includes lots of fresh fruit and is satisfying without being overly sweet. If you consider that the 1 cup of cream is diluted into a cake that can serve 10 people, it is not that bad. I’d even go so far as to say that you can have it for breakfast. It is, after all, mostly yogurt and fruit, and if you go for one of the nut-based crusts suggested below it becomes a healthy, enjoyable treat. Just consider that it should be made the day before, as it needs some 20-24 hours to thicken properly.
If your strawberries are a bit on the bland side or you’d like things more sweet, add a couple more tablespoons of honey or sugar, though I like how the strawberries really take the scene here without needing too much extra fluff.
Pick a good quality, natural yogurt with no added junk. If you’d prefer using natural yogurt instead of vanilla, scrape the seeds out of a vanilla bean into the strawberries when you cook them, throwing in the whole husks as well.
ABOUT THE CRUST
All the crusts I am familiar with involve packaged cookies and butter, and it would be unfortunate to ruin a dessert that is really not that heavy with such an unhealthy base. My pistachio crust is inspired by Green Kitchen Stories, and is a twist of one of the crusts in the links below. Given the abundance on the internet of amazing ‘alternative’ cake crusts, let me suggest a couple of my favorites:
- Gluten-free blog Golubka has this amazing crust involving nuts and coconut flakes.
- This almond-based crust and this hazelnut-based crust from Green Kitchen Stories are super simple, super good and super gluten-free, and are the ones I used.
- This almond maple crust by Vegetarian Ventures would be delicious for this recipe, but I’d skip the cacao powder.
Alternatively, you can use your favorite tart crust recipe. If you have access to Julia Child’s recipes, totally go for her sugar crust.
You can also decide to skip the crust completely and put this beauty in a pretty pudding mold, and serve it topped with more fruit and syrup.
Strawberry Yogurt Bavarese
(For a 9″ Pan)
200g (7 oz) Pistachios, unroasted and unsalted
100g (3.5 oz) Almond meal
10 pitted dates
2 tbsp butter or coconut oil
A pinch of salt
1 kg (2.2 lb) Fresh strawberries
1/4 cup Honey + 1 tbsp
500g (1.1 lb) Whole natural vanilla yogurt
250 ml (8.5 fl. oz / 1 cup) Whipping cream
20g (0.7 oz) Gelatin sheets
Start by soaking the gelatin sheets in a bowl of luke warm water. Make sure they are fully covered in liquid, and let them rest for at least 20 minutes.
Wash, trim and quarter your strawberries. Add to a pan along with the honey, and cook over medium-low until the strawberries release their water. Give them a stir, and let the liquid reduce until it is the consistency of a syrup, about 10 minutes. It will thicken further as it cools, so do not let it over-thicken. Scoop the strawberries out of the liquid with a slotted spoon, and purée them thoroughly. Reserve the liquid. Scrape out of the pan into a bowl that will later fit the yogurt and cream, and let cool completely. In the meantime, you can prepare the crust, if making, into a spring form pan. Finely grind the pistachios in a food processor, then add all the other ingredients and process until the crust comes together. Add a couple more dates or a tbsp honey if it needs some extra help. Flatten into the bottom of the pan and keep refrigerated.
Once everything is cool, prepare a recipient for the cake and put the yogurt in the bowl with the strawberry purée. Heat 1/4 cup reserved strawberry juice until very hot but not boiling, squeeze the gelatin sheets of excess water and melt into the hot syrup. Slowly add to the yogurt to incorporate.
See how much the liquid has thickened once it has cooled: if it did not reach a runny honey-like consistency, thicken it down further and add to the yogurt.Whip the cream with an electric beater until stiff, and gently incorporate into the yogurt strawberry mixture, with a motion from below and upwards. Make sure to add the whipped cream when everything is cool.
Pour this mixture into the cheesecake pan with the crust or into a mold, and let it thicken in the fridge overnight or, even better, for 24 hours. You can also stick in in the freezer for a couple of hours and it turns into a sort of pudding semifreddo.
I love its creamy, yet pudding-like texture and its strong fragrance, only made sweeter by the honey.
Do you have any traditions for Mother’s day? As kids we’d draw cards at school. My mom still has one I made when I was 5. I think it is a bigger thing in the US than it is in Italy, but there’s always an excuse to be found for cake, right?