By Jan Kenney

Berry good desserts

Strawberry season has arrived!! I think that those little red nuggets of summer deliciousness should be showing up at every meal while they are fresh and at the peak of flavor.

At this time of year in Vermont there really isn’t much excuse not to buy local. I personally like the smaller size berries as they seem to have much more flavor, unless they are more of a display garnish for something. Think outside the box and use them on a spinach salad or as part of a fresh salsa topping a mild fish, chicken or pork chops. Have them in your cereal or yogurt at breakfast or over French toast.

Of course, where they really star is in desserts, and strawberry shortcake in particular. But, once you get your fill of shortcake, or if you need a grain- gluten- and fat-free option, try them over one of these maple meringues!

Strawberry Maple Meringues

6 egg whites

1½ cups maple syrup

In a medium pot combine egg whites and maple syrup. Turn heat on stove to lowest setting possible. Using a hand blender with whisk attachment, whisk meringues in pot on stove for 4-5 minutes, until stiff glossy peaks form.

Fit a pastry bag with a star tip and fill bag with meringue.

Pipe meringue into small bowl shapes on a cookie sheet covered with  parchment paper, starting with the bottom and building up the sides. (Tracing the top of a large mason jar lid onto parchment paper and piping into that circle will give you a good pattern.)

Bake at 200°F for 1½ hours. Turn off the oven, but leave the meringues inside for an additional ½ hour.

Allow to cool while you chop strawberries and make whipped cream.

May I suggest coconut whipped cream? Skim off the coconut cream from the top of one very chilled can of coconut milk. Whip it on high, adding 3 Tablespoons of sweetener and ½ teaspoon of vanilla. Keep it cold and try to use it right away.