Macerated strawberries with cashew cream make a beautiful no-bake vegan strawberry dessert. These sweetened sliced strawberries are also delicious with whipped cream or lightly sweetened yogurt.
Sweetened strawberries or macerated strawberries, (whatever you choose to call them), make a simple, but luscious no-bake dessert. Sometimes the simplest recipes are the best and this one is no exception!
Serving strawberries with an easy-to-make cashew cream is a match made in heaven! It's smooth, creamy and naturally sweetened with maple syrup.
What does macerating mean?
Macerating strawberries means soaking them in liquid, which softens them slightly and adds flavour. Simply sprinkling berries with sugar also acts as a macerator, as the sugar draws out the juice from the strawberries, creating a syrup.
Macerating is an experienced cook's technique for improving the flavour of strawberries that may not be at their peak. Even freshly picked sun-ripened strawberries can be deliciously enhanced by soaking them in a sweetener, however!
- fresh strawberries: Strawberries are listed on the Dirty Dozen list for crops that farmers use the most pesticides on, so you may wish to use organic strawberries.
- thick balsamic vinegar, or liqueurs as suggested below
- coconut sugar, or zero-calorie natural sweetener
- lemon zest, for garnish
- cashew cream: organic raw cashews, maple syrup, vanilla extract, sea salt. You can substitute whipped cream, whipped coconut milk, or lightly sweetened vanilla yogurt for the cashew cream (but try it, it's delicious!)
- Begin by soaking organic cashews in water for at least two hours or overnight. Put the cashews in a bowl or glass measuring cup, cover with cool water and let them sit. Soaking will soften them, making them easier to blend. If you're soaking them overnight, put them in the refrigerator. Once soaked, drain and rinse them thoroughly before transferring them to a high-speed blender.
- Add filtered water, maple syrup, vanilla extract and a pinch of sea salt. You'll need a high-speed blender to achieve a smooth creamy texture. Start with a small amount of water, adding a little at a time until the cashew cream has the consistency of thick whipped cream or yogurt. Cover and chill in the fridge.
- Wash and halve fresh strawberries and toss with balsamic vinegar and coconut sugar or another granulated sweetener. If you're using Limoncello or one of the orange-flavoured liqueurs, you won't need to add sugar as they are sweet enough already.
More ways to macerate strawberries!
I've discovered that there are many ways to macerate strawberries other than in sugar, and all of them are delicious. Read on!
Lately, I've been playing with different variations of this simple vegan strawberry dessert recipe. Try any of the following liquids to macerate halved fresh strawberries. You only need a small amount. The idea is to enhance the natural flavour of the berries, not drown it!
Strawberries with Balsamic Vinegar
Use the best quality balsamic vinegar you can find. Make sure to read the label. Look for those that include de Modena for the most flavour. Some "balsamic vinegars" are just vinegar with sweetener and colouring. Want to learn more? Read Everything you need to know guide to balsamic vinegar.
Strawberries with Limoncello
This sweet Lemon liqueur is made in Southern Italy. It tastes amazing when tossed with fresh strawberries and a dusting of lemon zest. We love it with blueberries, too. You might like this recipe for Blueberry Limoncello Crisp with Whipped Coconut Milk.
Gran Marnier with Strawberries
Gran Marnier is an orange-scented, Cognac-based liqueur from France. Add a sprinkle of finely grated orange zest for extra flavour.
Other orange-flavoured liqueurs, like Cointreau or Triple Sec will also be good. A little goes a long way. No need to drown them! Orange liqueur pairs well with strawberries, as in this recipe for Gran Marnier Strawberry Rhubarb Crisp.
Strawberries with fresh mint
Finely chopped fresh mint leaves add a bright flavour to sliced strawberries. Add a teaspoon or two of coconut sugar as well. It will make the strawberries a little darker in colour, but it has a lovely almost caramel-like sweetness.
🍽 How to serve macerated strawberries with cashew cream
Spoon about a quarter of a cup of cashew cream into each of four dessert glasses or plates, top with sweetened balsamic strawberries and garnish with lemon zest and a mint leaf.
👍🏼 Helpful tips
Using liqueurs: If you're only using a liqueur for this recipe, buy one of those airplane-size bottles instead of a large one if you don't normally drink liqueurs. If you have leftover orange-liqueur, however, you can always use it to make Grilled Pineapple Strawberry Sangria, the best Peach Sangria, or Cranberry Apple Cider Sangria.
Make ahead of time: You can prepare individual dessert glasses and store them in the fridge (covered) for up to a day in advance.
There's nothing quite as delicious as freshly-picked fully ripe strawberries, but enhancing their flavour with a little balsamic vinegar, or a liqueur makes them even better!
🗒More strawberry dessert recipes
Looking for more healthy ways to use fresh strawberries? Try these 16 Gluten-Free Strawberry Recipes.
Macerated Strawberries with Cashew Cream
- 2 cups organic strawberries, halved
- 2 teaspoon high quality balsamic vinegar, OR see substitutions in blog post
- 1 teaspoon coconut sugar, or 0-calorie natural sweetener like Monkfruit with erythritol
- lemon zest
- 1 cup raw organic cashews, soaked in water for at least 2 hours, drained and rinsed
- ½ cup filtered water
- 1 tablespoon + 1 teaspoon maple syrup, pure
- ¼ teaspoon pure vanilla extract
- pinch sea salt
- Begin by soaking organic cashews in water for at least two hours or overnight. Put the cashews in a bowl or glass measuring cup, cover with cool water and let them sit. Soaking will soften them, making them easier to blend. If you're soaking them overnight, put them in the refrigerator. Once soaked, drain and rinse thoroughly before transferring to a high-speed blender.
- Add filtered water, maple syrup, vanilla extract and a pinch of sea salt. You'll need a high-speed blender to achieve a smooth, creamy texture. Start with a small amount of water, adding a little at a time until the cashew cream has the consistency of thick whipped cream or yogurt. Cover and chill in the fridge.
- Wash and halve fresh strawberries and toss with balsamic vinegar and coconut sugar or other granulated sweetener.
- Spoon about a quarter of a cup of cashew cream into each of four dessert glasses or plates, top with sweetened balsamic strawberries and garnish with lemon zest.
This recipe is adapted slightly from Balsamic-Macerated Berries with Cashew Cream from Gwyneth Paltrow's book It's All Easy.