Raspberry Delights

Raspberry Martini

Best of the Berries

I had a very Martha moment this past weekend, when I woke up at the crack of dawn and drove to a pick-your-own raspberry patch. It’s kind of a family rite in our house – berry season starts and we feel the need to seek out the ephemeral glory of locally grown, ripe strawberries, raspberries or blueberries.

I have a vivid image of of our daugher A, almost a year old, crawling around in the raspberry patch on her first picking expedition and cramming her mouth full of them. Before we left the farm that day, we insisted that we pay for the extra pound of berries that she most definitely had packed into her distended belly.

For the past couple of years, however, we’ve let the need to sleep in on weekend mornings overtake our desire for our favorite fruits of summer.

It must be that I’m feeling well-rested these days. I checked the weather forecast and saw that Saturday morning would offer a stellar berry-picking climate – temperatures in the 60′s and low humidity. That’s important not only for the comfort and happiness of the picker, but raspberries are on the fragile side, and will begin their decline into soft, moldy piles soon after picking, especially if it’s hotter than a roofer’s armpits outside. Of course, you can always just get home and stick a Ziploc bag-full of berries in the freezer for mid-winter muffins, but I wanted to use these red, red lovelies in their fresh-picked state.

Plus, my sister-in-law was on her way from Maine to visit us for her birthday, and I had a special cake in mind. I made it about 3 years ago for A’s 5th birthday, and she’s been asking for it every year since then. It is quite a beauty, Raspberry Lemon Mousse Trifle Cake from the August/September 2002 issue of Fine Cooking. The recipe is rather lengthy, but it’s totally worth it for making birthday memories.

Layers of sponge cake, lemon curd-mascarpone mousse, raspberry syrup and a good dose of fresh raspberries. Yum.


This is how the cake turned out…well worth the groggy morning and prickly raspberry bush scratches. I made extra raspberry syrup so that I could shake up a few batches of martinis. What better way to celebrate a beautiful summer birthday?

Raspberry Martinis
for one drink:
2 ounces gin
1 ounce fresh lime juice
1 1/2 ounces raspberry syrup (see recipe below)
1 plump raspberry

Pour the gin, lime juice and syrup in a cocktail shaker filled with ice and shake briskly.
Strain into a cocktail glass, and plop in the raspberry. Sit down on your favorite lawn chair and sigh before taking a sip.

Raspberry Simple Syrup:
3/4 cup sugar
1/2 cup water
1 cup fresh raspberries

Bring the sugar and water to a boil in a small saucepan, whisking to dissolve sugar. Set aside until cool.
Puree the raspberries in a food processor or pass them through the fine disk of a food mill. Strain into the saucepan of syrup.
Makes about 1 cup.