I was supposed to make a chocolate cherry panini for the Food Matters Project this week.  I just harvested my first crop of strawberries from my garden so I knew that I had to incorporate them into this weeks recipe.  I gently cooked the strawberries with a small amount of sugar and vanilla bean and then paired them with luscious mascarpone cheese and white chocolate.  Try finding a good artisan bread if you can, I chose a hearty whole wheat walnut loaf and it added a nice crusty bite to counterbalance the sweetness of the berries and chocolate.

Growing your own strawberries are so worthwhile.  Most strawberries in the store are picked before they are ripe since they are so delicate and are bred for hardiness not flavor.    Picking an heirloom variety insures that you will be guaranteed delicious, sweet strawberries that need little embellishment.  Once they are established they require very little work and will continue to produce for several years.

These were so delicious, I ate two of them yesterday.  Definitely decadent but worth every calorie.  If you can’t find mascarpone substitute cream cheese or goat cheese would also work nicely here.  These are so simple to make and would be an impressive dessert to serve to friends!

Be sure to check out the original recipe at The Food Matters Project!

White Chocolate Strawberry Panini

Makes 2

Ingredients:

  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
  • 4 slices county style bread
  • 2 tablespoons mascarpone cheese
  • 2 ounces white chocolate
  • 2 tablespoons strawberry sauce

For the saucy strawberries

  • 1 pint strawberries, hulled and sliced in half
  • 2 tablespoons natural cane sugar
  • 1 vanilla bean or 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
Method:

Heat a small saucepan over medium heat, scrape the seeds from the vanilla bean and add to the pot along with the strawberries and sugar.  Cook over medium heat for 5 minutes until the strawberries soften slightly and the syrup thickens.  Let cool while you prepare the sandwiches.

To assemble the sandwiches, heat a skillet over medium heat.  Butter two slices of the bread with half the butter on one side and lay them butter side down.  Spread one tablespoon of mascarpone on the bread, top with a tablespoon of the strawberry sauce and then sprinkle 1 ounce of white chocolate over the top.  Close each sandwich with the other slice of bread .  Put the sandwiches in the pre-heated skillet cover it with a plate and press gently.  Cook until the bottom of the bread is browned lightly, 2 to 3 minutes, butter the top layer of the sandwich with the remaining butter, flip the sandwiches and cook for another 2 to 3 minutes until crispy and heated through.