This is the last of my Pampered Chef party bites from the weekend. We wanted to offer a dessert or two, so I made these and the Chocolate Dipped Phyllo Straws. I think the ladies were trying to be good before the holidays because more of these went than the chocolates. Imagine that?!?!
Had the berries been smaller, I would have "stuffed" them, but since they were so big, I didn't think anyone would really want to pop a whole one, so I opted to fill them half-shell style. I'm posting the recipe as I did it, but I would have preferred the filling to be a firmer texture. You might want to either cut back on the yogurt or pour it into a strainer lined with cheesecloth or paper towels to drain off some of the liquid. I had thought it would firm up more when chilled.
5 T softened cream cheese
1c + 1 t sugar
6 oz vanilla yogurt
1/4 t orange extract
Sanding sugar (optional)
Wash and core your strawberries. Whether you are filling them upright or on the half-shell, take a tiny sliver off the bottom to level them so they don't tip over on your serving platter.
Beat together the cream cheese and 1t sugar until light and fluffy, then stir in the yogurt. Mash your bananas with a fork or pastry cutter and add to the cream cheese mixture. A little texture is nice, so don't completely pulverize them.
Zest one of your oranges and stir that in, along with a drop or two of orange extract if you've got it. I say extract rather than the juice from the orange because it's more concentrated, and the juice would just make the filling even looser. If you've got a third orange on hand, you might want to add more zest instead. When that's all mixed, go ahead and fill your berries and let them chill for a while.
I would NOT recommend doing these the day before your event, because you don't want the berries to start shriveling, but you can certainly prepare the filling ahead of time. I did it the night before and just refrigerated it, then washed and stuffed the berries on the morning of the party.
For the garnish, use a vegetable peeler to strip the zest away from your other orange. If there is any pith left on the strips, try using a paring knife to remove it. In a small saucepan, cover the peels with water and boil for about 5".
Drain the water, then add a fresh 1/2 c of water and 1c sugar to the pot. Bring to a boil, stirring so they don't stick together, and let cook for about 2".
Place a cooling rack over a piece of waxed paper and transfer the peels to the rack to dry. If you want, you can sprinkle the tops with sanding or regular sugar. Allow to air dry 4-5 hrs or overnight. When you are ready to use them, you can cut them into strips, pulse them in the food processor or do what I did and just run a knife over them to chop them. If you want to get fancy, before you first boil them, you can slice the peels into 1/4" wide long strips, then when they come out of the syrup, you can twist them into spirals and let them dry that way.