Tuesday, December 15, 2009

The Perfect (Easy! Edible!) Holiday Centerpiece

Made from bright and juicy Driscoll’s strawberries that are bursting with flavor, the tree-shaped centerpiece is guaranteed to add a personal touch and a bit of health to holiday celebrations. Cookbook author Tish Boyle created this step by step method with kids in mind. No sharp knives or glue guns are needed and little hands can easily help with each step. This project can be completed in under an hour.

Driscoll’s Very Berry Holiday Tree

Special equipment:

1 floral foam or green styrofoam cone (measuring 4-5 inches in diameter at the base and 12 inches high)
1 box of toothpicks

4 one pound containers of fresh Driscoll strawberries
1 bunch fresh mint
1 slice from a carambola fruit (also known as star fruit)*

*Note: If you can’t find a carambola, you can use a 1-inch star-shaped
cookie cutter to cut out a star shape from a mango slice instead.

1. Wash the strawberries and blot them dry with paper towels. Pull off the green stem from each strawberry. Reserve a perfect strawberry for the top of the ‘tree’.

2. Push a toothpick halfway into the side of the cone, about 1/2 inch from the bottom edge. Secure a strawberry to the toothpick, piercing it through the stem end. Secure another strawberry right next to the first one. Continue securing strawberries to the cone in circular rows up to its top, covering the cone completely. Secure the reserved strawberry to the top of the tree.

3. Remove some mint leaves from the bunch of mint and tuck them between the berries, placing them at about 3-inch intervals.

4. Secure the star-shaped carambola or mango slice to the top of the cone using a toothpick.

Tip from Viv: I've also seen a delightful Christmas Tree centerpiece with a variation to this, where instead of berries, cold coiled shrimp were attached to the styrofoam with toothpicks. Served with cocktail sauce, it made a lovely appetizer as well as centerpiece. Another variation might include speared broccoli with red cherry or grape tomatoes scattered for "ornaments," served with Ranch dressing--be creative and design your own!

Tish Boyle is editor in chief of Chocolatier and Pastry Art & Design magazines. A graduate of Smith College and La Varenne Ecole de Cuisine in Paris, she has been a caterer, pastry chef, and food stylist. She is the author of The Good Cookie and Diner Desserts, and coauthor of Simply Sensational Desserts (IACP Award Winner), Chocolate Passion, and the Grand Finales series of books.

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