As a vintage-clothing and flea-market hound, I tend to like things gussied up. Sometimes to excess, probably. But raspberries are a big exception; to me, they’re the gems of summer, and, like the most fabulous gems, they’re pretty darn fantastic as is, needing very little dolling up to shine and sparkle. Recently, I was lucky enough to have a load of raspberries on my hands, and I went wild, creating recipes that range from super simple (raspberry purée, raspberry truffles, and raspberry-lemonade ice) to fairly simple (a chocolate-raspberry tart) to a bit fancy (a raspberry trifle—as I said, I can’t resist gussying things up). But in each case, I did little if anything to alter the berries themselves, preferring instead to avoid cooking them and to pair them with flavors that enhance them.
Wait for local berries
Raspberries are available just about year-round, but I prefer to take advantage of those few weeks in summer when local raspberries call my name at the farmers’ market.
Look for plump, fragrant berries. In addition to red raspberries, you’ll find black, golden, and even pink raspberries at farmers’ markets and specialty stores. The differences in flavor are subtle, but a mix is beautiful. When shopping, examine the box to check for freshness. If you see juice stains, it’s probably a sign of moldy berries inside. Hold the closed raspberry container upside down. If berries stick to the bottom inside liner, they’re crushed and it’s likely some are moldy, so choose another box. Even in the height of summer, berries are a bit of an investment, so befriend your produce merchant and request a taste before you buy. If a few berries get crushed on the way home from the market, don’t worry. They’ll still taste great, and with the exception of the topping for the trifle and the chocolate tart, all of these recipes are suitable for less-than-ideal-looking berries.