Berries, berries, berries. They filled our summers with their colorful and sweet presence. From the early spring when the tiny wild strawberries would finally turn red and we would fill our pails with these aromatic gems, we would continue throughout the rest of the summer, picking strawberries, raspberries, blackberries, blueberries, black currants, etc. I will always look back with such fondness to the warm spring days, when I would traipse through the woods and meadows with my baby sister, Karina and we would talk as we walked and then kneel down in the green grass, searching for the juicy red berries. Picking berries is definitely one of my warmest childhood memories. No matter how much we got scratched by some of the thorny branches, or bitten by forest mosquitoes and the hours that we had to put in to this “chore” it was usually a labor of love and a time to relax.
First of all, spending time with family is always a big plus, and we always went with at least one more person, and usually a whole team of people. The time just flew by and the pails filled up as we talked and we then had the pleasure of seeing how much berries we were able to harvest. Nature is where I’m the happiest and my soul is completely at peace. Breathing in the fresh air of the forest, hearing the leaves softly rustle in the breeze and feeling the warm sun on my face, make me completely giddy and full of JOY. Then, coming back home, I would look around the kitchen with pleasure, knowing that we had delicious fresh berries to enjoy now, freeze for later and also make into jams and many, many desserts. This recipe for a creamy, cool and luscious dessert is the perfect way to showcase any kind of berry. Blueberries are one of my favorites, and paired with pineapple, it is a really great combination. The berries are sweet and juicy and the pineapple slightly tart, crisp and very tropical. The lemon zest and vanilla really bring the flavor of this gelatin dessert up several notches. I got the recipe from my sister in law, Natasha, about 5 years ago, and we’ve been enjoying it ever since.
Sprinkle the gelatin over the milk and allow to stand for 5 minutes, until the gelatin blooms. Place the milk and gelatin mixture in the microwave for 1 minute or heat in a small saucepan on very low heat, just until the gelatin melts. Do NOT boil. Set aside to cool.
Meanwhile, in a large bowl, mix the sour cream, heavy cream, sugar, vanilla and lemon zest using a whisk attachment on a standing mixer or using a hand mixer. Start mixing on low heat and eventually increase the speed to high until it's a thick mixture.
Pour in the milk and gelatin, mix to combine. Add the blueberries and gently fold them in. I usually use ½ a pint in the dessert and use the other half to serve as a garnish. You can also use any other kind of berries or fruit that you like. Do NOT add the pineapple to the creamy gelatin mixture, or else your dessert will not set.
Pour the dessert into some sort of mold. I used my bread pan, but you can use a bundt pan or any kind of deep dish. You can also make individual portions.
Refrigerate until set. There is a good amount of gelatin in the dessert, so it sets fairly quickly, about 1-2 hours. This is an ideal dessert to make the night before you are planning to serve it.
To serve, pour some hot water into a large pot or into the sink and dunk the bottom of your pan into the hot water for 30 seconds or so. Invert the pan onto a plate and the dessert should slide right out. Serve with fresh pineapple and more berries.