Sweetened Whipped Ricotta with Berries and Tarragon

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When I was coming up with this summer dessert, it was 90 degrees and unbearably humid. I wanted something that didn't involve heat; not even the grill (going outside wasn't an option). Just the thought of turning on the oven made me sweat. But, of course, by the time I finally got around to preparing it, the temperature had dropped 30 degrees and, not long after, the rain came. Go figure! I have no doubt that the heat and humidity will return... and now I'll be prepared. 

No-fuss desserts are my jam and this one is about as no-fuss as you can get (though you'll definitely impress dinner guests with the presentation). Ricotta is blended with a bit of maple syrup, vanilla, and lemon zest, until light and creamy. Top with a mix of your favorite berries and herbs (I went with tarragon for its vanilla notes, but mint or basil would also work nicely). You can go traditional with your choice of fruit, or you can get a bit more playful. I like contrasting flavors, so I paired the deeper, sweeter blackberries and blueberries with tart raspberries and currants. The gooseberries (aka ground cherries, husk cherries) may be harder to find, but if you can get your hands on some, they not only look great, but they have a subtle sweetness (a blend of cherry and pineapple) that make them the perfect addition to your fruit salad.  

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SWEETENED WHIPPED RICOTTA TOPPED WITH BERRIES AND TARRAGON

SERVINGS
Serves 4-6

INGREDIENTS
2 cups whole milk ricotta
1/4 cup maple syrup
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
Zest of half a lemon
1/4 teaspoon salt
4 cups mixed berries (I used blackberries, raspberries, blueberries, gooseberries, and currants)
2 teaspoons chopped fresh tarragon leaves

DIRECTIONS
1. Place the ricotta, maple syrups, vanilla extract, lemon zest and salt into the bowl of a food processor (alternatively, you can use an immersion blender). Blend until smooth. 

2. Spread the ricotta out onto a platter or board. Top with berries and garnish with a sprinkle of tarragon leaves. 

3. Spoon berries and ricotta into bowls.