I created this recipe because I wanted to do something different with the beautiful, sweet, red ripe strawberries from our garden. It's a cool, creamy, fruity dessert that tastes as good as it looks! Please note that It needs to be refrigerated for a minimum of 6 hours before serving (overnight is preferable,) but the wait is worth it! We love it.
3Into medium bowl, slice 1/2 of the berries (about 3 slices for medium-size, 4-5 for large.)
4Sprinkle with 1/2 of the granulated sugar.
5Slice and add remaining berries.
6Sprinkle with remaining granulated sugar; mix gently with large spoon, lifting berries from bottom to top; cover & refrigerate for 1 hour.
7In mixing bowl, using electric mixer, beat cream cheese until light & fluffy.
8Add sweetened condensed milk, powdered sugar, salt, lemon juice, lemon extract & vanilla extract; mix until well combined.
9Using spatula, fold 1/2 tub whipped topping into cream cheese mixture until well combined; set aside.
10Gently mix berries, drain juice into rimmed dish or pie pan; set berries aside.
11Place lady fingers, one at a time into strawberry juice; roll lady finger twice to cover with juice. (Do not let the lady finger "soak" in the juice or it will fall apart.)
12Place in an 8"x8" glass dish (if doubling recipe, use 9"x13".)
13Repeat steps 10 & 11 until 1/2 of the lady fingers are moistened with juice and cover the bottom of 8"x8" dish.
14Evenly spread half of cream cheese mixture over prepared lady fingers.
15Evenly cover with half of sliced berries.
16Repeat layers: moistened lady fingers, cream cheese mixture, strawberries (if there is juice remaining from rolling lady fingers, pour over this layer of cookies before adding cream cheese mixture. End with berries.)
17Cover with plastic wrap & refrigerate for minimum of 6 hours (24 hrs. is preferable) before serving. When ready to serve, garnish with remaining whipped topping and fresh mint leaves, if desired.
18Cover & refrigerate leftovers.
19Recipe may be doubled. (Photo: My scribbled notes from developing the recipe)