Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Strawberry Shortcake

Strawberry season is at its peak right now in New England and the berries are amazing! I am not really a person who has a lot of favorites in life. I like a lot of different things equally and have a hard time picking just one. For example I absolutely love all colors and I really don't prefer one over another. I suppose if I really had to pick I would go with blue, but in general having favorites is not really my thing.  Except for this strawberry shortcake. Oh my goodness, this is the most delicious dessert ever! Fresh, local strawberries are so superior to those giant, flavorless berries you find in the supermarket year round.  The berries are smaller, juicier, sweeter, and just perfect.  

There are so many ways to enjoy these beautiful strawberries, make strawberry ice cream (recipe coming soon), strawberry rhubarb pie or crisp, pavlova, trifle, or in a parfait.  Of course, eating them sunshine warm and ripe, right off the plant isn't a bad way to go either :).  Another great idea is when you make the strawberry mixture for these strawberry shortcakes, double, triple, or quadruple the recipe and separate it into freezer bags to save for the later months of the year when strawberry season has passed.  So like, I mentioned, strawberry shortcake is my favorite dessert, but it has to be just perfect.  I have had many different versions with various types of biscuits, angel food cake, or pound cake, whipped cream, or ice cream and almost all of the time it has been very good, but this particular recipe is the only one that qualifies for favorite status in my book.  The biscuits are tender, sweet, and soak up that red, delicious berry juice beautifully.  The strawberries are perfectly sweet and that tiny hint of balsamic vinegar does something great to enhance the berry flavor.  And of course, the just barely sweet whipped cream brings the whole dessert together and is absolutely amazing.

So now that I have gushed on and on about dessert at 9 a.m. and realllllly wish I had some to eat right now, I am going to change the subject and share a few of my recent flower photographs with you.  I am trying to play with some different editing techniques in my Photoshop Elements software. I am still trying to figure out all the editing tools over a year later, but it is a fun process when I can find the time.  I hope you enjoy these!

Strawberry Shortcake

2 cups all-purpose flour
1/4 cup white sugar 
2 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
1/3 cup cold, cubed butter
1 egg
1/2 cup milk or heavy cream
1 tsp vanilla
1 quart hulled and quartered strawberries
1/2 tsp balsamic vinegar (optional)
1 cup heavy whipping cream
additional sugar

Preheat the oven to 375°F.  Mix the flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt together in a large bowl.  Use a pastry cutter or two forks to cut the butter into the dry ingredients until small crumbs are formed.  Whisk the egg, milk, and vanilla together in a separate bowl or measuring cup and then combine with the dry mixture.  Mix together with a fork or spoon until almost fully combined and then pour out onto a clean work surface.  Use your hands to bring the dough together in a ball and then flatten into a disc, between 3/4" and 1" tall.  Use a glass or biscuit cutter to cut out biscuits and place on a baking sheet.  Reform any scraps into a disc and continue making biscuits until the dough is gone.  I got 6 biscuits from this recipe.  Sprinkle the tops of the biscuits with white or turbinado sugar.  Bake for 15-17 minutes until golden brown.  Remove from the oven and let cool on a wire rack.  The biscuits can be stored in an air tight container for 2-3 days. 
Combine the clean, hulled, and quartered strawberries (you can slice them if you prefer) in a bowl and toss with 1-2 teaspoons of sugar depending on how sweet your berries are.  The sugar will help macerate the strawberries and create juice/sauce for the shortcakes.  Sprinkle just a touch of balsamic vinegar on the berries too, if you wish.  You won't taste the vinegar at all, but it really enhances the strawberry flavor.  Let the strawberries macerate for at least 2 hours before serving.
Whip the heavy cream with an electric mixer until soft peaks form.  Add about 1 tablespoon of sugar and a dash of vanilla and continue to whip until just barely stiff. Be careful not to go too far, or you will have butter. 
To assemble, cut a biscuit in half and top with strawberries and whipped cream! 

Biscuits Inspired by Joy of Baking