Strawberry shortcake is a wonderfully simple, old fashioned dessert that never seems to go out of style. And I’ve been enjoying its charms over the past several months, since I live in Florida, where the long Winter-Spring strawberry season is still underway.
My typical approach to strawberry shortcake is to prepare it Southern style: sweetened, sliced fresh strawberries paired with a simple buttermilk or cornmeal biscuit and a dollop of whipped cream. In the following recipe, however, I chose to explore the affinity of strawberries and chocolate by using a lightly sweetened chocolate biscuit for the dish. My expert test panel, my family, has given it an enthusiastic thumbs-up, so I’ll be adding this variation to my regular strawberry shortcake rotation.
For the strawberries:
2 pints fresh strawberries, stemmed and cut into thick slices
1/3 cup granulated sugar
For the shortcake:
1 1/2 cups unbleached flour
2 tablespoons Dutch process cocoa powder
2 tablespoons granulated sugar
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/3 cup chilled, unsalted butter
1/2 cup chilled buttermilk (or a mixture of chilled milk and plain yogurt)
For the topping:
1 cup whipped cream, sweetened with 2 tablespoons confectioner’s sugar
Prepare the strawberries:
In a bowl, gently mix the sliced strawberries with granulated sugar, cover, and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes or until the strawberries have released their juices and the sugar has dissolved.
Prepare the chocolate biscuits:
- Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. and line a large baking sheet with parchment paper, cut to fit.
- Sift together the flour, cocoa, granulated sugar, baking powder, salt, and baking soda into a large mixing bowl.
- Cut the chilled butter into 1/4″ dice, add to the flour mixture, and work the butter in lightly with your finger tips. Sprinkle with the chilled buttermilk, and stir gently until a loose dough ball has formed.
- Turn the dough out onto a smooth work surface lightly dusted with flour and knead two or three times. Press the dough into a 1/2″ thick rectangle, lightly dust with flour, and fold the dough (business letter style) over on itself into three sections, as shown in the photo above.
- Again press the dough into a 1/2″ thick rectangle. Using a cookie cutter, cut the dough into four approximately 4″ diameter rounds. Place the biscuit rounds on the prepared baking sheet and bake for approximately 12-14 minutes or until they have doubled in height. Remove from the oven and cool to room temperature.
Assemble the strawberry shortcakes:
For each serving, separate a biscuit into two layers. Place the bottom half of the biscuit on a dessert plate and then top, in order, with sliced strawberries, their juices, the other half of the biscuit, and a large spoonful of whipped cream. Serves four. This recipe can be doubled.