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Saturday, July 12, 2008

you don't have to skip dessert: strawberry shortcake

strawberry shortcake

I like eating healthy, but I also don't like the idea of depriving myself of dessert. Not that I'm going to make chocolate kahlua cheesecake every night, but if I'm craving something sweet, I am going to have it. Sometimes that's a fun date to get a gelato, and sometimes that's making a healthier option at home. I picked up a pound of fresh strawberries from the farmers market earlier this week, so I knew I had the option to make a light and healthy dessert with that. In order to make the shortcake healthier, I decided to keep the ingredients exactly the same (yes, butter, cream, sugar), but just make smaller portions of the bread with a larger ratio of strawberries. It was perfect.

Grocery list: strawberries, lemon, sugar, flour, butter, whipping cream, milk, powdered sugar.

Start by washing, hulling and slicing the strawberries. Squeeze the juice of half a lemon over them, and sprinkle a couple of tablespoons of sugar over top. Refrigerate for an hour or more, stirring occasionally, so the strawberries release their juices and make a nice syrup.

flour butter for shortcakes

For the shortcakes, the recipe I followed (from Epicurious) calls for 2 cups flour, 1/2 stick cold unsalted butter, 1/8 tsp salt, plus 2 T sugar (in order to make 6 shortcakes). I went for half this recipe, to make 4 smaller shortcakes, but I'll let you make that call for yourself. Anyway, after sifting together the dry ingredients, cut the butter up into small pieces and add to the bowl. With your hands, mix until the texture is course (like cornmeal). Then, pour in 3/4 cup milk and mix just until it turns doughy - don't over-mix.

shortcakes to bake with cream top

Drop the shortcakes into 6 round shapes on a greased baking sheet. Using a pastry brush, brush the tops with heavy cream. Bake for 15-20 minutes at 400 degrees, until the shortcakes are golden on top.


Transfer the shortcakes to a wire rack to cool. To make whipped cream, beat 3/4 cup whipping cream with 4 T powdered sugar with a hand mixer for 2-3 minutes (this made plenty for 4 shortcakes, but if you made the full recipe you might want to make double the whipped cream). Slice the shortcakes in half, lay strawberries and their juices on top of the bottom half of the shortcakes, a dollop of whipped cream, then top with the other half. Garnish with more whipped cream and a whole strawberry if you like.

Next time I'll try one of the many variations on shortcake - possibly with Grand Marnier?

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