As the days grow longer and hotter, we crave fresh, juicy fruits and light, refreshing desserts. Every foodie’s favorite thing about summer is the abundance of fresh produce rolling in. From farmer’s market kale to home-grown lettuce to ripe berries, summer is a fresh food paradise.
Driscoll’s has been committed to growing strawberries for over 100 years. Each berry is loaded with vitamin C, folate, fiber, potassium and antioxidants. Driscoll’s ensures year-round availability by growing strawberries in multiple locations. However, the summertime strawberries carry with them the warmth of the sun and long days to ripen, and are best used at the peak of the season.
Therefore, in celebration of summer, fresh berries, and sweet deliciousness, I decided to make the world’s finest Strawberry Shortcake. This was to be no ordinary biscuit with berries sprinkled on top. I searched the world wide web for inspiration, considered all kinds of crazy flavors, and took apart each element of the classic cake to come up with this recipe.
Dense, moist, and decadent chocolate shortcake. Thinly sliced plump Driscoll strawberries bathed in sweet and tangy balsamic vinegar and local Colorado honey, and the tour-de-force, a homemade French Vanilla whipped cream spiked with Patron Cafe.
If you aren’t salivating by now, just keep scrolling for the pictures…
- 1 1/2 cup flour
- 3 tbsp granulated sugar
- 2 tbsp cocoa powder
- 1 1/2 tsp baking powder
- 1/2 tsp baking soda
- 1/4 tsp salt
- 1/4 cup cold butter (4 tbsp)
- 1/2 cup milk
For the strawberries:
- 2 cups strawberries
- 1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
- 1/4 cup honey
For the whipped cream:
- 1 cup heavy whipping cream
- 2 oz French Vanilla coffee creamer
- 2 oz Patron cafe (or other coffee-flavored liquor)
- 3 tbsp powdered sugar
This may seem intimidating, but trust me, it takes less than 30 minutes altogether. And the only ingredient I had to specifically go buy was the heavy cream. You can omit the Patron if you don’t like the taste or the alcohol content as well. Let’s jump in.
Step 1: Preheat your oven to 400 degrees F. In a large bowl, mix your dry ingredients. Flour, baking powder, baking soda, cocoa powder, salt, sugar. Sift together if you do things that way.
Step 2: Cut in the cold butter or use a pastry cutter, until it resembles coarse crumbs.
Step 3: Stir as you pour in the milk. Batter should be just wet, and a bit sticky.
Step 4: You can just drop the batter onto a wax-paper-covered cookie sheet, but I chose to bake mine in cupcake pans for shape. Pour about 1/4 cup into each well.
Step 5: Bake at 400 for 15-17 minutes, until beginning to brown on top. Remove from the oven and cool.
Meanwhile, chill a bowl and whisk in the refrigerator or freezer to make the whipped cream.
Step 6: Cut the tops off the strawberries, then stand them on end and cut into thin slices.
I will totally not tell if you sneak a few as you’re cutting. Fresh strawberries are hard to resist! I know I had a few…
Step 7: In a bowl, mix the balsamic vinegar and honey. You may need to microwave for 15-20 seconds to get the honey and vinegar to mix well. Dump the sliced berries in, and mix well to coat. Set aside.
Step 8: The home stretch, whipped cream time! Take out your cold bowl and whisk. Pour in 1 cup heavy whipping cream, and then whip the crap outta the cream.
The cream will start to thicken, and form stiff peaks. Add the 2 oz of creamer, powdered sugar, and Patron. Mix well again. Be sure to not over-beat it though, you don’t want alcoholic butter. Or maybe you do…
Step 9: Now you have all three ingredients to assemble your masterpiece. Cut the cooled shortcupcakes in half, and smear on some cafe cream. Add a few slices of berries, and a drizzle of the extra juice.
Put the top layer on, smear on some more cream, and top with berry slices.
And there you have it! A delicious, fresh, unique dessert to wow a crowd or make a summertime picnic extra special. This recipe makes enough for 8 small cakes, you can easily double it to make a larger 9 inch round pan.
The cake is flaky on the outside, yet moist on the inside, with just a hint of cocoa flavor. The whipped cream adds a mysterious bite, with a chocolate-complementing essence of coffee. Likewise, the balsamic vinegar is a unique, yet balancing tang to the coffee-chocolate notes, and the honey is just the right amount of sweet without being overwhelming. The longer you let the berries soak, the more they will take on this amazing flavor combination. You might want to make extra to just eat with a spoon!
Now the next time you have a birthday, office gathering, garden party, or dinner you know where to turn for a uniquely impressive dessert that’s sure to bring compliments for years to come!