It’s time to start thinking about what to enjoy for dessert this July 4th weekend. I decided to focus on desserts and appetizers for postings this week. Yes, barbecued ribs, potato salad, grilled corn and coleslaw are all my favorite things to eat during the holiday weekend but sometimes the pre and post treats are what I anticipate the most. Here is a recipe for strawberry shortcakes that uses a biscuit recipe for the shortcake. Growing up, my Mom used Bisquick and made drop biscuits – if you have that on hand then by all means use it. All you need for the filling are some fresh sliced strawberries and my favorite vanilla bean whipped cream. It is a fun dessert that’s easy to pull together.
This dough is versatile and originally from my biscuits and gravy recipe. You can add cheese and herbs or sweet and savory combinations to the dough. The biscuits can be cut out and baked on a sheet pan, or in a cast iron skillet. And you can use a biscuit cutter or an inverted glass for bigger shortcakes. The trick to fluffy biscuits is to keep some good chunks of butter (pea size) in the dough and not handle the dough too much (extra dough can be re-formed into a disk and cut out again). The batter takes about ten minutes to make/roll out and they cook in just over ten minutes. Leftover shortcakes equals a great breakfast the next morning.
The filling is easy – sliced strawberries with a no-cook simple syrup, and some freshly whipped vanilla bean cream. It’s the same whipped cream recipe from my strawberry granita and it adds a sweet layer of flavor. Peaches or blueberries would be a nice substitution for the fruit. I like to have some sauce on my shortcake so the strawberries get mixed with 1/3 cup water and a little sugar. If you have it in the house, champagne or port would also work nicely in place of the water.
Next, some appetizer ideas to nosh on before dinner.
Have a safe and fun holiday weekend. Eat well and share the love!
Strawberry Shortcakes with Vanilla Bean Whipped Cream
Recipe: Melissa Schenker/Foodie for Two
Makes 6 shortcakes/biscuits (leftovers for breakfast the next morning)
1 ½ cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
¼ teaspoon baking soda
¼ cup unsalted butter
¼ teaspoon salt
3 tablespoons sugar
1/8 tsp. orange zest
1/8 tsp. cinnamon
3/4 cup milk (1 %)
1 egg for egg wash: crack egg into small bowl or ramekin, whisk well with one teaspoon water
2 teaspoons sugar (to dust on top of shortcakes before baking)
10 medium strawberries
1 teaspoon sugar
1/3 cup water (or champagne or port)
Vanilla Bean Whipped Cream
3/4 cup heavy whipping cream
Half of one vanilla bean, paste scraped out
2 teaspoons sugar
Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F. In a large bowl sift together the flour, baking powder and baking soda. Cut butter into the flour with a pastry blender, your hands or with a fork until the lumps are about the size of peas. Mix in salt, sugar, orange zest and pepper. Add the milk and lightly mix until a dough forms.
Turn the dough out onto a well floured surface. Knead lightly two or three times, adding more flour as needed. Roll out the dough with a floured rolling pin to ½ inch thickness and cut out biscuits with a 3 inch round cutter. Place the biscuits on a sheet pan lined with parchment paper and let rise, covered with a clean towel, for 15 minutes.
Egg wash: add one egg to a ramekin or small bowl and whisk together with 1 teaspoon water. Brush the tops of the shortcakes with the egg wash and sprinkle each with a large pinch of sugar. Bake for 12 to 15 minutes until golden brown.
Fresh Strawberry Glaze
Remove the tops and cut the strawberries: cut five of the strawberries into slices and the other five into rounds. Add to a medium bowl along with the water (or champagne or port – reduce sugar to 1 teaspoon) and sugar. Stir well.
Vanilla Bean Whipped Cream:
Add the whipped cream, vanilla bean paste and sugar to a large glass bowl and mix with a hand-mixer on low until soft peaks form, about 1 ½ minutes. Cover and refrigerate if not using immediately. Can be made one day ahead.
Depending on your appetite, you can either cut one shortcake in half or use two shortcakes. Place one shortcake on the bottom of a medium plate and drizzle with a spoon full of strawberries and juice. Add a few dollops of whipped cream and a few more strawberries. Top with other shortcake half and add more whipped cream, strawberries and generous ladles of the juice. Garnish with mint.