Monday, June 20, 2011

Strawberry Shortcakes with Balsamic Vinegar

I came back from Maryland this weekend with about 5 pounds of strawberries and raspberries, which meant I immediately started thinking about what dishes I could cook or bake using some of those berries.  My first thought was some sort of rhubarb and berry crostada, tart or pie.  I also thought about making a compote, but we were out of rhubarb and I didn't feel like going to the store to get more.  So I settled on making some strawberry shortcakes because we had everything we needed in the fridge and there is really no dessert that brings to mind summer as much as strawberry shortcake.  And since it is now late June and over 80 degrees all week long, it seemed rather appropriate.  Rather than making our regular recipe (which I'm not sure I can call a regular recipe since we have only made it once before), I decided to make something a little different.  But since I am feeling generous, I will post both recipes down below!  I think that the biscuits in this new recipe are the perfect biscuits for shortcakes.  Thanks Bon Appetit!  They were really tender and had just the perfect amount of sweetness.  They were a little small, but I guess that's a good thing because they force you to eat a smaller portion.  Depending on whether we stick to a more traditional filling or not, I might add a little orange zest to the biscuits and a splash of Grand Marnier to the whipped cream.  That would be a fun minor variation on a classic strawberry shortcake recipe.  I thought that the balsamic vinegar-macerated strawberries were a nice touch, but I'm not sure that they were necessarily any better than your standard macerated strawberries.  I'm actually thinking about eating them on top of some Greek yogurt tomorrow for breakfast.  But who am I kidding?  If I'm going to eat more berries for breakfast, I am going to eat another whole shortcake.  Yum!   

Recipes after the jump!

Strawberry Shortcakes with Balsamic Vinegar
June 2010

2 cups unbleached all purpose flour
5 tablespoons sugar, divided
2 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup (1 stick) chilled unsalted butter, cut into 1/2-inch cubes
1 cup chilled heavy whipping cream
1 large egg, beaten to blend (for glaze)
2 pounds fresh strawberries (about 8 cups), hulled, quartered if small, sliced if large
6 tablespoons sugar, divided
3 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
1 large pinch of freshly ground black pepper
1 cup chilled heavy whipping cream
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Position rack in center of oven and preheat to 425°F. Line baking sheet with parchment paper. Place flour, 4 tablespoons sugar, baking powder, and salt in processor. Using on/off turns, process to blend. Add butter; cut in using on/off turns until butter resembles large peas, about five 1-second intervals. Add cream; using on/off turns, process until moist clumps form. Transfer dough to lightly floured work surface. Gather dough into ball; flatten into 8 x 4-inch rectangle (about 1 1/4 inches thick). Cut lengthwise in half, then crosswise into 4 equal strips, forming 8 square biscuits. Transfer biscuits to prepared baking sheet and chill 20 minutes.

Brush top of biscuits with egg glaze; sprinkle with remaining 1 tablespoon sugar. Bake until biscuits are golden brown and tester inserted horizontally comes out clean, about 15 minutes. Transfer to rack and cool.

Mix strawberries, 5 tablespoons sugar, vinegar, and black pepper in medium bowl. Let macerate 30 minutes, stirring occasionally.

Using electric mixer, beat cream, vanilla, and remaining 1 tablespoon sugar in another medium bowl until peaks form.

Cut biscuits horizontally in half. Place bottom half of each biscuit, cut side up, on plate. Using slotted spoon, divide strawberries among biscuits. Spoon dollop of whipped cream atop strawberries. Cover each with top half of biscuit. Drizzle some of juices from strawberries around shortcakes.

Strawberry Shortcakes

For Filling
4 pints strawberries, lightly rinsed, hulled and halved
1 tbsp fresh lemon juice
1 tbsp sugar
2 cups heavy (whipping) cream
1 1/2 tbsp sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
For Shortcakes
2 cups self-rising flour
2 1/2 tbsp sugar
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 cup (1 stick) cold, unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
3/4 cup milk
2 tsp orange zest
2 tbsp heavy (whipping) cream
2 tsp turbinado sugar 
mint leaves for garnish

Preheat the oven to 400°F. Grease a baking sheet.

Combine the flour, sugar and salt in a bowl.  Add the butter. Using a pastry blender or your fingers, rub it into the dry ingredients until mixture resembles a coarse meal. Stir in the milk and the orange zest until a very soft dough is formed. Do not overwork. Drop the dough in 6 equal portions onto the prepared baking sheet. Lightly pat the dough into rounds—3 to 3 1/2 inches in diameter.  Lightly brush the tops of the shortcakes with the cream and sprinkle with turbinado sugar.

Bake the shortcakes in the center of the oven for 15 to 20 minutes or until golden brown. Cool on a wire rack. 

To make the filling, place strawberries in a bowl. Sprinkle with lemon juice and sugar, then gently toss with a rubber spatula. Let rest for 1 1/2 to 2 hours for juices to develop.

Just before serving, whip cream in an stand mixer with 1 Tbsp sugar and 1 tsp vanilla extract in a chilled bowl until it holds soft peaks.

To serve, slice off the top half of each shortcake. Place the bottoms on plates and top with  prepared berries, plus a large spoonful of whipped cream. Cover with the top. Spoon more berries and juice around the shortcakes. Garnish each with a mint leaf and drizzle with any remaining juice.

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