April 16, 2011

Berry Shortcakes with Unsweetened Whipped Cream

When winter ends and spring bursts to life- my husband invariably asks for berry shortcakes for dessert! It's gotten to the point where I probably don't even need to ask anymore- if it's warm outside, that's what he wants for dessert.

Isn't it exciting, seeing ripe, luscious berries return to the grocery store shelves? Glistening strawberries, plump blackberries, radiant raspberries and beautiful blueberries, all smiling up at you saying, 'pick me!! take me home!' Well, why not! Not only because they are insanely delicious, great for you, but you can use them in this decadent dessert- a dessert which I am certain will become one of your warm weather go-to treats!

Berry Shortcakes

2 1/2 cups flour (all-purpose unbleached)

1/4 tsp. salt

1/3 cup sugar

1 Tbsp. baking powder

1/2 tsp. vanilla powder

11 Tbsp. unsalted butter, straight out of the refrigerator

3/4 cup heavy cream


1 Tbsp. heavy cream

1/2 tsp. cinnamon

1 1/2 tsp. sugar

16 ounces strawberries

6 ounces blackberries

1/2 cup sugar

1 cup heavy whipping cream

Preheat your oven to 400 and line a baking sheet with parchment. First, we make our biscuits- these are fairly crumbly and flaky, they contrast nicely with the whipped cream and berries. In a food processor, using the regular blade, not the dough blade, combine the flour, salt, sugar, baking powder and vanilla powder. Remove the butter from the refrigerator and cut it into pieces, small enough to fit through the chute of the food processor. One at a time, feed them through the chute of the food processor while it runs, adding them in quick succession. This will form a coarse meal. Transfer the meal to a medium-large bowl, stir in the 3/4 cup of heavy cream. Once coming together in a lumpy fashion, use your hands to form 6 round biscuits. Don't work the dough too much, no more than probably 30 seconds for each of the 6 portions you are forming into biscuits. Place on the parchment lined baking sheet.

In a small bowl or cup, mix the cinnamon and sugar. Using a pastry brush, or a rolled up paper towel, brush the cream on top of each of the biscuits. Then sprinkle with the cinnamon and sugar mixture. Bake at 400 for 16 minutes. Remove from the baking sheet promptly and set aside to cool on either a wire rack or a plate.

While the biscuits are baking, wash your berries, remove the green tops of the strawberries and cut into smaller pieces. In a medium bowl, combine your berries and sugar, allow to sit until dissolved, gently stirring a few times to evenly distribute. The ratio of strawberries and blackberries is just what I used, you can use any variation you like of berries! Using either a standing mixer or a handheld mixer, whip your cream until it forms fairly firm peaks. I prefer unsweetened whipped cream, but feel free to get creative here- add some vanilla, or lemon or orange zest, or lemon juice, or a bit of sugar! Now to assemble your new favorite treat- cut your biscuit in half (gently, it is crumbly), and place it open on a small dessert plate. Spoon a small amount of whipped cream onto the bottom half, then add some berries, then top with a little more whipped cream. Place the biscuit top back on, and enjoy! (This portion is on the large side, so you can either share or use just half a biscuit.) In a hurry? Completely skip the biscuits and just make the berry mixture and the whipped cream. Place in a small juice glass, one layer of cream, then berries, then cream. What could be better!?

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