Sunday, October 27, 2013

From-Scratch Strawberry Shortcakes

I've been meaning to share this recipe with you for a while now. I actually made it a few weeks ago when we had a little Breaking Bad finale party at our house. I had an extreme itch to bake that day, which was part of my ulterior motive for inviting people over to watch the show together (I mean, late night Sunday nights are not usually party time for me).

Thankfully we had a little group converge on our living room for the screening, so I could make something warm and delicious and guilt-free since there would be no leftovers.

There's just something about strawberry shortcake. I haven't made it in ages and it brings me right back to my childhood, with my mom cutting warm, flakey scratch-made biscuits and whipping up fresh cream until it's fluffy and light. Ooooh my goodness.

A lot of people make strawberry shortcake these days with angel food cake, homemade or store bough, and (gasp) Cool Whip, which I've grudgingly eaten my fair share of times. I know angel food cake is much lighter and all, but fresh biscuits - especially warm ones - just really make this dessert. And it takes all of 3 minutes to make homemade whipped cream, so why not ditch the chemical-laden freezer variety and make a batch of the good stuff yourself? It's so worth it.

These shortcakes are: crispy and warm on the bottom, and get soaked up with sweet strawberry juice; filled with juicy strawberries and cold vanilla bean ice cream in the middle, topped with a flakey, fluffy biscuit top, and doused with light and airy slightly sweet whipped cream.

It just does not get any better.

Strawberry Shortcakes

Serves 8

Ingredients - Biscuits
1 cup flour
1 1/2 tsp. baking powder
1/4 tsp. salt
1 Tbsp. sugar
2-3 Tbsp. chilled butter
1/3 cup milk

Ingredients - Filling
1 quart strawberries, gently washed and sliced
1 Tbsp. agave nectar (may substitute 1/4 cup sugar)
1 1/2 cups heavy cream
1/2 tsp. vanilla
1 tsp. sugar (optional; may add more if you like sweeter whipped cream)
3 cups vanilla bean ice cream

Preheat oven to 450.

Combine sliced strawberries with agave nectar in a bowl; set aside and let macerate while biscuits are baking.

To make the biscuits, sift together flour, baking powder, salt and sugar; using a pastry blender or 2 knives, cut in the chilled butter until the size of small peas. Make a well in the center and add the milk. Stir just until the dough comes away from the sides of the bowl (if too wet, add more flour; if too dry, add a bit more milk). Turn the dough onto a lightly floured board. Knead about 8-10 times. Roll out with a rolling pin to about 3/4 inch thick. Cut with biscuit or cookie cutter (any shape you like) and place on greased baking sheet. Brush tops with milk and bake 12 to 15 minutes, until slightly browned.

While biscuits are baking, add heavy cream, vanilla and sugar (optional) to a cold bowl and beat on medium-high speed until soft peaks form. Set aside.

While biscuits are still warm, split each biscuit in half, and place the bottom in a bowl; top with strawberries, a scoop of vanilla ice cream and a spoonful of whipped cream. Add the top biscuit, then another dollop of whipped cream. Serve immediately.

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