While I traveled through Ireland a few weeks ago, I noticed the first signs of strawberry season emerge, with roadside stands popping up in places like Kilkenny and east Cork (transported, no doubt, from Wexford, where strawberries grow in great abundance). The “season” is officially here in the U.S., too, with the entire month of June considered to be “strawberry month” and “National Strawberry Shortcake Day” celebrated June 14. According to Driscoll’s, a California company celebrating over 100 years of growing berries, “The first printed shortcake recipe appeared in an English cookbook in 1588. In the 1850s, Americans added strawberries to traditional shortcakes and celebrated the start of summer with ‘strawberry shortcake parties.’ Influenced by French chefs, whipped cream became a key ingredient in strawberry shortcake around 1910, and in the 1950s, homemakers turned to Bisquick to make easy drop-style shortcakes.” With local farm stands and markets now brimming with the luscious, versatile, and delicious berry, some “variations on a theme” you might enjoy include this unique dessert — Shortcake in a Jar!
Salted Caramel Chocolate Strawberry Shortcake in a Jar
Strawberry shortcake has met its match in this thoroughly modern interpretation of the classic dessert. Chocolate is added to the shortcake and salted caramel to the whipped cream for a dreamy, sweet-salty combination. Serve it in wide-mouth 1/2-pint mason jars for a truly inspired presentation (alternately, you can serve it in stemmed wine glasses to display the colorful layers).
Salted Chocolate Biscuits
1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1/4 cup sugar
1/4 cup Dutch process cocoa
1 1/4 teaspoon. baking powder
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/8 teaspoon salt
6 tablespoons cold unsalted butter, cut into small pieces, plus 1 tablespoon melted
1/2 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips, finely chopped
1/2 cup plus 3 tablespoons cold buttermilk
1/4 teaspoon coarse salt or more to taste
Caramel Whipped Cream
1 cup heavy (whipping) cream
3 tablespoons prepared caramel sauce
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 package (16 ounces) strawberries, hulled and quartered
1. To make the chocolate biscuits, preheat the oven to 400° F. In a large bowl, whisk together flour, sugar, cocoa powder, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. With a pastry cutter, two forks, or your fingers, cut or work in cold butter until mixture resembles coarse crumbs. Stir in chocolate chips and buttermilk until dough just comes together. The dough will be wet.
2. Transfer dough to a floured work surface, and with floured hands, pat dough into a 3/4-inch-thick round. With a 2 1/2-inch biscuit cutter, cut out 8 rounds; place each on an ungreased cookie sheet. Brush with melted butter and sprinkle with salt. Bake for about 15 minutes, or until firm. Let cool on a wire rack.
3. To make caramel whipped cream, in a large bowl or stand mixer whip cream, caramel sauce, and vanilla until stiff peaks form, making sure all the caramel dissolves into the cream. Keep chilled until ready to use.
4. To serve, split each biscuit in half. Place a biscuit base in a mason jar and evenly divide the strawberries on top (reserve a few for garnish). Reserve 1/2 cup caramel whipped cream for garnish and divide remaining cream among jars, spreading on top of strawberries. Place a biscuit top over whipped cream in each jar and spoon 1 tablespoon whipped cream on each biscuit top. Finish with halved strawberries. Recipe and image courtesy of Driscoll’s (www.driscolls.com).