Monday, June 7, 2010

Strawberry Shortcakes

Strawberry Shortcakes

For me one of the signs that winter is finally behind us are when strawberries start appearing on the market. In France there is a special variety called the Gariguette a variety predominately found in the south of France, they are typically smaller than the traditional strawberry and just a little more sweeter.

 Of course, like the famous Christmas story, visions of strawberry desserts start swimming around in my head and perhaps the most classic of desserts - The Strawberry Shortcake recipe popped into my head. One of my favorite desserts as its not very sweet and the mixture of the shortcake (think cross between scone/biscuit), fresh chantilly (whipped cream) and strawberries are a edible version of spring.

This dessert is perfect to do in advance, the shortcakes can be made up to a day before  and kept in a well sealed container. Any more than a day and they become too dry. The strawberries can be done in the morning and put to "marinate", the whipped cream can be done up to a few hours before, any more and the cream may fall.

An American Place Strawberry Shortcake   PARADE | June 2000 
Makes 6 servings

2 cups all-purpose flour
3 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
5 tablespoons sugar
6 tablespoons cold unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
3/4 cup heavy cream
2 mashed hard-cooked large egg yolks
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted

3/4 lbs or 340 grams - strawberries, cleaned and halved (quartered, if large)
2 tablespoons sugar
2 tablespoons Grand Marnier
Chantilly (Whipped Cream)
7ozs or 200 grams of confectioner's sugar (sucre glace)
4 cups  of heavy cream

Preparation for Shortcakes
1. Preheat oven to 375°F or 180F  Lightly butter a baking sheet.
2. Sift the flour, baking powder and 4 tablespoons sugar into a bowl. Add the butter, using fingers to work it quickly into the flour until the mixture resembles fine crumbs. Add the cream and yolks; stir with a fork until the dough just holds together.
3. Knead the dough on a floured surface until it is just smooth. Do not overwork. Roll the dough out 3/4-inch thick. Using a floured 2 1/2- or 3-inch cookie cutter, cut out 4 rounds. Gather the scraps, reroll; cut 2 more rounds.
4. Put the 6 rounds on the prepared baking sheet. Brush with the melted butter and sprinkle with the remaining tablespoon of sugar. Bake in the center of the oven for 12 to 15 minutes, until the biscuits are golden brown and firm to the touch.

Preparation - Strawberries
 For the filling, mix berries, sugar and Grand Marnier in a bowl. Chill.

Preparation - Chantilly
To get the best results there are three steps that should be carefully followed:
  • The cream should be at least 30% fat
  • All elements used to make the chantilly should be cold, ideally place in the refrigerator 1 hour before
  • Start slowly to whip the cream slowly building up speed, this is to "fix" the cream and to prevent it from falling 
  1. In a salad bowl (cold) add the cream and whip in a clockwise movement to incorporate as much air as possible into the cream. Whip until it reaches the consistency of whipped cream.
  2. At this stage add the sugar (ideally confectioner's sugar as the grains melt easily into the cream) and continue to whip until all is incorporated.
  3. Keep covered in the refrigerator until ready for use
Carefully split the shortcakes in half. Heap the bottoms with strawberries. Dollop with the whipped cream, then replace the biscuit tops. Serve immediately with remaining chantilly cream on the side.

Bon Appétit


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