A few friends came over for dinner last night. The food was wonderful and I am excited to share ALL of the recipes, but I will share just one for now. I was looking for a dessert to make and came across this recipe in one of my fine cooking magazines. I already had a container of strawberries, so this seemed not only convenient but also enticing as a twist on the traditional strawberry shortcake.
Growing up we had strawberry shortcake made with either angel food cake or those sponge cake dessert cups you can buy in the bakery section of the grocery store. There was even a time in my life when I actually thought that these were strawberry shortcakes.
Strawberry shortcake with real shortcake was something unknown to me until college. Shortcake in Britain is a scone, and in America is the sweet and crumbly baking soda biscuit. This shortcake is not quite a scone, but sweeter and moister than a baking soda biscuit. Most shortcakes are topped with strawberries, but other fruit is used. Here are a few other shortcake recipes.
I love fresh herbs and the clean taste of the mint with the sweet and juicy strawberries sounded too good to pass up.
The recipe is simple and the dough is easy to handle and to roll out. The mint sugar is so lovely and gives a very subtle hint of mint, not an overbearing flavor. It is sprinkled on both layers of the shortcake before baking.
The sweetened sour cream is different than the Cool Whip, whipped cream or vanilla ice cream I am used to as an accompaniment to a shortcake. I wasn’t sure if I would enjoy it, so I bought some vanilla ice cream as a back up! We didn’t need the ice cream. The sour cream sauce was just sweet enough and added a tang that contrasted well with the sweet strawberries. I changed the cream sauce a bit. I used low fat sour cream, the same amount of white sugar, 2 tablespoons of brown sugar and a little vanilla.
Strawberry Mint Shortcakes (Finecooking Magazine, March 2009)
3 Tbs. packed, finely chopped fresh spearmint, peppermint, or chocolate mint leaves, plus 1 Tbs. thinly sliced
3/4 cup granulated sugar
9 oz. (2 cups) unbleached all-purpose flour; more for rolling the dough
2 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. table salt
2 oz. (4 Tbs.) cold unsalted butter, cut into 1/2 -inch pieces, plus 1 Tbs., melted, for brushing
2/3 cup half-and-half
1 quart strawberries, hulled and quartered lengthwise
1 cup sour cream
Position a rack in the center of the oven and heat the oven to 400°F. Draw or trace an 8-inch circle on each of two pieces of parchment and flip them over so you see the circle through the parchment.
In a small bowl, mix the finely chopped mint with 3 Tbs. of the sugar, gently pressing with the back of a spoon until the sugar becomes damp, like wet sand; set aside.
In a large bowl, mix the flour, 2 Tbs. of the sugar, baking powder, and salt. With a pastry blender, cut in the butter until the mixture resembles coarse cornmeal. Stir in the half-and-half and mix just until the dough comes together in a ball and all bits of flour have been incorporated.
Divide the dough in half and shape into two disks. Lightly flour one piece of parchment and roll out one disk into a 8-inch circle, using the parchment circle as a guide. Flour the surface as needed to keep the dough from sticking. Repeat with the remaining dough and parchment. Brush any excess flour off the parchment. Transfer one of the circles, still on its parchment, to a large rimmed baking sheet. Brush it with half of the melted butter and spread with half of the remaining mint sugar.
Invert the second dough round onto the first and remove the top parchment. Brush the top with the remaining butter and spread with the remaining mint sugar. Cut the dough into 8 wedges (a pizza cutter works well). Use an off-set spatula to gently move the wedges at least 1 inch apart (keeping the tops and bottoms aligned). Bake until the biscuits are lightly browned and the sugar crust has set, 20 to 22 minutes— it’s fine if they haven’t risen much. Cool on a rack until ready to assemble.
While the biscuits bake, mix the strawberries with 1/4 cup of the sugar in a medium bowl; let sit at room temperature. In a small bowl, stir the sour cream and the remaining 3 Tbs. sugar; refrigerate until ready to use.
To assemble each shortcake:Stir the thinly sliced mint into the strawberries. Gently twist (or pry with a fork) a biscuit to separate the top and bottom. Set the bottom on a serving plate and top with about 1/3 cup strawberries and some juice. Spoon on 1-1/2 Tbs. sweetened sour cream and top with the other half of the biscuit. Add another small dollop of cream, if you like.