I’ve been waiting for this moment all year. The weather starts to warm, flowers begin to bloom and birds begin to sing again. And it’s my birthday.
When my mother was pregnant, she craved Chinese food and strawberry shortcake. She, of course, claims those cravings passed to me. Although I’m not sure there is any science to back that up, I do have an obsession with sweet and sour chicken and what I consider one of the best springtime desserts.
Lucky for me, I had some strawberries leftover from my last trip to the grocery store. When my friend Margie asked what dessert I was going to bring to our dinner, I suggested the shortcake since I had nearly all the ingredients on hand.
If you are going to eat strawberry shortcake, it has to be homemade. Maybe I am a bit of a snob, but store-bought angel food cake and that strawberry gel don’t cut it.
A recent trip to Florida inspired a slightly different take on my shortcake this year. I’ve heard for a while now that strawberries and balsamic vinegar pair well, but until that trip, I hadn’t really had an opportunity to try the two together. A cup of gelato confirmed it.
Since it was my first time trying to make a strawberry-balsamic shortcake, I didn’t over do it. Some sites suggested I add pepper and lemon, but I held off this time so I could figure out the basics.
In addition to adding balsamic vinegar, I also pureed some strawberries to thicken up and add even more flavor to the mixture. (I find the strawberry-sugar water too runny.)
For the biscuits, I relied on Alton Brown to guide the way. His shortcake recipe was good, although I had to add a little more sugar to the dough, which ended up being a little dense in my opinion. Next time, I’ll probably add a bit more butter or shortening, which seemed a little light to me. But then again, I’m guilty of using a lot of butter in my desserts.
Regardless, it was pretty damn good.
What I love most about homemade strawberry shortcake is that you can control the sweetness. I don’t like mine overly sweet, so my recipes will reflect that. You can, of course, up the ante — just make sure to add a little sugar at a time instead of dumping a bunch on at once.
Springtime strawberry-balsamic shortcake
1 cup heavy cream
1-2 tbsp powdered sugar (to taste)
1 tsp vanilla
Macerated strawberries with balsamic vinegar:
1 lb strawberries
1-2 tbsp balsamic vinegar
1-2 tbsp sugar
Shortcake: See Alton Brown’s recipe.
Whipped cream: Beat heavy cream, vanilla and powdered sugar together until soft peaks form. Refrigerate.
Strawberry mixture: Wash strawberries and cut into thin slices. Puree about a quarter of the slices, then add the juice into a bowl with the sliced strawberries, balsamic vinegar and sugar. Refrigerate.
After your shortcake cools, top the biscuits with strawberries and cream and then dive into that bowl of heavenly goodness.