Mixed Berry Shortcakes
I love this time of year! The days are long, warm and perfect for spending your evenings outside. In my book, no summer night is complete without firing up the grill for a delicious dinner. Whether it is chicken, hamburgers, shrimp, or fish, a perfect summer meal calls for a perfect summer dessert.
Strawberry shortcake is without a doubt one of my favorite summer desserts. Is there really any other dessert that screams summer as much as a berry shortcake? I like to serve this dessert while the shortcakes are still warm from the oven. The contrast of cool berries and whipped cream sandwiched between a warm cakelike biscuit is incredible.
Mixed Berry Shortcakes
Yield: 6 servings
Prep Time: 20 Minutes
Cook Time: 14 Minutes
For the Topping:
1 ½ pounds fresh berries (blackberries, raspberries, blueberries and/or strawberries, cut into bite-size pieces)
2 - 4 tablespoons granulated white sugar, or to taste
For the Shortcakes:
2 cups bleached all-purpose flour, plus more for work surface and biscuit cutter
1/2 teaspoon table salt
1 tablespoon baking powder
3 tablespoons granulated sugar
2 tablespoons granulated sugar for sprinkling
1 stick unsalted butter (8 tablespoons), frozen, cut into ½ inch pieces
1 egg, beaten
1/2 cup half-and-half
1 tablespoon half-and-half
1 egg white, lightly beaten
For the Whipped Cream:
1 cup heavy cream, chilled
1 tablespoon granulated sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
Adjust oven rack to lower middle position; heat oven to 425 degrees.
Place the berries in a large bowl. Add the sugar, stir well and set aside while preparing biscuits. Let sit for a minimum of 15 minutes or up to 2 hours, then mash the berries a bit to release their juices before topping.
In the bowl of a food processor fitted with the metal blade, pulse flour, salt, baking powder, and 3 tablespoons sugar until combined, about five 1-second pulses. Add the butter and toss with a fork to cover in flour mixture. Pulse until mixture looks like coarse cornmeal flecked with pea-sized bits of butter, about 10 to 12 pulses. Transfer mixture to a large mixing bowl.
Add egg with half-and-half; pour into flour mixture. Mix with a rubber spatula until mixture comes together. Turn mixture onto floured work surface and lightly knead until it comes together.
Pat dough into 9- by 6-inch rectangle, 3/4 inch thick. Flour 2 3/4-inch biscuit cutter; cut 6 dough rounds. Place 1 inch apart on small baking sheet; brush dough tops with egg white and sprinkle with remaining sugar. (Can be covered and refrigerated up to 2 hours before baking.) After cutting six perfect rounds of dough, you can reknead the scraps and repeat the cutting process to get one or two more rounds. These shortcakes will be a little tougher and less attractive than those from the first cutting. Bake until golden brown, 12 to 14 minutes. Place baking sheet on wire rack; cool cakes until warm, about 10 minutes.
While the biscuits are baking, make the whipped cream: Chill nonreactive, deep, 1- to 1 1/2-quart bowl and beaters for a handheld mixer in freezer for at least 20 minutes. Add cream, sugar, and vanilla to chilled bowl; beat on low speed until small bubbles form, about 30 seconds. Increase speed to medium; continue beating until beaters leave a trail, about 30 seconds more. Increase speed to high; continue beating until cream is smooth, thick, and nearly doubled in volume, about 20 seconds for soft peaks or about 30 seconds for stiff peaks. If necessary, finish beating by hand to adjust consistency. (Can be transferred to fine sieve or strainer set over measuring cup and refrigerated up to 8 hours).
Split each cake crosswise by hand and spoon a portion of the berries and then a dollop of whipped cream over each cake bottom. Cap with cake top; serve immediately.
Source: adapted from Cook’s Illustrated, May 1997
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