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Mixed Berry Shortcake with Caramel Sauce

Reprinted with permission from Terra: Cooking from the Heart of Napa Valley by Hiro Sone and Lissa Doumani. Photography by Kiroaki Ishii and Kaoru Sakuraba. Copyright 2000.
Ten Speed Prees, Berkeley, CA.
Adapted by StarChefs

These are old-fashioned, biscuit-style shortcakes with a rich, creamy flavor and lovely crumbly texture. Strawberries are, of course, the traditional filling choice, but any combination of ripe, flavorful berries is wonderful served this way, as are peaches, apricots, or nectarines. For a refreshing change of pace, try using vanilla ice cream instead of whipped cream.

Suggested Wine Pairing: A semi-sweet dessert wine with some effervescence is fun. Try the Martini Muscato Amabile.

Yield: 4 servings

Shortcake:

  • 1 cup pastry flour
  • 3 Tablespoons sugar
  • 1 ½ teaspoons baking powder
  • Pinch of salt
  • 4 ½ Tablespoons cold unsalted butter, cut into small cubes
  • 6 to 8 Tablespoons heavy cream, plus 2 teaspoons for brushing
  • ½ teaspoon vanilla extract

Fruit Compote:

  • 4 cups mixed fresh berries, hulled strawberries, raspberries, or blackberries
  • ¼ cup sugar
  • 1 teaspoon freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • ¼ cup vanilla sugar
  • ½ cup crème frâiche or sour cream
  • 1 Tablespoon powdered sugar
  • 1/2 cup warm caramel sauce


To make the shortcakes, combine the pastry flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt in a heavy- duty mixer fitted with the paddle attachment and blend together on low speed. Add the butter and mix until crumbly. Combine 6 tablespoons of the cream with the vanilla, add it to the flour mixture, and mix until the dough just comes together; if necessary, add up to 2 more tablespoons cream and mix just for a second. (Depending on the temperature of the kitchen and the ingredients, the flour will absorb more or less of the cream.)

Or, to mix by hand, combine the dry ingredients in a large bowl. Add the butter and toss to coat with the flour mixture. Using your fingers, a pastry blender, or 2 knives, cut the butter and flour mixture until crumbly. (Work quickly if using your fingers, so the heat of your hands doesn't melt the butter.) Make a well in the center of the mixture and add the liquid ingredients. Stir gently until the liquid is absorbed. Do not knead the dough; it should be slightly crumbly.

On a lightly floured board, pat the dough into a disc about 1-inch thick. With a 2 ½ inch biscuit cutter, cut out 4 shortcakes. Re-form the scraps, pat them out, and cut an extra one (a treat for the cook). Put the shortcakes 3 inches apart on a small baking sheet pan lined with parchment paper and refrigerate until solid, about 30 minutes.

Preheat the oven to 350°F. Brush each shortcake with a little cream and bake for 45 to 50 minutes, or until golden brown on the top and bottom. (If the shortcakes flatten out too much, there was too much cream in the dough; next time, add a little bit less.) Let cool slightly if serving immediately; let cool completely to serve later.

To start the fruit compote, purée 1 cup of the fruit in a blender with the sugar and lemon juice. Strain through a fine-mesh sieve and set aside.

To serve, beat the cream with the vanilla sugar in a deep bowl until stiff peaks form. Add the crème frâiche, and mix until blended. If necessary, warm the shortcakes in a preheated 325°F oven for 3 to 4 minutes. Cut each one in half crosswise and place the bottoms in the center of 4 dinner plates. Dust the top halves with the powdered sugar and set aside. In a large bowl, combine the fruit purée and the remaining fruit and stir to coat. Spoon the fruit over the shortcake bottoms, then put a large dollop of the cream mixture on top of the berries. Drizzle the warm caramel sauce all around and over the fruit and cream, then put the top halves of the shortcakes on top of the cream.

 

  

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