For Chocolate Lovers only
 


Strawberry Shortcake for Two

Tips: Strawberry shortcake is a classic American dessert, but I haven’t seen many recipes for small yields. This dessert is a two person affair, although I suppose it could be stretched to serve two couples (unless I’m one of the people eating it). You’ll bake two large biscuits, cool them, split them, and fill them with your choice of filling; the biscuits are then surrounded by sliced strawberries. I’ve eaten this for dinner, but you can serve it after a small, very light meal.

The biscuit recipe is a snap to make if you have a food processor. If you don’t, you can still make the biscuits; sift the dry ingredients into a medium bowl, then blend well. Cut in the cold butter bits with a pastry blender, two knives, or a fork until the butter particles are in fine crumbs. Proceed as directed.

You’ll need medium-sized plates to serve this; the plates must have shallow “wells” (that is, they ought not to be flat). Great when strawberries are at their peak!

Yield: 2 servings

Ingredients:

    Filling (Choice One):
  • Generous one cup good-quality vanilla OR chocolate ice cream OR gelato (slightly softened)
  • Optional: Good-quality chocolate syrup or sauce
    Filling (Choice Two):
  • 2 Tbsp. plus 1-1/2 tsp. confectioners’ sugar
  • 1 Tbsp. unsweetened Dutch process cocoa powder
  • Few grains of salt
  • 3/4 cup heavy cream
    Strawberries:
  • 1-1/2 cups thinly-sliced strawberries
  • Granulated sugar to taste
  • About 1 Tbsp. orange liqueur OR orange juice
    Bicuits:
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 2 tsp. granulated sugar
  • 1-1/4 tsp. baking powder
  • Large pinch of salt
  • 3 Tbsp. cold, unsalted butter, cut into pieces
  • About 4 to 5 Tbsp. milk

Method:

Make your choice of filling first. If you choose the ice cream or gelato, you don’t need to do any advance preparation. For the chocolate cream, chill a small bowl and the beater(s) from a hand-held electric mixer. Into a small cup, sift together confectioners’ sugar, cocoa powder, and salt; with a spoon, blend until mixture is of an even color. Cover cup tightly with plastic wrap and set aside.

Sixty to 90 minutes before you want to serve the shortcakes, place the sliced strawberries, sugar, and liqueur or orange juice into a nonaluminum bowl. Stir gently with a large spoon. Cover and set aside at room temperature (if the room is very warm, you can chill this mixture).

To make the biscuits, adjust rack to center of oven; preheat oven to 425 degrees F. Line a baking sheet with aluminum foil, shiny side up; place the lined sheet on top of another, empty baking sheet (baking the biscuits on a doubled sheet prevents their bottoms from overbrowning).

In workbowl of food processor fitted with steel blade, combine flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt. Process until well-mixed. Add cold butter bits; process in three bursts of about 10 seconds each, until butter is in very fine particles. Remove mixture from processor and pour into a medium bowl.

Add 3 tablespoons of milk. With fork, stir in until blended. Gradually add more milk until you’ve formed a dough that begins to come together in the bowl. Turn dough out onto a lightly floured sheet of wax paper; knead about 10 times, or just until dough holds together, flouring your hands lightly if necessary (you can knead the dough while it’s still in the bowl, if you prefer, but I like a bit more room for my hands). Do not overwork biscuit dough, as the biscuits will be tough if you do.

Divide dough into two equal parts. Place each piece onto lined baking sheet, leaving several inches between pieces. Flatten each piece to a circle about 4 inches in diameter. Bake biscuits on doubled baking sheet in preheated oven for 11 to 12 minutes, turning back-to-front once after about 5 minutes. Biscuits will rise substantially and be a light golden brown on top and sides (they’ll be darker on the bottoms). Do not overbake. Immediately remove biscuits to cooling rack; cool to room temperature if you’ll use the chocolate cream filling (biscuits can be very slightly warm if you’re using an ice cream filling). Using a large, very sharp, serrated knife, gently and carefully split each biscuit horizontally. Gently pull out some of the soft biscuit insides, top and bottom, but don’t go all the way to the edges or the top/bottom crusts.

If you’re using ice cream, soften it slightly now. Work quickly after ice cream has been softened! Place biscuit bottoms in the center of each of two medium dessert plates. Place a generous scoop (about 1/2 to 2/3 cup) of ice cream into the bottom of each biscuit, mounding it high, then top generously with chocolate sauce or syrup. Place top of biscuit on ice cream; do not press down. Surround each filled biscuit with about half of the sliced, macerated strawberries; if there’s any juice from the berries, spoon it over the top of each biscuit. Garnish with a strawberry slice on top of each biscuit.

To use chocolate cream as a filling, in chilled bowl with chilled beater(s), beat heavy cream at high speed just until soft peaks form. Add confectioners’ sugar-cocoa mixture; with rubber spatula, quickly fold in until partly blended. Beat again at high speed to stiff peaks. Prepare biscuits as directed above. Into bottom of each biscuit, scoop about half of the chocolate cream (leave a small amount for garnish), piling it high. Gently replace tops of biscuits (do not press down). Surround filled biscuits on dessert plates with macerated strawberries, again drizzling any strawberry juice over biscuit tops. Garnish biscuit tops with a very small amount of chocolate cream in which you’ve placed a strawberry slice.

Serve immediately!

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