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June 16 2010 by Kristin at The Kitchen Sink in Uncategorized » 18 comments

Strawberry Shortcake

I have the most intensely wonderful memories of summer evenings at my parents’ house.  The sun sank, the porch lights flicked on, the smell of hot charcoals scented the air, the crickets built to a slow crescendo.  Hours earlier, the action was in the front yards that lined the winding street, where kids pranced through sprinklers, pedaled down the sidewalk and played game after game, while their parents mowed the grass and weeded the flower beds.  When night fell, though, the action shifted to the backyards, where families had retreated for dinner on their patios and decks.  Burgers, grilled chicken, kabobs, corn on the cob, salt-and-peppered slices of tomatoes, steamed green beans: simple food, most of it cooked fast on the hot grill.

Strawberry Shortcake

I picture faces glinting with a mixture of the day’s sweat, the last smears of sun screen and the melted butter that slicked the corn.  I see whole-hearted happiness, pleasant exhaustion and bare, browned shoulders under tank tops.  I can sense the anticipation over the bowl of ice cream, cloaked in Hershey’s chocolate syrup, that will soon replace the dinner plates.  I can smell the bubble bath that will be drawn later to wash away the day’s grit.

Strawberry Shortcake

I can’t point to any real connection between this strawberry shortcake and those summer nights.  I don’t remember ever eating strawberry shortcake like this growing up and I happen to know that my mother harbors a deep fear of biscuit baking due to an unfortunate omission of baking powder in her maiden attempt, which scars her still, decades later.  So I’m quite certain that none of those evenings involved strawberry shortcake.  The aforementioned bowls of ice cream, sure.  Or maybe a root beer float, fresh split peaches, or, if we were very lucky, a trip to the Dairy Queen.

Strawberry Shortcake

But, even so, this strawberry shortcake conjures those evenings.  Just like those summer night memories, there’s something nostalgic about this recipe, something happy and comforting, something almost too all-American.  Does this make any sense?  Do you ever connect a food with a memory, to a time or a place, even though you never actually ate the food in that time or place?  You do, right?  It’s not just me, is it?

Strawberry Shortcake

Or maybe I’m just strange.  Either way, a few days ago, I did my very best to establish a link—a real, historically accurate link—between this shortcake and those suburban summer nights.  I made a platter of the shortcakes last Saturday, when Kevin and I were in Minnesota visiting my family.  The weather was cold, so we were huddled around the dining table, rather than out on the back deck, but we hardly cared because there were still burgers and these strawberry shortcakes.

Strawberry Shortcake

Strawberry Shortcakes with Brown Sugar Biscuits and Mascarpone Cream
Adapted from various Bon Appetit and Gourmet recipes
I took a few liberties with these strawberry shortcakes, using a recipe for brown sugar biscuits (which yields a biscuit with a nice texture and that caramely flavor that brown sugar has a way of imparting), a recipe for balsamic strawberries (which allows savory and sweet to play against each other in a lovely, yet almost impercetible, way) and a mascarpone concotion (it’s got more body and stability than whipped cream and it’s more interesting, I think, with its tang and richness).  I’m smitten with the end product, so much so that I made it two weekends in a row, first for my friend’s bridal shower (where the shortcakes were only slightly larger than silver dollars (see the two biscuit-only shots above); think strawberry shortcake meets slider) and then at my parents’ house this past weekend.
Yield: 8 to 10 3-inch shortcakes
3 cups all purpose flour
1/2 cup (packed) golden brown sugar
4 teaspoons baking powder 
1 teaspoon salt, divided
9 tablespoons (1 stick plus 1 tablespoon) unsalted butter, cut into 1/4-inch cubes, chilled
1 cup whipping cream
4 cups strawberries, hulled and sliced
1 cup granulated sugar, divided
1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
1 cup sour cream
1 cup mascarone cheese
2 teaspoons vanilla
2 teaspoons fresh-squeezed lemon juice
Make the biscuits: Combine flour, brown sugar, baking powder, and 3/4 teaspoon salt in large bowl; whisk to blend. Add butter. Using fingertips, rub in until coarse meal forms. Gradually add 1 cup cream, tossing until moist clumps form. Gather dough into ball; chill for 15 minutes.

Preheat oven to 350°F. Line rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper.  Pat chilled dough into a round about an inch thick.  Using a lightly-floured 3-inch biscuit cutter, stamp out rounds.  Repeat with scraps.  Place rounds on prepared sheet, spacing 2 inches apart. Bake until tester inserted into center comes out clean, about 20 minutes. Cool completely.

Make strawberries: Combine strawberries, 1/2 cup sugar and balsamic vinegar.  Set aside, allowing the flavors to develop for at least 1 hour.

Make mascarone cream: Whisk together sour cream, mascarone, remaining sugar, vanilla, lemon juice and remaining salt in a medium bowl.  Chill.

Assemble:  Slice the biscuits in half horizontally.  Divide the strawberries and mascarpone creams among the biscuit bottoms.  Top with the biscuit tops and serve.

18 comments so far. »
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  1. Whitney says on June 16 2010 at 11:49 am:

    Your recipe sounds absolutely delightful and I loved reliving my own summer memories in my head on this rather boring doc-review filled Tuesday.

    Thanks again for another lovely post Kristin!

  2. laura k says on June 16 2010 at 12:50 pm:

    I am not often tempted by strawberry shortcake, for whatever reason, but this? Oh man, I want it right now. Right. Now.

  3. The Rowdy Chowgirl says on June 16 2010 at 1:22 pm:

    I just found the most perfect strawberries at the farmer’s market this weekend and made strawberry shortcake with them. I don’t really remember having it often as a kid either, but there is something about it that is very nostalgic…

  4. heather @ chiknpastry says on June 16 2010 at 2:08 pm:

    i DO have lots of memories of strawberry shortcake, but i totally know how you feel – i see lots of foods that “remind” me of a certain place or time but can’t for the life of me remember eating them! great story :)

  5. Heather I. says on June 16 2010 at 2:42 pm:

    Yes, definite nostalgia right there! Your photos make me want to whip up a shortcake asap!

  6. jacquie says on June 16 2010 at 9:30 pm:

    sighhhhhhhhhhhh. btwn the strawberry shortcake and fresh split peaches i’m transported back to eating peach shortcake out on my parent’s back deck. yuummmy.

  7. vagn says on June 16 2010 at 10:42 pm:

    This is great. Thank you ;)

  8. kate says on June 17 2010 at 6:48 am:

    I’m smitten as well with balsamic laced berries, and have liberally dosed my fruit with it each time the baskets come home from the market with me. We shamelessly eat it, sometimes all standing around the bowl with spoons. Have you ever tried brown sugar in your berries? With balsamic? I do urge everyone to try it. It’s swoon-worthy.

  9. molly says on June 17 2010 at 9:48 am:

    brown sugar biscuits? oh, now i’m intrigued…
    i was already sold on the balsamic strawberries and mascarpone whipped cream. easy sale, those.

  10. Margo says on June 17 2010 at 10:33 am:

    This recipe reminds me of the strawberry shortcakes I was served while living in New England. Thanks for the trip down memory lane.

  11. Barbara says on June 17 2010 at 11:04 am:

    My grandmother was the best shortcake-maker I ever knew. So we had this dessert a lot when I was growing up. For some reason, my kids never cared for it, probably because my biscuits weren’t as good as grandma’s! I love the idea of brown sugar biscuits! Can’t wait to try this!

  12. Sues says on June 17 2010 at 11:53 am:

    I love the idea of putting brown sugar in the biscuits. Your strawberry shortcake looks so beautiful and I’m sure it was super tasty too!

  13. Maddie says on June 17 2010 at 12:20 pm:

    I have the same sort of “misplaced” nostalgia for jam-making. Sort of random, I know! But I loved reading Blueberries for Sal as a kid, and always sort of wished that my family had gone berry-picking and dabbled in canning and preserving. Happily, there’s no time like the present to start!

  14. Polly Rice Sumner says on June 17 2010 at 5:39 pm:

    I have never made strawberry shortcakes but have had a very strong urge to recently. I was hoping you would ante up a recipe for me and wham-o, here it is. With exciting liberties, no less. Thanks!

  15. gastroanthropologist says on June 18 2010 at 7:28 am:

    He he. I totally know what you mean. I feel like I have some sort of connection to the strawberry shortcake too, but I know for a fact we never had it at home – the only close to strawberry shortcake I had as a kid was my strawberry shortcake lunchbox.

    These look delicious. So loving strawberry season and the mascarpone…

  16. Amanda says on June 18 2010 at 9:42 am:

    Love that you use balsamic in this. Beautiful pictures!

  17. Kristin at The Kitchen Sink says on June 19 2010 at 6:13 am:

    Whitney: If I remember correctly, it was raining too on Tuesday, which of course adds insult to doc review injury. Thanks for your note.

    laura k: I want it too (nevermind that I haven’t eaten breakfast yet!).

    Rowdy Chowgirl: I’ve got my sights set on berries at this weekend’s market. I’ve heard rumors about cherries too!

    heather: Thank you!

    Heather L.: Do it!

    jacquie: PEACH shortcake! Oh my.

    Vagn: Why, you’re welcome.

    kate: I’m going to have to try that. I would seem like a natural in this recipe, given the brown sugar biscuits.

    molly: You’re right — balsamic strawberries and mascarpone cream don’t require much of a sales pitch at all.

    margo: It’s the best kind of trip, isn’t it? Thanks for your note.

    Barbara: This just seems like the kind of dessert someone’s grandma would make. : )

    Sues: Thank you!

    Maddie: Yes, jam too! I can almost remember those childhood days in the hot kitchen with jars everywhere, despite the fact that those days never happened. : )

    Polly Rice Sumner: Heed the urge! Heed the urge!

    gastroanthropologist: You know, you might be on to something. I had Strawberry Shortcake paraphernalia too, so maybe that’s the source of the nostalgia.

    Amanda: Thank you!

  18. Kaitlin says on August 22 2010 at 5:14 pm:

    These look amazing, Kristin! I’ve been away for the past few weeks and have been catching up on my blog reading and I LOVE getting to yours!

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