21 June 2013

Strawberry Shortcake with Honey Basil Cream



 Strawberry shortcake is a classic treat and an ultimate cottage favourite for me. Growing up, we would sometimes divulge in delicious local strawberries, dressed up with biscuits and whipped cream. And for breakfast, we would drizzle the leftover biscuits and strawberries with maple syrup! You certainly can't get much more Canadian than that.





When I saw the very first pick of this season's strawberries at Jean Talon Market, I knew I had to buy them and make something that really showcases their flavour. Shortcakes were the way to go! But while I was making the shortcakes, I kept thinking about ways I could take this dessert to a new level...



So along with the classic shortcakes and the sugar-tossed berries, I made a honey basil whipped cream. My dear readers, this combination of flavours was not only unexpectedly gourmet, but was absolutely divine! The basil offers a softness that mixes beautifully with the strawberries, and the honey adds a whole new dimension to the cream.



I had initially made just a basil cream, but I kept thinking to myself that it needed another flavour... and honey kept reappearing in my thoughts. So I added it. And I am so pleased that I did.

Even if you are short on time and can't make your own shortcakes,  I will allow you (but just this once) to use store bought cakes or a boxed mix. But always make your own whipped cream with honey and basil. You will thank me later.

And if you have the 30 minutes to make the biscuits? Make these ones. They are perfectly crumbly, just slightly sweet, and will soak up all those extra strawberry juices that will trail around your plate.





Strawberry Shortcake with Honey Basil Cream


Ingredients:

Biscuits
- 2 cups all-purpose flour
- 1/4 cup granulated sugar
- 2 tsp baking powder
- 1/4 tsp salt
- 1/3 cup unsalted butter, cold
- 1 large egg
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- 1/2 cup milk or cream (I used 1/4 cup of each)
- 1 lb fresh strawberries, hulled and sliced
- 1 tbsp granulated sugar
Honey Basil Cream
- 1 cup whipping cream (35%)
- 2 tbsp honey (or to taste)
- 1/4 cup fresh basil, chopped

Directions:

For the Biscuits
1. Preheat oven to 375F, and line a baking sheet with parchment paper. In a bowl toss the strawberries with the 1 tbsp sugar in a bowl, and set aside to marinate.
2. Mix together the flour, sugar, baking powder and salt in another large bowl. Cut in the butter until it forms a very loose crumbly mixture (or pulse it in your food processor).
3. Whisk together the egg, vanilla, and cream, and then incorporate it into the dry mixture, stirring just until everything is combined (avoid overmixing, or you will get tough biscuits!)
4. Transfer the (sticky!) dough to a floured surface, and knead it 4-5 times (by folding it into itself) with floured hands. Pat or roll out the dough to a 7-inch round, and then using either a cookie cutter or the rim of a glass (3 inches diameter), cut out round shapes and place them on your prepared baking sheet. Re-roll out your dough if needed to make more.
5. Bake 15-20 minutes, or until they are slightly golden around the edges. Allow to cool completely on a wire rack before cutting.

For the Basil Cream:
6.  Whip the cream with an electric beater until it just begins to thicken. Add the basil and honey, then whip again until the cream forms soft peaks.

Assembly:
Plate the biscuit (you can cut it in half to make it sandwich-like if you prefer!) and add a generous dollop of cream and a big spoonful of strawberries. Enjoy!

Feel free to garnish with full basil leaves and whole strawberries.


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