Thursday, June 16, 2011

Shortcut Strawberry Shortcakes: All the Flavor, Lickety Split!!

It's true. Like the picture on the left says: I LOVE STRAWBERRIES!! They're hands-down my favorite fruit…I add them to my salads, I eat them with yogurt and granola for a healthy snack, and I love to make desserts with them! So, it was a no-brainer that strawberries would play a starring role in my Foodbuzz/Electrolux dinner party last weekend. The party may have been Italian-inspired, but per Michael’s request, our dessert was a quintessential American classic: strawberry shortcake. My favorite strawberry shortcake recipe is from Commander’s Palace in New Orleans, but I simply didn’t have time last weekend to whip up homemade shortcakes for what was supposed to be an easy-breezy summer party. So, I improvised a bit and discovered a fantastic shortcut that saved me tons of time…but I didn’t have to sacrifice flavor in the process!!

The secret mystery ingredient for my strawberry shortcakes? Canned biscuits. Yep…you read that right. My shortcakes were made from Pillsbury Grands buttermilk biscuits. I doctored them up with melted butter and turbinado sugar, and they worked out beautifully. That little shortcut gave me a pocket of time to make some homemade sweetened whipped cream…which was something that I considered vital to the overall flavor of the finished product. I also added a bit of Grand Marnier to the sliced strawberries to give the juices a little more oomph. I assembled the shortcakes after our meal and presented them to my guests, who gobbled up every bite and declared them delicious. When I let them in on my secret shortcut? They were totally surprised that a canned biscuit made such a great shortcake. 

Wendy's Shortcut Strawberry Shortcakes
a Weekend Gourmet Original Recipe inspired by Poppin' Fresh

 Step 1:  Slice a container of strawberries into bite-size pieces. Add 1/2 cup sugar and 1/3 cup Grand Marnier. Stir well to combine, cover, and refrigerate for at least one hour. This allows the strawberry juice to combine with the sugar and Grand Marnier to make a yummy syrup.

Step 2: Preheat oven to 375. Remove five Grands buttermilk biscuits from the container. Dip the tops of the biscuits in melted butter, then place them butter-side-down in a small bowl of turbinado sugar. Place the sugared biscuits on a baking sheet covered with parchment or a Silpat. Bake for 10-12 minutes, until the shortcakes are just golden. Set the shortcakes aside to cool until you're ready to serve.

Step 3:  Make the sweetened whipped cream by placing 1 cup heavy whipping cream in a mixing bowl; use the whisk attachment to whip the cream for a couple of minutes. Add 1/2 cup powdered sugar and continue whipping until stiff peaks form. I prefer to used powdered sugar because I find it keeps the whipped cream stable and a nice thick consistency. Place in a bowl and refrigerate until you're ready to assemble the shortcakes.

Step 4:  To assemble, split one of the shortcakes in half with a knife. Place the bottom side on a plate and top with about 1/2 cup of the strawberry mixture. Make sure to get a spoon to make sure each shortcake gets a bit of the yummy syrup in the bottom of the bowl. Top with about 1/2 cup of the whipped cream and place the sugared top-side of the shortcake on top. That's, you're ready to eat!!

These little shortcakes are perfect for summertime entertaining, but they're also quick to whip up for a weeknight treat. For something so simple, this recipe delivers a lot of bang for your buck! I loved the crunch of turbinado sugar on the shortcakes, the citrus background flavor from the Grand Marnier in the strawberries…and the fresh whipped cream? It was the perfect decadent little addition that pulled it all together.

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