Tuesday, May 27, 2014

A #Driscollsberry Strawberry Shortcake Contest...Featuring Limoncello Strawberry Shortcake @strawshort

May is National Strawberry Month…and June 14th is National Strawberry Shortcake Day. As much as we love strawberries, this is definitely cause for celebration in my house! The Daily Meal is partnering with Driscoll’s on a strawberry shortcake recipe contest for its Culinary Content Network. The winner will receive a year’s supply of Driscoll’s berries, so you can bet I jumped on the opportunity to take part! Driscoll's are my favorite berries, because they're consistently juicy and sweet. I put on my culinary thinking cap to come up with a great recipe. I love old-school strawberry shortcake – it’s one of my favorite Summertime desserts! I wanted to stay true to the original that features a sweet biscuit, ripe strawberries, and homemade whipped cream…but I wanted to amp it up a bit. My original creation is Limoncello Strawberry Shortcake. Just let that concept roll around in your brain for a moment or two!

Photograph courtesy of Driscoll's
If you’ve never had limoncello, let me clue you in. Limoncello is Italian lemon liqueur…and it’s downright addictive if you love citrus! I used this magical elixir to flavor my strawberries, as well as the whipped cream. To keep the lemon flavor going, I added lemon zest and a bit of lemon curd to my shortcake dough. The end result was just what I was hoping for! The sweet-tart limoncello and lemon curd complimented my organic Driscoll’s strawberries perfectly, without overwhelming them. The strawberries still take center stage, but the lemon flavor profile was amazing! This is  my kind of dessert: easy to make, but impressive to look and totally delish! Even inexperienced bakers can whip up a batch of these Limoncello Strawberry Shortcakes and impress everyone around your dinner table tonight.

Limoncello Strawberry Shortcakes
a Weekend Gourmet Original

Ingredients (for four shortcakes):

For the strawberries:
  • 1 16-ounce container Driscoll’s organic strawberries, chopped into bite-sized pieces
  • 2 tbs. limoncello (lemon liqueur)
  • ¼ cup granulated sugar
For the whipped cream:
  • 8 ounces heavy cream
  • 1 tbs. limoncello
  • 1 tsp. vanilla extract
  • ½ cup powdered sugar
For the shortcakes:
  • 2 cups baking mix
  • 3 tbs. granulated sugar
  • ¼ cup milk
  • 1/3 cup lemon curd
  • Zest of one lemon
  • Coarse sanding sugar – I found some that sparkles, which is gorgeous!
  • Powdered sugar
Step 1: Preheat oven to 425. Place the chopped strawberries, limoncello, and sugar in a large airtight container. Stir well to combine the ingredients, seal, and refrigerate. Let the berries hang out and macerate for about an hour, while you prep the rest of the shortcake components. The berries will release their juice, forming a delicious syrup.
Step 2: Combine the shortcake ingredients in a large mixing bowl and stir just until a soft dough forms. Line a rimmed baking sheet with parchment or a Silpat. Using a spoon, divide the dough into four mounds and place on the prepared baking sheet. Sprinkle each shortcake liberally with the sanding sugar. Bake the shortcakes for approximately 15 minutes, until golden brown. I rotated the pan halfway through baking to ensure even browning.
Step 3: Let the shortcakes cool for at least 20 minutes before assembling. This give you a pocket of time to make the whipped cream. Add the heavy cream, limoncello, and vanilla to a chilled bowl of a stand mixer. Using the whisk attachment, whip on low for 1-2 minutes until thickened. Turn off the mixer and add the powdered sugar. Combine on low for 30 seconds, then increase speed to med-high. Whip until the cream forms stiff peaks – approximately 2-3 minutes longer.
Step 4: To assemble, cut the tops off the shortcakes with a serrated bread knife. Place the bottom half of the shortcake on a plate. Top with approximately ½ cup of the sweetened whipped cream, one quarter of the berries, and the top of the shortcake. Sprinkle the composed shortcake and the plate with powdered sugar. Serve immediately…and get ready for the compliments to start!
Mercy…this lemon-infused strawberry shortcake is truly divine! The Driscoll's strawberries are juicy and sweet, with a nice citrus punch from the limoncello. The shortcake has a tender, moist interior…somewhere between a biscuit and cake. It’s crusty outside, with a nice crunch from the sanding sugar. You can definitely taste a subtle lemon flavor in the shortcake. The whipped cream has a subtle lemon flavor as well, and it’s perfectly sweetened. If you’ve never made whipped cream with powdered sugar, definitely give it a try! It’s my secret to long-lasting whipped cream. I find that powdered sugar provides more stability than granulated, and it gives the cream a nice structural integrity.

Add it all up, and you’ve got one fine strawberry shortcake. Michael took one bite of his shortcake last night and proclaimed it a keeper! That’s always spells success to me…if my husband comments profusely about something I bake, then I know it's good. Now that strawberry season is here, you can bet I’ll be making this Limoncello Strawberry Shortcake again and again. For July 4th, you could also add some fresh blueberries to the mix for a patriotic dessert.

Disclosure: I received product coupons from Driscoll’s to facilitate recipe development for my contest entry. All opinions expressed are solely my own.

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