The Fresh Herb That Brings Claudia Fleming's Strawberry Shortcake To Life

Strawberry shortcake recipes have evolved over the years and have undergone many variations since the time of the Romans, one of which comes from pastry chef Claudia Fleming. In one of her best-selling cookbooks, "The Last Course: The Desserts of the Gramercy Tavern," per Kitchn, the former judge of "Chopped," "Beat Bobby Flay," and more, builds on the refreshing dessert by inviting fresh, earthy flavors through the whispers of tarragon. 

Though the taste of tarragon can be a difficult herb to describe, the flavor profile shares elements with anise and licorice, imparting a hint of sweet citrus to dishes. Many French recipes, like Béarnaise sauce and the herbes de Provence spice blend, add tarragon to deepen the gastronomic experience. Yet when paired with fresh, juicy strawberries, the unique herb brings an interesting and exciting element to a classic dessert recipe, proving the culinary adage that ingredients that grow together go together.

A classic dessert with a fresh twist

Instead of incorporating tarragon into the shortcake biscuits, Fleming creates a cream that provides a delicate sample of the herb and infuses strawberries with the anise-like essence. As Taste explains, tarragon leaves are first boiled for 30 seconds, dumped into ice water, and drained off all moisture, and then topped with corn syrup and puréed. Next, after the cream has rested for 30 minutes, it should be strained and whipped with confectioners' sugar. As for the macerated strawberries, they are made by twisting tarragon sprigs and mixing them with strawberries and sugar before the sprigs are removed.

To prepare the dessert for guests, you'll assemble each plate as you normally would when serving strawberry shortcake, except for this version, you'll top each biscuit with tarragon-infused strawberries and tarragon-flavored cream. The dessert is best when served fresh, but the tarragon syrup can be made a day in advance if you anticipate you'll be strapped for time when hosting. You may want to make more than what you think you'll need; This is a recipe that calls for second helpings.