Summer is the perfect time to indulge in all of your childhood favorites, whether that's Choco Tacos, Creamsicles or Blizzards. But one dessert really takes the, ahem, cake. We’re talking, of course, about strawberry shortcake, and we’re bringing you an updated version of the classic that will please your inner child as much as the party animal in you.
This boozy dessert is brought to you by chef Ted Hopson and beverage director Ann-Marie Verdi, co-owners of L.A.'s The Bellwether, who just put the dish on their menu last week. It's composed of strawberries macerated in cognac, mascarpone and toasted almonds, all sandwiched between two fluffy biscuits, and we can't stop thinking about it.
The Bellwether, which opened in 2015, is well versed in the world of alcoholic infusions. Think strawberry jalapeño tequila, an annual summertime favorite, or lavender-infused gin, which Verdi mixes with lavender-honey syrup in her version of a Bee's Knees.
Verdi developed the almond-infused cognac specifically for the shortcake, because it works so well with the toasted almonds. Although making an infusion is easy, Verdi promises, you can also use just cognac and a little almond extract to macerate the berries. Either way, you'll get an almond flavor that really rounds out the dessert.
Hopson uses skin-on almond slices, because the dish is meant to be a quick, rustic dessert—perfect for a casual summer dinner party or spontaneous get-together. Even better? The drop biscuits are so simple they're practically foolproof. Just remember the two commandments of biscuit making—keep all of the ingredients and mixing bowls cold, and don't overwork the dough—and you're golden.
As Hopson describes his summertime masterpiece, "It's not anything fancy. It's what you ate growing up, and it's what you still want." That's why we're declaring this one the dessert of summer 2017.
Recipe adapted from Ted Hopson, The Bellwether, Los Angeles, CA
Yield: 12 servings
Prep Time: 30 minutes, plus macerating and cooling time
Cook Time: 15 minutes
Total Time: 45 minutes, plus macerating and cooling time
For the Macerated Strawberries:
1½ pounds strawberries, hulled and halved
¼ cup granulated sugar
¼ cup cognac
½ teaspoon almond extract
Pinch kosher salt
For the Biscuits:
3 cups all-purpose flour
1 cup buttermilk
⅔ cup heavy cream
6 tablespoons unsalted butter, cubed and chilled
¼ cup honey
2 tablespoons baking powder
1 teaspoon kosher salt
For the Mascarpone Cream:
1½ cups mascarpone cheese, softened
6 tablespoons heavy cream
2 tablespoons granulated sugar
Pinch kosher salt
½ cup toasted sliced almonds
Confectioners' sugar, for garnish
1. Make the macerated strawberries: In a large bowl, toss all the strawberry ingredients to coat. Cover in plastic wrap and let sit at room temperature for 3 hours, tossing the strawberries every hour.
2. Meanwhile, make the biscuits: Preheat the oven to 425° and line a sheet pan with parchment paper. In a large bowl, add all the biscuit ingredients and mix until a dough forms, being careful not to overwork.
3. Divide the dough into twelve ¼-cup pucks and drop onto the prepared sheet pan. Bake for 6 minutes, then rotate the pan and decrease the temperature to 375°. Continue to cook until golden brown, another 8 to 10 minutes. Remove from the oven and let cool.
4. Make the mascarpone cream: In a medium bowl, whisk all the mascarpone cream ingredients until smooth.
5. To assemble: Slice each biscuit in half and arrange on a plate. Top each bottom biscuit with some of the macerated strawberries and their juices, then dollop some of the mascarpone cream over the strawberries. Divide the remaining strawberries over the mascarpone and sprinkle each with some toasted almonds. Place the other halves of each biscuit on top, garnish with more almonds and confectioners' sugar, then serve.
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