Recently, I was doing a study on gospel friendships through a theology training program I am in. It was challenging and refreshing, and reminded me of how blessed I am to have so many wonderful friends who remind me who I am in Christ and spur me on in my relationship with Him daily. This little gem from Proverbs stood out to me:
“Oil and perfume make the heart glad, and the sweetness of a friend comes from his earnest counsel.” (Proverbs 27:9 ESV)
Dictionary.com defines earnest as “serious in intention, purpose, or effort” and counsel most simply as “advice or instruction”. I think that definitely describes the sweet friend I made this dessert for and I hope the Lord continues to grow our friendship in this way! In fact, it was my friend who encouraged me to post this recipe even though I’d not had time to photograph it for you. She told me to use her picture and post it anyway, because people would still want to read it, even if it wasn’t perfect. How encouraging!
This is a wonderful twist on strawberry shortcake, perfect for spring strawberry season! Recently here we’ve had an unseasonably warm March, tricking us into thinking it was an early Spring, and just as soon as we’d gotten comfortable… here comes a cold snap in April. The one good thing to about this cold snap is that strawberries are going to be popping up at the farmers markets a little longer. There’s really nothing like a fresh, local strawberry – beats the ones in the grocery stores by miles!
The one change I’d make to this recipe is to use a lighter cocoa. My go-to cocoa powder is normally Hershey’s Special Dark, which I love. However, in this recipe, I felt it was too dark, making the biscuits a little less sweet and more bitter than I wanted them to be. In this recipe, I’d definitely go for a classic cocoa instead of a darker or Dutch process one.
Make this soon before strawberries are out of season. Don’t forget to sprinkle the biscuits with sugar – and, if you can – share it with friends. I can tell you it definitely tastes much better when paired with good conversation and a cool Spring evening outside on the porch.
Chocolate Strawberry Shortcakes
makes 10-12 servings
For the shortcakes:
1 1/3 cup whole milk
1½ tsp. vanilla extract
1 large egg, lightly beaten
3 1/3 cups all-purpose flour
2/3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
2 tbsp. baking powder
½ tsp. baking soda
½ tsp. salt
½ cup sugar, plus more for sprinkling
3 oz. semisweet chocolate, coarsely chopped (you can also use chocolate chips)
1½ sticks (12 tbsp.) cold, unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
For the strawberries:
1½ lbs. strawberries, hulled and sliced or quartered
3-4 tbsp. sugar
Squeeze of lemon juice
For the whipped cream (Please make this – it is worth it. Do not sub Cool Whip if you can!):
- 1 cup heavy cream
- 2-3 tbsp. confectioners’ sugar
- Dash vanilla extract
Preheat the oven to 425˚ F. Line baking sheets with parchment paper or silicone baking mats.
In a liquid measuring cup, combine the milk, vanilla and egg, and whisk to blend. In a large mixing bowl, combine the flour, cocoa powder, baking powder, baking soda, salt and ½ cup of sugar. Whisk to combine. Working quickly quickly with a pastry blender or your a fork, cut the butter into the dry ingredients until the pieces of butter are no larger than small peas. Mix in the chopped chocolate or chocolate chips and toss to combine.
Pour the milk mixture over the dry ingredients and stir gently until a sticky dough forms. Very gently knead the dough just until most of the dry ingredients are incorporated, being careful not to overwork the dough.
Scoop the dough in about 1/3 cup mounds onto the baking sheets, leaving a few inches in between. Gently pat the mounds to about 1-inch thickness. Sprinkle the tops with sugar. Bake, rotating the sheets halfway through, until the shortcakes are puff and give just slightly when lightly pressed, about 15-18 minutes total. Make sure you watch them closely. Transfer to a wire rack to cool.
While the shortcakes are baking, combine the strawberries, sugar and lemon juice in a medium bowl. Toss the berries in the mixture and let them set for at least 30-60 minutes.
Just before serving, make the whipped cream. Place the chilled cream and confectioners’ sugar in the bowl of an electric mixer. Whip on high speed until medium-stiff peaks form, being careful not to overbeat. Blend in the vanilla.
To serve, split each shortcake horizontally. Top the bottom half of each shortcake with a dollop of whipped cream, spoon some of the berry mixture over the top, and replace the top half of the shortcake. Serve immediately.
Recipe source: Annie’s Eats, who adapted it from the book Baking: From My Home to Yours by Dorie Greenspan (both of which are excellent, by the way).