Before we dig into the recipe for these tasty treats, let’s start at the beginning. I’m sure you’re all familiar with the farm-to-table rebirth. Some refer to it as farm-to-fork. It’s all about enjoying locally grown food without the distributors or stores getting in the way of optimum freshness. Just-picked goodness.
My husband and I just returned from a wonderful visit with our son and his family in Sunnyvale, CA. They have unlimited access to fresh produce in their area. Farmer’s markets galore. We certainly have our fair share of farms here in the Garden State but it’s a whole different thing in the Golden State.
This amazing field of pick-your-own-strawberries is surrounded by the most extraordinary scenery. You feel compelled to join in the fun. Not to mention that in mid-July the temp is a dry 75 degrees. And just to further entice you …this stunning coastal setting is just a seven-minute drive south on Highway 1.
Back to the matter at hand …strawberry picking. We actually thought that we would have to guide our four-year-old grandson through the process. What were we thinking? Turns out he’s a natural. He was spotting those perfectly ripe gems faster than we could keep up with him. Before we knew it, we had more strawberries than we thought we could ever consume. More on that later.
If you happen to be in the area, I highly recommend a quick stop. The berries are certified organic and really are the best strawberries I’ve ever had …both in texture and sweetness. We were all in agreement on this. The Blue House Farm is located in Pescadero. This wonderful U-Pick Strawberry Field & Farmstand can be found at their San Gregorio Ranch, just a short ride north from Pescadero on Highway 1, then less than a mile off the highway. Kudos to our daughter-in-law for discovering this spot …she was rewarded with over seven pounds of berries.
Let’s talk about those berries. We were snacking on them for several days …with no complaints. Our grandson made naturally sweet strawberry popsicles with just a little added water. Just in case you have a bunch of strawberries on hand, this combo of chocolate shortcake, whipped cream, and sweetened berries is unbeatable.
The first step on this is to get working on the chocolate shortcakes. Here’s the good news on that …no mixer, blender or food processor required. Just a wire whisk, a rubber spatula & your clean hands.
Once the cream and egg yolks are combined, set that aside and get to work on the dry ingredients. Speaking of which, these shortcakes can be made gluten-free with one easy swap. Simply switch out the regular flour with gluten-free flour. I’ve had great success with Bob’s Red Mill Gluten Free 1 to 1 Baking Flour.
It is crucial that the butter chunks are as cold as possible when they are added to the flour mixture.
Also, you’ll note that the recipe calls for chopped dark chocolate, either bittersweet or semisweet. We like our chocolate dark and not-too-sweet. If you prefer a bit more sweetness, feel free to use milk chocolate or even white chocolate. And if you’re short on time …chocolate morsels will work here. Especially the mini-chips.
Once the chopped chocolate is blended in, add the cream mixture and stir with the spatula until somewhat incorporated. Then dig in with your hands to mash it all into a cohesive ball of dough.
This dough will be divided into 8 equal balls. You can “eyeball” it or you can be more exact by using your digital food scale. Each lump of dough should weigh somewhere around 87.5 grams …give or take. Once shaped into balls, each one is rolled in the turbinado sugar before placing on the paper-lined baking sheet.
Keep a close watch on these guys while they are hangin’ out in the oven. You want them to be set with a tender center …but not too hard and crunchy on the outside. It does help to rotate the pan halfway through the process to ensure even baking.
While these guys are cooling, let’s prepare the finishing touches.
Keep in mind that the shortcakes can be made ahead of time, even frozen until ready to use. The berries and whipped cream are prepared shortly before assembling and serving.
A small amount of the trimmed strawberries are gently mashed, then the remaining berries are added along with the sugar and salt.
Set the berry mixture aside and prepare the whipped cream. Another shortcut suggestion …you can use a prepared cream topping here if you like. But I must say that you just can’t beat the flavor and texture of the real thing.
The rest is pretty much self-explanatory. You can change these up a bit if you like. Normally when you slice the shortcakes, you would cut them so that you have little shortcake hats to place on top of each serving. Instead, you could cut each cake exactly in half so that you would have sixteen “bases” to build on. If using this method, you may want to increase the amount of macerated berries and whipped cream to have on hand.
strawberry chocolate shortcakes
Adapted from Food52
- 2 egg yolks
- 1 cup heavy cream
- 1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour (or gluten-free flour) (210 grams)
- 1 cup plus 1 tablespoon unsweetened cocoa powder (50 grams)
- 2 1/4 teaspoons baking powder
- 3/4 teaspoon baking soda
- 1/3 cup granulated sugar
- 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
- 6 tablespoons unsalted butter, cold, cut into small chunks (85 grams)
- 2 ounces dark chocolate, finely chopped (bittersweet or semisweet)
- 1/4 cup coarse sanding sugar (turbinado sugar)
Strawberry Chocolate Shortcake Assembly
- 1 1/2 pounds fresh strawberries, hulled, halved (or if large, quartered)
- 3 tablespoons granulated sugar, divided
- 1 pinch kosher salt
- 1 cup heavy or whipping cream
Heat oven to 400° F. Line a large baking sheet with parchment paper.
In a small bowl, whisk egg yolks. Add cream and whisk to combine. Set aside.
In a large bowl, whisk together flour, cocoa powder, baking powder, baking soda, granulated sugar, and salt until thoroughly combined. Add butter and use your fingers to break into small pea-sized bits and coat in dry ingredients. Stir in chopped chocolate. Pour the cream mixture into the butter-flour mixture and use a rubber spatula, followed by your hands, to mix and mash it together into one cohesive dough.
Divide dough into 8, roll each lump into a ball, and dip in sanding sugar.
Place balls on prepared baking sheet, 2 inches apart. Bake for 15 to 18 minutes, until set but not hard, rotating once halfway. Let cool completely on tray or on a cooling rack.
About 30 minutes before you’re ready to assemble, gently mash about a quarter of the strawberries in a medium bowl using a fork. Add remaining strawberries, 2 tablespoons of the sugar, and salt and stir gently to mix. Set aside for 20 to 30 minutes, until very juicy.
In a cold bowl, add the remaining tablespoon of sugar to the cream. Whisk or beat the cream to soft peaks.
Use a serrated knife to gently slice each shortcake. Top the bottoms with whipped cream, spoon macerated strawberries over top, and perch shortcake hats on top. Serve immediately.
Shortcakes can be made ahead of time, then frozen. Defrost in the refrigerator, then warm in a low oven.
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