Strawberry Chocolate Chunk Shortcakes (and a meme)
I’m giggling to myself now — judging from the recipes of late, it would seem that I’m a bit obsessed with strawberries. The first of the local strawberries — deep red, tiny jewels — were at the Farmer’s Market this past weekend!
I stopped dead in my tracks when I saw them. And they are *delicious* — sweet, sweet, sweet and so juicy. I wanted to make something that would really let them shine, so I chose to make shortcakes (tied with strawberry rhubarb pie as one of my favorite strawberry desserts.) The delicious factor is bumped up even more by the inclusion of chopped dark chocolate chunks studded throughout the biscuits…please excuse me as I swoon!
What were you doing ten years ago?
I was halfway through my four undergrad years at Cornell. Studying like mad and doing research in a cell biology lab (I was a molecular & cell bio major.)
What are five non-work things on my to-do list for today?
1) figure out where I’m going to put the Mexican Sunflowers I started for the garden. I started them from seed, but they’re not looking so hot, so I need to figure out where they’ll do best.
2) refill our birdfeeders
3) take a walk, see if I can get some good pictures of the ducklings or goslings at the pond near us
4) read through the new Gourmet magazine sitting on my coffee table
5) file the stack of papers on my desk
What snacks do you enjoy?
1) berries of any kind
2) apple & peanut butter
4) dark chocolate
5) if I’m desperate, a spoonful of peanut butter with some chocolate chips on top.
What would you do if you were a billionaire?
1) buy some land, design and build a “green” house (straw bale walls, rainwater collection etc.), design my own kitchen in said house, build a greenhouse for B, and get some chickens, 2 dogs, and a barn cat or two.
2) promote locally produced, sustainable food practices
3) find a way to contribute usefully to funding cancer research
4) travel around the world, eating my way through different countries
5) I would still blog!
Where have you lived?
1) grew up in CT
2) Ithaca, New York for college
3) Mystic, Connecticut
4) Boston metro area
5) and now back to Ithaca
What jobs have you had?
1) research assistant (bio lab, see above, while in college and right after)
2) IT consultant
3) clinical trial application specialist
4) training manager (educational technology)
5) when I was in high school, I gave flute and trumpet lessons to kids, too.
And now…onto those shortcakes!
I first tried adding chocolate chunks to shortcakes back in college, when I was making dinner for some friends. I used mixed berries and mini chocolate chips in the shortcakes, and — this was the part I was really proud of — I had a squeeze bottle that I used to drizzle chocolate sauce decoratively over the plate. Very impressive (or so I thought at the time.)
Frankly, I think there’s not much in this world better than flaky biscuits, flecked with chocolate, sandwiched with juicy, sweet ripe strawberries and softly whipped cream…
Strawberry Chocolate Chunk Shortcakes
For the biscuits
2 cups flour
1 tablespoon baking powder
1 tablespoon sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
6 tablespoons cold unsalted butter, cut into chunks
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
3/4 cup buttermilk (or, use whole milk and omit the baking soda)
4 ounces dark chocolate, chopped into chunks
more buttermilk and granulated sugar, for sprinkling on top
For the strawberries
1 pound strawberries, sliced
a few spoonfuls of granulated sugar
freshly whipped cream, for garnish
Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F.
Slice the strawberries, place them in a bowl, and mix them with a few spoonfuls of sugar (use more or less, depending on how sweet and ripe your strawberries are). Set them aside to macerate while you make the shortcakes.
To make the shortcakes, combine the flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, and salt in a medium bowl. Drop in the chunks of cold butter and, using your fingers (my preferred method) or a pastry blender, rub or cut the butter into the flour until there are flakes, pieces the size of coarse meal, and pieces the size of peas. Add the chocolate chunks and toss briefly with your fingers. Now add the buttermilk and stir lightly a few times with a fork to bring the ingredients together into a dough. Use your hand to gently gather the dough in the bowl into a ball, using the side of the bowl to incorporate any dry crumbs.
Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface, and pat out into a 1-inch thick rectangle. Use a 3-inch round cutter to cut out biscuits; you should get 6 total (you can gather the scraps and cut out the remaining biscuits you couldn’t get out of the first cut.) At this point you can freeze any biscuits you’re not going to bake immediately; just put them on a baking sheet, cover with foil, and place in the freezer until frozen. Transfer them to an airtight container, and when you want to bake them, just bake them directly from the freezer – no need to thaw first – but add a few minutes onto the baking time.
Place the biscuits on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Brush the tops of each with a little buttermilk, and sprinkle with granulated sugar. Bake for 14-17 minutes, until the tops are golden brown and the biscuits are cooked through.
Let the biscuits cool slightly on the sheet before splitting them with a fork or serrated knife. To serve, spoon some of the strawberries with their juices over the bottom half of the biscuit, top with a generous dollop of whipped cream, and place the top half of the biscuit on top.