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Nothing Shy About These Shortcakes ~ #Baketogether

Those of you who know me know that I am not shy – not in life, not with people and certainly not in my desserts. I love desserts with big, bold flavors – vanilla, coffee, chocolate, mint, berry, citrus or what have you – I want that primary flavor to be a stand-out, you know, a really show-stopper that leaves no doubt on the palette.

That said, desserts, like main courses, are best when the flavors are complex. So, while the main flavor is bold, there should be subtleties layered into the dessert to create intrigue and keep the palette guessing. The iconic Mexican  Mole is an excellent example of layering flavors to create a multifaceted, and captivating composition. Think about it..  this sauce is no one-note number instead it is memorable and unique because of the careful balance of spices, chocolate and subtle sweetness with only a few stronger, stand-out flavors.

So, what does Mexican Mole have to do with July’s BakeTogether? Everything. While, no, it’s not a savory (Sorry #TeamSavory), it is a recipe that, at its core, carries a big flavor profile ~chocolate~ but it’s also one that is easily adaptable to different complimentary flavors ~ sea salt, ginger, cayenne, peanut, lime ~ creating complexity, depth and, ultimately, a dessert that will be distinctly your own.

“Nothing-Shy-About-These Double Chocolate Shortcakes” come with an additional bonus for you creative bakers out there. It’s not just ONE recipe for you to tinker with, it’s THREE: shortcakes, whipped cream & macerated strawberries. Here are a few ideas for switching things up but feel free to streeeetch your limits here with one or all three elements. We are, after all, baking together so show us what you’ve got.

Add texture and/or flavor to the shortcakes: We discussed this a bit up top but pretty much any flavor and/or ingredient can add complexity to these shortcakes. I’ve added chopped chocolate to double up on the choco goodness but you can add nuts, nibs, herbs, spices, chili peppers. Bring it.

Change the shape: I bake my shortcakes in squares for several reasons. First off, I find this shape the easiest and fastest to shape and cut. The dough get less wear and tear without the re-rolling and, frankly, I like being a bit contrary. That said, make ‘em any shape you like. Large ones, small ones, star-shaped ones and minis, heck, we like ‘em all.

Change the berries: I used strawberries but any combo of berries will work and you can also easily add a stone fruit (hello cherries!) to the mix, if you wish. And don’t forget the seasonings in the compote. Sure, berries are stand-alone flavorful but sometimes they get lonely and what some company. Along with natural pairings like citrus, ginger and lemongrass, you might consider herbs, hot peppers, spices, or pink peppercorns. One last thought: what about cooking some or all of the compote to concentrate all of those wonderful flavors? Hummm….

Add more or different flavors to the Whipped Cream: Adding booze, citrus zest, lemon grass, ginger or herbs (you know how I love herbs in my sweets) are easy additions. You can also switch in brown sugar or honey or agave for the sweetener as well as just using straight up heavy cream. Or, maybe you are in the mood to whip up a quart or two of ice cream. To this, I’ll simply say “yes, please”!

Add a drizzle or a glaze: Caramel? Chocolate? Vanilla bean? Yes. Yes you can.

If you are new to #baketogether – Welcome! Read this short bit about how we roll:  “rules”. And please upload the BakeTogether badge to your site – it’s up there on the right side of the site.

It’s all about balance.. it’s all about flavor and it’s all right here in this month’s #baketogether. So, go ahead and stretch your limits,  find your balance and share your brilliance.

ps. This recipe originally appear on as part of my monthly column and radio appearance “Baking With Abby”. Check out Jamie’s comprehensive site as well her fun, informative radio program “Food & Wine with Chef Jamie Gwen” {I’m on at the beginning of every month} on Sunday Mornings 8 to 10 PT live in your radio and computer!


Double Chocolate- Strawberry Shortcakes
Makes 8 servings

For the Shortcakes
8 tablespoons (4 ounces) unsalted butter, chilled
3/4 cup buttermilk, chilled
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 3/4 cups (7 7/8 ounces) unbleached all-purpose flour
2/3 cup (4 5/8 ounces) granulated sugar
1/3 cup (1 ounce) unsweetened, natural cocoa powder
1 tablespoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
3/4 teaspoon table salt
1/2 cup (3 ounces) chopped chocolate or chips
2 tablespoons sanding sugar (turbando, demerara), optional

For the Sweetened Whipped Cream
1 1/2 cups heavy cream
1/2 cup mascarpone
3 tablespoons granulated sugar
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract or paste

For the Strawberries
1 1/2 quarts strawberries, rinsed, dried and hulled
1/3 cup (2 3/8 ounces) granulated sugar + more to taste
2 tablespoons strawberry liqueur
Pinch table salt

To make the shortcakes:
1. Position an oven rack in the center of the oven and heat the oven to 400°F. Line a cookie sheet with parchment or a nonstick liner.

2. Cut the butter in half lengthwise, cut each half lengthwise again, and then cut each strip into 8 pieces. Pile the butter onto a plate and slide it into the freezer until ready to use. Measure the buttermilk in a 1-cup Pyrex measure and add the vanilla. Using a fork, whisk until blended and keep in the refrigerator until ready to use.

3. Put the flour, sugar, cocoa, baking powder, baking soda, and salt in a food processor and pulse until well blended. Add the cold butter pieces and, using short pulses, cut the butter into the flour until the mixture resembles coarse meal with small pieces of butter (about pea-sized) still visible, about 1 minute. Scrape the mixture into a large bowl and add chopped chocolate.

4. Pour the buttermilk and vanilla over the flour mixture and, using a rubber spatula, stir and fold until it forms a shaggy, moist dough with some floury bits remaining. Scrape the dough and any remaining floury bits onto the counter and knead a few times until the dough is evenly moist and holds together well.

5. Gently press the dough into a thick 8 x 4 -inch rectangle. Using a large sharp knife, trim the edges to make a neat rectangle and cut into 8 equal squares.  Arrange the biscuits on the prepared cookie sheet about 1 inch apart. Sprinkle the tops with the sanding sugar, if using. Bake until puffed and spring back when the tops are gently pressed, 16 to 18 minutes. Move the sheet to a cooling rack and let the biscuits sit until they’re cool enough to handle, about 15 minutes. Serve warm or at room temperature.

To make the whipped cream:
1. In a medium bowl, combine the cream, mascarpone, sugar and vanilla. Using an electric mixer, beat until medium firm peaks form when the beaters are lifted. Serve immediately or cover and refrigerate until ready to serve or up to 3 hours.

To make the strawberries:
1. Select 4 pretty strawberries and cut them in half lengthwise and refrigerate until ready to serve. Cut the remaining strawberries in quarters. In a medium bowl, combine the strawberries, liqueur, sugar, and  salt. Toss until blended. Taste a berries and add more sugar, if needed. Cover the bowl and refrigerate, stirring occasionally, until the berries have released some of their juices or up to 4 hours.

To serve:
Warm the biscuits if made ahead (a toaster oven set on “bake 300°F” is great for this). Using a serrated knife, cut the shortcakes in half crosswise and place the bottom halves on serving plates. Spoon some of the strawberries, including the juices, over the shortcake and top with a big dollop of the whipped cream, cover with the remaining biscuit lids. Top with a dollop of the whipped cream and the reserved strawberry halves. Serve immediately.