Strawberries, Chocolate Whipped Cream, and Pecan Shortcake

IMG_1878I know, this is late for the seasonality bit. I’m the worst. But if you have spent the fleeting strawberry season putting them in pies, jam, fresh on tarts, eating them for breakfast with yogurt and granola as a parfait, if your freezer is full of strawberries because you didn’t know where else to put them… you are missing out. Because this is the first and best use of strawberries. Well, second only to eating them sun-warmed from the field, staining your fingers with dripping red juice.

The three parts of this dessert are each delicious on their own. Even paired with only one other component they are fantastic. But all together, they are heavenly.

Shortcake is basically a slightly sweet biscuit or a soft scone cut in a circle. The pecans make it more complex and give it some texture. Flour can actually be found locally (Maine Grains makes a whole wheat pastry flour that is great, although definitely more expensive than other flours), as can butter and cream. No one grows pecans or chocolate in Maine, unfortunately. Although who knows how our climate will change in the next couple years.

Strawberries
Strawberries

Pecan Shortcake
3 ½ cups flour
½ cup pecans, toasted
2 T baking powder
¾ t salt
6 T sugar
12 T butter, cut in small pieces- very cold
1 ½ c cold heavy cream

Chocolate Whipped Cream
1.5 oz bittersweet chocolate, melted and cooled
1 cup whipping cream
Vanilla

For the shortcake: Grind pecans briefly in food processor. If you have a large processor, add flour, salt, powder, sugar. Pulse briefly, then add cold chunks of butter. Pulse briefly – the mixture should have pea sized chunks of butter. Add cold cream. Pulse briefly until dough begins to clump together, but stop before it forms a ball (this can be done fairly easily by hand, just make sure you cut up the butter a lot before mixing it in. I like to cut it up in very small chunks then put it in the freezer to make sure it stays cold). Remove dough from bowl and knead briefly so it holds together, then flatten it to ½ – ¾ inch. Cut with 2 inch round cutter.

Bake in a preheated 425ºF oven for 12-18 minutes, until they are golden and puffy.

Meanwhile, whip the cream (I like doing this by hand, but whatever you like. With very thick cream you have to be careful not to overwhip it – and it’s easier to pay attention when you can feel it) until it has very soft peaks, then add a splash of vanilla and whip a little more. Gently fold in the melted chocolate (do make sure it’s not still warm before adding it, or it will melt all your well-made bubbles). Alternatively, you can heat up the cream and the chocolate together and chill it before whipping, although you have to be extra careful not to overwhip that, as it gets very thick and can easily become chocolate butter, which is just not the same.

When the shortcakes come out, split them open and serve them warm, topped with the room temperature strawberries and then cold whipped cream.

You will end up with far too many shortcakes. Freeze them. Or eat them for breakfast (they toast well).

No time for shortcake? Whipping up some cream and folding in some melted chocolate takes about 5 minutes.

P1010720

My chocolate didn’t quite mix into the cream here, as you can see. But it was still amazing. I’m drooling even thinking about it.

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