The first time I saw chocolate shortcakes, I immediately wondered, “Why didn’t I think of that?!” It’s a brilliant idea of course. Chocolate pairs so well with strawberries and I can’t think of many desserts that aren’t improved by a dollop of whipped cream. It just makes sense. And, as is so often the way, as soon as I saw my first chocolate shortcake, I started seeing them everywhere. Except most of them weren’t really shortcakes at all. Some were more like brownies or puffy cookies sliced in half and sandwiched with the usual fillings. While that still sounds great, it was a true shortcake that interested me. A barely sweetened biscuit with chocolate flavoring. After excessive searching through the interwebs, cookbooks and magazines, I realized that I needed to look no further than one of my most trusted baking books, Dorie Greenspan’s Baking: From My Home to Yours.
Shortcakes are one of the first desserts that I turn to when I am working with minimal kitchen equipment, so I made these one evening for dessert while we were on vacation. The members of Tuesdays with Dorie had made these cakes at some point, so I made sure to read through some of the members’ reviews. I followed Bridget’s example and added some chopped chocolate into my biscuits to be sure the chocolate really came through. Good call, Bridget. The biscuits were still just what I was hoping for but I think the added chocolate provided a little extra oomph. As much as I love a classic strawberry shortcake, I’m definitely digging the chocolate version too.
Chocolate Strawberry Shortcakes
Yield: about 12 shortcakes
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. bittersweet chocolate, coarsely chopped
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:
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. Whisk to blend. In a large mixing bowl, combine the flour, cocoa powder, baking powder, baking soda, salt and ½ cup of sugar. Stir to combine. Add in the butter and toss to coat the butter in the dry ingredients. Working quickly with a pastry blender or your fingers, cut the butter into the dry ingredients until the pieces of butter are no larger than small peas. Mix in the chopped chocolate 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. Be 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. Transfer to a wire rack to cool.
To make the strawberries, combine the berries, sugar and lemon juice in a medium bowl. Toss well to coat the berries with the sugar and let macerate at least 30-60 minutes. If desired, mash lightly with a fork.
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.
Source: adapted from Baking: From My Home to Yours by Dorie Greenspan