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.
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.