Verdant Vegetarian: Strawberry Shortcakes with Whipped Cream

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Photo By Joe Coca
Is there anything better than ripe strawberries? Yes, strawberries sweetened just a little and served with homemade shortcakes and whipped cream.

Strawberry Shortcakes with Whipped Cream
Makes 8 3-inch shortcakes

This old-fashioned, biscuit-style shortcake spotlights any fresh fruit. Sometimes I put all the ingredients on the table and let guests assemble their own. For a more toothsome biscuit, substitute a half cup of whole-wheat flour for a half cup of the unbleached.

1 quart strawberries
2 tablespoons grenadine syrup
2 cups unbleached white flour
3 teaspoons baking powder
Scant 1/2 teaspoon salt
3 tablespoons sugar
6 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 cup half-and-half
1 tablespoon unsalted butter, melted
1 tablespoon sugar
1 pint whipping cream

1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees Fahrenheit and lightly butter a baking sheet.

2. Rinse, hull, and slice the berries; toss in a bowl with the grenadine and let stand at least 30 minutes.

3. Combine the flour, baking powder, salt, and 2 tablespoons of the sugar in a bowl or processor. Cut the butter into the mixture until it becomes a coarse meal. Add the half-and-half to the dry ingredients and mix until just blended. Do not over-mix.

4. Turn the dough onto a floured surface and knead 8 or 10 times. Roll or pat the dough to about 3/4 -inch thick. Using a 3-inch cutter, cut out rounds, using all the dough. Place the rounds on the baking sheet, brush the tops with melted butter, and sprinkle with remaining sugar.

5. Bake cakes in the center of the oven for 12 to 14 minutes or until golden brown.

6. While baking, add a heaping tablespoon of sugar to the whipping cream and whisk until fluffy.

7. Split shortcakes in half. Place a spoonful of berries on the bottom half with a bit of the juice. Add a dollop of whipped cream and cover with the top half. Repeat with the fruit and cream; garnish the top with a berry slice. Serve immediately.

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