Spring has sprung and we are officially into April, my favorite month of the year. Ok, full disclosure, my birthday is in April so perhaps I’m biased :) Selfish reasons aside, April is absolutely wonderful for cooking because it’s when some of my favorite fruits and vegetables make its way to the grocery store or market.
At the top of that list are strawberries. One of my favorite strawberry desserts is my Strawberry-Mint Shortcakes recipe (and these mini German pancakes too). Strawberry shortcake is a nice change from a traditional pie or normal cake, and is perfect for any spring brunch or dinner. Definitely consider this recipe if you’re looking to make something sweet for Easter this weekend!
What I love about this recipe is that except for baking the biscuits, you don’t need to cook anything else. It’s all just prep and assembly. The vanilla whipped cream only has three ingredients (cream, sugar, vanilla) and is ready to go in under 5 minutes. And, the strawberry topping is simply made by the fresh berries marinating in a sugar and lemon juice mixture. There’s actually a culinary term for this – it’s called maceration and it means to soften through the use of liquid. No cooking required!
My Strawberry-Mint Shortcakes recipe is adapted from the classic Martha Stewart recipe, with a few changes I’ve made over the years including adding mint, simplifying the whipped cream, and adjusting some measurements based on experience. Here are some tips you might find helpful!
Why cold butter? If you don’t have a pastry blender, you can use two dinner knives to cut the cold butter into the dry ingredients. It’s important to work fast, because cold butter makes for a more flakey biscuit! Some bakers even freeze their butter to make sure it doesn’t warm up while they work. Check out this clever hack which uses a cheese grater to shave off bits of frozen butter!
Don’t skip the egg wash! Before the biscuits bake in the oven, you’ll want to brush a nice coating of egg + cream wash. Just whisk together 1 egg yolk and 1 tablespoon heavy cream. Easy breezy. The egg yolk and cream adds a glossy and golden finish to the biscuit. People eat with their eyes first, so don’t skip this step!
Make it minty fresh. I used to garnish my shortcakes with a mint sprig, but realized that while it looked pretty, the flavor didn’t make its way into the dessert. Now, I finely chop the mint and layer it on top of the strawberries when assembling the shortcakes. You get a subtle taste of mint in each bite!
Get creative. Now that you have a base recipe, try mixing it up with different fruit combinations like strawberry-mango or strawberry-blueberry (great for the 4th of July). Also, you can cut the biscuit dough into smaller rounds if you want to make miniature, party size desserts.
I hope you give these Strawberry-Mint Shortcakes a try, especially for this upcoming Easter weekend! And if you do, please leave a comment below!
- 2 1-pint baskets strawberries, hulled & halved (quarter large strawberries)
- 3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
- ½ cup granulated sugar
- 2 cups all-purpose flour
- 1 tablespoon baking powder
- ½ teaspoon salt
- 6 tablespoons cold unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
- 2 large eggs (1 whole, 1 yolk only)
- 1¾ cup + 1 tablespoon heavy cream
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1 tablespoon confectioners' sugar
- 2 tablespoons chopped fresh mint
- Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Toss strawberries, lemon juice, and ¼ cup sugar in a bowl. Set aside.
- In a large bowl, add ¼ cup sugar, flour, baking powder and salt. Mix together with a fork. Add small pieces of unsalted butter (make sure they are cold). Using two knives, cut the butter into the dry mixture so that it resembles coarse crumbs.
- Mix together the whole egg and ¾ cup heavy cream, then add to the dry mixture. Use the fork to gently moisten the mixture just so that it comes together. Be careful not to over mix.
- Set the dough on a lightly-floured surface (prevents sticking). Gently pat the dough to form a 6-inch square with roughly 1-inch thickness. Use a 2-inch round cookie cutter or glass to cut four circles out of the dough. Note: One round is your top and bottom; you will cut them in half after baking.
- Place the four rounds on a parchment-lined baking sheet. Create an egg-cream wash by mixing the egg yolk and 1 tablespoon cream; brush on the biscuits. Bake for 25 minutes, then let cool on a wire rack for 10 minutes.
- Meanwhile, prepare whipped cream by using a high-speed hand or stand mixer to blend together 1 cup heavy cream, vanilla extract and confectioners' sugar. Blend for 5 minutes, or until the whipped cream is at your desired consistency. Chill in refrigerator when ready.
- Assemble the shortcakes by slicing the biscuits in half crosswise. Place the biscuit bottom on a plate, then spoon the strawberries and juices on the biscuit. Sprinkle with chopped fresh mint. Add a dollop of whipped cream, and top with the upper half of the biscuit. Repeat for remaining 3 shortcakes. Serve immediately.