Friday, August 17, 2012

Berry Shortcakes

Once upon a time, back when a summer heat wave was just a speck on the horizon, I did a little poll. I asked you all about your favorite summer dessert. And a few of you responded. Or maybe Amanda and Evan just responded several times each, to make me feel better. Either way, it seems that pies were so last summer, and popsicles so two summer ago. The hot items (or…cool items?) these days are ice cream sandwiches. And berry shortcakes! We had a tie! I thought about making some sort of crazy berry shortcake ice cream sandwich. But then I decided I would rather make two desserts. Twice the fun.

Shortcakes and ice cream sandwiches are funny, because they’re super summery, yet you need the oven for both (pies too, but who cares about pies anymore?). And some of you (I’m looking at you southern California) don’t see what the big deal is. Turn up the AC, who cares if the oven is on? Well, in Seattle, we don’t have AC. I mean, get real. We’ve spent about 50 minutes above 80 degrees all year. AC is just not a requirement here. But, on those few scorchers we have each year, we all melt. Or wilt. So our 85 degree days lead to 95 degree homes. Turning an oven on in those conditions is preposterous.

Luckily I made one of the summer desserts before we hit our major heat streak. Introducing raspberry shortcakes with basil-macerated strawberries and lemon whipped cream. Sweet, tangy, fruity, and herbal, in every bite. I used Martha’s recipe for the shortcakes themselves. When something is this delicious, you don’t reinvent the wheel, people. You just don’t. The shortcakes are somewhere between a biscuit and a scone, not too sweet, with soft little pockets of raspberry throughout. Combined with strawberries tossed in basil and sugar, and a tangy whipped cream, you just can't go wrong. 
PS. I do still care about pies and popsicles. Just sayin.
Raspberry Shortcakes with Basil-Strawberries and Lemon Whip
Makes 8 servings
1 lb fresh strawberries, thinly sliced
5 or so basil leaves, chopped
2 tablespoons sugar
1 cup whipping cream
1 teaspoon vanilla
Juice and zest from half a lemon
While shortcakes are baking, toss strawberries with 1T of the sugar and the basil. Set aside, stirring occasionally. In mixer (or with whisk, or in a jar), whip together cream, remaining sugar, vanilla, and lemon, until desired whipped cream consistency. Top cooled shortcakes with berries and whip. 
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