Last month, the stomach flu brought me to my knees (literally)—I left years and years of touting my iron gut at the bottom of the toilet bowl and occasionally the sink. While lamenting my condition, I watched a ton of comfort movies on Netflix and reminisced about the last time I was infirm, sobbing into my pillow over Beyoncé’s aptly titled visual album . . . Beyoncé. I don’t know why, but it takes basically nothing more than a laundry detergent or iPhone commercial to trigger tears when my body is healing.
This time, however, I watched Chocolat in lieu of Lemonade and spent hours hugging my pillow, wondering how I could entice Jonny Depp to come over and play guitar on my boat (only partial euphemism). I also wondered (couldn’t help but wonder, in fact, for the Carrie Bradshaw fans among us) what causes me to feel this bone-deep itch to really do something, much like the Juliet Binoche character does, whenever the north wind blows. I empathize so fundamentally with her because I recognize that feeling in myself, that craving for the inexplicable and the wanderlust that demands you explain it. I guess Binoche’s yen is a little more precise in that she must move a town over to make psychic chocolate that changes worldviews with its sheer hedonism. My weird itches are more ill defined (why I own three backscratchers), but they aren’t satisfied until I finally stumble upon the solution.
From the way this is going, you’re probably assuming all this is leading to some life-changing chocolate recipe. It’s not, and if you paid more attention to the title of the post, you’d know that. Strawberry Shortcake is exactly the sort of dessert I itch for without knowing why—until the first bite. Then I’m reminded why I requested it for my special birthday treat every year between ages seven through eighteen. It’s absolutely seasonal, a staple of the Easter dinner table, so it’s no wonder this itch presents itself annually. And yet it isn’t until it’s presented that I realize it’s exactly what I was craving.
This year, I think we’ve outdone ourselves. My yearly trip around the sun often falls right around Easter, and since we were having friends over, we wanted to make the shortcake extra special. So, instead of the more traditional whipped cream, we decided to make homemade ice cream to complement the macerated berries and rich biscuits. It’s a dessert that can and was made ahead, leaving you ample time to dream about the first bite and whatever celebrity floats your boat—with his or her guitar.
- 2 cups heavy cream
- 1 cup half & half
- ½ vanilla bean pod, insides scraped
- ½ cup sugar
- 6 egg yolks
- 1 cup small diced strawberries
- ¼ cup sugar
- In a small bowl, mix the strawberries and the ¼th cup of sugar together and cover. Let sit for at least an hour before draining. Set aside.
- In a medium saucepan, mix the heavy cream, half & half, sugar, and vanilla bean seeds together over medium heat. Stir occasionally, being careful not to let it boil, until the mixture is warmed and the sugar has dissolved.
- In a separate, large bowl, whisk the egg yolks together. Removing the cream mixture from the heat, pour a little into the yolks, whisking constantly, to temper. Continue adding larger and larger splashes until half the cream mixture is mixed into the egg yolks. This process should be completed slowly so as not to scramble the eggs.
- Pour the egg yolk/cream mixture back into the saucepan and return to medium-low heat. Stirring consistently, warm the mixture until it is thick enough to coat the back of a wooden spoon. Do not let it come to a boil.
- Pour the custard through a strainer into a bowl and chill the custard completely. We usually wait at least 6 hours before we put it in the ice cream maker. It must be completely chilled. You can expedite the process a bit by initially placing the bowl in an ice bath and also chilling it part of the time in the freezer.
- When the custard is ready, strain the strawberries you set aside to remove the bulk of the liquid. Mix it into the custard.
- Churn it in your ice cream maker according to the manufacturer instructions. You can serve it immediately as soft serve or freeze until firmer.
- 2 cups strawberries, hulled and quartered
- ⅓ cup sugar
- zest of one lemon
- juice of one lemon
- In a medium bowl, mix all the ingredients together. Let sit in the fridge for at least 30 minutes before serving.
- 2 cups flour
- ½ tsp salt
- ¾ tsp baking soda
- ½ cup sugar
- ½ cup (1 stick) butter, chopped & chilled
- 1 tablespoon citrus zest (lemon, orange, grapefruit)
- 1 cup heavy cream
- 1 egg, lightly beaten + 1 tbsp heavy cream, for wash
- coarse sanding sugar, for sprinkling
- Preheat oven to 400F.
- In a large mixing bowl, whisk together flour, salt, baking soda, and sugar. Incorporate butter with a pastry cutter, fork, or your fingers (my preferred method) until only small lumps of butter, roughly pea sized, remain.
- Add the cream and incorporate with a spatula (do not over mix). Turn dough out onto a lightly floured work surface and knead with your hands until mixture comes together. Now you may cut cakes out with biscuit cutters or drop dough onto a parchment-lined baking sheet. Yields 6-8 large shortcakes.
- Brush the top of the cakes with egg wash. Sprinkle with sanding sugar. Bake in the preheated oven approximately 15 minutes, until tops are golden brown. Serve immediately.