I love shortcakes and whipped cream with berries. Individually each element is divine and together the effect is nothing short of phenomenal. This month, Abby Dodge’s Baketogether challenge takes the whole deal up a notch. Changing the shortcakes from the traditional “plain vanilla” version to chocolate and the whipped cream to a whipped cream/mascarpone combination was sheer genius.
Of course, I couldn’t leave well enough alone, even when starting with that pumped up version (recipe here.) I tossed almond-flavor into the shortcakes, the whipping cream/mascarpone mixture and the berry sauce, used homemade buttermilk and mascarpone cheese instead of store-bought, and switched out the strawberries for a combination of decent store-bought raspberries and insanely good blackberries from Westmoreland Berry Farm. Finally, I used a biscuit cutter to make my shortcakes round instead of cut into squares.
For the almond taste, I used ½ teaspoon of almond extract instead of the teaspoon of vanilla extract called for in the shortcakes, 2 tablespoons of Amaretto (an almond liqueur) instead of the teaspoon of vanilla in the whipping cream/mascarpone, and 2 tablespoons of Amaretto instead of the same amount of strawberry liqueur for the berries. The taste was great, though there was consensus among my testers that the almond flavor did not stand out enough. Next time I will add ½ - ¾ teaspoon of almond extract to the whipping cream/mascarpone mixture and more Amaretto or add almond extract to the berries. I don’t think adding more almond extract or even substituting ground almonds or almond flour for the all purpose flour would change the shortcakes enough to justify those recipe modifications, as the chocolate flavor is so pronounced that it overwhelms a more delicate flavor such as almond.
It’s easy to make homemade buttermilk with lemon and milk, and I didn’t want to a grocery run for less than a cup of buttermilk. You simply put a tablespoon of fresh lemon juice in a liquid measuring cup, add milk up to the 1-cup mark and let it sit for 5 minutes. (The recipe calls for ¾ cup of buttermilk, so I had a bit leftover for pancakes.)
The homemade mascarpone was fun to make – and my recent post provides those directions.
For the sauce, I couldn’t imagine mashing up the beautiful whole blackberries, but had no problem crushing a few raspberries to add to the Amaretto with a bit of sugar and pinch of salt.
The only disappointment was the shape of the shortcakes; the biscuit cutter idea was a bust and my shortcakes did not rise. I should have listened to Abby when she said this dough is hard to work with and advised cutting it with a knife into individual squares. I won't rename the site, but this public confession is proof that those who give advice should take it too!
The shortcakes tasted fine, but weren’t thick enough to cut in half. I checked the expiration dates on my baking soda and baking powder because leavening agents often do not work, or work as well as expected, if they are beyond their expiration dates. But that wasn’t the problem. I even consulted with Abby and my other baking tweeps, but they didn’t have any other suggestions. Then I tried a second batch with the same result. Oh well, some mysteries just aren’t meant to be solved.
In any event, we enjoyed the shortcakes with raspberries and blackberries, topped by crushed raspberry sauce.