All day yesterday I was thinking about this dish. I hadn’t actually ever made this dish; I just really, really wanted to try it. You see, there are these incredible strawberries in season right now, and they’re sweet and ripe and just perfect. I got some more of them at North Park Produce this weekend (I’ve been going there once a week and buying two packages each time, although I’ll admit that the very best strawberries we found this season came from the Swap Meet!).
These strawberries are so good that I had to find a foil to compliment them.
Enter the dark chocolate shortcake.
Now, I’ve made shortcakes before; I have a basic shortcake recipe that I came up with a few years ago, specifically making only enough shortcakes for one meal (1 tbsp butter, 1/2 cup flour, a bit of sugar and salt, and then milk to hold it together). But I’ve never made chocolate shortcake. I started to do a search yesterday afternoon for chocolate shortcake recipes and then stopped. I decided I’d rather experiment.
And experiment I did! My experiment was almost perfect; it was just a touch too cocoa-y for me, so I’ve upped the sugar a little bit in the recipe below (I only used 1 tbsp in mine), but overall the almost-savory application of the chocolate played off the lightly-sweetened whipped cream (I made mine with about a 1/2 cup of cream, 1 tsp of vanilla, and 2 tsp of confectioner’s sugar) and the oh-so-ripe-and-juicy strawberries. And it satisfied the need for copious amounts of chocolatey-strawberry goodness.
I would definitely make this again, for a dessert to serve guests. It’s beautiful and a little unexpected (since the chocolate is so dark and rich and not very sweet) and so extremely tasty! The texture is very nice too – soft and cakelike on the inside and a little bit crusty and chewy on the outside. YAY for experimentation!!!
Dark Chocolate Shortcakes (makes 4)
- 1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa
- 3/4 cup all-purpose flour
- 2 tsbp unsalted butter
- 1/4 tsp butter
- 1 1/2 – 2 tbsp sugar
- 1 tbsp vanilla extract (I like the “roundness” this gives to sweet baked goods, but you could also use 1 tbsp of coffee or espresso, to heighten the dark chocolate flavor)
- 1 square unsweetened baking chocolate
- 1/2 cup milk
In a medium bowl, cut the butter into the dry ingredients (including sugar) until looks like bread crumbs. I used to use a couple of butter knives, and they work, but a pastry cutter is much quicker and easier. It’s a little harder to clean, but it’s worth it.
Melt the chocolate in the microwave; I actually put a little of the milk in with it to help keep it from burning, and then stirred the melted chocolate in with the vanilla and milk until it was smooth before adding it to the dry ingredients. This should help keep it from clumping up.
Stir the wet and dry ingredients together until they’ve made a fluffy dough just a bit wetter than biscuit dough. Spoon the shortcakes onto a baking sheet (I used my toaster oven, so you can see the oh-so-fancy foil I covered my toaster baking pan in) and pat to about 1/2 inch thickness. You can see how beautiful and fluffy the dough is in the photograph. Put a little butter on the bottom of the pan (or the foil) to allow these to release easily.
Bake at 400 degrees in the center of an oven for 15-20 minutes. Now, if you’re using a toaster oven like I was, reduce the baking heat by 50 degrees (I baked these at 350) and check on them after 10 minutes. I can say this with confidence: my toaster oven does a great job with baked goods, but it always runs hotter than the conventional oven (I think it’s because the heating element is so much closer to the food).
Now, don’t do what I did and try to cut them open too early. Let them cool on a rack for 5-10 minutes for best results. Even if you just can’t wait, you’ll definitely want to fill them with a bunch of cut strawberries and a nice dollop of fresh whipped cream (I have a suspicion they’d be good toasted and buttered with a nice cup of coffee, too).