Friday, February 13, 2009

Love Bites ~ Chocolate Shortcakes for Your Valentine

I have a confession to make. I am in love with Valentine's Day. Yes, it's terribly commercialized, and true, it's a convenient marketer's excuse to tout all kinds of inappropriate excess. But even so, it gets me every time. I love everything about it ~ the colors pink and red, the iconic heart shapes, the abject lovey-doveyiness. Commercialism doesn't faze me. I feel no pressure to buy an extravagant gift. Why would I, when I can produce love right in my oven. Why would you?

You see, giving someone you love a homebaked whatever is giving more than the sum of that item's parts. Yes, you're giving eggs, flour, butter, sugar, chocolate. But you're also giving way more valuable, more intimate gifts wrapped up in those ingredients: Your precious time. The careful consideration you put into thinking about what would make your Valentine's eyes light up. You know what flavor sugarplums are dancing in your Valentine's head ~ not some advertising whiz trying to sell you the "perfect" gift (which, incidentally, hundreds or thousands of others will receive the identical copies of). There is alchemy that occurs when simple foodstuffs are combined with the work of your head, heart, and hands. You give a bit of yourself away ~ and is there a better way to say, "Be Mine"?

Dorie Greenspan's Devilish Shortcakes

~from page 425~426 of Baking: From My Home to Yours

Shortcakes are, essentially, a lightly sweetened biscuit, very much like a scone. These are rich with butter and chocolate, meltingly tender on the inside and crisp on the outside, and just sweet enough. You can serve these with sliced, sugared strawberries and chantilly cream as I did, or try them with raspberry whipped cream and set them in a pool of raspberry coulis.

If you want to serve them for breakfast or brunch, offer them with strawberry cream cheese, Nutella, or whipped butter and raspberry preserves.

  • 1 1/3 cups whole milk (I used skim)

  • 1 1/2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract

  • 1 large egg

  • 3 1/3 cups unbleached all-purpose flour

  • 2/3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder (I used Hershey's Special Dark)

  • 2 tablespoons baking powder

  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda

  • 1/2 teaspoon salt

  • 1/2 cup sugar

  • 1 1/2 sticks (12 tablespoons) cold unsalted butter, cut into pieces (I used salted)

  • Turbinado sugar for sprinkling (my addition)

  1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees F. Line baking sheets with parchment paper.

  2. In a small bowl, whisk together milk, vanilla, and egg.

  3. In a large bowl, place flour, cocoa, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and sugar. Whisk to combine. Cut in butter until mixture resembles crumbs and flakes of varying sizes ~ from barley to couscous to rolled oats.

  4. Pour mik mixture over the flour mixture and toss with a fork until the dough comes together. Don't overwork the dough or your shortcakes will be as tough as hockey pucks. If dry spots remain in the dough, use a spatula to fold them in. The dough will remain soft and relatively sticky.

  5. Using a #20 disher (ice cream scoop), or a large spoon and a spatula, scoop dough in mounds of about 1/3 cup each onto parchment-lined baking sheets. Leave about 3 inches between mounds. Moisten fingertips with water and pat each mound down to a height of about 1 inch. Sprinkle each shortcake with turbinado sugar.

  6. Bake for 15 to 18 minutes until the shortcakes begin to puff and give a little when pressed with a fingertip. Transfer shortcakes to a wire rack to cool. Repeat with remaining dough.

Tips and Truc

  • If you like, you can freeze the unbaked mounds of dough for future use. Scoop them onto the baking sheet, freeze until solid, and then store in airtight wrap in the freezer for up to 2 months. To bake, unwrap frozen shortcakes ~ do not thaw ~ and place on parchment-lined baking sheet. Extend baking time by 5 minutes.

  • Want to make these extra chocolatey? Fold in some dark chocolate chunks before baking.


May said...

That looks so good! Love the rich colour.

Baking and Mistaking said...

Mmmm these look delicious.
Can't wait to try them soon!

Jude said...

Liked your description of shortcakes. Wasn't quite sure how this would turn out. Thanks for the recipe!

finsmom said...

These look so tasty! What a perfect Valentine's dessert to share with someone special! Great photo!

Anonymous said...

Yum! delicious! the mix of chocolate and strawberry is wonderful!

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