When I was a kid, my mom always made strawberry shortcake on my birthday, so naturally it is one of my favorite desserts. There is still something about the taste and smell of fresh strawberries mixed with lemon and honey that makes me feel like a giddy eight year old. I am also a huge fan of Insalata Caprese, Italian "salad" made with slices of fresh mozzarella, tomato, basil, olive oil and balsamic vinegar. It's just so good, I could eat it for days... yum.
Anyway... These are both wonderful summer dishes and they also have a similar layered structure and an emphasis on fresh ingredients, so I thought, why not combine them into one amazing unique dessert!
Balsamic vinegar and strawberries is a classically delicious combination, so I took that as my jumping off point for the concept of this mouth watering mash-up, adding a sweet aged balsamic to my strawberry mixture. My mom always made her strawberry shortcake with a flakey biscuit, not a pound cake, so for my dish I created a lightly sweet olive oil, basil and ricotta drop biscuit that is amazingly simple to make and so delicious. Finally I incorporated rich creamy burrata cheese into the whipped cream to complete the caprese flavor profile.
The result is a fresh, delicious desert with a unique combination of sweet an savory flavors.
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Step 1: Ingredients and Tools
Ingredients (makes 6 servings)
For the Biscuits:
- 1 cup all-purpose flour
- 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
- 1/8 cup sugar
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
- 1/2 cup ricotta
- 1/4 cup milk
- 1/4 cup coarsely chopped basil leaves
For the Berry Topping
- 1 basket strawberries
- 1 lemon
- 1 tablespoon honey
- 1/3 cup aged balsamic vinegar - if you don't want to pay for aged balsamic, you can make a balsamic reduction
For the Cream
- 1 cup heavy whipping cream
- 1 1/2 tablespoons sugar
- 1/2 cup burrata (optional)
- 2 large mixing bowls
- 2 medium mixing bowls
- 1 small mixing bowl
- Knives for chopping basil and cutting strawberries
- A whisk
- A rubber spatula
- A cutting board
- Measuring spoons
- Measuring cups
- A baking sheet
- Parchment paper
- An oven
Step 2: Make the Berry Topping
I like to make my strawberry mixture first because it's nice for the berries to soak in the lemon, honey and vinegar for a little while before you serve them.
Wash the strawberries, then cut them into medium sized chunks with a sharp knife. Cut and squeeze half the lemon into the strawberries, then add 1 Tbsp honey and 1/3 cup vinegar.
Stir the whole mixture together thoroughly and taste it to make sure you've achieved a good balance between the flavors. Make sure you can taste the balsamic, and add more if necessary. Then set the berries aside while you make the biscuits.
Step 3: Chop the Basil
Before you put your cutting board away, wash and roughly chop about 1/4 cup basil leaves with a large sharp knife.
Step 4: Biscuits Part 1
I was really excited to discover how easy it is to make these. I am not much of a baker, but these biscuits are so simple, that not even I can mess them up. They are great in this dish, but they would also be deliecious on there own or as part of a breakfast spread.
First, preheat the oven to 425 degrees, then start making your biscuits.
Combine 1/2 cup ricotta, 1/4 cup olive oil and 1/4 cup milk and 1/4 cup chopped basil in a medium mixing bowl.
Stir until thoroughly combined.
Step 5: Biscuits Part 2
Combine and mix 1 cup flour, 1/4 cup sugar, 1 1/2 Tbsp baking powder, and a pinch of salt in a large mixing bowl.
Slowly add the wet ingredient mixture to the dry and and stir together to form a moist dough.
Step 6: Bake
Divide the dough into six equal parts and form them into patty shapes on a parchment covered baking sheet.
Bake on the top rack of the oven for 10 minutes until lightly golden brown.
Step 7: Whip the Cream
While the biscuits are baking, take out your chilled heavy cream, and pour it into a large mixing bowl (it can help to also chill the bowl beforehand).
Sprinkle in 1 1/2 Tbsp sugar and whip by hand with a whisk, or with an electric mixer until soft peaks form.
To give the cream on my shortcakes an extra rich flavor and texture I decided to add some delicious creamy burrata cheese. This is definitely not necessary but I do think it was a nice addition.
Take 1/2 cup of the burrata and chop it lightly, then stir it into to the already whipped cream. Do not over stir.
Step 8: Assemble and Eat
These shortcakes are really best assembled right before serving so the juices of the strawberries have a chance to just soak into the biscuit a little, but not make it too soggy.
While your biscuits are still warm, slice them in half and arrange them on plates. Layer them with strawberries first and then cream. Drizzle a little vinegar over the top and garnish with basil leaves.
Serve to friendly people on a summer afternoon :)