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You have to try this spin on a favorite summer dessert! Individual strawberry cheesecake shortcakes combine a rich no-bake cheesecake filling with strawberry basil salad and brown butter biscuit crumbs.
Is it summer yet? I mean I know I keep talking about the weather, but this spring has been seriously weird. I’m so done with jackets and gloom. I’m ready for dining al fresco, sauvignon blanc and summer berries. I want tan legs and even blonder hair. Grilled everything and big, green salads. I want summer!
It’s funny, I always claim to prefer the east coast because I love the change of seasons. And I do, but clearly I play favorites. I think I’m even more excited than my boys for summer vacation and I definitely get a bit depressed post-Labor Day. But the wait is almost over as Memorial Day, the unofficial start of the summer season, is almost here and this year we have an extended holiday. The boys have a five day (five day!) weekend because of all those unused snow days and we’ll pack our bags and head down to the shore. Memorial Day can be hit or miss in terms of temperature, but I’m hoping after all the cold, rainy days we’ve recently endured, the weather gods will be smiling.
So with the unofficial start of summer, comes the very official start of summer entertaining. We’re fortunate to spend our summers at the shore and with that comes a steady rotation of guests. Friends, family, overnight guests or just dinner parties, the summer is definitely a busy time. And I revel in it. I have a houseful of guinea pigs to sample new recipes, get to bask in the sunshine and clink glasses at happy hour everyday.
But summer entertaining is about finding balance too. As much as I love the kitchen, I don’t want to spend every waking moment there. I take the time to craft menus that allow for spending time with friends with my toes tucked in the sand, not just standing at the stove. I utilize my grill as much as possible and focus on fresh flavors and seasonal foods. And when it comes to desserts, berries are my number one inspiration.
Strawberry shortcake is one of those desserts that just scream summer, but I find I’m usually a little disappointed with it in it’s usual incarnation. I long for bolder flavors and a variety of textures. So I decided to take some of my favorite flavors and textures and marry them all in this strawberry cheesecake shortcake. I started with the basics…a perfectly fluffy buttermilk biscuit, but that was just the jumping off point. I never like when the biscuit in a classic strawberry shortcake gets soggy before the dessert is eaten, so I created these brown butter biscuit crumbs to add crunch and a deep nutty flavor. Cream cheese and mascarpone are sweetened and lightened up with homemade whipped cream and instead of just chopping up some strawberries and tossing them in, I macerated them in balsamic vinegar, sugar and basil for a grown up flair.
The result is creamy, tangy, crunchy and lightly sweet. It’s sure to be my dessert of the season, especially for entertaining. And did I mention brown butter biscuit crumbs?? These are going on top of grilled peaches and vanilla ice cream, getting folded into cobbler toppings and if I’m being honest, probably just snacked on right out of the bowl. Just right for summer, uncomplicated and yummy, and perfectly paired with champagne and sunsets.
- 3 cups cake flour
- 2 1/2 tsp baking powder
- 1/2 tsp baking soda
- 1 Tbsp sugar
- 1 1/2 tsp kosher salt
- 12 Tbsp cold butter diced
- 1 cup buttermilk plus 2 Tbsp for brushing on top of the biscuits
- *2 1/2 inch round cutter
- **9 inch round cake pan
- Brown Butter Biscuit Crumbs
- 3 biscuits recipe above, crumbled
- 1 stick 4 oz unsalted butter
- 1/4 cup sugar
- 1 tsp kosher salt
- Cheesecake Filling
- 1 cup heavy cream
- 3/4 cup confectioners sugar
- 2 tsp vanilla extract
- 8 oz cream cheese softened
- 1/2 cup mascarpone softened
- Strawberry Basil Salad
- 1 1/2 lbs strawberries hulled and sliced
- 1 Tbsp balsamic vinegar
- 1 Tbsp sugar
- 1/4 tsp freshly ground black pepper
- 2 Tbsp fresh basil plus a few leaves for garnish
Biscuits: Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
In the bowl of a food processor fitted with a steel blade or in a large bowl combine the flour, baking powder, baking soda, sugar and salt.
Add the cold butter and pulse about 10 times until the butter and flour form a sandy mixture (alternatively cut the butter into the flour mixture with a fork, pastry cutter or your fingertips).
Add the buttermilk and pulse or mix until just barely combined.
Turn out onto a lightly floured surface and pat into a large rectangle, about a 1/2 inch thick.
Cut out rounds using a 2 1/2 inch round cutter and place into an ungreased 9 inch baking pan, with the edges touching. (You will probably get about 6 biscuits and then you will need to gently gather the scraps and reform into disc to cut out remaining rounds). You will have 10 biscuits in total.
Generously brush the tops with buttermilk and bake until golden, about 25 mins. Remove from the oven, reduce the oven temp to 350 degrees and allow the biscuits to cool slightly in the pan before removing to a wire rack and carefully pulling biscuits apart to finish cooling.
Brown Butter Biscuit Crumbs: Crumble 3 biscuits in a medium bowl.
Melt butter in a small saucepan over medium heat and continue to cook, swirling constantly until butter is browned, but not burnt. Listen to the butter…as soon as it stops popping and sputtering and you see visible brown flecks, it’s done.
Sprinkle the salt and sugar over the biscuit crumbs and pour brown butter over the top. Stir to coat and press together to clump a bit.
Turn the crumbs onto a parchment lined sheet pan and bake at 350 degrees until golden brown, about 20 mins. Stir a few times as they bake to ensure even browning.
Cheesecake Filling: Whip heavy cream with a whisk attachment until soft peaks form.
Add the confectioners sugar and vanilla and continue to beat until stiff peaks form. Scrape into another bowl and reserve.
Add cream cheese and mascarpone to the same mixing bowl and whip until smooth, about 2 mins.
Add the whipped cream mixture to the cream cheese mixture and whip until smooth, about 1-2 mins.
Strawberry Basil Salad: Stir together the balsamic vinegar, sugar and black pepper and add the strawberries. Allow strawberry vinegar mixture to sit for about 10 mins at room temperature.
Chiffonade the basil leaves and toss with the strawberry mixture.
To Assemble: Cut five biscuits in half (you’ll have two extra biscuits for another use). Add a spoon of biscuit crumbs to the bottom of a glass or small dessert plate and place each biscuit half on top. Add a dollop of the cream cheese filling, then spoon strawberry basil salad over the top. Sprinkle with biscuit crumbs and garnish with a basil leaf.