Strawberry shortcake, a favorite American dessert since the mid-nineteenth century, has been described in poetry and prose. These rich biscuits with a hint of Grand Marnier flavoring the luscious berries show why it’s an ageless treat. The shortcakes are best if baked immediately before serving; however, the dough can be made and formed up to six hours in advance, put on a cookie sheet, and refrigerated. The berries can also be prepared in advance.
- Strawberries - 3-1/2 pints, hulled
- Sugar - 1 cup
- Grand Marnier - 2 tablespoons
- Heavy (whipping) cream - 2 cups
- Sugar - 1/4 cup
- Cake flour - 3 cups
- Sugar - 1 cup
- Baking Powder - 1-1/2 tablespoons
- Salt - 1 teaspoon
- Shortening - 1/4 cup
- Eggs - 3, lightly beaten
- Milk - milk
- Vanilla Extract - 2 tablespoons
- Confectioner’s sugar for dusting
- Mint sprigs - 6 small (optional)
To prepare the strawberries: Slice 2-1/2 pints of the strawberries and set aside. Puree the remaining pint with the sugar and the Grand Marnier. Pour over the sliced berries and set aside. Refrigerate if preparing more than 2 hours ahead of time.
Beat the cream until frothy, then sprinkle in the sugar and beat to firm peaks. Set aside in the refrigerator.
To make the shortcakes: Preheat the oven to 350 F. Lightly grease a cookie sheet. In a mixer, blend the dry ingredients. Add the shortening and mix until it forms uniform crumbs, scraping the bowl as needed, then add the egg, milk, and vanilla. Blend until it is a smooth, thick dough. Refrigerate at least 30 minutes, then roll into a 3/4-inch-thick rectangle on a floured surface. Cut six shortcakes with a 4-inch round cutter and place on the prepared cookie sheet. Bake for 12 minutes, or until the tops are lightly browned. Set aside; keep warm.
To serve: Slice the shortcakes in half while still hot and place one in each serving bowl. Ladle strawberries over each. Put the whipped cream in a pastry bag fitted with a large finely fluted tip and pipe a thick circle of whipped cream on the berries over the shortcake base. Dust the shortcake tops with confectioners sugar and set over the cream swirls. Garnish each with a mint sprig.