Dani Goes South.

dessert

The Easiest and Only Strawberry Shortcake You'll Ever Need

SweetsDani ColombattoComment
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In today's episode of "things my mom tells me to do about food", we have strawberry shortcake. I am not in the practice of not taking my mom's advice, and she's been telling me how much I "NEED" to make strawberry shortcake with Bon Appetit's shortcake recipe for about a year. Not unlike me in my teen years, it took a minute for me to get around to taking her advice, but when I did, everything instantly fell into place, because these bad boys are *clap* that *clap* good *final clap*. It's also fitting that this recipe comes just in time for Mother's Day, because well, I'm partial, but my mom just so happens to be the absolute best. 

Let's talk shortcake. This could not be a farther cry from that produce section "angel food cake" gar-bazhe that seems to sneak its way into many a casual function. Listen, I'm not saying it's the worst; I'm simply saying we can totally do waaaay better, and it's not even that hard. These shortcakes are tender, have that perfectly crunchy, sugary texture on top, with an unexpected added delicious layer of texture from cornmeal. I posted on my Instagram stories yesterday that these call for 2 hard boiled egg yolks, which is literally the only fussy step of this whole shebang. I say, throw a few extra eggs in your pot, and call it meal prep. Multitasking: The thing no one's really that good at, but everyone claims to be pretty good at... Am I right, or am I right? 

In a food processor, combine your two flours, sugar, baking powder, salt, and egg yolks, and pulse a few times to combine. Add your cold butter, and pulse until it's in pea-sized pieces. Slowly, drizzle in 2/3 cups of  your heavy cream as you pulse the machine. Just pulse until the dough barely combines. Turn your dough out onto a very lightly floured surface, and lightly knead until combined into a disk. Wrap it in plastic wrap and refrigerate for 25 minutes. 

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In a food processor, combine your two flours, sugar, baking powder, salt, and egg yolks, and pulse a few times to combine. Add your cold butter, and pulse until it's in pea-sized pieces. Slowly, drizzle in 2/3 cups of  your heavy cream as you pulse the machine. Just pulse until the dough barely combines. Turn your dough out onto a very lightly floured surface, and lightly knead until combined into a disk. Wrap it in plastic wrap and refrigerate for 25 minutes. 

Preheat your oven to 350F. In a large bowl, add your halved/quartered strawberries, along with 1/3 a cup of sugar, and the juice of half a lemon. Toss to combine, then cover, and refrigerate. 

To a parchment-lined baking sheet, add your dough, in 1/3 cup scoops, rolling them into a ball with your hands, and slightly flattening the bottoms as you set them down. Alternatively, you can use a 2 oz ice cream scoop, but mine just happened to be dirty, which is just really a window into our ice cream consumption around here. Brush the tops of your shortcakes with the remaining 2 tbs cream, and give each one a healthy dusting of sugar. Bake for 25-30 minutes. I believe mine were right at 26. 

Make your whipped cream. Add 1 cup heavy whipping cream with 3 tablespoons powdered sugar, and 1/2 a teaspoon vanilla extract. Whip until peaks form, but it's still soft and not over-whipped. Cover, and refrigerate until ready to serve. 

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These are truly the most tender, perfectly crumbly, buttery, sugary shortcakes. Seriously, simplicity times one HUNDO. Who the hell doesn't love a warm shortcake, with bright, juicy, summery berries and freshly whipped cream? Do you know them? Disown them immediately. Love your mom, do something nice, take your vitamins, make these shortcakes - all things you should do, forever and ever, amen. I think your mom would agree.

This recipe was sponsored by my mom, who literally has sponsored my life. Happy impending mother's day to all! 

Strawberry Shortcakes

(Shortcake recipe from Bon Appetit)

Serves 6

For the Shortcakes

2 hard-boiled egg yolks, cooled

1 1/3 cups all purpose flour

3 tbs fine ground cornmeal, or semolina flour

1 tbs baking powder

1/4 tsp salt

3 tbs granulated sugar

6 tbs unsalted butter, chilled, cut into pieces

2/3 cup, plus 2 tbs heavy cream

Granulated or sanding sugar for sprinkling on top

For the Strawberries

1 1/2 quarts strawberries, halved, quartered if large

Juice of half a lemon

Zest of 1 lemon

1/3 cup granulated sugar

For the Whipped Cream

1 cup heavy cream, cold

3 tbs confectioner's sugar

1/2 tsp vanilla extract

Key Lime Vanilla Bean Pie With the Butteriest Graham Cracker Crust

SweetsDani ColombattoComment
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Not all desserts are created equally, am I right? I've mentioned before that I don't have the hugest sweet tooth, so when it comes to dessert, I'm surprisingly persnickety. First of all, when it comes to me actually making a dessert, I am reeeeeally good at talking myself out of doing it, and maybe making pasta instead. Measuring? Ick. Team eyeball-it like an old world Italian g-ma all. Day. Long. Cake decorating? Do I not have enough anxiety to contend with?! I do not require unicorn horns on my treats, nor do I want a rainbow bagel, and if I ever purchase fondant, well, then we'll know I've really lost myself. All of this said, I have nothing but the utmost respect for those who love sifting and measuring, who perfect their piping to a T. In truth, I envy you!! I want to take quite a few pages out of your book...(and leave the ones regarding cake pops and fondant). 

I digress...

I began this by saying not all desserts are created equal, and I stand by this. However, there are a scant handful of treats that have captured my heart, and you best believe I'll attempt to make them kewt and new just for yew. Under this sweet lil' umbrella resides my longtime bud, key lime pie. Creamy, tart lime custard married to crumbly graham cracker crust- what's not to love? Well, how about juicing one million tiny limes? Yeah. I'm not into it, either. So, with saving you and I from that in mind, I give to you: Key lime pie, hold the keys.  

As though that's not already cutting down on our heavy lifting, aside from the oven, this is a total food processor situation- graham cracker crust, filling, and all! There are benefits to this, beyond cutting down on dishes (which is high up there on the silver linings roster for your girl, and if you don't have a dishwasher, I've been there MULTIPLE times, and I applaud you all day every day).

First off, the aforementioned food processor sitch makes for the crumbliest, most buttery pie crust. Truth be told, when I first made this, I mumbled "shit" repeatedly to myself, while taking it out of the pie plate because I was certain I over-pulsed the crumbs, and made a base of essentially, sand, meaning that the whole thing was sure to crumble. Much to my surprise and delight, it held PERFECTLY, and the butter permeated throughout every crumb. So essentially, my "shit's" took an immediate 180 and made their way to "fuck yes-ville". I really love when that happens in culinary situations. Like, almost more than anything. This is the pie crust to reignite any lost love of graham cracker crust, AKA, the unsung hero of pie-town. So, in addition to the food processor giving our crust the pulverizing strong-arm it needs, it also whips our custard into perfectly fluffy shape, ensuring the smoothest filling ever. The vanilla bean is the sleeper hit of this whole shebang, though. It scents the pie beautifully, and frankly who the hell is mad at a vanilla bean fleck-studded pie?! Guys, I don't say this outright often, but this is JUST. SO. GOOD. I'm clearly chatty; let's make this already!

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Preheat your oven oven to 350F. In a food processor, pulse your graham crackers (about 3 sleeves worth) until they resemble sand. Add your sugar, and stream in your melted, salted butter, and pulse quite a few times to combine. You want it to be the consistency of wet sand. I used a pie plate with a removable bottom, but that isn't a requirement. Just press your crumbs evenly into your chosen pie plate- I love using a wide jar for this. Place in the oven, and bake for about 13 minutes, or until it just starts to get golden-brown.

In your food processor, combine your egg yolks with your condensed milk, and pulse thoroughly to combine. Add your lime zest, lime juice, and paste from your vanilla beans. Puree for about 1 minute. When done, the filling should look slightly aerated, and fully combined.

When your crust is done, allow to cool to slightly warm, and add your filling. Return to oven, and bake for about 15-18 minutes, returning to a rack to cool. Once cool, place in the fridge until fully chilled, or overnight, which is what I opted for. 

Serve with freshly whipped cream- I just whipped 1/2 cup cream with about 4-5 tbs sugar, and extra lime zest.

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Listen, rarely have I met a key lime pie- sans key or otherwise that I have disliked. However, this one, guys...This one stands alone. The filling is so incredibly light and creamy with all the punch of fresh lime tartness you'd expect from key lime pie, but with the unexpected rounded accent of the vanilla bean. It's a subtle change, but in my book, a game changer. I really hope you make this when you're just in the mood for something happy. Hey, maybe throw it in your Easter repertoire! I bet no one will be mad you did. 

Vanilla Bean Key Lime Pie, Sans Key, With the Butteriest Graham Cracker Crust

For the graham cracker crust:

About 1 1/4 cups graham crackers 

4 tbs granulated sugar

5 tbs salted butter, melted

For the filling:

1 can sweetened, condensed milk

5 egg yolks (if they're super large, go for 4, but my organics seemed on the smaller side)

1/2 cup lime juice, from 4-5 limes

Zest of 2 limes

2 vanilla beans, seeds scraped