Eat Dessert First

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June 18, 2013 by caitlinvaclark

When Chris was here as a summer associate, I very quickly faced the daunting reality that a year from then, I would be calling London my permanent home. To get a feel for life here, we tried to explore different neighborhoods on the weekends and narrow the field of where we might want to live. But nothing could beat seeing how people in the same situation were actually living. And since I love hosting a party, over the weekend, Chris and I had one of his firm’s current summer associates and his girlfriend to our flat for dinner.

Summer is in full bloom which means two great things about entertaining: amazing vibrant fresh flowers for your table and ripe juicy berry bursting desserts.

Summer Fresh Flowers: A Broad Cooking

Are you overloaded with strawberries right now? Perhaps your eyes were bigger than your stomachs at the strawberry patch, or maybe you got sucked into the grocery store’s buy one get one free berry promotions? Whatever the reason, if you are currently swimming through a sea of strawberries I have such an incredible way to serve them up. I’m skipping to the end of the dinner party to give you dessert first: the perfect make ahead, easy to assemble, loved by all, dinner party dessert: Strawberry Shortcake with possibly the best twist ever… Nutella Mousse!

If you don’t currently have summer’s favorite fruit in your fridge, what are you thinking?! It’s hot out. The sun is shining. These suckers are ripe and refreshing. Get them. Now!

Strawberry Shortcake with Nutella Mousse: A Broad Cooking

I made the shortcake biscuits a day in advance, slightly underbaked so that I could heat the a bit before serving without drying them out. The recipe is similar to a standard flaky butter biscuits, but with the addition of a splash of vanilla, pinch of sugar, and some cream, making them rich and subtly sweet.

Shortbread biscuits: A Broad Cooking

I’ve done all kinds of strawberry shortcakes in the past. I mix the strawberries with everything from Grand Marnier to mint to balsamic vinegar, but for this version, I wanted the strawberry to blend rather than compete with the nutella mousse. I sliced the strawberries and sprinkled them with a touch of white sugar. Then just leave them to sit for at least an hour, and up to 6hours, so the juices form but the strawberries stay slightly crisp.

Now for the mousse, aka the magic touch. I got this idea from Anne Burrell’s cookbook, Cook Like a Rock Star, where she pairs a Nutella mousse with hazelnut cake. But for me this lighter mousse paired with summer’s favorite dessert is as good as it gets!

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To keep the mousse light and fluffy, whip the cream separately, then gently fold the cream, a bit at the time, into a mixture of Nutella and mascarpone cheese. This will keep the air in the cream.

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The mousse can be made up to a day before serving. Just keep chilled in an airtight container.

Nutella Mousse: A Broad Cooking

Then to assemble, I halved the shortbread biscuits, poured on some strawberries with their juices, topped with the biscuit and a nice big scoop of the sweet chocolatey nutty mousse.

Strawberry Shortcake with Nutella Mousse: A Broad Cooking

Strawberry Shortcake with Nutella Mousse

Serves 6

2 pints strawberries, hulled and sliced

1 Tbs. sugar

1 pint whipping cream

3 Tbs. powdered sugar

½ cup mascarpone cheese

½ cup nutella

6 shortcake biscuits, recipe follows

Mix the sliced strawberries with sugar and let sit for at least one hour and up to 6 hours.

Using an electric mixer, whip cream with powdered sugar until it forms stiff peaks, being careful not to over mix. In a separate bowl, whisk the nutella and mascarpone. Add about 1/3 cup of the whipped cream to the nutella and gently fold until combined. Then add half of the nutella mixture into the whipped cream, folding to combine. Repeat with the remaining nutella.

To assemble, halve the biscuits (warmed if desired). Scoop ½ cup of strawberries in their juices onto each base of shortcake. Top with the shortcake and a ½ cup scoop of the nutella mousse.

To make the shortcake biscuits:

1 ¾ cup flour, sifted

½ tsp. salt

3 tsp. baking powder

1 Tbs. sugar

6 Tbs. butter, chilled and small diced

½ cup milk

¼ cup heavy cream

1 tsp. vanilla extract

Melted butter and brown sugar, to top

Mix the flour with the salt, baking powder, and sugar. Cut the chilled butter into the flour mixture using a pastry blender.

Stir in the milk, cream, and vanilla until just blended. Transfer to a floured surface. Kneed quickly, about 6 folds, then roll out to an even 1-inch thickness. Cut into 2-inch rounds. Place 2-inches apart on an ungreased, brush tops with melted butter and sprinkle with brown sugar. Chill in the fridge for 30 minutes.

Preheat oven to 450˚F. Then bake for 12 minutes.

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