Mixed berry Shortcakes with Chamomile Cream


There is no pleasure in having nothing to do; the fun is having lots to do and not doing it.

Andrew Jackson

How sweet is this quote? I recently came across it and thought, “oh Andrew, you couldn’t be more correct”. Lately, life has been a bit more hectic than usual for me. The biggest cause of stress (still) has been that John and I do not have an apartment yet, but thankfully, that all changes in a few days! After weeks of searching, we finally found a beautiful apartment that we get to call home in a matter of days, and we couldn’t be happier.

With the amount of work we still have to do, my family can often hear me complaining that there is not enough time in a day to get it all done. I find it to quite humorous to be muttering the same phrases that my parents did when I was younger. As a child, I actually remember thinking that the days were instead too long. Funny how that changes, huh? Oh, the simple joys of becoming an adult. Anyway, in the midst of all this business I realized that I had to take some time to rest.

I have to admit that Mr. Jackson was right, so I took a day off. I caught myself enjoying it all the more just because I had so much to do, but instead I ignored it completely. So what did I do with this day off? Well, once I got away from my list of tasks, I ended up making myself a tall arnold palmer, found sunny spot outside, and started flipping through as many food magazines as I could find (many of which are still packed up). It was exactly what I needed.

Now about this delicious dessert. I made these mixed berry shortcakes for Mother’s Day, and my whole family fell in love with them! What I love about this dessert is that even if you don’t end up making this exact recipe, you still have 3 recipes for amazing staples; buttery cream biscuits, home made caramel, and infused whipped cream. All of which will come in handy at some point in your life, as I know they have in mine.

This biscuit recipe is from the lovely Alice Waters. Her recipe originally called for a 1 1/2 inch biscuit cutter, which would then yield 8 biscuits, but I wanted to make slightly larger biscuits that weren’t as tall. I didn’t want a dessert that had too much biscuit involved. Instead, I used a 3 inch biscuit cutter, giving me 6 beautiful biscuits. If you do decide to make 8, I suggest making another half batch of the chamomile cream, because my recipe is just enough for 6. I also listed the recipe in the order that I made everything, allowing the caramel and cream to cool as you cook your biscuits.

I have found this to be a delicious and unexpected dessert, and I hope you do as well.


CARAMEL

Adapted from Alice Waters, The Art of Simple Food

Yields 12 oz

1 Cup Sugar

1/4 Cup Water

1/2 Teaspoon Pure Vanilla Extract

1/8 Teaspoon Kosher Salt

3/4 Heavy Cream

1 Tablespoon Butter

Equipment: Heavy bottomed saucepan, wooden spoon/spatula, pastry brush, small dish of water


METHOD

Place sugar and water in saucepan, and bring to a boil over medium high heat. Continue to cook until the sugar begins to slightly change color,  about 5 minuets.You will slowly see patches of slight growing, when you do, do not stir the sugar, instead swirl it to even out the browning of the sugar.

As the caramel is cooking, dip your pastry brush in a bit of water and brush down the sides of the pan to prevent crystallization.

After about 5 minutes the sugar will begin to caramelize at a quicker rate, Be sure to watch your caramel very closely once it begins to change colors, because the caramel begins to cook quite quickly at this point.Remove from heat once the caramel reaches a dark amber color.

With a spatula, or wooden spoon, slowly add in cream, butter, vanilla, and salt. The mixture will bubble up a bit, but continue to stir as until combined.

Put pan back on a medium low heat to help melt any parts of the caramel that may have hardened. Once caramel is smooth, transfer to a glass jar and serve at room temperature.

Store sealed in the refrigerator for up to two weeks.


CHAMOMILE CREAM

FOR 6 BISCUITS

3/4 Cup Heavy Cream

2 Sachets of Chamomile Tea

4 oz Mascarpone Cheese

1 1/2 Tablespoon Honey

Equipment: Sauce pan, stand/handheld mixer


METHOD

Place 3/4 cup of heavy cream in a saucepan on medium low heat, bring to a very gentle simmer, making sure not to boil the cream.

One the cream is warmed up, turn off the heat and place the 2 sachets of chamomile tea inside the pot and let steep for about 5 minutes.

Pour cream into a separate container, making sure to give the tea bags a little extra squeeze before discarding them.

Let cream chill in the fridge while you bake the biscuits, you want this to get cold.

In the bowl of a standing mixer with a whisk attachment, whisk the mascorpone cheese for about 30 seconds or so to soften it up. While the mixer is still on, slowly pour in the honey and the whipping cream on medium low speed until the cream becomes thick.

The mixture will be quite dense, but still thick and creamy. Make sure to not over beat the cream, as it might get lumpy.


CREAM BISCUITS

Slightly adapted from Alice Waters, The Art of Simple Food

Yields 6

1 1/2 Cup Unbleached All-Purose Flour

1/4 Teaspoon Salt

1 Tablespoon Evaporated Cane Sugar

2 Teaspoons Baking Powder

6 Tablespoons cold butter, cut into small pieces

3/4 Cup Heavy Cream

Demerara Sugar for spinkling ~ optional

An assortment of mixed berries 

Equipment: Large bowl, 3-inch biscuit cutter, rolling pin, baking pan, parchment paper, whisk, pastry brush, baking sheet


METHOD

Pre-heat oven to 400 F°

In a large bowl combine flour, salt, tablespoon of sugar, and baking powder, and combine with a whisk or fork.

Cut the butter into the flour using either a party cutter, or simply with your fingers until the butter looks like the size of peas.

Gently stir in the heavy cream, reserving about 1 tablespoon. Using a fork, stir in the cream just until the dough comes together.

Taking care not to over work the dough, gently kneed the dough in the bowl, and turin it out onto a lightly floured surface and roll it out until it is about 3/4 of an inch thick.

Cut out 6 circles of dough, and re-roll the scraps to make 6 biscuits. ** Alternativelyyou can make 8 biscuits using a 1 1/2 inch biscuit cutter.

Place the biscuits on a lined baking sheet. Brush each biscuit with the reaming cream, and sprinkle each with a bit of demerara sugar.

Once baked, remove from baking sheet and cool on rack until ready to serve.

Bake for about 17 minutes, or until completely cooked and golden.


ASSEMBLY

When biscuits have cooled, slice in half, and fill with a bit off cream. Finish off with a handful of berries, a drizzle of caramel, and other half of the biscuit.