Monday, May 16, 2011

Strawberry Shortcake

I have officially fallen of the wagon! I had my first real dessert since eliminating sugar from my diet. It was during my birthday week celebration at a restaurant in Charlotte’s Midtown, Vivace. I savored a smooth panna cotta with some balsamic strawberries. I thought I had died and gone to heaven.

I eat balsamic vinegar on my salads with strawberries all the time…great! But balsamic on strawberries with sugar for dessert? I had some reservations. But boy was I wrong! It was a perfect complement to the panna cotta. And then there was this cookie, this perfect little cookie that added some texture to the dessert...I wanted to kiss the chef in the mouth.

Upon reflection I really can’t say, with 100% certainty, if the dessert was as spectacular as I thought it was or if it was just the fact that it was good because I was doing something I was not supposed to be.

Nevertheless, I had company in town this week and was thinking of preparing something  that had the balsamic strawberries so I decided to make a strawberry shortcake. I am not a fan of soggy food and this cake holds up very well to the macerated strawberries. If you are not crazy about balsamic strawberries, a traditional strawberry sauce is included as well.

Strawberry Shortcake

1 pint fresh strawberries, hulled and sliced
2 tbsp sugar, to taste
1 tsp balsamic vinegar

Toss ingredients to combine. Cover and chill until ready for serving.

1 1/2 c egg whites (10-12 large eggs), room temperature
1 1/2 c superfine sugar, divided
1 c sifted cake flour
1 tsp cream of tartar
1/4 tsp salt
2 tsp vanilla
1/2 tsp almond extract

Preheat oven to 325˚F.

In a small bowl, mix together the cake flour and 3/4 cup of the sugar; set aside.

In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, beat the egg whites until frothy, about 1 minute on medium speed. Add the cream of tartar and salt; beat on medium speed until fully incorporated. Begin to add the remaining 3/4 cup of sugar, 1 tablespoon at a time. After the sugar has been completely mixed in, turn the speed up to medium-high and beat the egg whites until they reach soft peaks. Once the eggs reach soft peaks, stir in the vanilla and almond extract.

Sift the flour/sugar mixture over the egg white, ¼ c at a time, and gently fold in after each addition. Pour the batter into an ungreased angel food pan. Smooth the top with a spatula and tap the pan on the counter once or twice to ensure that there are no air bubbles.

Bake for 50-60 minutes, until the top springs back when lightly pressed. Remove from oven and until cooled. Gently run a thin knife around the sides, then around the bottom of the pan to release the cake when ready to serve.

¾ c whipping cream
½ vanilla bean
2 tbsp powdered sugar

Using a cold mixing bowl and beaters, whip the ingredients until it holds a soft peak.

16 oz strawberries
2 tbsp granulated white sugar
2 tbsp orange juice
1/4 c water

Place the strawberries, sugar and orange juice in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Stir the mixture until the sugar is dissolved. Add the water. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat. Simmer until the sauce thickens and the strawberries are soft, but still chunky.

All photographs are actual pictures of the recipe listed, prepared by Sweet Treats 'n Good Eats, and cannot be used without the owner’s consent.

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