Wow, can I never make anything normal, ever? I swear, I made a legitimate effort this time to NOT. DO. WEIRD. THINGS. to the shortcakes. I bought 16 oz of plump, red strawberries at the store, alongside a new sack of King Arthur flour and some heavy cream. I swear, I fully intended to make some simple buttermilk biscuits to house the traditional strawberry shortcake things (think: macerated strawberries and homemade whipped cream). And instead, I bring you a bunch of flavors (and words) posing as a classic dessert.
I feel like a fraud. I feel like those people on Pinterest who post Cluster Fluff Recipes. For those of you who are unfamiliar, a Cluster Fluff Recipe (noun) can be two possible things at once:
1) a recipe whose name is about as long as its list of ingredients
2) a recipe whose existence is a hodgepodge of every possible thing the recipe poster has ever enjoyed, plopped into one prescription (think: Oreo Cookie Red Velvet Blondie Layer Cake, because that’s A LOT of things)
I don’t know, maybe I got ahead of myself or behind myself or wrapped around myself or something. I am, after all, a yogi sometimes, and it wouldn’t be the weirdest thing in the world if I were twisted into some sort of posture that doesn’t necessarily occur involuntarily.
My point is, before I knew it, I was using my new handheld mixer (a birthday gift, in electric blue, from my mother) to blend dehydrated strawberries into a rehydrated paste. And gosh, that smelled so sweet and tart, that I just dissociated or something. Suddenly, I was in a world where tangy goat cheese offset the fragrant pink of the strawberry paste I’d added to my biscuits.
From there, I’d become some superhero version of myself, one with the superhuman strength it requires to just keep going against the grain. I found myself adding raspberries and vanilla extract to the mix of hulled, quartered strawberries I had prepared to meet their maceration. Then, when it came time for assembly, I bypassed the homemade whipped cream entirely and went, instead, for the tub of Haagen Dazs in my freezer.
And friends, that’s the story of how I ended up spending my dad’s birthday this year: eating a favorite dessert that we had shared many times as a family growing up. In my fourteen years of knowing him, I admired that he always stuck with the things he liked. As in, he never, ever strayed from the norm. We relived the same corny jokes he loved to tell, we heard the same songs he liked to play, we spent day after day in the sun by a body of water when we could, and all because those were things he knew to be enjoyable.
Of course, meals were held in a similar vein, composed of a repetition of rotating flavors, and often times that meant strawberry shortcake was on the menu for dessert. Perhaps this is where genetics led me astray; I can provide zero explanation for the way I absentmindedly reinvented that same family favorite into a sweet, tart, tangy ice cream sandwich of epically syrupy proportions. I guess the point is, after all that, that 13 years after he has passed, I am at a place where I can openly state that he is gone, and that there are fond memories there, and that I think of him each time his birthday rolls around in July, even if I have hardly mentioned it to anyone in this way before.
Berry Goat Cheese Shortcake Ice Cream Sandwiches
Makes 6 Biscuit Sandwiches
16 oz strawberries, hulled and quartered
6 oz raspberries
2 tsp confectioner’s sugar
1 tsp pure vanilla extract
1 cup dehydrated strawberries
2 tsp water
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
2 tbsp granulated sugar
2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 stick unsalted butter, frozen
2 oz goat cheese, chilled
1 cup buttermilk, chilled
1 tsp pure vanilla extract
vanilla ice cream, for serving
Fruit: In a medium bowl, combine strawberries, raspberries, sugar, and vanilla. Refrigerate and allow to macerate for at least 30 minutes before using.
Meanwhile, preheat oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit and line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Blend dehydrated strawberries with water until a paste forms, adding more water, if necessary, then set aside. In a large bowl, whisk together flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Grate the frozen butter into little flakes, then add the butter, goat cheese, and strawberry paste to the dry ingredients. Using your hands, rub the ingredients together into a pink, fragrant, shaggy dough. Pour in buttermilk and vanilla, stirring until just combined. Use a 1/3 cup scoop to scoop biscuit dough onto prepared baking sheet. Bake biscuits for 10-12 minutes, rotating halfway through, until golden and poofy. Remove from baking sheet immediately and allow to cool.
Assembly: Slice each biscuit in half when ready to serve, then layer ice cream, berries, and juices between the biscuits halves. Serve immediately. Biscuits are best enjoyed the same day they are baked.