Strawberry Shortcake

This time of year, I always find myself craving fresh strawberries.

Growing up in St. Petersburg, FL, we used to go to the Plant City Strawberry Festival in early March and pick our own. But since I no longer live in FL, I have to rely on the local grocery stores to get my strawberries. And I found some beauties at the store yesterday. So I bought 2 pints and promptly decided that I *needed* to use them to make strawberry shortcake.

It is, hands-down, my favorite dessert! Fresh, tart-yet-sweet strawberries, soft, spongy angel food cake and a dollop of whipped cream! LOVElovelove it! It’s also one of the easiest desserts to prepare.

Ingredients:

Angel Food Cake (this is the recipe I use)

2 pints of strawberries, rinsed, hulled and sliced

1/4 cup to 1/2 cup of sugar (depending on how sweet the strawberries already are)

Angel Food cake (your own recipe, the recipe above or a store-bought variety)

2 1/2 cups heavy cream

5 Tbs. confectioners’ sugar

1 1/2 tsp. vanilla extract

Directions:

Typically when I make strawberry shortcake, I make my own angel food cake. But I took the easy way out this time and bought a pre-made cake from the bakery. It was perfect… Light and fluffy and oh, so easy! However, if you’re making your own cake, I shouldn’t have to say that you need to go ahead and make it first.*

When it comes to the strawberries, I like to use at least 2 pints. Because let’s face it: this dessert is ALL about the strawberries right!? Hull and rinse them, then slice them however you’d like. Most recipes say to slice them thin. But I keep them pretty thick… Because I love to bite into bigger pieces of strawberry. To each her own, here!

Place the strawberries in a big bowl and pour 1/4 to 1/2 cup of granulated sugar over them and mix well. Leave them to macerate for 15 minutes (sugar will dissolve and draw the moisture out of the berries, making a sugary syrup that is so, SO yummy!). Stir occasionally during this time. Even taste them to make sure they’re sweet enough (and add more sugar if necessary)! Then cover and chill until assembly time.**

Make the whipped cream by combining the heavy cream with the confectioners’ sugar in a large bowl and beating with an electric mixer or whisk until slightly thickened. Add the vanilla and continue to beat until the mixture nearly forms stiff peaks. (Or use Cool Whip, which is what I did this time! …Like I said, I was CRAVING this stuff! 🙂 )

To assemble this deliciousness, slice a piece of the cake, scoop out a heaping spoonful of strawberries (and make sure you get lots of the syrup to cover that cake!), and then finish with a dollop of whipped cream (or Cool Whip)!

*Many strawberry shortcake recipes are made with biscuits instead of Angel Food cake (or pound cake, in some cases). I’ve tried many, many recipes, and Angel Food is my absolute favorite!! It is light and doesn’t overpower the taste of the strawberries and whipped cream. Plus, because it is spongy, the syrup from the macerated strawberries seeps into the cake and makes it even sweeter.

**A lot of strawberry shortcake recipes call for orange liqueur and orange zest here. It is good. But as I said, to me this dessert is all about the strawberries. Call me a purist, but I prefer it simple!

SOOO yummy! It’s a good thing we had an occasion to make it. Our small group came over tonight and we provided dinner and dessert. Otherwise, I seriously think I could eat all of it. And that would not be a good thing!

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