People seem to think that cheesecake is the only dessert for Shavuot. And there are so many different variations of cheesecake that there isn’t even enough holiday to eat them all. (It almost seems like a good reason to make Shavuot eight days!) Even I tend to think of Shavuot as the “cheesecake holiday.” So how did that happen? How did cheesecake become synonymous with Shavuot? If I can hazard a guess, I would say it’s because most of our holidays are centered around meat meals, and Shavuot is pretty much the only time we are supposed to make a festive dairy meal (for many, many reasons, as my research revealed). Most desserts can be made parve, but cheesecake? There is just no substitute. (Do not talk to me about parve cheesecake, because I just don’t get the point.)
That being said, since it is a given that we are all going to make or buy a cheesecake (or have a good friend make one for us, ahem), I thought it would be a good time to talk about other dairy desserts that get overlooked. Shavuot is the perfect time to use real butter, cream and milk chocolate. So I think it’s time to make strawberry shortcake. And drizzle it with milk chocolate. (My son said the chocolate didn’t belong on the strawberry shortcake, so I couldn’t do it, but feel free to go ahead!)
So what exactly is strawberry shortcake? Traditionally, it’s a biscuit-like cake, split in half and filled with macerated strawberries and whipped cream. Sounds good. Actually, it sounds amazing. Over the years, I think any kind of cake layered with a mixture of strawberries and whipped cream became known as a strawberry shortcake. You can make it as rustic or as fancy as you like, with homemade cake, angel food cake, pound cake, a store-bought one, or skip the cake altogether and just enjoy the strawberries and cream. Either way it’s a great end to a meal, and fulfills the dairy element in a dessert for Shavuot.
Go ahead and try this simple dessert. I added some orange liqueur to my macerated strawberries to up the umph factor, and I think you will agree it adds some sophistication to this homey dessert. Enjoy!
(Of course, I am still going to make a cheesecake for the holiday, because, well, cheesecake!)
Strawberry Shortcake Scented with Orange Liqueur
- 1 ¼ cups all-purpose flour
- 2 tablespoons sugar
- ½ teaspoon salt
- 1 tablespoon baking powder
- ½ cup butter (1 stick), cold and diced
- 2/3 cup heavy cream
- 1 egg, lightly beaten
- 2 cups diced strawberries
- 2 tablespoons sugar
- 2 tablespoons orange liqueur (I used Sabra)
- Zest of ½ an orange
- 2 cups heavy cream
- 2 tablespoons confectioner’s sugar
- 1 teaspoon vanilla
To make the biscuits:
Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Whisk together the flour, sugar, salt and baking powder. Combine the butter to the flour mixture by rubbing it together with your fingers, until combined. (Don’t over blend, mixture should be lumpy). Add 2/3 cup heavy cream and egg, and stir together to combine. Divide the mixture into 6 mounds on a parchment-covered baking sheet. Bake in the middle shelf of the oven for about 12 minutes, or until the biscuits are puffed and golden. Gently place the biscuits on a cooling rack.
In another bowl, combine the diced strawberries, sugar, liqueur and orange zest, and allow to rest while the biscuits are cooking and cooling. After the biscuits have cooled, whip 2 cups heavy cream until it can hold a peak and mix in the confectioner’s sugar and vanilla. Combine half the whipped cream with the strawberries.
To assemble: Carefully cut the biscuit in half, and spoon a generous amount of strawberries and cream onto the bottom half. Cover with the top of the biscuit, and put a dollop of the plain whipped cream on top. Garnish with a strawberry. Feel free to drizzle with chocolate, if desired. Repeat with remaining biscuits.
By Rachel Berger