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Author Notes: I adapted this from Helen Corbitt's 1974 cookbook "Helen Corbitt Cooks for Company." She was the director of all the Neiman Marcus restaurants. I have fond memories of eating popovers with my grandmother at the Neiman Marcus cafe in Los Angeles, smiles on our faces, butter and honey dripping down my wrists.
A few technical warnings. Don't overmix the dough. And these are very easy to overcook. If you're eating them right away, you don't have to worry as much because slathered with butter and honey they are very forgiving. But if you're saving them for the evening's dessert, make sure you take them out of the oven when they're still quite moist.
Helen Corbitt suggests cutting all of the biscuits in half when they're still hot and spreading them with butter, letting them cool, and then topping them with cream and fruit. I say go for it!
I don't don't like my desserts very sweet but you can add as much sugar as you want to the berries and the whipped cream.
Get creative. You can add peeled and sliced peaches, plums, or pluots to the berries. Or use crème fraîche instead of whipped cream. You could even crumble the biscuit over a bowl of ice cream and berries.
Any leftover biscuits are wonderful toasted for breakfast. —Phyllis Grant
- 1 cup heavy whipping cream, plus 1 tablespoon for an egg wash
- 1/2 cup water, room temperature
- 1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, refrigerator cold
- 4 cups all-purpose flour
- 2 tablespoons baking powder
- 1/2 cup white sugar
- 1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
- 2 cups summer berries (any combination of blueberries, stemmed and sliced strawberries/fraises du bois, blackberries, mulberries, raspberries, loganberries, or whatever-is-in-your-neighbor’s-backyard berries)
- 1 tablespoon white sugar, plus 2 teaspoons for the whipped cream
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract, plus one teaspoon for the whipped cream
- 1/16 (pinch) teaspoons kosher salt
- 1 teaspoon lemon juice
- 1 egg (for the egg wash)
- 3 tablespoons turbinado sugar (or any coarse sugar), as a topping
- 3/4 cup heavy whipping cream (for whipped cream)
- Preheat oven to 425° F. If your oven tends to brown things easily from the top then you might want to turn the temperature down to 400°F.
- Prepare two sheet pans (approximately 12" x 18") by lining them with parchment or Silpats (not necessary if they are nonstick). Or use one large sheet pan.
- In a small bowl, whisk together cream and water. Set aside. Cut cold butter into approximately 1/2-inch by 1/2-inch cubes. Place in fridge until you need them.
- In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, sugar, and salt. Cut the butter in with two knives, a pastry cutter, or your fingers. I prefer to use my fingers because it’s very satisfying and easier to be more precise. Keep squeezing the flour and butter between your fingers as if you’re trying to snap. Wipe off any buildup on your fingers. This takes a few minutes. It’s done when it resembles coarse cornmeal with a scattering of pea-sized chunks of butter.
- Pour in cream and water mixture. Toss with your hands (messy) or a spoon (less messy but not as fun). I found it took about 12 to 15 tosses to incorporate the liquid. Don’t overmix. It will not come together into a shiny smooth dough. It will look dry in patches. That’s what you want. Scatter a bit of flour over your counter. Scoop biscuit dough on to the counter and press into 8-inch x 12-inch rectangle that’s 1 inch tall. Cut with a knife or pizza cutter into 8 equal rectangles (feel free to do 16 small ones instead; just know they will cook faster). Carefully slide them on to the sheet pans. Make sure to leave about 2 inches in between them because they expand a bit.
- For the egg wash, whisk together egg and heaven cream. Paint the tops of each biscuit with this mixture. Generously sprinkle turbinado sugar all over the egg washed tops (about 1 teaspoon per biscuit). Sometimes I add a lot because I'm craving that sugary crunch. Up to you. Place sheet pans into the preheated oven.
- You can swap the sheet pans halfway through for even cooking. Or you can cook the biscuits one sheet pan at a time. They cook very fast at this high temperature so stay close by. Check them after about 8 minutes, but the full cooking time will probably be between 10 and 12 minutes. They are done when the tops are caramel brown but the inside are still moist and just past doughy. Remove from the oven. They are a bit fragile so it’s fine to let them cool on the baking sheet. Sacrifice one of them by cutting it in half, slathering it with butter and honey, and shoving it into your mouth. Cool completely. Don’t assemble until you’re ready to eat dessert because the whipped cream and fruit will makes the biscuits soggy if they sit.
- About 30 minutes before you’re going to eat dessert, place berries in a bowl and toss with sugar, vanilla extract, salt, and lemon juice. Mush a bit with the back of the spoon. The juices will start to release. Set aside. Stir once or twice over the next 30 minutes.
- When you’re ready for dessert, in a large mixing bowl, combine heavy cream, vanilla, and sugar. I whip the cream by hand because you have more control and, as I tell my daughter, every time you whisk your arm muscles get stronger. Whisk vigorously until it starts to thicken, using large circular scooping motions to incorporate air. Be careful. It can flip into butter in a flash. I whisk until it’s the thickness of a pourable milkshake. I like it loose but it’s up to you.
- Using a serrated knife, carefully cut the biscuits in half (like you would a sandwich roll). One might fall apart. Don’t stress. You can artfully stack the pieces back together. Place a heaping spoonful of whipped cream on each bottom half. Top with a generous spoonful of the macerated berries. Drizzle over a bit of the extra berry juice. Place the crunchy sugary hats back on. Eat right away. Serve with extra berries and cream on the side.
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