Strawberry

Why We're Adding Chocolate to Our Strawberry Shortcakes, Now & Forever

Chocolate-covered strawberries, meet strawberry shortcakes.

June 17, 2019
Photo by Rocky Luten

When I was growing up, there was no luxury greater than a package of Shari’s Berries, which arrived in the mail once or twice a year, a gift from one of my parents or their friends for a birthday or anniversary or Valentine’s. Underneath layers of packaging hid the strawberries themselves (this was before Shari’s Berries, which now owns the domain berries.com—what a world!—had expanded to sell cherries, truffles, cheesecakes, and cookies, among other treats).

They were the size of sugar plums, perfectly tear drop–shaped, and covered, stem to tip, in a shellac of tempered, elaborately decorated chocolate—almost like each one had gone for a gel manicure. The chocolate, sweet and milky, cracked sharply under the pressure of teeth, giving way to a chilled berry beneath. We’d keep them in our fridge for a week or so, admiring their beauty. Towards the end of their lifespan, I’d pick off the chocolate, its underside impressed with a pattern of strawberry seeds, and leave the now-soggy fruit behind for a less picky family member (surely a sin).

I haven’t had a Shari’s berry (which I will always pronounce “Shari’s barry”) in years, but the excitement of receiving those Fabergé-esque strawberries in the mail bestowed in me the belief that the combination of chocolate and strawberries is celebratory and romantic. So when I was brainstorming how on earth to mess with a perfect thing—the strawberry shortcake, where lightly sweet and rather plain biscuits serve as a flattering backdrop to bright red, syrupy berries—I immediately thought of adding chocolate. With rich biscuits that are chocolatey but not overwhelming, these feel fancier and more decadent than their classic counterparts.

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The shortcakes themselves are drop biscuits, inspired by these amazing ones from the brilliant Smitten Kitchen that have a crunchy raw sugar surface and an inside that’s fluffy and tender thanks to egg yolks, butter, and the leavening power of baking powder and baking soda. But here, unsweetened cocoa powder stands in for some of the flour and chunks of chocolate create pockets of melty sweetness.

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Top Comment:
“The bits of melty chocolate in the shortcake are like a mini lava cake explosion in every other bite. My strawberries were fresh picked end of season... So very dark, rich and juicy. I did skip the sugar in the berries though and used a pinch of stevia instead. I know, it doesn't give the syrupy consistency, but it was great. This got rave reviews and it'll be a go-to summer dessert in our home. Gorgeous!!!! Perfection.”
— JLAW
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The rest of the shortcake is classic: softly whipped cream (you can lean into the chocolate-strawberry pairing by adding cocoa powder to this, too) and macerated berries. You’ll want to use the ripest, most delicious berries you can find, but letting even blah fruit hang out in a little sugar will make it better. And if the idea of chocolate plus raspberries or cherries is more appealing to you, use those fruits instead (or go with a combination).

Of course, these biscuits are so good on their own—like oversized, just-sweet-enough chocolate scones—that you don’t need berries at all. Break one open and spread it with jam or dollop with crème fraîche. These days, that’s my kind of romance and luxury—and I don’t have to wait for the mail to come to have it.

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See what other Food52 readers are saying.

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Sarah Jampel

Written by: Sarah Jampel

A (former) student of English, a lover of raisins, a user of comma splices. My spirit animal is an eggplant. I'm probably the person who picked all of the cookie dough out of the cookie dough ice cream. For that, I'm sorry.

7 Comments

JLAW July 21, 2019
I made this exactly according to directions and it was perfection! The bits of melty chocolate in the shortcake are like a mini lava cake explosion in every other bite. My strawberries were fresh picked end of season... So very dark, rich and juicy. I did skip the sugar in the berries though and used a pinch of stevia instead. I know, it doesn't give the syrupy consistency, but it was great.
This got rave reviews and it'll be a go-to summer dessert in our home.
Gorgeous!!!! Perfection.
 
Paola H. July 18, 2019
My sister is coming to visit and I would love to make this for her. The thing is she has celiac disease. Would I be able to make this gluten free and if so what would be the best gluten free flour would I use and how much of that kind of flour would I use in comparison to the amount of regular flour?
 
noyb July 18, 2019
I haven't made these biscuits gf, but I have had luck with Bob's One-to-one blend. I actually prefer it over white flour for madeleines.
 
cine July 19, 2019
amazingly, i just sat down with a bite of hot cake in my mouth and read this. having been gluten free for 19 years i've tried a lot of flours. this cake i'm scarfing is an austrailian gluten free pear and rasperry cake (i had to sub wineberries because the raspberry patch is bare). the texture of the cake amazed me. it's the first time i used the Bob's Red Mill 1 to 1 ~ definitely looking forward trying it in more recipes.
 
Joe July 18, 2019
Dark chocolate? Milk chocolate? Does it matter?
 
renee June 23, 2019
OMG is this the BEST !! Thank you ~ Lunch and Dinner today :)
 
Eugenio July 18, 2019
Lucky you