Sarah's Strawberry Shortcake, the Power of Nostalgia, & Being Too Competitive

If you are Sarah's mom or grandmother, please do not read this post any further. Thank you, Grammie, Grammie and Kim Nichols.  My lovely friend Sarah, born on the 4th of July and one of the best Americans I know, was telling me about her birthday traditions on a recent visit. This is one of my all time favorite subjects, I put a lot of stock in birthdays and recurring meals within a family. There's nothing quite like having a "favorite" to share with loved ones. Sarah casually mentioned Strawberry Shortcake was her birthday dessert of choice.  This admission made me perhaps overly excited, I had to stop all other conversations going on at the table, say a few times "how perfect!" and really dive into this subject. Why are they her favorite? Who made them for her? Was it shortcake on a biscuit or the (ugh) cake kind? (It was a biscuit). After much interrogation I asked her if she would let me make her MY strawberry shortcake. Of course, she agreed, only a psychopath wouldn't. But what she didn't realize is that I rather selfishly wanted to make the best strawberry shortcake she's ever had. And even more selfishly, I wanted her to tell me they were the best she'd ever had.  Because if I can do anything well, it's this, and I am often competitive in unnecessary ways that can be socially awkward. Luckily, good friends are more forgiving of your weird personality traits when you are cooking for them so it was a wash. Plus, this was the end result and it was pretty incredible:

Berry Shortcake
Berry Shortcake

(Editor's note: Sarah and I had been having delicious eats and drinks before these photos were taken, this was a late night photo session captured with an iphone.  Forgive low quality photos please)

Are you curious what the outcome was? If this was indeed the best Strawberry Shortcake she had EVER had? Well... it was!  I won! No one really cared about this except me, and Sarah bestowed me this honor with her mouth completely full and rather distracted with the contents on her plate.

So here's my secret. I used Robinhood Meetinghouse Cream Cheese Biscuits and made Creme Anglaise earlier in the day, I had it chilled and waiting. I LOVE Anglaise. I have made shortcakes with it before, like this one, and I could just drink it.  It is beyond wonderful. And terrible for you, but really, who cares when you have the chance to be the best!

Ingredients:

  • 6 Robinhood Meetinghouse Cream Cheese Biscuits
  • 1 qt Strawberries
  • 1/2 pint blueberries
  • 4 tablespoons of sugar
  • 1 pt whipping cream
  • 1 tsp of Vanilla extract

Anglaise Ingredients

  • Half & Half                            1 pint
  • Sugar                                   ½ cup
  • Egg Yolks                            4 yolks
  • Vanilla                                   1 tsp    (I used Whole Vanilla Bean Paste from Tahitian Vanilla)
  1. Separate egg yolks from whites, place in bowl with vanilla.
  2. Bring half & half and all the sugar to a boil in the pot.
  3. Slowly pour hot liquid onto yolks while whisking, slowly bringing it to the temperature of half and half. Try to minimize the bubbles.
  4. Pour entire contents of bowl back onto the pot.
  5. Place on the stove and heat while stirring until the mixture thickens slightly. Be careful not to overcook / curdle, do not leave unattended.  (If you have a candy thermometer 170 -180 degrees F).
  6. Remove from heat and set aside. (Mine has lots of bubbles - they went away after cooling in the fridge for a few hours).
Creme Anglaise
Creme Anglaise

 

  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Place frozen Robinhood Meetinghouse Cream Cheese Biscuits on a baking sheet and bake until golden brown, about 25 minutes. Let cool.
  1. Whip cream with sugar and vanilla to soft peaks.
  2. Split biscuits and top with some of the strawberry juices. Coat blueberries and strawberries with Anglaise and pile onto biscuits. Add a dollop of whipped cream and serve.
She loves it!
She loves it!

Also, let it be stated that this ultra competitive personality trait can be traced directly back to my father, Michael Gagne. As well as the ability to make Anglaise. Thanks Dad! Happy early Father's Day!

- The Biscuit Girl