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Recipe of the Week: How sweet it is during strawberry season


There are no better strawberries than those we get locally during their brief season, and no better time to enjoy them than Memorial Day weekend.

When we enjoy picnics during the first of the three summer holidays, we need a good array of desserts, and strawberries are a good place to start when planning what sweet treats you want to serve.

Strawberries are ready when they are fully ripe, and that timing varies from farm to farm. It’s best to call ahead before making a trip to make sure your favorite farm has them available, especially this early in the season.

Trauger’s Farm Market in Kintnersville has had strawberries for the past few weeks and has been bringing them to the Doylestown Farmers Market. They also can be found at other farms and farmers markets including Hellerick’s Family Farm outside Doylestown, None Such Farm in Buckingham, Wildemore Farm in Chalfont, Solly Brothers Farm in Warminster, Shady Brook Farm outside Newtown and Terhune Orchards outside Princeton, N.J.

When thinking about strawberry desserts, shortcake is always a favorite. It is easy to make, whether you use a baking mix such as Bisquick, or make yours from scratch. Sometimes I bake a pound cake and use slices in place of shortcake; it doesn’t matter, just about any sweet cake will taste good with local strawberries.

This recipe from offers a different twist by adding chocolate and cocoa to the cake batter:

Chocolate Strawberry Shortcakes

For the shortcakes:

1 cup all-purpose flour, plus more for dusting

1/3 cup granulated sugar

2 tablespoons Dutch-process cocoa powder

¾ teaspoon baking powder

¼ teaspoon salt

4 tablespoons cold unsalted butter, cut into pieces

3 ounces milk chocolate, roughly chopped

2 large eggs

¼ cup heavy cream

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Raw or turbinado sugar, for sprinkling

For the toppings:

1 quart strawberries, hulled and halved or quartered if large (about 3 cups)

¼ cup granulated sugar

1 cup heavy cream

Position a rack in the middle of the oven; preheat to 400 degrees. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Make the shortcakes: Whisk the flour, granulated sugar, cocoa powder, baking powder and salt in a large bowl. Using your fingers, rub the butter into the flour mixture until sandy. Add the chocolate. Whisk 1 egg, the cream and vanilla in a glass measuring cup; stir into the flour mixture with a fork to make a shaggy dough (there will be some dry bits). Turn out onto a lightly floured surface; pat flat until 1 ½ inches thick. Cut into 6 rounds with a knife or cookie cutter, using the scraps for the last cake.

Place the rounds on the baking sheet; freeze for 20 minutes. Beat the remaining egg; brush onto the cakes and sprinkle with raw sugar. Bake until firm, about 20 minutes. Transfer to a rack to cool.

Meanwhile, make the toppings: Toss half of the strawberries with half of the sugar in a bowl; set aside. Place the other half of each in a saucepan; cook over medium-low heat, mashing with a fork to make a thick puree, about 10 minutes. Cool completely. Whip the cream with a mixer until medium peaks form; swirl in the strawberry puree.

Split the shortcakes in half. Layer some of the strawberry cream and reserved fruit on the bottoms; cover with the shortcake tops. Finish with more strawberry cream and the remaining berries.