Recipe: Basil-Macerated Chocolate Strawberry Shortcake

May ushers in the strawberry harvest in southern Ohio, begging you to hand-pluck those tangy red berries straight from the patch. Bill Sands—creator of the locally sourced jams and jellies from Marble Hill Provisions and Fox 19’s resident on-air chef—kept this in mind while whipping up his take on a classic sweet treat. “I’ve always been a big strawberry shortcake fan, and chocolate and strawberry go really well together,” says Sands. But it’s his love of basil that adds “just a bit of a twist.” Better get to picking.

Basil-Macerated Chocolate Strawberry Shortcake
(Makes 9 Servings)

For the Shortcake Biscuits
10 ounces (about 2 ¼ cups) all-purpose flour
1 ½ ounces (about ¼ cup plus 3 Tablespoons) Dutch-processed cocoa powder
¼ cup granulated sugar (Plus 3 Tablespoons for sprinkling)
1 ½ Tablespoons baking powder
¾ teaspoon table salt
4 ½ ounces (9 Tablespoons) cold unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
6 ½ ounces semisweet chocolate, grated or finely chopped; more for garnish
1 ¼ cups heavy cream (Plus 3 Tablespoons for brushing)
1 ½ teaspoons pure vanilla extract

1. Sift the flour, cocoa powder, sugar, baking powder, and salt into a large bowl. Toss with a fork to combine. Cut the butter into the dry ingredients. Add grated chocolate and toss to combine. Combine the cream and vanilla in a liquid measuring cup and pour into dry mixture. Mix with a fork until dough is evenly moistened. Gently knead by hand to pick up any remaining dry ingredients. Place dough onto a lightly floured work surface and pat it into an 8-inch square (¾ to 1 inch thick). Transfer dough onto a parchment-lined baking sheet, cover with plastic wrap, and chill for 20 minutes. Heat the oven to 425°F.

2. Remove dough from the refrigerator and trim sides to make clean edges. Cut dough into nine even squares and place them 2 inches apart on a baking sheet. With a pastry brush, coat each with a thin layer of cream and sprinkle generously with sugar. Bake 18 to 20 minutes.

For the Basil Cream
½ cup fresh basil leaves
1 cup light corn syrup
1 ½ cups heavy cream
2 Tablespoons confectioners sugar

3. Puree basil and corn syrup in a blender. Let stand for 30 minutes. Strain the syrup through a fine sieve, discarding solids. Whip the cream and confectioners sugar together until thickened, then add in basil syrup and whip until soft peaks form.

For the Basil-Macerated Strawberries
½ ounce of fresh basil
2 pints of strawberries hulled and sliced lengthwise
3 Tablespoons of sugar

4. Bruise basil leaves with a knife or twist them with your hands. Toss with strawberries and sugar and let stand for 20 minutes. Remove and discard basil.

5. To serve, split the shortcake biscuits in half and place bottoms on plates. Top with strawberries and basil cream. Cover with the remaining halves and top with a small dollop of cream and strawberries.

Tip: The shortcakes can last a few days, so save some time and make them ahead. Store them in an airtight container to preserve freshness.

Originally published in the May 2014 issue.

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