This Isn’t Strawberry Shortcake as You Know It

This might be a controversial position in the world of desserts, but I think berries and whipped cream go better with a nice, crisp cookie than with the soft biscuits of a classic New England strawberry shortcake.

I adore biscuits, but, to my mind, they’re bread, not cake, and best eaten for breakfast, not dessert.

Cookies are decidedly sweet, and crunchy, offering textural contrast to all that syrupy fruit and fluffy cream. They are also more convenient. You can make the cookies a few days in advance while biscuits need to be eaten within a few hours of baking.

To make these cookies extra crisp, I added a little more sugar than I usually would for shortbread. I also used cultured butter to make them especially rich. But regular butter works perfectly well, so use what you have. You could even use salted butter. Just reduce the salt to 1/4 teaspoon.

A word of warning, though: The dough is very sticky. The easiest way to deal with it is to squish the dough into a log (or two), wrap it in plastic, then chill, slice and bake.

I like to bake them until they have a deep brown ring at the circumference and are slightly caramelized in flavor. My husband likes them baked until the tops are barely pale gold and the flavor is more vanilla-focused. Pulling one cookie sheet out of the oven sooner than the other means we are both happy. Do whatever works in your household.

Because the cookies are on the sweeter side, you won’t need much sugar for the berries. If you’re lucky enough to get strawberries so ripe they leak scarlet juice when you cut them, sprinkle them with just a bit of sugar, as if you were seasoning them with salt. Berries that are less ripe might need a little more, but use just enough to bring out their juiciness.

Then set out the whipped cream, strawberries and cookies in separate serving dishes and let everyone combine them individually in bowls, adding cream or berries to taste.

I like to use the cookies instead of a spoon, scooping up berries and cream and nibbling as I go. Just try that with a biscuit.

Recipe: Strawberry Shortbread and Cream

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