These little strawberry shortcakes are lovely and festive. With their ruby red berries and fluffy clouds of whipped vanilla coconut cream, sandwiched between a sweet, crumbly biscuit made with earthy barley flour and coconut oil – eat them al fresco after a barbeque for a light and beautiful Summertime dessert.
IT'S OFFICIALLY DECEMBER AND THAT MEANS…SUMMER! Meaning holiday season for us here in Australia. Christmas is just around the corner, and I can not wait. I was planning upon posting twice this week (and from now on), but then a whole mess of things happened including… the birth of my newest baby brother (that's a 24 year age gap in case you were wondering!). His name is Hunter and he is just beautiful.
I was having a pretty crappy week / day and then I held him for the first time and everything else faded away. All of my problems no longer seemed like problems. What is it about new life and it's ability to make the importance of everything else pale in comparison? It's wonderful. And he is just in time for his first Christmas! It makes me all the more excited for all the Christmassy things.
We decorated our tree over the weekend – all sparkling, glimmering, snow-white baubles and twinkling lights (you can see a little snow-tipped branch (fake obviously – but still beautiful) sneaking into the background of the photo at the end of the post). It doesn't quite touch the roof but it takes up a great deal of space in our little apartment living room, as well it should. It's Christmas after all.
I've begun my Christmas time movie viewing as well – Elf has happened. Twice. And Die Hard, though I think we'll probably end up watching that again too. I'm thinking Home Alone tonight. My Christmas carols are probably driving the neighbours crazy but I don't even care. Because CHRISTMAS!
Next Monday we're heading to the Hunter Valley for our annual family Christmas trip – we taste our way through the wineries (tasting just a little too much), have an a+ dinner and then wander through the Hunter Valley Gardens Christmas lights display (my 5 year old little brother loves it) after which we pass out in a beautiful room overlooking the vineyards. We have brunch the next morning then make our way home again. It's the best tradition. Last year we went blueberry picking on the way home at a little organic orchard in the Hunter Valley (Misty Valley Farms), we picked a few kilos of berries and I kept a stash in my freezer all year long. I'm hoping this year we can pick a whole bunch of berries again, but sadly we'll have to wait a while longer, as they aren't open for the season just yet. For now though, there are strawberries! And shortcakes! With whipped coconut cream! (yes, all of those exclamation points are definitely necessary)!
Thinking about them is weirdly making me way too excited to cook a million other summery things. It's killing me that I feel as though I have no time to cook, because I have so many ideas to test and share. One day perhaps my job will be to create and test recipes. All day, everyday. That's the dream. Then all of these ideas won't have to bounce around forever in my head, just all cramped up there together with one another, creating a big jumbled mess of crap in my brain. One day my creativity will find it's place in the world and all of those ideas will be given their breath. For now though, they leak out where they can, creating a little room for movement up there in my cluttered brain. These shortcakes were one of those leaks. And i'm very happy they were because they were freaking delicious.
I ate three in the space of a day. No i'm not kidding. I ate one for breakfast and one for lunch, because I could and because there was nothing else in the house. Then, also because i could, I had one for dessert (their intended purpose) after a summery barbeque dinner outside on our verandah (the roof of which is now strung with twinkly fairy lights to match the tree inside). It was a perfect dessert to be honest. Light, fluffy, sweet and oh my god I need another one right now! Definitely going to have these on repeat this summer.
I've wanted to make shortcakes for so long, for some reason though this has been the first year I've ever made them. I've stared longingly at shortcake recipes in all kinds of cookbooks for years, earmarking them for a later time that never came. They looked glorious in all their vibrant red berry and airy whipped cream glory, and there's something so child-like about them, yet somehow they also feel a little 'fancy' and adulty. I don't know, but I definitely felt childishly giddy whilst eating them. Strawberries and cream and a sweet, fluffy, crumbly biscuit to sandwich them between? YES PLEASE.
They are the perfect segue into the summer season. They're relatively light (just filling enough for a summertime dessert), and they present beautifully. The fluffy peaks of the whipped coconut cream hide under a crackly-topped biscuit (made with coconut oil and sweet, earthy barley flour), whilst the ruby berries peak out from underneath their cloud of whipped cream, spilling over onto the plate, smudging it wonderfully red.
The rosemary is mixed with the berries, and adds a lovely earthy flavour that compliments the barley in the biscuits and balances out the sweet. The little specks of vanilla bean seeds in the whipped cream flavour it perfectly, and I honestly can't imagine strawberries without vanilla. They just pair so well together.
They come together quite easily – you can make the biscuits and whip the cream before dinner, then just toss all of the strawberry ingredients together about 15–20 minutes before you plan on serving them to give the flavours some time to get to know one another. Then serve outside in the sun after a summery dinner and enjoy your kind-of-childish-yet-adult-looking perfect dessert. And maybe another one for breakfast the next morning if you are at all like me i.e. a child at heart who is somehow considered an adult and is thus allowed to make these kinds of ridiculous decisions if it so pleases her (it does).
Happy 1st of December and Summertime (or Wintertime for you lucky (in my snow-loving opinion) white Christmas types)!
Barley, Rosemary Strawberry Shortcakes + Vanilla Bean Whipped Coconut Cream
Yield 9 shortcakes
vegan, dairy-free, egg-free, nut-free, soy-free
Biscuit recipe adapted from A Baking Girl.
These little strawberry shortcakes are lovely and festive. With their ruby red berries and fluffy clouds of whipped vanilla coconut cream, sandwiched between a sweet, crumbly biscuit made with earthy barley flour and coconut oil — eat them al fresco after a barbeque for a light and beautiful Summertime dessert.
- 1/2 c + 2 tbsp coconut yoghurt
- 1/2 c full-fat (canned) coconut milk
- 1 tbsp. apple cider vinegar
- 1 1/2 c white, all-purpose flour
- 1/2 c barley flour
- 3 tbsp. granulated raw sugar
- 1/4 tsp. baking soda
- 1 tbsp. (15ml) baking powder
- 1/4 tsp. fine sea salt
- 4 tbsp. solid, chilled coconut oil (chill in the freezer for 10 mins until solid)
- a little coconut milk mixed with a little maple syrup to brush
- a little extra raw sugar to sprinkle on the tops
- 500 g strawberries (2 punnets), tops trimmed, strawberries rinsed and sliced into thick slices (about 2 — 2 1/2 cups sliced)
- 2 sprigs rosemary, leaves finely chopped (about 3 tsp. once chopped)
- 2 tsp. raw granulated sugar (or a little more if your strawberries aren't very sweet — taste them to check)
- 1/2 tsp. vanilla extract
- zest of 1 small lemon
- good squeeze of fresh lemon juice
- 2 tins chilled coconut milk / cream (leave in the fridge overnight or longer if you can)
- about 4–6 tbsp of raw granulated sugar (add less to begin with then add more to taste towards the end of whipping)
- 1 –2 vanilla beans, seeds scraped (or 2 tsp. vanilla bean paste)
Make the biscuits
- Preheat the oven to 230 degrees celsius / 450 fahrenheit
- In a small bowl, whisk together the coconut yoghurt, coconut milk & apple cider vinegar, then set aside for a few minutes to 'activate'.
- In a large bowl, combine the white flour, barley flour, sugar, baking soda, baking powder, and salt. Remove the chilled & solidified coconut oil from the fridge / freezer and cut into chunks. Sprinkle over the flour mix and cut into the flour with a pastry blender, knife or your fingertips. Cut the coconut oil into the flour until there are mostly small pea-sized pieces of coconut oil left with a few larger bits visible.
- Add the yoghurt-milk mix and fold together until just combined, don't overwork the dough and don't let it warm up too much (keep that coconut oil chilled!).
- Turn the dough onto a floured surface and lightly pat it flat until about 1 1/2 cm thick. Fold the dough in half, then pat it out again. Continue the folding-patting until you have folded the dough 5 times, then pat it out until it's about 2 1/2 — 3 cm thick.
- Using a floured 5cm biscuit / scone cutter, cut out as many biscuits as you can. You can lightly pat any scraps together to make more biscuits, but try not to work the dough too much if you can, or they won't be super fluffy! You should be able to cut out about 9 biscuits.
- As you cut the biscuits, place them on a parchment lined baking tray, sitting them close together so that they rise up rather than out. Brush the tops with a little of the coconut milk-maple mixture and then sprinkle with your desired amount of raw sugar.
- Place in the oven and bake for 10–12 minutes until golden brown. Allow to cool completely on a wire rack before assembling the shortcakes. Best eaten within an hour or two of baking.
Mix the strawberries
- Mix together all of the ingredients under the 'strawberries' heading, and allow to sit for 10 — 20 minutes before assembling the shortcakes.
Whip the coconut cream
- Scoop the thick, creamy part off the top of the chilled coconut milk / cream tins (save the watery bit for smoothies etc.) and place in a large mixing bowl. Add 4 tbsp of the sugar and the vanilla bean seeds. Whisk together with a handheld electric whisk until the cream is fluffy and forms soft peaks. Taste the whipped cream now and add a little more sugar if desired until it is sweet enough for your liking. Continue to whip the cream a little longer until stiff peaks just begin to form.
- Use straight away or keep covered in the fridge until you are ready to serve (I actually think it tastes better after it's been chilled for an hour or so, the flavour of the vanilla really shines through if you let it chill out for a bit!) — give it a little whisk to fluff it back up before serving.
- Cut a biscuit in half and place the bottom piece on a plate, scatter over a handful of the strawberries and pile on a fluffy scoop of whipped coconut cream. Cover with the top half of the biscuit. Repeat with the other biscuits / berries / coconut cream & eat!
Feel free to halve the recipe if needed to make less shortcakes — though the biscuit recipe is much easier to work with when you have a larger amount, so make the whole batch of biscuits if you can (just halve the recipe for the strawberries & whipped cream), then serve some fresh as shortcakes and freeze the rest for later use if necessary.
Make sure to use a reliable brand of coconut milk / cream for the whipped cream for the best results. I use Nakula - their coconut cream makes the best whipped cream that I have found, it's always fluffy, creamy (not grainy) & has a light, sweet coconut flavour.