Honey and Balsamic Strawberry Shortcake with Basil Whipped Cream

30 minutes

medium

8

Strawberry shortcake is arguably the darling of summer desserts.

How nostalgic does strawberry shortcake make you feel? For me, strawberry shortcake used to mean those spongey “cakes” that came in a six-pack topped with a couple of strawberry slices and a thud of cool whip. That’s no longer what strawberry shortcake represents in my world.

Real strawberry shortcake is meant to be served on biscuits, and for good reason!

 

Fork takes a bite out of strawberry shortcake garnished with fresh basil leaves

 

Cream biscuits are a breeze to make. They’re quick, easy, and take only a few minutes to prepare. Heavy cream takes the place of butter, so your mixing and kneading time is cut in half. These biscuits are delicate, lighter than buttermilk biscuits, and, if you’re using self-rising flour, only require three ingredients. If you don’t have self-rising flour, don’t fret. There’s an easy substitution included in the recipe notes.

 

Golden brown cream biscuits just pulled from the oven cool on a rack

Enhancing your strawberries

Strawberries and balsamic vinegar are an unassuming pair. Often seen in the likes of salads and bowls, balsamic vinegar can really elevate these berries in a sweet dish, as well. After all, it’s aged in casks in Italy (if you’re using real balsamic) and only gets better as the barrels grow in years. The balsamic becomes thicker, richer, and more velvety.

 

When balsamic is paired with honey, these two are a duo to be reckoned with. Deep richness brought on by their respective amber hues only seems to complement each other, while the balsamic delivers a much-needed acidity to balance out honey’s rich sweetness. Of course, we’ll need the work of a touch of vanilla extract to smooth it out.

 

Sliced strawberries are tossed in honey and balsamic vinegar before being served over biscuits

Balance with Basil

So far, almost every component of this dessert is rich and dense. This, of course, is why we top off so many dishes with freshly whipped cream. However, strawberries macerated in honey and balsamic deserve something a little more… elevated (that is the theme of the riff on this classic).

 

Enter, basil. Why? Because basil is so fragrant and floral. Basil is bright and has a bit of a bite, but more of a mint-like essence that brightens up a dish.

 

Using a three-ingredient recipe for basil simple syrup, heavy cream is transformed into a sublime dessert topping. Substituting this botanical syrup for traditionally-used confectioners sugar is as simple as it sounds.

 

A fork dives into a freshly assembled strawberry shortcake with honey and balsamic macerater strawberries

Choosing your ingredients

I’ve spewed off a list of some fairly broad ingredients, like honey and balsamic vinegar. But choosing the right variations of each addition is important.

  • Skip raw honey. There’s a reason that raw honey is more expensive; it contains the enzymes otherwise lost when brought above a certain temperature. It’s also more expensive, so don’t waste your money cooking honey that’s meant to stay below 80 degrees.
 
  • Choose a lighter honey for a lighter taste. Darker amber hues of honey are going to deliver a deeper and richer flavor.
 
  • Look for balsamic vinegar of Modena. This is the classic region for growing grapes that will soon become balsamic. You can check for the ‘Protected Geographical Indication’ label that ensures food products at least grown or produced in a stated area or region.
 
  • Use real vanilla extract, not imitation! This is just good kitchen etiquette.
 
  • Look for a local, organic heavy cream—the taste is incomparable to grocery brands!
 
  • Shop for the sweet basil varieties. These leaves are softer, rounder, and provide a sweet and lighter flavor than other variations of basil.

 

Honey stirrer rests upon a honey pot as a drip of sweetness drizzles down the side of the jar.

Make it easier by making ahead

Half of this recipe can be easily made ahead for quick assembly. When making the biscuits ahead of time, consider:

  • Chilling the dough in the fridge for up to 48 hours to retain quality
  • Making the biscuits up to two days ahead; store in an air-tight container at room temperature
  • Freezing the biscuits and let thaw, covered, at room temperature when you’re ready to make shortcake
 

Other make-ahead options include:

  • Preparing the simple syrup and storing in the refrigerator for up to three days before use
  • Whipping the cream and simple syrup the morning before (or up to 12 hours)
 

‘Wow’ your guests or host with this sophisticated spin on a summer favorite. Ready to get baking? Grab the recipe below!

Print

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Cream biscuits filled with strawberries and whipped cream

Honey-Balsamic Strawberry Shortcake on Cream Biscuits

  • Author: Nancy
  • Prep Time: 30 minutes
  • Cook Time: 15 minutes
  • Total Time: 45 minutes
  • Yield: 8 servings 1x
  • Category: Dessert
  • Method: Bake

Description

Take your strawberry shortcake to the next level with honey-balsamic macerated strawberries and whipped cream sweetened with basil simple syrup.


Ingredients

Scale

For the Basil Whipped Cream:

1 cup heavy cream

1/4 cup basil leaves

1/4 cup sugar

For the Strawberries:

1/2 cup balsamic vinegar

1/4 cup honey

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

2 pounds fresh strawberries, halved

For the Cream Biscuits:

2 cups self-rising flour

1 tablespoon sugar

1 1/2 cups heavy whipping cream


Instructions

  1. Make ahead the basil simple syrup, allowing it to cool before combining with whipped cream
  2. Bring 1/4 cup water to a simmer in a small saucepan
  3. Add the sugar and stir until it dissolves
  4. Remove from heat and add the basil leaves, cover, and let sit
  5. Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 475 degrees and prepare the biscuits
  6. Mix together the flour, sugar, and cream in a medium mixing bowl until it becomes one solid form
  7. On a lightly floured surface, begin kneading the dough while continuing to fold it in half and knead it back out. Repeat 5 times. Roll out dough to accommodate 8 biscuits (about 1/2 inch thick).
  8. Using the lid of a wide-mouth mason jar or biscuit cutter, cut out biscuits and place on a degreased or parchment-lined sheet pan
  9. Bake for 10-12 minutes
  10. While the biscuits bake, prepare the strawberries
  11. In a small saucepan, mix together the balsamic vinegar and honey
  12. Cook over medium heat, stirring constantly, for 5 minutes, until the mixture has slightly thickened
  13. Remove from heat and add the vanilla
  14. Drizzle over the halved strawberries and let cool
  15. Once golden brown, remove the biscuits from the oven and place on a cooling rack
  16. Strain the basil leaves from the simple syrup and chill in the fridge
  17. Begin preparing the whipped cream; in a medium bowl, begin whipping heavy cream using the whisk attachment on a handheld mixer, immersion blender, or Kitchen Aid mixer
  18. As soft peaks begin to form, slowly add the basil simple syrup
  19. Continue to whip the cream until the peaks hold their form
  20. Assemble the shortcakes by spooning the strawberry maceration over the bottom half of a biscuit and topping with basil whipped cream


Notes

Substitute self-rising flour using 2 cups all-purpose flour, 3 tsp baking powder, and 1/2 tsp salt. Sift well.

You can make the biscuits, simple syrup, and whipped cream ahead of time for easy assembly. Strawberries are best served fresh or within 4 hours (keep refrigerated)

Keywords: strawberry, shortcake, strawberry shortcake, basil, honey balsamic, biscuits

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