Dessert,  Valentine's Day

Indulge me… Chocolate Strawberry Shortcake with Chocolate Brandy Sauce

Indulge; to give free rein, to take unrestrained pleasure in, to yield to the desire….

I like to eat healthy.  I like to work out.  I like to feel good about myself, take care of myself and enjoy moments of pleasure and romance in life.

And, I really don’t think there should be just one special day to devote to romance and love.

But then again, to indulge in food every single day would not do my figure good!  So I do take advantage of this upcoming Valentine’s Day to splurge a bit more in chocolate sweets and creamy dreamy desserts.  The hardest part is deciding which one to choose!!

Florida grown strawberries are hitting the market lately totally pleasing my love for chocolate and strawberries.  I’ve made this chocolate strawberry shortcake for many, many years first baking it for a summer dinner in 1996!  (I really do jot down dates and notes on my recipes!!)

The shortcake is not as light as a traditional shortcake having chunks of chocolate throughout.  I’ve made it as one large shortcake split in half for an awesome presentation and smaller sizes for individual treats.  Of course, Valentine’s Day deserves the heart.

This dessert can be made in steps ahead; the chocolate sauce with brandy can be prepared up to two days ahead although I’ve had it in my frig up to a week dipping strawberries in it.  Oh, and don’t leave out the brandy, it definitely makes the sauce!!   The whipped cream and shortcake can be made earlier in the day or even the day before and the strawberries a few hours ahead as well.  Assembly is quick and easy right before serving.

Chocolate Strawberry Shortcake with Chocolate Brandy Sauce

Adapted by Epicurious, 1996

For the Sauce:

2/3 cup whipping cream

2 tablespoons brown sugar

6 ounces semisweet chocolate, chopped

1 tablespoon brandy

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

For the Shortcake:

2 cups white/wheat flour or unbleached all-purpose flour

5 tablespoons raw sugar  – divided (3 tb in the batter and 2 tb for sprinkling on top)

1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/2 cup (1 stick) chilled unsalted butter, cut into small pieces

3 ounces semisweet chocolate, chopped

2/3 cup plus 2 tablespoons buttermilk

For the Filling:

2 pounds strawberries

1 tablespoon of agave or 2-3  tablespoons sugar  (depending on the sweetness of  the strawberries)

1 tablespoon Chambord liquor

1 1/3 cups whipping cream, chilled

1 tablespoon sugar

1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

For the Sauce:
Combine cream and sugar in heavy small saucepan. Stir over medium-high heat until mixture comes to boil. Remove from heat. Add chocolate and stir until chocolate melts and sauce is smooth. Mix in brandy and vanilla. (Can be prepared 2 days ahead. Cover and chill.)

For the Shortcake:
Preheat oven to 375 degrees.    Spray or butter individual heart molds or a 9-inch cake pan, dust with flour.   Combine the flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda and salt in large bowl; whisk to blend. Add butter and rub in with fingertips until mixture resembles coarse meal. Add chopped chocolate. Gradually add 2/3 cup buttermilk, stirring with fork until dough forms.

Transfer dough to pan; press gently to level top. Brush dough with 2 tablespoons buttermilk and sprinkle with 2 tablespoons sugar. Bake shortcakes until cooked through and golden on top, about 20-25 minutes. Cool shortcakes in pan on rack.

For the Filling:
Slice berries into large bowl, save a few whole for garnish.   Add agave or sugar and Chambord.  Toss to coat; let stand until berries begin to release juices, at least 30 minutes. Combine whipping cream, vanilla and sugar in medium bowl. Whip to soft peaks. Cover and chill cream until ready to serve.

If necessary, rewarm sauce over low heat, stirring often.  Remove shortcakes from pans and slice in half horizontally.  Plate the bottom half and spoon sliced berries with their juices over. Drizzle with some chocolate sauce. Spoon on whipped cream; cover with top shortcake and drop on more whipped cream, drizzle with more chocolate and garnish with a few strawberries.  Serve at once.

February is #chocolatelove month! Please join in on the #chocolatelove fun by linking up any chocolate recipe from the month of Februrary 2012. Don’t forget to link back to this post, so that your readers know to come stop by the #chocolatelove event! The twitter hashtag is #chocolatelove :).

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I love being in the kitchen. Early mornings, soft music, a hot espresso. Easing into the preparation of delicious meals. Glancing through cookbooks, gathering inspiration and planning my day. I look forward to the cycles of the seasons, the pleasures of tasting and savoring and sharing this with those dear to me. Weekends are special to me as my week days are often rushed, but still I create the ambiance, light the candles, set the table and uncork the wine.


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