Why have one layer when you could have three? Asking the right questions over here. # 125: Strawberry Shortbread Stack
Welcome to berry season, friends! The farmers market was full of blueberries and strawberries tumbling out of their containers. Sadly, no cherries in sight – apparently there’s going to be a pretty low turnout for cherry harvests on the West Coast. Fingers crossed I can still snag some when mid-May rolls around. Cherry hand pies with cinnamon shortcrust are a May necessity.
The frilly layers are vanilla and chocolate mascarpone whipped cream, sandwiched between a buttery shortbread. I’ve been dreaming of making classic strawberry shortcake for a few weeks, but I also wanted to make a shortbread version of the letter cakes. My indecision resulted in this gravity-defying tower and I’m not complaining.
Mascarpone cheese and strawberries are truly the perfect match. My favorite berry tart of all time uses the combo, plus pistachios for a little salty crunch. Mascarpone is Italian cream cheese, and it has a mellower, sweeter flavor than the classic American version.
Shortbread is both easy and finicky at the same time. Easy due to the simple ingredient list, but finicky in texture. I used a 4-2-1 ratio (4 cups flour, 2 cups butter, 1 cup sugar – plus whatever flavoring tickles your fancy) and it turned out marvelously.
I cut the butter in with the pastry cutter and then switched to my hands for the last few kneads.
You just have to trust that it’ll magically go from crumbs to a solid baked good after you bake it.
Try to compact down all the crumbs into a smooth surface. You’re then supposed to poke air holes in with a fork, but mine was so crumbly it wouldn’t cooperate. So try it a few times, and if you’re only coming away with crumbs, feel free to skip that step! Mine turned out fine without it.
Make sure to cut it into the shapes you want before it cools so you can get clean lines!
The filling pre-mascarpone and post-mascarpone. BOOM, structural integrity. The chocolate version just has an 1/8 cup of cocoa in place of the same amount of powdered sugar. Voila!
- 5/8 cup heavy whipping cream
- 1 tsp vanilla
- 1/8 cup cocoa
- 1/4 cup powdered sugar
- 4oz mascarpone
Repeat these ingredients without the cocoa and with 1/8 cup extra powdered sugar and you’ll have two fabulous flavors of pipe-able fillings.
It looks like a giant tic-tac-toe game. Except yummier!
If you squiggle your hand back and forth while piping, you get the frilly look!
Due to the density of the shortbread, I added an extra layer of mascarpone cream to the first layer to give it more of a boost.
Reach for the sky!