Strawberry Shortcake with Ginger Scones and Whipped Coconut Cream
As I kid I had a huge sweet tooth. (Who am I kidding? I still do…) But back then I could have happily lived on sweets, although I imagine a lot of kids feel that way. For some reason, though, I was never a huge fan of strawberry shortcake. I think it was partly because everyone used to use those little sponge cakes you can buy in the produce section, usually right by the strawberries. Who knows how long those things have been sitting there, or even worse, how long they could sit there. Come to think of it, they are sort of Twinkie-like. Add some berries that aren’t quite ripe and canned whipped cream, and you have a pretty lame dessert.
The beauty of a good strawberry shortcake is obviously in the berries. They should be perfectly ripe and sweet. The “cake” part is also important, because if you use a super moist cake, it’s just going to disintegrate under the berry juice, and no one likes wet cake. Biscuits work because they can stand up to the berries, and they’re also not super sweet. But of course, in my mind, biscuits can do no wrong and are always the answer!
I had some amazing strawberries from the famers’ market, and I also happened to have some ginger scones on hand (my favorite). I prefer my scones to be more biscuit-like than bread-y, so that’s how I make ‘em. I thought they’d be the perfect match for the strawberries. I’ve seen recipes for vegan whipped cream using coconut milk and have wanted to try my hand at it for a while now. I wish I’d done it sooner – it’s so easy and incredibly tasty. It was pretty amazing to me that the thick coconut cream whipped just like dairy cream, and was just as rich. Plus it has the added bonus of coconut flavor!
I’m much pickier about desserts now than I ever used to be. I’ll try just about anything sweet (vegan, of course), but it won’t get a second bite if it’s not worth the calories. I have no idea how many calories are in this shortcake, but I can tell you that every last one is worth it!
Balsamic Marinated Strawberries
1 1/2 pints fresh strawberries, hulled and quartered
1 tablespoon good-quality balsamic vinegar
1 teaspoon brown sugar (or more to taste, depending on how sweet your berries are)
Combine the strawberries with the balsamic vinegar and brown sugar in a large bowl. Let marinate for at least 15 minutes.
1 can coconut milk (full fat)
pinch gray salt (or other sea salt)
1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 teaspoon agave nectar
Refrigerate the unopened can of coconut milk for at least 2 hours, or overnight. Open the can, and spoon the thick cream on top into a small bowl. You should have about 1/4 -1/3 cup of cream. Add the salt, vanilla and agave nectar, and whisk to combine. Whip the coconut milk like you would heavy cream, adding some of thinner coconut milk from the can if if gets too thick.
Notes: To serve these, just slice the scones in half, and spoon some berries over the bottom half. Top them with the coconut cream and the the other half of the scone. Alternatively, you can make a thinner coconut cream by adding more liquid from the can and then serve it over the berries like poured cream.