My mom is an absolute goddess of the kitchen, and taught me from an early age that butter and margarine are NOT the same thing, and if you don’t agree, you’ve either a) got a brain tumor that prohibits your taste buds from functioning properly or b) you eat way too many commercial, prepackaged imitations of good food. Take it as an insult. Take it to heart. Learn to love and appreciate butter for all of it’s magical qualities that are simply impossible to imitate.
The butter is what makes this entire dessert so perfect – don’t waste the rest of your ingredients by throwing in any form of imitation, it isn’t worth it. Butter is just another incarnation of cream, and the combination of the shortbread (instead of shortcake) with cold, fresh whipped cream (with just a tiny bit of sugar and vanilla – no chemically ready-whip aftertaste) really ties it together.
Anyway, I was feeling grumpy the other day and some good old strawberry shortcake sounded like the perfect pick-me-up. I had an ADD moment, mixed up the words shortcake and shortbread when I was looking at recipes, and it was one of those serendipity mistakes that made things turn out better than originally planned.
Scottish Style Strawberry Shortbread Recipe
(For two, with enough left over for a midnight snack…)
Take a pound of strawberries, rinse them off and chop off the tops, then slice them up to whatever size you want them to be. Throw them into a small tupperware container with about two tablespoons of white sugar and put the lid on – stash it on top of your fridge until you’re done with everything else.
***Throw a medium sized metal bowl into the freezer now so that you can make whipped cream later***
1 Cup butter (softened)
1/2 Cup Brown Sugar (packed)
2 1/4 Cups flour (whatever you prefer, I use unbleached white flour)
Preheat your oven to about 325 and cream the sugar and butter together thoroughly (if your brown sugar hardened in the bag, either throw a few damp paper towels in the bag overnight, or put it in a bowl with a few damp paper towels, cover it and microwave it for 30 seconds and then in 10 second intervals if it’s still too hard to break it up…) once the butter and sugar is thoroughly mixed, throw in the flour and mix it by hand for about 5 minutes. Flatten it out into a circle on your pan (I just used a pie pan) and poke a few holes here and there with a fork. Use a knife to slice it up like a pizza (all the butter makes it pretty crumbly once it’s cooked so it’ll come out prettier this way, trust me.) Throw it in the oven for about 20 minutes.
While the shortbread is baking, grab a pint of heavy whipping cream (or more if you have more, there’s no such thing as too much) and throw it into the bowl you’ve had chilling in the freezer. I don’t have an electric mixer, so I actually did this all with a wire whisk – it sounds intimidating, and your arms WILL get tired, but in reality it took less than 5 minutes and it was absolutely worth it. If you have an electric mixer, go for it. Whip it up until it starts looking like whipped cream, throw in a bit of sugar – two teaspoons should be good, but it’s a matter of personal taste. I also put in about 1/2 teaspoon of vanilla extract. Keep whipping for another minute or so and you’re done! You should have about 10-15 minutes left until the shortbread is out of the oven, so take that time to wipe down the counters, rinse out the bowls and pick a few cups to put your dessert in. I used mugs but a bowl or a teacup is great too. Make a pot of coffee. Pull the shortbread out of the oven, slice AGAIN over the cuts you made in it before you put it in the oven. Pour yourself a cup of coffee and go chill out for a few minutes and flip through a book – about the time you either finish your coffee or it starts cooling off, your shortbread will be cooled off just enough. Layer the shortbread wedges, cream and strawberries in your mug of choice.
And never. Use. Margarine.