Saturday, May 7, 2011

Sophisticated Shorty

Apparently, "shorty" is now:

An affectionate term for a girlfriend, attractive female or concubine*.
Sample usage: "Yo shorty, it's your birthday".

I find this to be completely offensive to women in general, and attractive concubines in particular.  So I'm going to reclaim the term, and elevate it.  Henceforth, shorty is:

An affectionate term for a sweet biscuit, luscious summer fruit, and fresh whipped cream.  
Sample usage:  "Yo shorty, pass the shorty".

Bittersweet Chocolate Strawberry Shorty
Adapted from a contribution by Govind Armstrong to the Great Gatherings cookbook.  Based on the photo alone, I was dying to try it, but had to wait for berry season to come around again.   At last, the time had come.  I decided to pit this version against my tried and true recipe**, bringing both to friend's house for dinner tonight. The verdict?  This new shorty was dark, elegant, and utterly sophisticated.   The biscuit was deeply chocolate, only slightly sweet, and offset the strawberries and cream beautifully.   This is a dessert that cries out to be consumed by candlelight with an espresso and an intense conversation about contemporary architecture.  It's damn good, but it's completely different from the lazy, homey, summertime pleasure that the traditional shorty delivers every time.  

Yo.  I'm a play-ah.  I had one of each.

1 c. flour, plus extra for prepping biscuits
1/2 c. sugar, plus extra for dusting
1/4 c. good quality unsweetened cocoa powder (I used Valhrona)
1/2 tsp. baking powder
1/4 tsp. baking soda
pinch of salt
1/2 c. good quality bittersweet or semi sweet chocolate chips (I used bittersweet)
1 c. heavy cream
About 2 Tbs. unsalted butter, melted
Strawberries and fresh whipped cream, prepared according to my original recipe.

Preheat oven to 375.  Cover a baking sheet with a silicon mat and set aside.

In the bowl of a food processor, place flour, sugar, cocoa powder, baking powder, baking soda, and salt and pulse well until combined.   Add the chocolate chips, and pulse a couple of times.   With machine running, pour in the cream, and then pulse until dough comes together.  It will be very sticky.  You'll notice this recipe has no cold butter or shortening, like a more traditional biscuit dough does.   Somehow it works!

Turn the dough out onto a well floured board, and, using your hands, gently pat into a rectangle about 3/4 inch high.  Don't knead or otherwise work the dough.  Using round or square cutter, cut out biscuits and place onto your prepared baking sheet.  Gather scraps and use up remaining dough.

Brush tops of biscuits with melted butter, and sprinkle with sugar.   Bake for 12 minutes, or until firm to the touch.   These will not rise up very much, but don't worry.  There's so much flavor in them that you don't want them to be super thick.    Allow to cool.   At this point, you can keep these for several hours, or overnight, in an airtight container before serving.

Split biscuits with a sharp knife.  Spoon a generous portion of strawberries onto the bottom portion, add a big dollop of whipped cream, and finish with the top biscuit.   Serve immediately.

* I checked, just to make sure.   It's true.  Even worse, it's often spelled "S-H-A-W-T-Y."  Good lord.
** Given how fancy the chocolate version was, I simplified the original recipe by substituting orange zest for the lemon zest, and leaving out the thyme.  I also used 1 c. of cake flour for part of the all purpose flour, just to try it, and loved how tender the biscuits came out.

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