Called a “culinary guru” by the New York Times, Dorie Greenspan is a James Beard and IACP award-winning author of 11 cookbooks, including bestsellers Baking with Julia, Baking from My Home to Yours and Around My French Table. Her latest book, Baking Chez Moi: Recipes from My Paris Home to Your Home Anywhere, will be published October 2014. She’d love to hear about how your shortcakes turn out — and any of your baking adventures — at @doriegreenspan or www.doriegreenspan.com.
There are hundreds of reasons that I adore baking, but up at the top is the pleasure of creating something with my hands and the joy of sharing it with people I love. And when I get to share something as beautiful and delicious as this Strawberry Mousse Shortcake, the joy is even greater. (Shhh…as impressive as it is, it’s easy to make—a secret we can keep between us bakers.)
I know it looks nothing like the shortcake of your childhood—it doesn’t look like the shortcake of mine, either (mine came from a box of store-bought cakes and a can of whipped cream)—but that’s part of the excitement.
When I read that whipped cream earned its place as a key ingredient in American strawberry shortcakes around 1910, and that the popularity of cream was credited to French pastry chefs, I knew I wanted to come up with a Franco-American cake, as much to celebrate the tradition as to combine the sweets of the two countries I live in.
And so the cake itself is a version of the yogurt cake that every French home cook knows how to make without even looking at a recipe. It’s a fabulous cake to have in your back pocket—it’s fast, simple, tasty and versatile: double the recipe and you can turn it into a great layered birthday cake; it’s what my French friends do. I love its light, springy texture, its sweet, tangy flavor and the fact that it’s not the least bit temperamental.
And the mousse, the beautiful mousse, is French in name (mousse means “foam” in French) and American in spirit and irresistibleness. It’s lush and creamy from whipped cream and melted white chocolate (use the best quality chocolate you can find), a little sharp from the yogurt and sweet, fragrant, full-flavored and a romantic shade of pink from all those wonderful strawberries. Some of the berries are puréed and stirred into the mousse; some are cut into small pieces and folded in to create a lovely mosaic pattern; and many are sliced and arranged in circles on top of the cake, their bright red edges pointing outward like a star-shaped flower.
And did I mention that you make this stunner ahead of time? When the moment for dessert comes around, you have nothing to do but place it in the center of the table and prepare yourself for the inevitable: A round of oohs and aahs.
Whether you’re a beginning shortcaker or a vet, you can make this cake perfectly. Read the recipe…twice; have everything you need measured out and at hand; and plan for the hours of chill-and-set time. Oh, and keep your hairdryer handy—it’s the best tool for unmolding the cake.
I know I said that the great pleasure in baking is the crafting and the sharing, but there’s something else as well: The savoring. Enjoy!
Find the full recipe for Dorie Greenspan’s Strawberry Mousse Shortcake here.
Do you have any special twists on strawberry shortcake? Share them in the comments below.