There's suddenly a premium on chocolate-covered strawberries, and the usual Valentine's Day rush or other romantic ocassion is to blame. A standard 12-count box from Edible Arrangements is $30, while the dozen Belgian chocolate-drizzled strawberries from Harry & David are $54.99. That's with a 15% discount. Yikes.
I'd like to present a less expensive, though infinitely more thoughtful, alternative — a homemade chocolate-covered strawberry shortcake.
Shortcake is a relatively foolproof dessert (the riskiest part of the whole thing is slicing the cake into two layers) that can be on the table in about an hour. This makes it perfect for a quick, festive treat throughout the year – not just Valentine's Day. This could work as a special dessert to share for any celebration (birthday? graduation? divorce?!) — or to keep for yourself anytime you want a delectable sugar rush.
Chocolate-Covered Strawberry Shortcake
2 pints of strawberries
½ cup of bittersweet chocolate chips
2 ¼ cups of all-purpose flour
4 teaspoons baking powder
½ cup of white sugar, plus an additional five tablespoons
½ teaspoon of salt
⅓ cup of chilled, unsalted butter cut into cubes
1 egg, beaten
⅔ cup of whole milk
1 cup whipping cream
Take half of the strawberries, chop them roughly, place them in a bowl with ½ cup of sugar and set aside to macerate.
Take the other portion of strawberries and slice them into pieces that are about ¼ inch thick (if you want to get cutesy, you can cut a "V" out of the top of these strawberries before slicing so that they look like little hearts).
Slowly melt the chocolate chips in a small saucepan on low heat (if your stove has a "melt" setting, even better). Then, holding the strawberry half on the cut side with a toothpick or small fork, dip the outside of the strawberry in the chocolate, then place — fruit side down — on a piece of parchment paper.
While the strawberries are setting, preheat the oven to 425 degrees and grease one 8-inch round cake pan. If you want to get super cutesy — it is Valentine's Day, after all — you can also go with an 8-inch heart-shaped cake pan, like this one.
Combine flour, baking powder, salt and three tablespoons of sugar in a medium bowl. Add the cubed, chilled butter, and then, using your fingers or a large spoon, combine until the mixture has taken on the texture of coarse crumbs.
Slowly add the milk, stir until combined, then add the egg. Beat the batter just until smooth. You don't want to overwork it.
Spread the batter into the prepared tin and bake for 18 to 20 minutes, or until golden brown. Remove from the oven and allow the pan to partially cool for about 10 minutes, before flipping the cake onto a wire rack to completely cool.
Meanwhile, place the remaining two tablespoons of sugar and whipping cream into a chilled metal bowl and whisk until stiff peaks start to form.
The cake should now be completely cool, so gently slice in half horizontally, making two layers. Now it's time to assemble!
Take the bottom layer of cake, spread it with a generous spoonful of whipped cream, and add the macerated strawberries that have been sitting in sugar. Top that off with the next layer of cake, which you'll spread with another generous spoonful of whipped cream, then with the chocolate-covered strawberry slices. Add a final dollop of whipped cream to the top.