Strawberry shortcake has always been a favorite dessert of mine, reminding me of the carefree days of summer at my grandparents' house, where we'd buy strawberries by the pound and eat them in just about everything.
Our family always preferred the biscuit shortcake to the spongecake variety, which was too sweet and ruined the strawberries, according to my grandma. I think she was right. A light, fluffy biscuit with just a touch of sweetness and enough heft to handle seriously juicy berries is the ticket to perfect shortcake.
Since we eat shortcake often, I've created a recipe that includes a little extra fiber and protein by subbing out half the white flour with whole wheat flour. (Whole wheat pastry flour is particularly great for baked goods.) But with the husk and germ of the wheat comes a slightly darker, nuttier color, which isn't quite what children may be craving for dessert. My easy solution: Embrace the beautiful brown color and enhance it with a little cinnamon.
Suddenly, wheaty biscuits are transformed into cinnamon shortbread. The flaky texture comes from just a little bit of butter, while low-fat plain Greek yogurt subs in for the traditional heavy cream and buttermilk. The berries are made perfectly tangy and sweet with some balsamic vinegar and brown sugar, an homage to my grandma, who used apple cider vinegar in just about everything. Balsamic is a little sweeter and more balanced than apple cider vinegar, so it's a nice upgrade.
The final touches of mint and orange zest add nuanced flavor, so the berries shine through without a ton of extra sugar. And instead of whipped cream, I mix up a luscious vanilla cream from part-skim ricotta and Greek yogurt.
CINNAMON BISCUIT BERRY SHORTCAKES
For the berries:
2 cups raspberries, blueberries and sliced strawberries
2 tablespoons white balsamic vinegar (or apple cider vinegar)
1 tablespoon brown sugar
1 teaspoon grated orange zest
2 teaspoons chopped fresh mint
For the shortcake biscuits:
1 ¼ cups flour (half whole wheat, half all-purpose)
2 ½ teaspoons baking powder
¼ teaspoon baking soda
2 tablespoons sugar, plus more for sprinkling
¼ teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon cinnamon
3 tablespoons cold butter, cut into small cubes
1 egg, lightly beaten, divided in half
½ cup low-fat plain Greek yogurt
For the creamy filling:
⅓ cup part-skim ricotta
3 tablespoons low-fat plain Greek yogurt
⅛ teaspoon vanilla extract
1 tablespoon brown sugar
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. In a medium bowl, toss the berries with the vinegar, sugar, orange zest and mint, and place in the fridge while you make the biscuits. Place the flour, baking powder, baking soda, sugar, salt and cinnamon in a food processor. Pulse once or twice to mix. Add butter and pulse until mixture looks like wet sand.
Add half the egg into the yogurt and stir to combine, and then pour on top of the flour. Process until the dough comes together in a large clump. Empty the dough onto the counter and form into a 6-inch disc. Slice the disc into 6 wedges and place on a baking sheet lined with parchment.
Brush lightly with a little remaining beaten egg and sprinkle with a little sugar on top. Bake until golden brown and fluffy, about 13 to 15 minutes. Remove from the oven and allow to cool.
Meanwhile, make the cream: In a small bowl, mix together the ricotta, yogurt, vanilla and sugar until smooth. Chill until ready to serve. To serve, split the biscuits in half, spoon some cream on the bottom half and top with macerated berries and the top biscuit half.
Makes 6 servings.
Nutrition information per serving: 255 calories (80 calories from fat), 9g fat (5g saturated), 58mg cholesterol, 422mg sodium, 36g carbohydrates, 4g fiber, 13g sugar, 9g protein.