Nothing says summer quite like a heaping bowl of strawberry shortcake. The juicy berries, tender shortcake, and fresh whipped cream come together to make a dessert perfect for warm nights and potluck parties. For this strawberry shortcake recipe we are taking the classic and making it fancy with cardamom brown sugar biscuits, lime macerated strawberries, and vanilla whipped cream. It’s an elegant spin on the strawberry shortcake you’ve always loved and a perfect Mother’s Day treat. So, preheat your oven and pull out your mixing bowls. This is a recipe you’ll come back to all summer long.
Growing up, strawberry shortcake was always one of my mom’s favorite desserts and often a staple for her homemade Mother’s Day meal. It was simple and sweet with a big dollop of whipped cream and an extra pour of strawberry syrup.
When I close my eyes I can still see the look on her face the last time I made it for her. Although she was sick, her face had a look of pure delight and she ate it with gusto.
The recipe I’m sharing with you today is based off of my mom’s original, but with a couple of tweaks. The result is a strawberry shortcake that is a bit more decadent and a bit less sweet. While her tastes were a bit more simple than mine, I really believe that she would have loved this recipe. Read on to learn what I’ve changed, then make a batch for your mom this Mother’s Day.
In my mom’s recipe for strawberry shortcake, we always used my grandma’s biscuit recipe and added a good dose of white sugar to turn it from a biscuit to a cake. Since shortcake is defined as being a sweet cake or biscuit, this totally fits the bill.
Often I’d take the whole batch of dough, turn it out into a buttered and floured 9″x9″ pan and bake it as a single cake. I remember it being dense and sweet. While you can do that, as a household of two I prefer individual biscuits. Since we won’t eat it all in one sitting (or rather we shouldn’t) individual biscuits makes it easier to freeze the leftovers, or they make an easy grab and go for my husband’s breakfast.
The first thing I realized when dusting off this recipe is that back in the day I measured flour incorrectly. I grew up using the scoop and scrape method, where you scoop it out with your measuring cup and scrape the top even. Believe it or not, that method is wrong. Scooping with your measuring cup causes the flour to compact, which means you’ll end up using more than you should. Instead, stir your flour and use a spoon to put it into your measuring cup, then scrape off the top. You’ll measure out less flour by weight and get lighter, fluffier, flakier biscuits.
Sugar and Spice
The other thing I wanted to change about this biscuit is to give it more depth, which I achieved through a combination of brown sugar and cardamom. Brown sugar is more complex than standard white sugar with flavors of molasses, caramel, and toffee. As foods with brown sugar are browned in the oven (the Malliard reaction) these flavors develop even further. While this substitution in itself made a huge difference, I went one step further with the addition of cardamom.
Cardamom is a spice used around the world in sweet and savory applications, although it’s less common in the USA. That may be partially due to its price. By weight, cardamom is the third most expensive spice on the market, behind saffron and vanilla. It’s in the ginger family, along with turmeric and a variety of gingers. It has a strong, distinct aroma and flavor that can take a number of baked goods from okay to wow. A little goes a long way, but in this recipe you could also substitute an equal part of ground ginger as a delicious alternative, or omit it all together.
The strawberries that go on strawberry shortcake should be sweet and syrupy, a texture reached by maceration. Similar to marinating meats, maceration is when you use an acid or simple sugar to draw the natural juices out of a raw or dried fruit. It takes between 30 minutes and overnight, but the result is tender fruit and a naturally flavored syrup.
There are many methods for macerating fruit, using wine, liquor, citrus juice, vinegar, honey, sugar, or vanilla extract. You can even toss in a bit of spice (like cardamom) or herbs (like basil) if you like. Where I come from we would just bury the berries in sugar and nothing more. While this made a delightfully sweet treat the flavor of strawberry can be clouded by the flavor of sugar, something my adult palate and adult waistline don’t need.
For my recipe, we are making lime macerated strawberries. I find it has a balance of enough sweet with just enough acid to make the berry taste come alive. I use a fraction of the sugar from the original recipe, but according to my mom the strawberries tasted better than ever with this change. I’m not saying she would have started making it this way herself, but she definitely approved of me making this change when I made it for her.
The Whipped Cream
You cannot have strawberry shortcake without vanilla whipped cream. Granted there is no law against it, but it’s just so wrong. Yes, making the whipped cream from scratch takes a minute of work but the effort is so worth it! While growing up we used Cool Whip – it was the 80’s and animal fat was bad – swapping to real whipped cream was a change my mom could stand behind.
Making homemade whipped cream is as simple as pouring heavy whipping cream and vanilla extract into the bowl of your mixer and turning it on. Within 3 – 5 minutes, the cream will thicken and form medium soft peaks. I choose not to sweeten mine, but if you must, add a dash of fine grain sugar (like standard granulated or powdered sugar) at the beginning and scrape down the sides of the bowl halfway through to make sure the sugar mixes in.
If you want to get really fancy, you can make strawberry whipped cream for your strawberry shortcake. Simply add a tablespoon or two of the strawberry syrup created by macerating your strawberries before you whip the cream. It will turn the whipped cream into a beautiful, soft, pink, cloud like creation.
Making it into Strawberry Shortcake
To assemble your shortcake, gently tear one biscuit in half so that you have a top and bottom. If it doesn’t tear easily, run a fork around it like you would an English muffin. Start with the bottom half of the cardamom brown sugar biscuit in the bottom of the bowl. Top with lime macerated strawberries, a bit of extra strawberry syrup, and vanilla whipped cream. Tuck the top of the biscuit along the side so that it can start to soak up a bit of the syrup while you eat the bottom.
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Strawberry Shortcake Recipe
With brown sugar cardamom biscuits, lime macerated strawberries, and vanilla whipped cream, this version of strawberry shortcake is an elegant dessert that is made to impress. You can easily double or triple it to serve a crowd and even make it a day or two in advance to make your life easier. I hope it becomes a sweet treat that you come back to again and again all summer long.
Leftover biscuits can be kept at room temperature for around 3 days or frozen for longer storage. Macerated berries and whipped cream can be refrigerated for 3 – 5 days.
If you like this recipe please give it a 5 star review and let me know your favorite part in the comments below!
Lime Macerated Strawberries
- 1 lb strawberries
- 2 tbsp sugar
- 1 1/2 tbsp fresh lime juice
Brown Sugar Cardamom Biscuits
- 2 cups all purpose flour
- 1/4 cup brown sugar
- 1 tbsp baking powder
- 3/4 tsp kosher salt
- 1/2 tsp soda
- 1/2 tsp cardamom, *see notes
- 5 tbsp cold butter
- 1 cup buttermilk
Vanilla Whipped Cream
- 1 cup heavy whipping cream
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
Lime Macerated Strawberries
- The strawberries must rest for at least 30 minutes** before assembling the shortcakes, so start with them first.
- Clean your berries and remove the stems. Slice or quarter berries and place in a medium size mixing bowl.
- Add in sugar and lime juice, stir to coat, allow to rest at least 30 minutes.
Brown Sugar Cardamom Biscuits
- Preheat oven to 425 degrees.
- In a large mixing bowl measure out the flour, brown sugar, baking powder, kosher salt, soda, and cardamom. Stir to combine.
- Chop cold butter into smaller cubes. Add the butter to the flour mixture and break it up until the butter is in pea sized bits. You can do this by hand, using a pastry cutter, or with the wire whisk attachment of a stand mixer.
- Add buttermilk and mix to combine. Dough will be heavy, wet, and slightly sticky.
- Liberally flour your work surface and turn out out your dough. Add more flour on top and gently pat dough until it's about 1 1/2 inches thick.
- Use a 3" round cookie cutter or a wide mouth glass to stamp out biscuits. Make sure to dip the cookie cutter or glass into flour between each biscuit to keep it from sticking.
- A 3" cutter will make about 6 biscuits. Dough can be gently pushed back together to form more biscuits, but don't kneed it and don't overwork it or you will have tough biscuits.
- Bake biscuits for 15 - 18 minutes, or until the tops are golden brown and a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean.
Vanilla Whipped Cream
- In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the wire whisk attachment, pour 1 cup of heavy whipping cream and vanilla extract.**
- Turn mixer up to medium speed and allow cream to thicken. Whipped cream will double in size as it whips. It should take 2 - 3 minutes to start to thicken, then a minute or two more until medium soft peaks form. Careful not to over whip it, or it will turn into butter.
Assembling The Shortcakes
- Split one biscuit in half so that you have a top and bottom piece. Place the bottom piece in the bottom of a small dessert bowl. Top with strawberries, some extra syrup, and the whipped cream. Place the top of the biscuit on the side, resting on the whipped cream. Enjoy!
* Cardamom can be replaced with ginger or omitted if necessary.
** If you want your whipped cream sweetened, add in 1 - 2 tbsps of finely granulated sugar or other liquid sweetener of your choice. White sugar or powdered sugar work well.