Shortcakes for spring! (and for breakfast. and dessert)

April already?! Wow. That went fast. And for being April, the strawberries are looking quite delicious — and surprisingly are so! I guess they’re technically in season somewhere. I do try to eat local, but shortcakes really call for strawberries and these looked especially delicious, so I’m not complaining…

I had a request for chocolate, so of course I was going to work that in — I’ve never made chocolate shortcakes before now but I highly recommend them.

Let’s see, life things lately…

Happy 16th birthday to this little nugget! She just gets more adorable every day.

Further progress on the SF series! This one is located at 2020 California Street.

More flowers! In this case, March showers seem to have brought April flowers…

But back to this hot mess. Dessert! It doesn’t photograph especially well but I promise it’s delicious.

I prefer my shortcakes on the not-so-sweet side, so that a) I can eat them with ice cream and not send myself into a sugar coma (even if it is unrefined sugar!) and b) they really highlight the berries. As such, these shortcakes are really more biscuit-y than cake-y, but that’s only if you eat them plain! Load them up with all of the other goodies and they have a perfect sweet-not too sweet balance. Especially the caramel two ways. Don’t skip that!

Highly recommended for dessert AND for breakfast: whole grains, no refined sugar & healthy fats, what’s not to like? Excellent with eggs & salad, of course I speak from experience. Happy shortcake-ing!

Chocolate Shortcakes with Strawberries, Coconut Cream, Maple Almond Caramel and Chocolate Caramel

Whole wheat, refined sugar free, dairy free/vegan option (replace butter with coconut oil & buttermilk w/ coconut buttermilk – see note). Lightly sweet shortcakes with fresh berries and coconut cream… plus caramel two ways because, why not? Shortcakes adapted from the cakes I made previously with peach filling, here. If you choose to go the coconut cream route, make sure you refrigerate the can overnight. A Wait are those Cookies original! Yield: 6 shortcakes + extra caramel (or maybe not, depending on how liberally it gets poured… no judgement here)

For the shortcakes:

  • 1 c + 1 tbsp whole wheat pastry flour
  • 3 tbsp cacao powder
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp fine sea salt
  • 2 tbsp coconut sugar
  • 4 tbsp chilled unsalted butter, cut into smallish pieces (or coconut oil for dairy free – make sure it’s chilled & solid)*
  • 3/4 c buttermilk*
  • 1/3 c extra dark chocolate chips

*if you’re not concerned about being dairy free/vegan, go ahead and use regular buttermilk & butter. I used 1 c (canned) coconut milk + 1 tbsp lemon juice as I was out of buttermilk

Preheat the oven to 450, and line a baking sheet with parchment paper.

In a large bowl, whisk together flour, cacao powder, baking powder and soda, salt, and coconut sugar. Cut in the butter using your fingertips (my preferred method) or a pastry cutter, until things start looking like coarse cornmeal and the butter is distributed evenlyish. Make a well in the center (look! You get to play with your food!), pour in the buttermilk, then use a spoon or spatula to stir it all together, until just combined (do try not to over mix). Stir in chocolate chips. Divide the dough into six little balls, flatten slightly and place on the baking sheet. Bake for just about 13-15 minutes, until the tops are firm and lightly browned. Let cool slightly on a rack before serving.

While the cakes are baking, make the caramel sauce:

For the caramel sauce (two ways!)

  • 1/3 c coconut oil
  • 1/2 c unsalted, creamy almond butter
  • 1/3 c pure maple syrup
  • 1/2 tsp sea salt
  • 1 runneth-over tsp vanilla extract
  • scant 1/4 c dark chocolate chips

In a small saucepan over medium, heat coconut oil, almond butter, maple, and sea salt over medium until all are melted and incorporated. This shouldn’t take more than a minute or two, which is excellent for instant gratification. Turn off the heat and stir in vanilla. Pour half the warm caramel into a heat-safe jar, and stir the chocolate chips into the remaining half still in the saucepan. They should melt as you stir, but you can turn the heat back on if necessary to melt them completely. Store the chocolate caramel in a separate jar. Serve warm or cold.

For assembly! The best part.

  • 1 can full-fat coconut milk, refrigerated overnight
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • copious amounts of strawberries

Open the refrigerated can of coconut milk, and scrape out the solid cream into a large bowl. With an electric mixer, beat until smooth, then beat in vanilla.

Serve shortcakes sliced in half (to maximize cake square footage), topped with coconut cream, strawberries, caramel drizzle, and extra ice cream. Because, ice cream! Obviously. Also makes excellent breakfast, sans ice cream (or not, you do you!) Store any leftover shortcakes covered on the counter overnight or in the fridge.

Messy blobs of Jackson Pollock ice cream

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Trashed up desserts are the best kind of desserts.

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I usually find that ice cream and rainbow sprinkles are my preferred trashing-up methods of choice… and once the ice cream starts melting, you can go all Jackson Pollock on your dessert. This method is especially fun when there is drizzly caramel involved, obviously.

Apologies for the lousy photos… Realized this was too good not to share when I was in the process of annihilating it. Let’s just go along with the Jackson Pollock theme, hooookay?! And actually, I’m kind of loving the messy blobs of ice cream…

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And yes, this ice cream does contain eggs and dairy. If you follow me regularly, you’ll know that over a month ago I was told I had an intolerance to a bunch of different foods (after feeling like garbage for three months), so I went cold turkey and stopped eating all of them for a month. And I felt exactly the same (ie, crappy) for that whole month. So, I am a) back to eating those things and b) in the process of being tested for a bunch of other stuff to find out what’s going on. Which means that as it doesn’t make me feel any worse than I already do, ice cream is back on the table. Because it makes me happy, and until I have a better idea of what’s causing this unceasing bout of crappy, I will eat things that make me happy. Le sigh. Ideally answers will be forthcoming, and SOON.

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But enough of that, because I don’t like wallowing, I like dessert. Let’s indulge instead in some messy delicious photos of dessert. Because dessert is way more fun than wallowing, and messy food is sometimes more fun to photograph than perfect food. Even when it’s lacking sprinkles (I know, I don’t know what I was thinking. Obviously I wasn’t).

So here you have some chickpea oatmeal cashew butter bars… because I took all the delicious things and crammed them into one bar. Because I can. I’m definitely a fan of bean-based desserts— it’s a great way to get a little extra protein boost in your dessert, besides the fact that they’re naturally gluten free and delicious. AND THEN you throw ice cream all over the top of it and pat yourself on that back for a job well done.

A word of caution to the super sweet fans out there: these bars are lightly sweet, but definitely not overly so. The maple could be increased, depending on your preference; I like them less sweet though so a 1/4 c was fine for me.

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Cashew Chickpea Oat Bars

Gluten free, dairy free, vegan, refined sugar free, and full of good carbs and healthy fats. Lightly sweet and cakey Quick to make, and minimal clean up (especially if you bung the food processor into the dishwasher as I’ve become fond of doing… more a slightly more drought-friendly option than trying to hand wash the stupid thing). Recipe yields one 8 by 8 pan, or somewhere in the neighborhood of 9-12 bars. Lightly adapted from the Natural Nurturer, here!

  • 1 15 oz can of garbanzo beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1/4 c pure maple syrup
  • 1/2 c hemp milk (or other non dairy of choice)
  • 1/4 c unsweetened applesauce
  • 1/4 c unsalted cashew butter
  • 1 heaping tsp vanilla
  • 2 flax eggs (2 tbsp ground flaxseed + 6 tbsp water, let sit for 5 minutes)
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp sea salt
  • 1 c rolled oats
  • heaping 1/4 c extra dark chocolate chips

Preheat the oven to 350, and lightly grease an 8 by 8 pan.

Add garbanzo beans to the food processor, and pulse until they’re mostly broken up but still slightly chunky. Add maple, hemp milk, applesauce, cashew butter, vanilla, flax eggs, baking powder, and sea salt, and process until mostly smooth. It won’t be completely smooth, but a few chunks are okay. Add in oats, and pulse to combine, but leave the oat pieces intact like an oatmeal cookie (in other words, don’t let it go until the oats are completely smooth— you want texture!). Stir in chocolate chips. Pour the batter into the prepared pan and smooth out the top (and eat the extra off your fingers, bonus points for being vegan). Bake for 27- 30 minutes, until a tester comes out clean and the top is lightly browned.

Store any leftovers (ha, you’re funny) in the fridge, either in the pan covered in foil or a sealed container (I usually move them to a tupperware after a day or two).

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