Because Mom Needs Strawberries in Her Life Right Now
I’ve had my share of grand dreams and lofty aspirations. I’ve been lucky enough
to pursue many of those desires. But none more so than my greatest desire to be a mom.
I’ll attest to the fact that being a mom is the most selfless job a woman can perform. And
without a doubt, the most important. Undoubtedly, the most joyful.
And I need strawberries right now.
We wait all year for the Sonoma strawberry season to arrive. And just in time for Mother’s Day. You know it’s strawberry season in Sonoma with the bustle of activity at the corner of Arnold Drive and Watmaugh Road. Sonoma’s own strawberry patch, prized for early crops bearing fruit of exceptional sweetness and fragrance; it produces luscious berries staining our fingertips and lips, identifying us with the very essence of the arrival of summer. Strawberries are one of life’s simple, sweet pleasures and a culinary treasure in Sonoma. Indulge mom on her special day (or any day—she is mom after all) with a decadent strawberry shortcake crowned with a Grand Marnier mascarpone cream. And keep them coming with a bowl teeming with plump, juicy berries tossed with a little brown sugar and a dollop of crème fraiche.
Fun tip: I’m often overly ambitious with eyes bigger than my stomach when
oohing and aahing over the fresh strawberry patch berries. To enjoy them before they
start to turn from perfectly ripe to overripe, I do this trick. Toss a pound of nearly
overripe strawberries with two tablespoons of granulated sugar and allow them to
macerate for about thirty minutes. Scatter the berries on a lined baking sheet and bake at
190 degrees for about two hours. The low temperature slowly dehydrates the fruit while
intensifying its flavor. Stored in airtight containers, I sprinkle the dried fruit in arugula
salads, granola, muffins and pancakes, and in spritzers and cocktails. Yum.
Mom needs strawberries in her life right now.
Strawberry Shortcakes with Grand Marnier Mascarpone Cream
1 3⁄4 cups all-purpose flour
5 tablespoons sugar, plus one tablespoon
1-tablespoon baking powder
1⁄2 teaspoon salt
4 tablespoons unsalted butter, chilled and cut into 1⁄2-inch cubes
8 ounces whipping cream, plus 2 tablespoons zest of one orange
8 ounces mascarpone cheese
1⁄2 cup sugar
3 tablespoons Grand Marnier liqueur
1 teaspoon vanilla
8 ounces whipping cream
3 1-pint baskets fresh strawberries, hulled and sliced
1. In the bowl of a food processor, combine the flour, 5 tablespoons sugar, baking
powder, and salt and process until blended. Add the butter and pulse until just
blended. Add 8 ounces whipping cream and the orange zest and process until
moist clumps of dough form. Gather the dough into a ball and knead until the
ingredients are just incorporated.
2. Roll out the dough on a floured surface to a 3⁄4-inch thick round. Using a 3-inch
round cutter cut out three rounds. Repeat to cut three more rounds. Place the
dough rounds on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Brush the rounds
with the 2 tablespoons cream and sprinkle with 1 tablespoon sugar. Bake in a pre-
heated 375-degree oven until golden, approximately 20 minutes.
3. Using a hand-held mixer in a mixing bowl, combine the mascarpone, sugar,
liqueur, and vanilla and beat until blended. Add the cream, a 1⁄2 cup at a time, and
bear until soft peaks form. Cover and chill for 1 hour.
4. Cut the biscuits in half horizontally. Place the bottom half on individual plates and
top with strawberries. Place a dollop of cream and the biscuit top.