Cocoa Shortcakes with Strawberries and Whipped Cream

(From Chocolate for Beginners: Techniques and Recipes for Making Chocolate Candy, Confections, Cakes, and More)

The strawberries in this recipe are given time to macerate: a process where a little sugar is added to sliced fruit to soften it and break it down. I also add a little balsamic vinegar to heighten the flavor of the strawberries. You may want to leave your berries au naturel, and that is perfectly fine! Just omit the sugar and the vinegar for the berries.


  • 2 large egg yolks
  • 3 cups heavy cream, divided
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2-1/2 cups flour
  • 1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1 cup granulated sugar, divided
  • 4 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon sea salt
  • 4 ounces cold unsalted butter
  • 2 pounds fresh strawberries
  • 1-1/2 teaspoons good quality balsamic vinegar


  1. Heat the oven to 350°F. Line the half sheet pan with parchment paper.
  2. Mix 1 cup of the heavy cream, 2 yolks, and the vanilla extract together in a large measuring cup. Measure the flour, cocoa powder, 1/2 cup of the granulated sugar, baking powder, baking soda, and sea salt into a large bowl.
  3. Grate the cold butter using the large holes on a cheese grater, and toss it lightly with the dry ingredients in the bowl.
  4. Pour the cream mixture into the dry ingredients, and stir briskly with a large silicone spatula, using as few strokes as possible to create a crumbly, shaggy dough.
  5. Spill the dough onto the counter and finish mixing the dough by alternately smearing it with the heel of your hand and then scraping it together with the bench scraper. Do not over mix. The dough should come together with a few smears and scrapes, and there should be streaks of butter running through it.
  6. Press the dough quickly into a rectangle, then roll the dough out to a thickness of about an inch. Cut the dough with a sharp knife into 8 square-ish pieces.
  7. Place the pieces on the parchment-lined half sheet pan and bake for 25 minutes, rotating the pan halfway through the baking time. The shortcakes should be slightly crispy on the outside, and the middles should give way to a soft (but not doughy) center when pressed lightly with your finger. Remove from the oven and cool the shortcakes completely.
  8. While the shortcakes cool, core and slice the strawberries and place them in a bowl with 1/4 cup of the sugar and the balsamic vinegar. Stir the mixture, then chill it in the refrigerator until you’re ready to serve the shortcakes.
  9. When the shortcakes are cool, whip 2 cups of the heavy cream with the final 1/4 cup of sugar. To serve, split a shortcake as you would an English muffin, place the bottom half in a bowl and spoon some chilled strawberries (and their liquid) over it. Follow that with a dollop of whipped cream, then the top half of the shortcake. Top with more strawberries and whipped cream, if desired.

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