Strawberry Shortcake Cookies
Makes about 24 shortcakes. Excerpted from DORIE’S COOKIES © 2016 by Dorie Greenspan. Reproduced by permission of Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, Rux Martin Books. All rights reserved. Greenspan writes,
“A word on the eggs: In order for the egg-and-sugar mixture to triple in volume and develop the structure that will keep the sponge light and lovely, the eggs must be at room temperature. If your eggs are coming straight from the refrigerator, or if you’re not certain that they’re warm enough, put them in a bowl, turn your tap to its hottest setting and run water over them for a minute, then keep them in the hot water for another 3 to 5 minutes.”
For the cakes (génoises):
⅓ cup all-purpose flour
¼ teaspoon baking powder
Pinch of fine sea salt
2 large eggs, at room temperature
⅓ cup sugar
½ teaspoon pure vanilla extract
½ teaspoon pure rose extract (optional)
For the whipped cream:
1 cup very cold heavy cream
2 tablespoons confectioners’ sugar
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
½ teaspoon pure rose extract, optional
1 tablespoon cold sour cream, optional
For the topping:
8 to 12 ounces (2 to 3 cups) strawberries, hulled
Strawberry Compote, optional
1. Center a rack in the oven and preheat it to 350 F. Butter and flour two regular muffin tins or use baker’s spray (do this even if your tins are nonstick).
2. To make the cakes: Whisk the flour, baking powder and salt together. Working with a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, or in a large bowl with a hand mixer, beat the eggs and sugar together on medium speed for about 30 seconds, then increase the speed to medium-high and beat for 3 to 5 minutes, until the mixture is pale and triple in volume. Reduce the speed to medium and beat in the vanilla and, if you’re using it, rose extract. Working with a flexible spatula, fold in the dry ingredients in 2 or 3 additions. Make sure to reach down to the bottom of the bowl and cut into the batter at various places — you’d be surprised how tricky the flour is; it can hide out in unexpected spots. The eggs will lose some of their volume as you fold, but be sure to fold until the dry ingredients are completely incorporated.
3. Divide the batter among the tins. (I use a small cookie scoop for this job, mounding the batter in the scoop.) Bake the cakes for 11 to 13 minutes, rotating the tins after 6 minutes, or until they are golden brown and have pulled away from the sides of the molds. If you poke the tops of the cakes gently, they’ll spring back. Transfer them to a rack to cool to room temperature.
4. To make the whipped cream: Working in the clean mixer bowl, with the clean whisk, or in a large bowl with the hand mixer, beat the cream on medium speed just until it mounds softly. Beat in the sugar, followed by the vanilla and the rose extract, if you’re using it. When the cream holds firm peaks, quickly beat in the sour cream, if you’re using it.
5. To top the shortcakes: The shortcakes should be assembled within an hour or two of serving and kept in the refrigerator. If you can swing it, topping them just before serving is best. Cut the berries from top to bottom into 3 or 4 slices each, depending on their size. These are going to stand up in the center of the little shortcakes, so they need to be thick enough for you to work with yet thin enough to not take up all the real estate. Fit a pastry bag with a medium open star tip and fill it with the whipped cream (or fill a zipper-lock plastic bag, seal the bag and snip off a corner).
6. Using the knuckle of your index finger, press down on the center of each génoise puck just a little. If you’re using the compote, spoon a small amount of it (a teaspoon or less) into each indentation — you’re aiming to have a dollop of compote in the center of the cake; there should be a bare border. Pipe a circle of whipped cream around the compote (or each cake). If this is too fussy for you, you can cover the compote with cream, taking care not to make a very thick layer (½ inch high is good). Finish each shortcake by pressing 2 or 3 slices of strawberry together, fanning them out just a little and standing them, pointed end up, in the center of the cake.
Strawberry Compote: Hull 8 ounces (2 generous cups) fresh strawberries. Quarter small berries; dice or coarsely chop larger ones. You want pieces that will hold their shape when cooked but will be small enough to be eaten daintily from a spoon. Toss the berries into a small saucepan, stir in 1 tablespoon sugar and put the saucepan over medium heat. Bring to a boil and cook, stirring, for 5 to 8 minutes, or until the juices are just slightly thickened and syrupy. Scrape the berries and their syrup into a bowl, stir in ½ teaspoon pure rose extract (optional), and cool to just warm or room temperature. Or chill the compote.
Storing: The cakes can be wrapped in plastic and kept at room temperature for up to 1 day. The shortcakes are best eaten as soon as you top them, but the génoise can be made up to 1 day ahead and kept covered at room temperature. The compote can be made up to 3 days ahead and kept covered in the refrigerator. The whipped cream can be made up to 1 hour ahead and kept tightly covered in the refrigerator.