Father’s Day is coming up! Normally, I would write a sappy post about my dad (he’s a great guy–see here and here), but he’s a little Internet shy. I don’t blame him. So, instead of writing about him and a dessert he would love, I’m going in the opposite direction.
My dad doesn’t care for strawberries, so in order to keep him out of this post, I am bringing you Strawberry Shortcakes. But not just any old strawberry shortcakes–these little guys are made with brown butter. See those gorgeous golden brown biscuits? They’re full of the stuff.
So, how exactly does one make biscuits with brown butter? Well, logically, you start by browning the butter. Place a stick of butter in a saucepan over medium-low heat, and then babysit it. No, helicopter parent it. It will melt and bubble and sputter for a few minutes, and you need to be swirling it frequently. Don’t leave the room, don’t check your work emails, don’t strike up a conversation with your roommate. You need to watch that butter. Just when you think it’s not going to do anything beyond splatter your stovetop, the solids in it will turn brown and give off an incredibly rich, nutty aroma. That’s how you’ll know it’s ready. Immediately pour it into a little bowl–don’t let it sit in the pan or it will burn. Burnt butter is not delicious.
Once that brown butter isn’t searing hot anymore, place it in the fridge. Unlike most recipes calling for brown butter, this recipe will not work if the butter is liquid. For our biscuits to be flaky (instead of brown butter-flavored hockey pucks), it needs to solidify and be very cold. This will take a few hours. I recommend browning the butter the night before you want to use it. That way there’s no waiting the next day.
Making brown butter biscuits is a lot like making Buttermilk Biscuits. Whisk together flour, baking powder, a few tablespoons of brown sugar (these are decidedly sweet), and a touch of salt. Use a pastry blender or your fingertips to cut the cold brown butter into the dry ingredients, before stirring in some cold half-and-half. I don’t recommend using milk in this recipe. When the butter browns, its water content evaporates. Using a liquid with a higher fat content helps restore some of that lost moisture.
Turn the dough onto a floured surface. Pat it out and give it a few folds to ensure flakiness before cutting it into rounds. Pat your leftovers back together and cut them again–you should get about a dozen biscuits. Place them close together on a lined baking sheet, brush them with more half-and-half and sprinkle coarse sugar over the tops. Bake them for 12-14 minutes, just until puffed and golden.
While the biscuits are baking, fold together a ton of sliced strawberries and a bit of sugar. Cover the bowl in plastic wrap and let them sit. This is called macerating—it will allow the berries to release a lot of moisture, creating a delicious strawberry syrup. The longer they sit, the more liquid there will be. The strawberries pictured only sat for half an hour, but you can do this up to a day in advance; just let the berries macerate in the fridge.
When your biscuits are cool and your strawberries are to your liking, whip some cream. Slice the biscuits in half and layer them with the strawberries and whipped cream—there are no hard and fast rules about how much of each, at least as far as I’m concerned. Just pile them up how you like them, and then dig in!
Y’all, these Brown Butter Strawberry Shortcakes are in. sane. INSANE. Beyond the absolute perfection that is the combination of strawberries and whipped cream, there are the incredible brown butter biscuits. They are lightly sweet, but rich from the brown sugar and the nutty brown butter. Layered with the berries and cream—well, they’re about as wonderful as strawberry shortcake gets. Even my dad might like ‘em.
Brown Butter Strawberry Shortcakes
makes 12 servings
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter
Brown Butter Biscuits:
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon baking powder
3 tablespoons light or dark brown sugar, packed
1/2 teaspoon Kosher or sea salt
1/2 cup brown butter, solid, very cold
2/3-3/4 cup half-and-half, very cold, plus more for brushing
1 tablespoon coarse sugar (like turbinado), for sprinkling
1 1/2 pounds (24 ounces) fresh strawberries, hulled and quartered (about 4-5 cups)
1/3 cup granulated sugar
1 cup heavy cream
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1-2 tablespoons granulated sugar
Brown the butter. Place butter in a light-colored saucepan over medium heat. Let butter melt. Butter will bubble and crackle as the water content evaporates. Swirl the pan frequently for 5-7 minutes, keeping an eye on the color. When the solids are turning brown and the butter is nutty and fragrant, remove the pot from the heat and immediately pour the brown butter into a small bowl. Let the butter cool to room temperature before refrigerating until solid and very cold, several hours or overnight.
Make the biscuits. Preheat oven to 400F. Line a baking sheet with parchment or a silicone baking mat. Set aside.
In a large mixing bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, brown sugar, and salt. Add cold brown butter. Use a pastry blender or clean fingertips to cut the butter into the flour until the largest pieces are the size of small peas. Stir in 2/3 cup half-and-half. Add more half-and-half by the tablespoon (up to 2 tablespoons), until no unincorporated bits remain.
Turn dough out onto a floured surface. Pat it to 1/2-inch thickness. Fold it in half and give it a quarter turn (more details on this process here). Repeat patting and folding until you have done it 3-4 times total. Use a 2 1/2-inch round cutter to cut biscuits. Pat scraps back together and cut a few more. Place biscuits close together on the prepared pan. Brush them with more half-and-half and sprinkle with coarse sugar. Bake 12-14 minutes, until puffed and golden. Let biscuits cool in the pan on a rack until they reach room temperature.
While the biscuits are baking, fold strawberries and sugar together in a medium mixing bowl. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and let sit at room temperature for up to an hour. This may also be done a day in advance—just let the strawberries macerate in the refrigerator.
When the biscuits are cool and the strawberries are ready, whip the cream. In a large mixing bowl, combine heavy cream, vanilla, and sugar. Use an electric mixer on medium-high speed to whip cream until soft peaks form.
Assemble shortcakes. Slice biscuits in half. Lay the bottom half of a biscuit on a plate. Top with strawberries and whipped cream. Place the top half of the biscuit over the top. Spoon on more strawberries and whipped cream. Repeat with remaining biscuits. Serve immediately.