I’m generally not a fruit and chocolate gal, but I’ll make an exception for these Double Chocolate Berry Shortcakes. Made with dark chocolate biscuits, chocolate whipped cream and fresh berries, this spin on the classic dessert has “delicious” written all over it!
Getting deep chocolate flavor into these biscuits was more challenging than just adding some cocoa powder. My starting point was my five ingredient cream biscuit base, but you’ll see that I deviated pretty significantly. I added cocoa, of course, but also chopped dark chocolate, granulated espresso and brown sugar for a good bittersweet flavor. Butter and heavy cream provide just enough moisture to bind the dough. Baking powder and baking soda leaven everything and produce good crackly tops, which are made all the better with crunchy coarse sugar.
I would normally encourage you to bake your biscuits close together so that they rise up instead of out, but I prefer to bake them separately here. Because cocoa powder doesn’t play by the rules of gluten, these will expand pretty dramatically. The results have distinct, crisp exteriors and tender interiors, perfect for splitting and layering with berries and cream. I tested this recipe seventeen times, and while these are not the tallest chocolate biscuits I made, they are by far the most delicious. I don’t know about your kitchen, but in mine, delicious beats aesthetic perfection every time. Craggy tops and soft centers for the win!
As far as assembly goes, this is a pretty run-of-the-mill shortcake operation. I like to use a fork to gently split the cooled biscuits into two thin layers, then sandwich them with chocolate whipped cream, berries and chopped dark chocolate. I add an extra flourish on top because I think it’s pretty, but feel free to leave your shortcakes unadorned if that’s more your style.
You’ll notice that I didn’t specify any particular berry for these shortcakes. Why limit yourself, you know? I used a mix of strawberries and raspberries because that’s what sounded good at the time. Feel free to use any berry (or other fruit) you like. We’re already twisting a classic—might as well do away with all the rules.
Double Chocolate Berry Shortcakes
makes about 12 shortcakes
1 3/4 cup + 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
6 tablespoons natural unsweetened cocoa powder
1 1/2 teaspoons granulated espresso (optional)
6 tablespoons light or dark brown sugar, packed
2 1/4 teaspoon baking powder
3/4 teaspoon baking soda
3/4 teaspoon Kosher or sea salt
6 tablespoons unsalted butter, very cold
2.5 ounces dark chocolate, finely chopped
1 cup + 2 tablespoons heavy cream + more for brushing, very cold
1 tablespoon coarse sugar
20-24 ounces fresh berries (about 4-5 cups)
1/4 cup granulated sugar
Chocolate Whipped Cream (recipe below)
2 ounces dark chocolate, finely chopped
Preheat oven to 425F. Line a rimmed baking sheet with parchment.
In a medium mixing bowl, stir together flour, cocoa powder, espresso granules, brown sugar, baking powder, baking soda and salt. Using your fingertips (not your palms!) or a pastry blender, cut cold butter into flour mixture until it is roughly the size of peas. Stir in chopped dark chocolate.
Pour in heavy cream. Stir with a rubber spatula or wooden spoon until a shaggy dough forms. You may need to knead it in the bowl a couple of times. If it seems too dry (“dusty”), add more cream by the tablespoon.
Turn dough out onto a floured (or cocoa powdered) surface. Give it 1-2 kneads before patting into a 1-inch thick rectangle. Flour a large, sharp chef’s knife before slicing the rectangle into 12 biscuits. Be sure to slice directly down—do not saw.
Evenly space biscuits on prepared pan, leaving 2.5 inches between each. Brush the tops with more heavy cream and sprinkle each with coarse sugar. Bake for 14-15 minutes, or tops are craggy and they have spread somewhat dramatically. Let biscuits cool completely the pan.
While the biscuits are cooling, fold berries and sugar together in a medium mixing bowl. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and let sit (macerate) at room temperature for up to an hour.
When the biscuits are cool and the berries are ready, make the chocolate whipped cream (recipe below).
Assemble shortcakes. Use a fork to gently split biscuits in half equatorial (it’s okay if they’re not perfect). Gently move the bottom half of a biscuit to a plate. Top with chocolate whipped cream and berries. Place the top half of the biscuit over the top. Garnish with more chocolate whipped cream and berries, if desired. Serve immediately.
Leftovers are best eaten within a day or so.
Chocolate Whipped Cream
makes ~1 1/2 cups (enough for 6-8 desserts)
2 cups heavy cream, very cold
4 tablespoons natural unsweetened cocoa powder
4 tablespoons confectioner’s sugar, depending on preference
In a medium-large mixing bowl, combine heavy cream, cocoa powder and confectioner’s sugar. Use an electric mixer to whip cream until stiff peaks form. Do not over whip (but if you do, just add a little more cream).
Load whipped cream into a piping bag fitted with a tip or scoop with a spoon and use as desired.