Serious Eats: Recipes

Essentials: Strawberry Shortcake

I'm about to type a cop-out phrase that I would immediately cut if I were editing someone else's work: I don't know if I can find words to express how I feel about strawberry shortcake. What keeps coming to mind is Buddy's gleeful, innocent enthusiasm in Elf: "Smiling's my favorite!" Strawberry shortcake's my favorite, no contest, and I look forward to it all year long. Properly made it offers purer pleasure than any other food I know. It is luxury, it is summer, it is bliss.

Strawberry shortcake is not a towering, gloppy affair, nor should it ever involve Cool Whip, a little boat of grocery store sponge cake, or out-of-season strawberries. It is a biscuit (preferably a cream biscuit) split in half and topped with barely sweetened sliced strawberries and whipped cream. It looks appealingly homey, but its balance of flavors and textures is simply elegant. It melts in your mouth and tastes ambrosial. It's easy to make and, despite what the cookbooks say, still pretty good the second day. Lindsey Shere's recipe is a thing of beauty. If you say you don't like strawberry shortcake, I say either you hate strawberries (and who are you?) or you've just never tried the real thing.

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