Holiday Recipes

Strawberry Shortcake w/Blueberry Cream Cheese Biscuits

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Strawberry Shortcake with Blueberry Cream Cheese Biscuits (aka Red, White & Blue Shortcake): Enjoy a fun twist on a summer classic with these Red, White & Blue Shortcakes! Featuring fluffy blueberry cream cheese biscuits, a sweet and juicy strawberry topping, and creamy homemade whipped cream, this shortcake is a must for your summer dessert needs. Super easy to make and perfect for the 4th of July!

Strawberry Shortcake with Blueberry Cream Cheese Biscuits (aka Red, White & Blue Shortcake) | Sempre Dolce

OK, so for a loong time strawberry shortcake to me meant pound (or angel food) cake, strawberries (actually, I usually skipped the strawberries!), and whipped cream. Done. The first time to eat it with biscuits was just a “meh” experience. Give me pound cake. Friends, I did not realize that the traditional strawberry shortcake was made with biscuits!

Like, how could not know this?! I’m from the South!

Ah, me.

Strawberry Shortcake with Blueberry Cream Cheese Biscuits (aka Red, White & Blue Shortcake) | Sempre Dolce

But never fear, I’ve now got this down. Biscuits. BISCUITS. b.i.s.c.u.i.t.s. Just because there’s cake in the title does not mean cake is always involved.

Seriously though, I have to say that even growing up with pound cake, biscuits have now become my preferred shortcake. Somehow they seem to compliment the strawberries and whipped cream really well. Even yesterday when I made them for a last minute video shoot and indulged in the subject afterward (I’m a big believer in not wasting food…), it was sheer bliss. And the question is no more: biscuits all the way! Though don’t get me wrong, you hand me pound cake and I won’t complain, but you get the point.

Maybe this is also because I utterly disdain – yes, disdain – my strawberries with any additional sweetness on them, such as whipped cream or chocolate, and the biscuits help to cut down the sweetness. Whatever it is, I’m pro biscuits. Of course, in all other areas of my food life, I’m always pro biscuit (carbs, baby!), so this really should come as no surprise.

Strawberry Shortcake with Blueberry Cream Cheese Biscuits (aka Red, White & Blue Shortcake) | Sempre Dolce

OK, after all this talk about the traditional way to make strawberry shortcake, you would think that’s what I’m giving you today. It mostly is, but I did decide to spice things up by adding blueberries to the biscuits. And thus they became Red, White, and Blue Shortcakes.

But really, the blueberry cream cheese biscuits add a fun and delicious twist. Gosh, I could eat just the biscuits alone. In addition to being delicious, they are super quick and easy to make – most of the mixing is done in the food processor. < My kind of food, right there.

Blueberry Cream Cheese Biscuits | Sempre Dolce

Then there are the strawberries. Mmm… strawberries. All you’re going to do here is half and quarter two pounds of fresh strawberries, add in some sugar, then let them sit for about 20 minutes. After 20 minutes, you’re going to mash about half of them and then set aside to let them release their beautiful juices and become all sweet and delicious.

Strawberry Shortcake with Blueberry Cream Cheese Biscuits (aka Red, White & Blue Shortcake) | Sempre Dolce

For the whipped cream, we’re just going to throw 3 ingredients into a chilled bowl and whisk it all up (uh, using an electric mixer of course – I have the utmost respect for the arm muscles that must have existed before electricity) to fluffy, creamy, perfection.

Then, THEN comes the golden moment; taking a warm biscuit, splitting it in half and layering with all the strawberries and whipped cream our heart desires.

Bliss, sheer bliss.

Enjoy and Cottura Felice!

Strawberry Shortcake with Blueberry Cream Cheese Biscuits (aka Red, White & Blue Shortcake)
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Ingredients

    Strawberry Topping
  • 2 lbs (about 6 C.) fresh strawberries, quartered.
  • ¼ - ½ C. white sugar
  • Blueberry Cream Cheese Biscuits
  • 1 ½ C. all-purpose flour
  • 1 ½ C. cake flour
  • 1 tbsp. white sugar
  • 1 tbsp. baking powder
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • ¾ tsp. baking soda
  • 4 oz cream cheese, cut into small cubes
  • 4 tbsp. unsalted butter, cut into small cubes
  • 6 oz. fresh blueberries
  • 1 C. + 2 tbsp. buttermilk (I highly recommend full-fat buttermilk)
  • 1 tbsp. heavy cream
  • sparkling white sugar, optional
  • Whipped Cream:
  • 2 C. heavy whipping cream
  • ¼ C. powdered sugar
  • 1 tsp. vanilla extract

Instructions

    For the strawberries:
  1. Place strawberries in a medium-sized mixing bowl and pour the sugar over the top. If your strawberries are on the sweet end, I would use ¼ C. - if they’re more on the less sweet end, try ¼ + 2 tbsp. - ½ C.
  2. Stir to coat strawberries and set aside at room temperature for 20 minutes.
  3. While strawberries are sitting, go ahead and place the butter and cream cheese in the freezer.
  4. After 20 minutes, use a potato masher to mash about half of the strawberries and stir to combine.
  5. Set aside while you make the biscuits.
  6. For the biscuits:
  7. Preheat oven to 450° F. and line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
  8. Add first 8 ingredients to the bowl of a food processor and pulse until mixture resembles course meal.
  9. Transfer mixture to a large mixing bowl and add blueberries, gently tossing to combine.
  10. Pour in buttermilk and use a rubber spatula to (gently!) stir until dough comes together. The dough is going to be a bit dry, but if it seems too dry to work with, add a little more buttermilk, no more than 1 tbsp. at a time, specifically targeting any large flour patches.
  11. Turn dough onto a lightly floured surface and briefly knead until dough comes together.
  12. Flour a rolling pin and roll dough into an 8x6” rectangle.
  13. Cut into 12 (2”) squares (I used a dough scraper) and transfer to the prepared baking sheet, sides touching.
  14. Brush tops with with cream and sprinkle with sparkling white sugar, if desired.
  15. Bake for 12-15 minutes, or until golden brown.
  16. While the biscuits are baking, place the bowl of a stand mixer along with the whisk attachment in the freezer (or whatever bowl and beater you will be using to make the whipped cream).
  17. Remove biscuits from oven and allow to cool slightly.
  18. Meanwhile, make the whipped cream.
  19. For the whipped cream:
  20. Place all 3 ingredients in the bowl of a stand mixer, fitted with the whisk attachment.
  21. Whisk until soft peaks form. Transfer to a serving bowl, if desired.
  22. To serve (there are three delicious ways you can serve):
  23. 1.) Set out warm biscuits along with the strawberries and whipped cream and allow people to assemble their shortcakes.
    2.) Cut a warm biscuit in half, top with strawberries and whipped cream, top with the other biscuit half and finish with more strawberries and whipped cream.
    3.) Place a whole biscuit on serving plate and top with strawberries and whipped cream.
    Enjoy!
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https://sempre-dolce.com/strawberry-shortcake-blueberry-cream-cheese-biscuits/

Biscuits adapted from Cook’s Country, whipped cream recipe from Epicurious, and strawberry topping from Simply Recipes.

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Skillet Brownie w/Chocolate Espresso Whipped Cream

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Skillet Brownie with Chocolate Espresso Whipped Cream: This chocolatey skillet brownie is super easy to make and even easier to eat! Fudgy and filled with all the chocolate, then topped with a decadent dark chocolate espresso whipped cream, this is a dessert perfect to make and share with your loved ones!  

Skillet Brownie with Chocolate Espresso Whipped Cream | Sempre DolceHappy Friday and happy start of the weekend! Today, I’m going to get right down to business; brownie business, that is.

Valentine’s Day is 4 days away, tomorrow is 24 hours away (actually, it’s technically 7…), and be it for VD or tomorrow or next week, you need this skillet brownie and the whipped cream that accompanies it in your life. It’s chocolatey, espresso-y, chewy (< in a good way!), easy, fudgy, and there is absolutely no reason for you not to make it. No reason whatsoever – unless you happen to not like brownies, which in that case you may kindly leave the premises. Just kidding, I have plenty of non brownie desserts – but seriously though?

Skillet Brownie with Chocolate Espresso Whipped Cream | Sempre DolceBrownies are my go-to for comfort food. And I will even admit that the most comforting part about them is the process of mixing up the batter then licking the bowl, spatula, and anything with brownie batter remnants. If you’re laughing, I have nothing to say in my defense; I am completely guilty.

Skillet Brownie with Chocolate Espresso Whipped Cream | Sempre DolceAnother comfort food for me is skillet desserts, primarily cookies or brownies. There’s the anticipation of eating them warm, along with the way they just beckon for ice cream and chocolate sauce to be piled on top. Or whipped cream; like this chocolate espresso whipped cream.

Skillet Brownie with Chocolate Espresso Whipped Cream | Sempre Dolce I suppose you could say I’m in a mini espresso kick, but really I will take any chance to add espresso powder (or coffee granules if EP is not on hand) to a dessert. It can add so much to a recipe. However, not everyone may be a fan. So if you’re that person, I have good news: feel free to leave out the espresso in the whipped cream. It will taste decadent enough on it’s own, I assure you.

Skillet Brownie with Chocolate Espresso Whipped Cream | Sempre Dolce

Something else I ♥ about brownies – pardon all the love speak but it is the time for this, right? – is that they are super easy and quick to whip up, making them the perfect antidote to any sudden dessert cravings. This recipe only requires 8 ingredients, all of which you most likely have on hand. These ingredients are:

1.) Butter
2.) Sugar
3.) Vanilla
4.) Eggs
5.) Flour
6.) Salt
7.) Cocoa
8.) Chocolate Chips

If you do not have any of these ingredients on hand, this is where I draw the line and must inform you that we can’t be friends. (I will only make an exception on the grounds that maybe you haven’t been to the grocery store this week.) But I trust that since you are on this site, chances are pretty good that you have these essentials for life sitting around somewhere, amiright?

Something else you will need that you may or may not have is a cast iron or ovenproof skillet. If you do not have one, don’t fret, as you can make the brownie in a 10”round cake pan instead. I’ve done this with a skillet cookie and it turned out perfectly fine.

Skillet Brownie with Chocolate Espresso Whipped Cream | Sempre Dolce

Here’s hoping your weekend is filled with all sorts of fun and leisure, and your Valentine’s Day with skillet brownies, peanut butter cheesecakes, and other things sweet and chocolatey!!

Cottura Felice!

Skillet Brownie w/Chocolate Espresso Whipped Cream
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Ingredients

    Brownie:
  • ¾ C. (1 ½ sticks) unsalted butter, melted
  • 2 ¼ C. granulated sugar
  • 2 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 3 eggs
  • 1 C. + 2 tbsp. all-purpose flour
  • ¾ C. unsweetened cocoa powder
  • ½ tsp. kosher salt (sea or table salt is fine too)
  • 1 ¼ C. dark chocolate chips (you can also use semi-sweet)
  • Chocolate Espresso Whipped Cream:
  • 1 C. heavy whipping cream
  • 1 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 2 ½ tbsp. granulated sugar
  • 3 tbsp. dark or regular unsweetened cocoa powder (I used Hershey’s Special Dark)
  • 1 tsp. Espresso powder or coffee granules

Instructions

    For the Brownie:
  1. Preheat oven to 350° F. and spray a 10” cast iron skillet with cooking spray.
  2. In a large mixing bowl, whisk together the butter, sugar, and vanilla until combined.
  3. Whisk in eggs, one at a time, until blended.
  4. In a small mixing bowl, stir together the flour, cocoa, and salt.
  5. Gradually add the flour mixture to butter mixture, stirring with a rubber spatula to combine. Then stir in ¾ C. chocolate chips.
  6. Spread batter evenly in prepared pan and sprinkle remaining ½ C. chocolate chips over top.
  7. Bake for 35-38 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out with moist crumbs when inserted.
  8. While brownie is baking, make whipped cream.
  9. Once brownies are done baking, transfer to a cooling rack and let cool for about 20 minutes or until desired serving temperature. You definitely want to eat this warm, but not hot.
  10. For the Whipped Cream:
  11. To the bowl of a stand mixer, add heavy whipping cream, vanilla, sugar, cocoa, and espresso powder and whisk briefly to combine.
  12. Cover bowl with plastic wrap and chill in freezer, along with whisk attachment, for 30 minutes, at least.
  13. Once chilled, beat on high speed using the whisk attachment until stiff peaks form. (See note below!)
  14. Transfer whipped cream to a serving bowl.
  15. Serve brownies warm, with chocolate espresso whipped cream and chocolate sauce (if desired) for topping. Plain whipped cream and ice cream also make wonderful toppings.

Notes

If you have beat whipped cream for a few minutes and it’s still a bit runny, place bowl back in freezer for about 10 minutes, then beat again until you reach stiff peaks.

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https://sempre-dolce.com/skillet-brownie-espresso-chocolate-whipped-cream/

Brownie & Whipped Cream adapted from allrecipes.

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Triple Chocolate Peanut Butter Cheesecakes

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Triple Chocolate Peanut Butter Cheesecakes: These cheesecakes are about as good as they come in so small a size. Consisting of four(!) different layers – double chocolate crust, a layer of ganache, peanut butter cheesecake, and topped with an espresso-infused ganache – this is a treat you won’t want to miss!

Triple Chocolate Peanut Butter Cheesecakes | Sempre DolceHey, February, why do you always take so long to get here? Nothing against you personally January, but you’re kind of a long month.

The rest of the year can fly by just like that, but it seems like time makes up for its yearly absence in January. Am I the only one who feels this way? Am I the only one who by the third week just wants to get to February already?

Triple Chocolate Peanut Butter Cheesecakes | Sempre DolceOK, now let’s talk about Valentine’s Day. I must confess to this not being one of my favorite holidays and I’m not sure why, it just doesn’t thrill me a whole lot. I mean, even the candy options aren’t good, IMO. Wait, please tell me you measure your holidays by candy too?

Since Valentine’s Day is coming whether I like it or not, I figured I should probably get with the program and offer some treats appropriate for the occasion.

Triple Chocolate Peanut Butter Cheesecakes | Sempre DolceThat said, I am super excited to share this recipe with you! These cheesecakes are a peanut butter and chocolate lover’s paradise. There’s a lot of palatable goodness packed into such a small size: first, you have the crust which consists of not only chocolate graham crackers, but also chopped chocolate as well! Then there’s the ganache layer – I’m totally drooling right now – followed by the most lovely accompaniment of peanut butter cheesecake and then finished with an espresso-infused ganache topping.

Do I have your attention?

Another thing to love about these Triple Chocolate Peanut Butter Cheesecakes is not only the obvious (hello? peanut butter + chocolate x 3??), but they are perfect for VD (gimme one of these and I’ll love you for life) as well as any other time of year. They are also great for gatherings (I hear the Super Bowl is coming up), etc.

Triple Chocolate Peanut Butter Cheesecakes | Sempre Dolce

Don’t you just love multi-purpose desserts?

If you take a quick glance at the recipe, it may seem a bit daunting. But really the hardest part about this recipe is in the waiting. Trust me, you can make these – I have faith! And when it comes to the waiting? Well, all I can say is hang in there. Perhaps dip some graham crackers into leftover ganache?

Triple Chocolate Peanut Butter Cheesecakes | Sempre Dolce

Whatever it takes.

Peanut butter desserts can often lend themselves to being very rich, which usually means smaller portions (not so bad, I suppose). However, while these are indeed rich, they are just the right size making for a pleasurable indulgence but without being overboard.

Triple Chocolate Peanut Butter Cheesecakes | Sempre Dolce

Cottura Felice!

Triple Chocolate Peanut Butter Cheesecakes
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Ingredients

    Crust
  • 9 chocolate graham cracker sheets
  • 3 oz (½ C.) chopped bittersweet chocolate (or bittersweet choc. chips)
  • 2 tbsp. dark brown sugar
  • 4 ½ tbsp. unsalted butter, melted
  • Ganache Layer
  • ½ C. heavy cream (or heavy whipping cream)
  • 8 oz (1 ⅓ C.) chopped bittersweet chocolate (or bittersweet choc. chips)
  • Cheesecake Layer
  • 6 oz cream cheese, room temperature
  • ½ C. peanut butter
  • ¼ C. + 2 tbsp. granulated sugar
  • ⅓ C. sour cream
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 tsp. vanilla extract
  • Ganache Topping
  • ¼ C. heavy cream (or heavy whipping cream)
  • ¾ C. semi-sweet chocolate chips (or bittersweet)
  • 2 tsp. espresso powder or coffee granules, optional

Instructions

    Crust:
  1. Spray a 12 cup muffin tin lightly with baking spray (or line with paper liners) and set aside.
  2. In the bowl of a food processor, blend together chocolate graham crackers, chopped chocolate, and brown sugar until ground into fine crumbs.
  3. Pour melted butter in a steady stream and continue to process until the crumbs begin to stick together. You may need to scrape the bowl a couple of times to ensure that the butter gets thoroughly combined.
  4. Place about 2 tbsp. of crust into each muffin cup. Using your fingers, press and spread crusts evenly over the bottom of each cup.
  5. Place in freezer while preparing ganache layer.
  6. Ganache Layer:
  7. Place cream in a medium-sized saucepan set over medium heat and bring to a simmer.
  8. Remove pan from heat and whisk in chopped chocolate until mixture is completely smooth.
  9. Remove crusts from freezer and pour about 1 tbsp. of ganache over each crust and spread. You will probably have some ganache leftover - I will leave what becomes of it to your discretion (eating it with a spoon or dipping in graham crackers is totally allowed in my book). ;)
  10. Return to freezer to chill while making cheesecake layer, at least 15 minutes.
  11. Cheesecake Layer:
  12. Preheat oven to 325° F.
  13. In a medium/large sized mixing bowl, using a handheld mixer (or you can use a stand mixer, but I think the handheld might be better in this case), beat together cream cheese, peanut butter, and granulated sugar until thoroughly combined and fluffy.
  14. Mix in sour cream and then the eggs, one at a time.
  15. Beat in vanilla and mix until smooth.
  16. Remove crusts from freezer and divide cheesecake batter evenly between the crusts.
  17. Bake cheesecakes for 25 minutes, or until slightly firm to the touch and tops appear dry.
  18. Transfer to a cooling rack and let cool for about 45 minutes then transfer to fridge.
  19. Allow to chill in fridge for at least 2 hours, but preferably 3-4+ hours.
  20. Ganache Topping:
  21. Place chocolate chips and espresso powder/coffee granules in a small bowl.
  22. Heat cream in a small microwave safe dish/bowl/cup for about 30 seconds.
  23. Pour over chocolate chips and let sit for about 5 minutes, then whisk until smooth.
  24. Run a small knife (a grapefruit knife works well, if you have one) around the edges of each cheesecake and transfer to a serving plate or platter.
  25. Top each cheesecake with ganache and gently spread, leaving some room on the sides. I would say use probably no more than 1 tbsp. of ganache on each cheesecake. You may end up with a little extra ganache - I won’t judge if you use the rest of it on your own personal cheesecake…
  26. Place cheesecakes in fridge for about 30 minutes to allow ganache to set (alternately, you can freeze for 15 minutes for speedier ganache setting). Keep in fridge until ready to serve.

Notes

You probably noticed in the photos the powdered sugar dusting the cheesecakes? I’m sorry to say I did that purely for photography purposes (shame on me, I know) and wouldn’t recommend actually doing it, as it will seep into the ganache topping. If you do, please dust right before (and I mean right before) serving. :)

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https://sempre-dolce.com/triple-chocolate-peanut-butter-cheesecakes/

Recipe adapted from Smitten Kitchen

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Classic Scottish Shortbread

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Classic Scottish Shortbread (aka Great Grandpa Taylor’s Shortbread): Buttery. Crunchy. Classic. So good. This shortbread is all that and more! A family recipe, authentically Scottish, and easy to make, you need this shortbread in your life ASAP. :) 

Classic Scottish Shortbread | Sempre-Dolce.com

Welp, we’re 2 days away. How do you feel?

I must confess to trying ward off the Christmas blues. And our tree is not helping any. You know what the pathetic thing looks like right now? It looks like Christmas was two months ago. Not only is it droopy, but the branches are so dry and bristle that if a spark were to fly out from the fireplace and hit it, the whole tree would probably burst into flames! I don’t know what we did to it, but it’s been the biggest disappointment of this Christmas season. :(

So not only do I have the stores fighting against keeping the Christmas spirit alive – empty shelves, Christmas items condensed into one space, the arrival of Valentine’s and spring stuff – but our tree as well!

So. Sad.

If I could go out and buy a new tree right now I would.

Ok, so last post I talked about favorite Christmas movies and then mentioned that in today’s post we would discuss music – you game? Here ya go:

Favorite Christmas Work: Handel’s “Messiah” (this recording is my favorite)

Favorite Christmas Composers (i.e. composers whose music best imparts the spirit of Christmas): John Rutter, Michael W. Smith, and Alan Silvestri (check out these albums here, here, here, & here)

Random Favorites:

…and I could go on and on, but I hope you get something from this sampler! What is some of your favorite Christmas music? :)

Since we’re on the subject of favorites, we need to talk about this shortbread. This shortbread is a family favorite and that’s because not only is it a family recipe, but it’s authentically Scottish.

HOW COOL IS THAT??

Classic Scottish Shortbread | Sempre-Dolce.com

My mom is part Spanish and part Scottish, so I don’t even need to tell you which side of the family this recipe came from… ;)

I’ve shared this recipe in many forms, but now I’m giving you the original un-altered version. It’s buttery (but not too buttery), easy to make, perfect for gifting, has the perfect amount of crunch, and yum, yummy!

Classic Scottish Shortbread | Sempre-Dolce.com

Enjoy, Merry Christmas, Happy New Year, and Cottura felice!

P.S. I’m going to be a little absent from the blog (or at least not posting as much) for the next few weeks to enjoy some baking, family time, and playing travel agent – I hope everyone has a fun and safe holiday!

Classic Scottish Shortbread
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Ingredients

  • 6 C. all-purpose flour
  • 1 C. granulated sugar
  • 2 C. (4 sticks/1 lb) butter softened and cut into 1 tbsp. slices
  • 6 egg yolks

Instructions

  1. In a large mixing bowl, stir together flour and sugar.
  2. With your hands, knead butter into flour mixture until well blended, about 5 minutes. It will be done when dough forms a moist crumb and there are no visible chunks of butter.
  3. Using your hands, mix in egg yolks. Start with three, mix, and form a small ball. If the dough is too dry and falls apart, add another yolk - you should need no more than 6 yolks total. Also keep in mind that this is a very crumbly dough in general, but it should still hold together when you squeeze some together in your hand.
  4. Preheat oven to 350° F.
  5. Divide dough into 7 tennis ball-sized balls.
  6. On a floured surface, pat each dough ball into a round ½ in. thick and about 5 ½ in. in diameter. You can also use a rolling pin if needed.
  7. Place cookies on an un-greased baking sheet and you can either bake them whole, press in designs with cookies (however, don’t press all the way through), or cut into 8 little triangles.
  8. Sprinkle with decorator’s sugar, if desired (you might need to press it slightly into the round so that it’ll stick better :).
  9. Bake at 350° F. for 15 min, then turn the temperature down to 300° F. and bake for 20-30 minutes, or until firm and light brown. The shortbread should not be golden brown or they will be overcooked (please don't use my photos for reference as you can see my cookies were, um, slightly overdone...).
  10. Remove from oven and let cool slightly on pan before transferring to a wire rack to finish cooling.

Notes

You can also cut out shapes and ice these (like gingerbread), if you desire - just make sure the cookies are completely cool before icing. :)

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https://sempre-dolce.com/classic-scottish-shortbread/

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