By Jenny McCoy — Instructor, School of Pastry & Baking Arts
The strawberry shortcake — one of the most quintessential American desserts – has seen an evolution like none other.
It started out as a dessert made in the springtime to celebrate the strawberry harvest season. Made of layers of crumbly biscuit or shortbread-like cakes, sweetened cream and strawberries, it was a simple dessert with a gorgeous composition of textures and flavors — soft and creamy, a bit crisp, a bit acidic and ever so sweet. Over time, as chemical-leavening agents such as baking soda and baking powder became more popular in cake recipes, the shortcake used in some recipes became more cake-like, eventually becoming anything from a pound cake to a sponge cake.
I’ve tasted many variations on the strawberry shortcake, from a fancy entremet with precisely even layers of white chocolate cake, whipped mascarpone, strawberry gelée and strawberry sorbet, to strawberry shortcake-flavored OREO™ cookies. However, my absolute favorite of the less-than-traditional interpretations of the dessert is the Strawberry Shortcake Dessert Bar made by Good Humor. Growing up, when the ice cream truck rolled through my neighborhood, they were always my first pick. I would enjoy eating the sweet crumbly coating of the bars first, then slowly work my way to the electric pink strawberry ice cream center.
So this spring, I decided to recreate my childhood treat from scratch. Instead of the original strawberry ice cream center surrounded by vanilla ice cream, I decided to marry the two. I swirled homemade strawberry jam in churned vanilla bean ice cream. The result is downright delicious. And as for the cake part of the ice cream bar (which is actually more like cookies), I ground up freshly baked sugar cookies with freeze-dried strawberries and melted butter, to make what is almost like a hot pink cookie piecrust, and generously coated the ice cream bars by rolling them in the mixture.
What’s your favorite version of the classic strawberry shortcake — biscuits or pound cake? Or do you deviate completely from the original and love something crazy like strawberry shortcake-flavored chewing gum? Try out my take on strawberry shortcake ice cream pops and let us know what you think.
Strawberry Shortcake Ice Cream Bars
Makes about 8 servings
1 batch Strawberry Swirl Ice Cream Pops (recipe below)
1 cup sugar cookie crumbs
1 cup freeze-dried strawberries
4 tablespoons butter, melted
- Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and place in the freezer.
- Combine the cookie crumbs and strawberries in a food processor and drizzle with butter. Pulse a few times to mix. Spread the mixture on a large plate.
- Remove each ice pop by dipping molds briefly in hot water or let stand at room temperature for a few minutes. Quickly remove one ice pop at a time from the mold and dip in crumbs, turning over to coat and pressing to adhere. Transfer the ice pops to the baking sheet in the freezer and let them set until firm, at least 20 minutes. Serve immediately or store in an airtight container for up to one week.
Strawberry Swirl Ice Cream Pops
Makes about 1 quart
1 ½ cups whole milk
1 ½ cups heavy cream
¼ teaspoon salt
½ cup granulated sugar, divided
1 vanilla bean, split and seeded
6 large egg yolks
½ to ¾ cup strawberry jam (recipe below)
- In a medium pot, bring the milk, cream, salt, vanilla bean and ¼ cup of sugar to a boil. Turn off heat and let steep at room temperature for 10 minutes; return to a rolling boil.
- Whisk the remaining ¼ cup of sugar and yolks in a large bowl until smooth. Gently temper the yolks by slowly adding hot cream mixture while whisking constantly. Once completely combined, strain the mixture through a fine-mesh sieve into a large bowl. Place the bowl of ice cream base over another bowl of ice water and stir until cool.
- Churn the ice cream base mixture in an ice cream machine according to the manufacturer’s directions. Transfer the churned ice cream to a large mixing bowl, layering large dollops of strawberry jam in between large spoonfuls of ice cream. Fold once or twice to swirl the jam into the ice cream. Divide the softened ice cream among ice-pop molds, insert sticks and freeze until firm, at least four hours or up to one week.
Yield: Makes about 2 cups
½ pound strawberries, rinsed and hulled
1 cup granulated sugar
2 pinches salt
1 ½ teaspoons pectin
2 tablespoons lemon juice
- In a medium saucepan, combine the strawberries, sugar and salt. Mash the berries until they are crushed. Sprinkle the pectin over the top of the mixture. Cook over medium heat, stirring frequently, until the mixture thickens to a jam-like consistency. Remove from the heat, stir in the lemon juice and let stand at room temperature until cool. Transfer to an airtight container and refrigerate until ready to use.
Sugar Cookie Crumbs
Makes about 1 1/2 cups of cookie crumbs
1 stick unsalted butter, cut into cubes
½ cup granulated sugar
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 ½ cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
Pinch of salt
- Preheat oven to 350° F.
- In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, cream the butter and sugar on medium speed until light and fluffy. Add the vanilla and eggs and mix until combined. Reduce the mixer to low speed and slowly add the flour, baking powder, and salt.
- Divide the dough in half and roll out onto a floured surface until about 1/8-inch thick. Transfer the sheet of dough to a baking sheet. Repeat with the second piece of dough. Bake until light golden brown and set, 14 to 18 minutes. Let cool on the cookie sheet until room temperature. Break the dough into small pieces and grind in a food processor until crumbs. Store in an airtight container until ready to use.
Want to take your pastry skills to the next level? Click here for more information on ICE’s Pastry & Baking Arts program.