Oh, tiny dessert, at last I’ve found you (sung to “Sweet Mystery of Life”).
Why do I like tiny desserts so much? My eye just always goes for the miniature. I love the detail. The care. It doesn’t feel overwhelming. I like small bites. (Remember YEARS ago the movie…I think it was called “Gemini”…and the commercial would always isolate the moment when one character is wolfing down a plate of food and another character watches in disgust yelling: “Take human bites!”)
That’s what I like: human bites. Did you ever get a salad in a restaurant and the leaves are the side of your face? So now you have use a fork and knife and get it into pieces you can fit in your mouth. What’s wrong with serving a salad someone can actually eat with a fork?
Same with wine pours. I’ve spent a lot of time in Italy. Nowhere have I found anyone to fill a glass of wine…or fill it to 3/4…odd to see even 2/3 full. A few swallows in the glass. Then pour some more. When someone pours me a too-full glass I get a passing feeling of almost drowning. Too much liquid to comprehend. Sip human sips!
But back to desserts. I never even ate desserts until the last few years. And so I naturally love the little desserts. Pastries, cupcakes, cookies, and slim slices of cake and tarts.
Strawberry Yogurt-Shortcake? Let’s make ’em small. And this isn’t really a shortcake. I use the word to evoke the traditional sweet of strawberry-short-cake. But this is a pleasant surprise of a taste that gives you what you expect and then adds more yumminess.
Mix 2 cups of sliced strawberries with a couple of teaspoons of sugar. Let sit at room temperature for about an hour. Brings out the juices.
In a medium mixing bowl whisk together 2 cups of flour, 2 teaspoons baking powder, 1/4 teaspoon baking soda, healthy pinch of salt and 3 tablespoons sugar. Cut a cold stick of unsalted butter (8 tablespoons) into chunky dice. Add it to flour mixture and using a pastry cutter or 2 knives, cut butter into small or pea-sized pieces. Make a well in the center and pour in a very generous 1/2 cup plain Greek yogurt and 1 large egg. Mix until just combined well.
Knead dough gently on a lightly-floured surface, then pat into a ½ -inch to 1-inch thick circle. Using a biscuit cutter, cut out circles and place on a parchment-lined baking sheet. Reform leftover dough into a disk and cut out more until all the dough is used. Sprinkle the tops with sugar. Bake for about 12-15 minutes in a 400 degree oven until golden. Let them cool.
Add 1 cup cream to a medium mixing bowl. Beat until soft peaks form, add 1 tablespoon of sugar and a drop of vanilla. Beat till stiffer peaks form.
Cut cooled cakes in half horizontally. Add a layer of cream to the bottom half and a layer of sliced strawberries. Top with top half. Add a small dollop of cream to top, and place a slice of strawberry in the cream.
These cakes have a soft consistency with a little chew-bite. The flavor & texture the yogurt brings is perfect for the addition of strawberries and cream.
Strawberries and cream.
Such a perfect pair, you can picture them hand in hand skipping down the lane. Seems a dessert deserving of a Proust-memory-zapping experience. That perfect pair leads us groping around with closed eyes in the days of our childhood. Ah! Here’s Buster, my teddy bear. And here’s my little white furniture desk that my mom painted with a few delicate pink and red flowers. And here’s my strawberries and cream…in a bowl…held by my small hands.