So you’ve probably noticed that I don’t post many recipes ’round these parts. And there’s a very good reason for that: I only want to post the really, really good ones. Which seems to be working out nicely, since the last recipe I posted – my Creamy Coconut Curry Red Lentil Dahl – has been met with rave reviews from everyone who’s tried it.
It’s been a loooong time since I’ve posted a dessert recipe, and I’ll admit, this one took me some tweaking before I got it perfect. Luckily, the strawberries keep coming every week in my CSA box, so I’ve had plenty of opportunities to experiment.
Strawberry shortcake is a summer standard, and one of my favorite celebratory desserts. This particular recipe uses the denser, shortbread-style base (there’s a “biscuit” versus “fluffy cake” debate in the strawberry shortcake world, dontchya know) smothered in perfectly ripe, perfectly sun-kissed strawberries and topped with decadent raw coconut cream. I like my shortcake airy but firm, like a sweeter breakfast biscuit. And this gluten-free vegan version does not disappoint!
For the Shortcakes (loosely adapted from this recipe)
1 tablespoon ground chia seed (can substitute ground flax seed, but will change the flavor) + 3 tablespoons alt milk, made into an “egg” (see complete instructions here)
¾ cup brown rice flour
½ cup sweet sorghum flour
½ cup tapioca starch
1 tablespoon + 1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon xanthan gum
¾ teaspoon salt
¼ cup + 2 tablespoons coconut oil, not melted
1 teaspoon vanilla
a heaping ¼ cup sweetener (I used organic evaporated cane juice, you can try substituting another sweetener but if you use a liquid you’ll want to reduce the alt milk)
¾ cup alt milk
Preheat the oven to 400º.
Make your chia egg and refrigerate. (How to make a vegan “egg” for baking)
In a large mixing bowl, combine the flours, starch, baking powder, xanthan gum, and salt. Mix well to combine.
Add the solid coconut oil and use a fork to “cut” it in, until you have a crumbly mixture.
Add the chia egg, vanilla, sweetener, and alt milk, mixing thoroughly.
Lay out the rounds on a cookie sheet lined with parchment or a Silpat, and bake at 400º for 12-15 minutes, until golden.
No traditional strawberry shortcake would be complete without cream, preferably of the “whipped” variety. And for my cream I used fresh young Thai coconuts.
Raw Whipped Coconut Cream
I simply cracked the young Thai coconuts, poured the coconut water into a large bowl, scooped out all the raw coconut meat, and dropped it into the blender. Then I added just enough of the coconut water to be able to get everything blending. This works best if you have a high-speed blender like a Vita Mix or Blendtec. I did 4 coconuts because I like making big batches, but you could do as few as 2.
After it’s blended to a thick cream, you can serve it as is (the coconut water sweetens it, but of course you can also add a liquid sweetener, like maple syrup, coconut nectar, or agave if you want), or you can do like I do and culture it overnight to make a raw coconut yoghurt. And just a helpful note from Captain Obvious, if you want to serve cultured cream with your fresh-baked biscuits, you’ll need to process the coconuts the day before.
To make cultured cream, simply open a capsule of probiotic powder as the coconut cream is blending, so that the probiotic gets well dispersed. Then pour the cream into a large bowl, cover with cheesecloth or a nut milk bag (or clean kitchen rag if that’s all you’ve got), and set it out overnight in a warm-but-not-hot dark place (kitchen cabinets are great).
What you’ll have the next day is essentially raw living coconut yoghurt, an amazingly nourishing, sweet and thick and tangy topping for your strawberry shortcake. It’s also great for breakfast, and backs a probiotic punch that’s great for your digestion and immune systems! Raw cultured young coconut cream is possibly one of the healthiest foods on the planet. Truth.
BUT, if all that seems like too much work (cracking coconuts? are you crazy??!), you can also make some simple whipped cream using store-bought canned coconut milk (directions here, scroll down to the bottom). Or, ya know, you can just use whatever store-bought vegan whipped cream you prefer.
And just a heads up for the nontraditional types, these shortcakes are also excellent topped with vegan strawberry ice cream + fresh strawberry slices. If I’m being honest, I may have actually liked this version best of all!
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