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So I know diet diner food isn’t a great sell for everybody, and frankly, I think baking takes far prettier pictures. That said, I have, for Valentine’s Day, a visual gift for all y’all. Strawberry shortcake is a beautiful thing all on its own, but for dessert for two, it can be improved upon.

Generally, in place of shortcake, I make some sweet biscuits, slice ’em open and throw some sugary strawberries and whipped topping on there. However, I’ve been reading aaalllll about different flours and decided to try out the theory that the low protein levels in cake flour makes for a more perfect crumb.

OH MY GOD, I will never go back to all-purpose flour. All-purpose flour varies from region to region and season to season, so while in theory it can make for a seasonal flair, there’s something to be said for fabulous consistency. This recipe makes a tender, delicious, and all-around omnommy shortcake biscuit.

Enter strawberries.

Strawberries.

They’re out of season, but available in most stores. Do yourself a favour and throw out any that aren’t red inside. White strawberries are blech, ugh, and above all else, yucky.

Here’s how to measure your flour perfectly. First, sift onto a flexible cutting board or, as seen here, parchment paper.

Flour!

Funnel the flour into the measuring cup. Oh hey, bitch has tattoos, check that out.

Measuring . . .

Overfill the cup with flour, and DO NOT shake to level it off–this repacks the flour and undoes all your fancy sifting.

Abundance.

Instead, kinda slice off the top with a knife into the sink, or back into your flour bag/box if you can manage it. It’s messy, but it’s the best way.

Cut!

Use a pastry blender or two knives to blend the butter into the flour until it kinda disappears in there. Then add some heavy cream, light cream, or fat free half and half. This is a batter rather than a dough, so no folding out is required, and it will be goopy.

Pre-shortcake.

And hey, back to the strawberries! Except this time they’re seasonally-themed.

I <3 strawberries.

Select the pointiest berries to create the hearts. Then remove the stem and carve out the little stem-pit there. Also, this berry was a poor example, as there was a lot of white under that stem.

Pointy berry.Shink!Scrooch!

Cut the strawberries in half length-wise, then carve a little V out of the top. To further carve out the heart-shape, slice from the already-sliced side and round out the edges. This takes a little bit of practice, and I really didn’t know how to show it in photos (sorry!). Really, though, the strawberries are going to be pushed into the batter anyway, so the edges really don’t have to be all that perfect. They just take better pre-baked photos that way. And that’s how to make strawberry hearts.

V . . . not consummate, sadly.<3.

Scoop two heaving tablespoons of batter into each spot of your muffin pan, then press one of the strawberry hearts into each.

Oh look, it's all my love.

Then bake to perfection. And hey, don’t serve yours this way . . . you need to serve it with sugared strawberries. Really. Trust me. This just took the best picture.

Much love.

Strawberry Heart Shortcake Cupcakes
makes 8 cakes

1 lb fresh strawberries.
2c sifted cake flour (if using all-purpose flour, which is not recommended, reduce to 1.75c sifted)
1 tbsp baking powder
3 tbsp sugar (1 tbsp for the shortcake, 2 for the strawberry topping)
1/2 tsp salt
6 tbsp cold butter
3/4 c light or heavy cream, half and half, or fat-free half and half
Whipped cream, whipped topping, or cream-in-a-can

Rinse the berries, reserving 8-10 small to medium ones with pointy tips. These will be your hearts. Heat the oven to 450.

Slice remaining strawberries into quarters and toss with 2 tbsp sugar to coat. Set aside.

Sift flour on a flexible cutting board or parchment paper. Gently pour into measuring cup, then level off with a knife. I’ll repeat it again just in case you missed it the first time: do not level off by shaking or tapping the measuring cup. You’ll get dry nasty muffins, and nobody wants that.

Sift the sifted flour AGAIN, this time with baking powder, salt and sugar. Cut up the butter, which should have been in your fridge all this time, a little bit to get the blending going. Dump into the flour, then use a pastry blender or two knives to blend together. You’re done when there are no remaining chunks of butter in there. Add in the cream or half and half all at once, then mix until all ingredients are moistened.

Let that sit a bit while you create your strawberry hearts. Pull off stems, carve out the pit with a paring knife, then slice in half. Shape each half into a heart by carving a V at the notch (where the stem used to be). Since the berries will be pushed into the dough, the edges don’t need to make a perfect heart, but the V at the top is pivotal.

Bake for 12 minutes. Remove from oven, let cool a minute or two in the pan, then transfer to wire rack to cool. Serve to your dearest love with the sugared strawberries and whipped cream.

Love, Aleta.

Love,
Aleta

  1. imadedinner Said,

    THAT IS SO FREAKING CUTE!!!!!

  2. Amanda Said,

    Awww…cute! It does away with the diet but WTF. If it makes me happy I’ll make it. Happy V-Day!

  3. Sathish Said,

    Mm excellent pictures!

    http://worldofsathish.blogspot.com

  4. heather Said,

    oooh fancy!! i particularly love the last picture!

  5. Mariposa Said,

    i love the shortcake it looks beautiful and simple to make! i have been debating what to make for dessert this sat.. maybe i should give this a shot!

    BTW- are you in Mass??

  6. informalblathering Said,

    Those are adorable! Mmm, strawberry.

  7. Sara Said,

    Your pictures are fabulous- and what a cute idea! Just looking at those little strawberry hearts gives me warm fuzzies :)

  8. creativecarryout Said,

    Beautiful photos and a gorgeous dessert. Thanks for inspiring me!
    Michelle
    http://oneordinaryday.wordpress.com/

  9. Ingrid Said,

    Love ’em!! They are one of the sweetest looking desserts I’ve seen.
    ~ingrid

  10. Ingrid Said,

    Oh, almost forgot your photos were fabulous, the color & light. I'm still learning. It doen't help that I'm a veeeeeeeeery slooooow learner, too! :-{
    ~ingrid

  11. Ceres Said,

    The heart shaped strawberries are too cute! Great pictures!

  12. Cafe Johnsonia Said,

    That is the cutest thing I’ve ever seen.

  13. raych Said,

    Those strawberries make me want to do something illegal. Like steal some strawberries (as I cannot afford out of season things, or really anything except celery).

  14. Zo Said,

    That signature is so sweet…agh, bad pun not intended!

    Looks splendid…!

  15. Pam Said,

    So cute, creative and tasty. The photos are outstanding! Great recipe.

  16. Tami Said,

    Your food always looks like little works of art. These are just too cute!

  17. Be Like the Squirrel, Girl Said,

    Love it. Can’t wait to try it.

  18. chocolatecup Said,

    omg. this is just so so soooo cute. seriously.

  19. Lo Said,

    It’s true. The nutritional void that is cake flour IS TRULY a textural wonder when it comes to baked goods. Am actually off to make my niece a birthday cake with some-o-that lovely flour…

    This is the cutest idea ever, my dear.

  20. stephchows Said,

    absolutely beautiful! and delicious!

  21. aleta meadowlark Said,

    to all those with nice things to say: thanks!

    Amanda – it's not too bad, dietwise. You can't eat the whole batch or anything, but they're only about 200 calories apiece.

    Mariposa – I am in Mass! From where do you hail?

    Sara – I def go for warm & fuzzy.

    raych – Don't steal my strawberries! =)

    Zo – Thanks! I was really excited to take that picture.

    Squirrel, Girl – If you do, lemme know how it goes!

    Lo – Oh yes, cake flour ftw. And cutest ever are big complimenty words I very much like.

  22. bittersweetblog Said,

    Wow, these photos are stunning, and I now have a terrible craving for strawberries. I can’t wait for them to be back in season…!

  23. Sandy Smith Said,

    So beautiful ~ the berries, the dessert itself, your pics. Love this post!

  24. tigersandtrees Said,

    I just love your blog :). I made these for Valentine’s Day on Friday night before my boyfriend got home. He does not like to consume a lot of calories, since he diets all the time, and I wanted to do something special for him on v-day.

    He’s one of those people who goes, “I don’t want anything, you don’t have to get me anything” and won’t mention anything they want around holidays ( :( ), so I thought I’d bake! He isn’t a huge fan of muffins and it took a lot of convincing to get him to eat one, but he absolutely loved it, and loved the strawberry topping best. :)

    Thanks for the recipe, I just love your stuff!!

  25. Mariposa Said,

    im in pawtucket, ri, formally from mass though.. didnt cross the border too far- i was in mansfield pretty much my whole life! : )

    do you do classes on this stuff?! i need some lessons!

  26. finsmom Said,

    These are adorable! Such great ideas here!

  27. Florzinha do Florzo Said,

    Hello, I’m brazilian and I love your recipes! Here we don’t have all off yours products, but I’ve trying doing some. Sorry the english, but I don’t know write in english as good as I can cook!
    Congratulations!

  28. Reeniā™„ Said,

    Those are too cute!!! What a great idea!

  29. Kelsey Said,

    Those are adorable!

  30. Amy Said,

    Wow! Just found your blog via StumbleUpon. I swore I wouldn’t subscribe to any more food blogs since I just started Weight Watchers and don’t need the temptation, but I’m making an exception for yours! Your photography is stunning and the food looks delicious. Looking forward to following along :)

  31. gaga Said,

    What a great idea. It’s gorgeous!

  32. RhodeyGirl/Sabrina Said,

    gorgeoussssssssssssssssss

  33. BeLovedAiMeE Said,

    that is adorable! I love you blog, you are so talented and I love the artistry incorporating your love of food and photos! xoxox

  34. shir Said,

    dig dig dig
    http://digg.com/food_drink/The_Omnomicon_by_Aleta_Meadowlark

  35. RecipeGirl Said,

    These could not be any cuter. Seriously.

  36. Beth Said,

    Okay so I’m a loser and didn’t even know food blogs existed. Found your site through a friends mention of your famous rainbow cake. And now after reading some of your entries… Your writing style, wit, cooking abilities and insanely awesome pictures, well I think you’re pretty fucking awesome. Have you been published? You should be! Maybe try out blurb? Anyway you rock.

  37. Rachelle @ "Mommy? I'm Hungry!" Said,

    Hi, I followed through from BelovedAimee’s blog. These are too adorable!!!

  38. dawn Said,

    OK, now those are adorable!

  39. Recipe Round-Up ~ Feb 7-13 Sugared Ellipses . . . Said,

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  40. amy Said,

    just made these this afternoon and they turned out perfect! it turned into more of a dough than batter. i think using two knives instead of a pastry blender is to blame. i’m definitely going to get myself one for next time.

    when they were done, the hubby and i had to taste test one before we serve them after easter dinner tomorrow. delicious! it will be perfect after the heavy meal. the sugared strawberries really make a difference too :)

    thanks for the fabulous recipe. definitely a keeper!

  41. Jessica Said,

    These look so awesome and I will be making them for my mom this upcoming Mother’s Day weekend. Question – did you grease the muffin pan before putting the batter in?

    Thanks!

  42. Hamiwill Said,

    I made these over the weekend for a group of students who asked me to cook for prom. They turned our great, and I must agree that cake flour makes all the difference! Thanks for the recipe and the omnom!

    Cheers,

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  45. Susie Said,

    Just a question. I’m an enormous amateur, but I decided to try to make these. They came out a little dense and I think a little bit not sweet enough; what would you suggest next time to make them better?

    Thanks!

  46. RhodeyGirl Said,

    I REALLY want to make these, but I don’t know what you mean by using two knives to blend the butter and flour- I am a cook, not a baker! Any tips would be greatly appreciated!!!

  47. FallenTears Said,

    lol, just cut up the fat (butter) into chunks. It’s just crumbs of butter covered in flour. Just like when you make dough for pie crust.

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