It’s my party and I’ll eat (short)cake if I want to

Sometimes you have a birthday on a Wednesday and have to work ALL day.  And then sometimes you get Tuesday off and have to use your best imagination to pretend it’s your real birthday but really it’s just the day before but you eat cake and get a pedicure anyways.

That is a thing that happened. Today.

I’m really into stretching my birthday into at least a weeklong celebration.  The Wednesday thing works to my advantage this year because I can sandwich my REAL birthday between two weekends of fun.  It’s all part of my master plan MUAHAHAHA. Ok, enough.

Growing up, my dad made my siblings and I a homemade birthday cake every year.  This meant we would get a weeks notice to decide on a flavor.  Inevitably, our flavor choice (if anything but chocolate) would be vetoed by our  mother who doesn’t believe a dessert can be considered dessert without the addition of chocolate.  I mean, sometimes, we’d get our first choice (Hey, mom!), but I know at least a few birthdays were spent eating my second or third favorite kind of cake.  This year it’s all about fruit.  And for once, I’m not talking about my best gays.  I’ve been dying to make this Honey-Vanilla Strawberry Ricotta Shortcake recipe for ages, so my birthday seemed like an ideal occasion to whip it together.  Get it?  Whip it? Like, I had to whip the cream for the topping of the shortcake…puns, you guys.

Without further ado…

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Honey-Vanilla Strawberry Ricotta Shortcakes

*Inspired by Two Peas & Their Pod

Prep time: 15 minutes     Cook time: 12-15 minutes

Ingredients:

For the Honey-Vanilla Strawberries:

1/4 cup water
1/4 cup honey
1 vanilla bean, split lengthwise (or 1 tsp vanilla extract)
1 lb strawberries, sliced

For the Ricotta Shortcakes:

2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
2 1/4 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
3 tablespoons granulated sugar *plus extra tablespoon for sprinkling over top
1 large egg, beaten
1/2 cup buttermilk**
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 cup ricotta cheese
1/2 cup cold butter, cut into small cubes
Milk or heavy cream, for brushing the shortcakes

**To save a few bucks and make your own buttermilk, combine 1 tbsp of vinegar or lemon juice with 1 cup milk and let it sit until it curdles, about 10 minutes.

Whipped Cream:

1 1/2 cups heavy cream, chilled
3 tablespoons powdered sugar
1  teaspoon vanilla extract

Directions:

1. Preheat the oven to 400°F. Line a large baking sheet with parchment paper and set aside.

2. In a small saucepan, combine water, honey, and vanilla bean.  Stir over low heat until honey dissolves.  Remove from heat (if using extract, add here). Let stand 15 minutes. Remove vanilla bean and pour syrup over strawberries.  Toss to coat.  Set aside while you make the shortcakes.

3. In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and sugar. Add the butter pieces to the flour mixture and toss with a fork just until the butter is coated with flour. Using a pastry cutter, fork, or your hands, cut the butter into the flour until you have a mixture of pea-sized or slightly larger clumps of butter and flour.

4. In a small bowl, combine the egg, buttermilk, vanilla, and ricotta cheese. Stir until well combined.

5. Pour the liquid ingredients over the dry ingredients and stir with a spatula until just combined. Don’t overmix the dough. Turn out the dough onto a well floured space and gently and shortly knead the dough. If the dough is too sticky, you can add a little bit of flour as you knead. Pat the dough down into a disk, about 1/2 inch thick. Cut the dough into 8 rounds, using a biscuit or cookie cutter.

6. Transfer the shortcakes to the prepared baking sheet and brush with milk or heavy cream. Sprinkle tops with extra tbsp of sugar. Bake for about 12-15 mins, or until the scones are light golden brown. Let cool on a wire cooling rack.

7. While the shortcakes are cooling, make the whipped cream. Using a mixer, beat the heavy cream, sugar, and vanilla until soft peaks form, about 1 1/2 to 2 minutes.

8. Cut the shortcakes in half. Spoon the honey-vanilla strawberries over the bottom half of the shortcake. Place the top of the shortcake over the strawberries. Top the shortcakes with whipped cream and serve immediately.

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