In the South, strawberry shortcake and the 4th of July just go hand-in-hand. There’s no better way to top off a backyard holiday barbecue than with fresh seasonal fruit topped with whipped cream. These Strawberry Shortcake Jars are the simplest recipe that delivers crowd-pleasing results every time.
So, how can we improve upon perfection? I grew up eating those little pre-formed shortcake discs sold in the supermarket stacked high beside the strawberry produce bin. Now I’ll admit, there’s absolutely nothing wrong with that, but I believe we can get a little creative with this ubiquitous dessert. Angel food cake has served me well as a foundation to build my strawberry hill, and freshly baked biscuits are an equally worthy platform.
But recently, my wife Roxanne discovered a combination that creates a shortcake that is long on flavor. In her version, a rich, buttery vanilla pound cake adds to the strawberry party with both taste and texture. I love how the cubes of pound cake soak up the juice and cream and explode with a burst of flavor in every bite. And when layered up vertically in a tall Mason jar, her fun and visually stimulating Strawberry Shortcake Jars scream with Southern sass and simplicity.
She likes to make these Strawberry Shortcake Jars ahead and let them hang out to chill in the refrigerator. Then at the end of the party, she just tops them with a dollop of cream and a little fresh mint garnish for some sweet rewards. Oh, and if you want some fireworks, I like to add a splash of dark rum for a kicked-up version of these Strawberry Shortcake Jars.
Happy 4th of July from the Grahams!
- 4 cups all-purpose flour
- 2 teaspoons baking powder
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt
- 2 cups sugar
- 2 ½ cups softened butter
- 8 large eggs
- 2 tablespoons vanilla extract
- 4 cups heavy whipping cream, chilled
- 2 tablespoons vanilla extract
- 8 tablespoons caster sugar
- 6 cups fresh strawberries, tops removed, sliced, and sweetened
- 8 tablespoons dark rum, optional
- 8 sprigs mint, for garnish
- 8 whole strawberries, for garnish
- Preheat the oven to 350ºF.
- In a large mixing bowl, sift the flour. Add the baking powder and salt and stir to combine.
- In a large mixing bowl, add the sugar and 2 cups of softened butter. With a hand mixer on medium speed, beat the mixture until combined and smooth in texture. While continuing to mix on low speed, add the eggs and increase the speed as they incorporate. Add the vanilla and resume beating until mixed.
- Scrape the bowl down and add the dry ingredients. On low speed, resume beating until fully combined.
- With the remaining ½ cup of softened butter, grease the inside of two standard size loaf pans. Pour the mixture evenly into each and place in the oven. Lower the oven temperature to 325ºF and cook for 40 minutes. Check on the cakes and cover with foil to prevent browning, if needed. Continue baking another 20 minutes. After 1 hour, remove the foil and bake until completely done and a bamboo skewer comes out clean. Remove the pans and let cool. Once cool, carefully remove from the pans.
- Place a large stainless steel mixing bowl in the freezer for 30 minutes.
- Remove the bowl and add the cream and vanilla. With a handheld mixer on medium speed, begin beating the cream. Once the cream begins to thicken, slowly add the sugar while continuing to mix. Continue mixing until fully whipped. Cover with plastic wrap and place in the refrigerator until ready to use.
- In 8 pint-size Mason jars, add 1 tablespoon of the whipped cream on the bottom and place a couple chunks of pound cake on top. Add a layer of sliced strawberries and top with a spoonful of whipped cream. Repeat the same process until each jar is filled. If using alcohol, add 1 tablespoon of rum to the top of each. At this point refrigerate the jars until ready to garnish and serve.
- Just before serving, top off each jar with whipped cream. Add a whole strawberry to the rim and garnish with a sprig of fresh mint. Serve immediately while cold.
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