As my Canadian readers know, this weekend is a holiday weekend with Canada Day falling on the Monday. For many of us, that means a fun weekend full of BBQs, camping, fireworks, the beach, and spending time with friends and family. I'm not sure how many of those things I'll get to squeeze in, but I'm looking forward to a relaxing long weekend!
And to celebrate the holiday on my blog, I wanted to share some kind of treat that would work either as a Canada Day recipe or just as a regular treat (since I know most of my readers are not Canadian).
Strawberry shortcake isn't necessarily known as being a "Canadian" dessert, but it's something I grew up with and have always loved. To me, it's a symbol of both Canadian summers and the local strawberry picking season - both of which have always seemed far too short!
Every time we came home with a basket of freshly picked strawberries, my sisters and I would request strawberry shortcake for dessert - a pillow of buttery, flaky biscuit topped with sliced strawberries and lots of whipped cream. I remember savouring every bite as we sat outside enjoying the warm weather, and trying to coordinate each of my bites so that I wouldn't run out of strawberries too quickly!
Now that I'm a bit older, I still love the traditional strawberry shortcake that I grew up with, but I wanted to create a new version using all vegan ingredients, since I prefer baking without dairy.
I also wanted to play up the Canadian theme, so I incorporated maple syrup - one of the well-known culinary symbols of Canada - into every component: the shortcakes, the strawberries, and the whipped cream!
The shortcakes, based off a recipe from The Healthy Everythingtarian, are made with coconut oil and soy milk instead of butter and cream, and I added a bit of maple extract for extra flavour.
Next was the strawberries - rather than just slicing them up, I wanted to make them a bit more special by roasting them in the oven with maple syrup and vanilla to get an even more concentrated flavour and make them nice and soft and juicy.
Finally, I made a fresh batch of coconut milk whipped cream (see posts from other blogs here and here if you're not familiar with this idea). Instead of flavouring it with powdered sugar and vanilla like I usually would, I used maple syrup as the sweetener, along with a splash of maple extract.
I couldn't wait to dig in as soon as I finished taking photos of it, and I loved everything so much that I immediately went back for a second serving, telling myself it's acceptable to eat two helpings for breakfast!
I was impressed with the texture of the shortcakes - they were soft yet crumbly, and I loved the sweetness of the maple to make them more of a treat than plain biscuits. The maple flavour was subtle throughout but still noticeable, and I loved the way the roasted strawberries just melted into the shortcake and the whipped cream.
I think this would make a great addition to a Canada Day meal for those of you who are celebrating the holiday this weekend, or just a great finish to a summertime meal any day!
Maple Strawberry Shortcakes with Coconut-Maple Whipped Cream
Shortcakes adapted from The Healthy Everythingtarian; everything else my own
2 cups halved strawberries (slice berries in half, then measure)
1 tbsp pure maple syrup
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1/3 cup non-dairy milk (I used vanilla soy milk)
1 tsp lemon juice
1 cup whole wheat pastry flour
1 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp kosher salt
2 tbsp organic cane sugar
3 tbsp solid coconut oil
1/2 tsp maple extract
1 can coconut milk, chilled in the fridge for at least 1 day
2-3 tsp pure maple syrup
1 tsp maple extract
Preheat oven to 400°F.
Toss the halved strawberries with the maple syrup and vanilla. Transfer mixture to a small baking dish and roast in the preheated oven for 15-20 minutes, until the berries are softened (but still hold their shape). Remove from oven and set aside. Keep the oven turned on.
While strawberries are roasting, prepare the shortcakes. First, mix the milk and lemon juice together and set aside for at least 5 minutes. In a medium sized bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and sugar. Add the coconut oil and use a fork or pastry cutter to cut it into the dry mixture, until it becomes dense, moist crumbs. Add the milk mixture and maple extract and stir just until the wet ingredients are incorporated.
Use a 1/4 cup measure to divide batter into four equal biscuits. Drop biscuits on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper, patting the dough into round shapes. (Tip: If your kitchen is warm, you might want to stick the baking sheet in the freezer for 5 minutes before baking to help the biscuits keep their shape and prevent them from spreading too much in the oven). Place baking sheet in the oven and bake for 12-15 minutes, until biscuits are lightly browned and a bit firm on top. Let cool on a wire rack.
While shortcakes are baking, prepare the whipped cream: Open the chilled can of coconut milk and scoop out the thickened cream portion on top into a bowl (leave the water in the can behind - you can drink it or discard it). Use a stand mixer or hand mixer to whip the cream until it becomes thick. Add the maple syrup one teaspoon at a time, beating it in after each addition, until you reach your desired sweetness level. Add the maple extract and beat again, until you have semi-stiff peaks (mine didn’t get quite as firm as regular whipped cream, but it will thicken up more in the fridge).
To serve, place a warm biscuit on a plate (you can slice it in half horizontally if you want). Top with one-quarter of the roasted strawberries and a generous helping of whipped cream. Repeat with remaining biscuits.
Makes 4 servings, plus extra whipped cream*.
*Note: the leftover whipped cream goes really well as a dip for fresh strawberries on their own too!