Recipe: Peach Shortcake

Happy first day of summer, friends!

We've already had a few weeks of summer heat and so far I've dug my toes into the sand, bbq'ed a few hot dogs (as well as had my fav summer beer), hung by the pool, and covered myself in sunscreen and/or bug repellant from head to toe. I'm hoping for more of that as the summer weekends fly by. I thought about making a summer bucket list, but might just try to chill and see what the weekends bring.

Do you have big summer plans? Vacations and trips and big ideas? I hope you do! Got a bbq where you can't show up empty handed? I can help with that!

A twist on a strawberry shortcake, we're going a little wild and adding peaches instead of berries PLUS brushing these sweet little cakes with some peach syrup. The perfect way to feed a summer crowd but easy enough to throw together. We're hitting that sweet spot.

Peach Shortcake with Whipped Cream

Yields 8-12 slices

For the cake:
1 1/2 sticks butter, softened
1 1/2 cup sugar
3 large eggs, room temperature
2 cups flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup buttermilk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

For peach cake syrup:
1/2 cup peach puree (made from 1-3 peaches)
2/3 granulated sugar
1 1/2 tablespoons water

For the whipped cream:
2 cups heavy cream
2 tablespoons sugar
1 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
5-7 peaches

Preheat oven to 350 degrees and prepare three 9-inch round cake pans by coating in butter and a thin layer of flour.

Make your cake: In the bowl of an electric mixer, beat butter and sugar for 5 minutes until light and fluffy. Add in the eggs, one at a time, until combined.

In a separate bowl, sift flour, baking soda, baking powder, and salt to remove any lumps and combine ingredients. Mix in half of the dry ingredients to the butter/sugar/egg mixture, then mix in the buttermilk and vanilla. Add the other half of the dry ingredients, mixing just enough to combined. Scrape down the bowl.

Split the batter evenly between the three 9-inch cake pans and bake for 20-30 minutes until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Let cool in their pans for 10 minutes, then finish cooling on a cooling rack.

Make your cake syrup: While the cake is baking, make your cake syrup. In a food processor, puree 1-3 peaches until you have a 1/2 cup of puree. In a small saucepan combine peach puree, sugar, and water. Heat over medium heat until the sugar dissolved (about 5 minutes) and remove from heat. 

Once your cakes are cooled, use a pastry brush to brush the syrup onto all over the top of them. Wait a few minutes until the syrup soaks in , then repeat. You can do this as many times as you want (I did 2-3 times), but you will have extra peach syrup.

Make your whipped cream: Place your metal mixing bowl and wire attachment in your fridge 10 minutes before you begin whisking. Add heavy cream and sugar to the bowl of the mixer. Begin whisking on low, and then gradually increase the speed until medium-high. Add in your vanilla extra. Continue to whisk until you have siff peaks (about 5-7 minutes).

Assemble the cake: place one cake on the center of a cake stand or large plate. Using a rubber spatula, spoon a third of the whipped cream into the center of the cake and spread towards the outside. Thinly slice your peaches and place them in an even layer on the whipped cream. For presentation purposes, you want to them to be all the way to the edge of the cake so you can see them once you assemble the rest of the cake. Repeat with the middle and top layer.

Store in the refrigerator or chilled space before serving. Because this is a "naked" cake, you'll want to eat the same day as the exposed cake will dry out faster.

Recipe: Strawberry Shortcake Ice Cream Sandwiches

Today I've brought you something that's been floating around in my brain for MONTHS now. For Christmas, G gave me the ice cream maker attachment for my KitchenAid (!!!!) and after looking through a bunch of new ice cream cookbooks and the book that came with the attachment, I decided I wanted my first endeavor to be strawberry ice cream.

This is kind of a strange choice for me. I like strawberry ice cream, but I definitely wouldn't say it's my favorite or even go-to ice cream (for those wondering at home, my go-to ice cream is peanut butter swirl). But strawberry seemed easy enough, better than just plain vanilla, and a flavor that would lend itself to being homemade. Strawberry ice cream from a carton is good, but homemade strawberry ice cream, where you chopped the strawberries and made it that day, would be next level.

But it wasn't until I made these Raspberry-Dusted Lemon Donuts that I discovered the amazingness of freeze-dried fruits (I get mine at Whole Foods). I can't get enough! And, added bonus, they kind of mimic the crunchy bits on a strawberry shortcake ice cream bar! The Strawberry Shortcake Ice Cream Sandwich was born.

Strawberry Shortcake Ice Cream Sandwiches

Makes 12 sandwiches

For Sugar Cookies
10 tablespoons unsalted butter, room temperature
2/3 cup vegetable shortening
1 1/2 cups sugar
2 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
3 1/3 cups flour

Strawberry Ice Cream
1 pint strawberries, hulled and chopped into small pieces
1/2 cup sugar
2 tablespoons lime juice
3/4 cup milk
1 1/2 cups heavy whipping cream
1/2 cup sugar
2 eggs
1 teaspoons vanilla extract
1/2 oz freeze-dried strawberry slices, crushed into small pieces but not dust (optional)

Make your ice cream: In a bowl, mix chopped strawberries with 1/2 cup of sugar and lime juice. Refrigerate for at least 1 hour. 

In a large bowl, whisk eggs until light and fluffy (about 2 minutes). Whisk in sugar until combined. Add in milk and vanilla extract and whisk until combined. Switch to a rubber spatula and add in strawberries and all the juice. Finally, stir in heavy whipping cream. Pour mixture into ice cream machine and follow manufacturer's instructions. Once ice cream is done, pour into a 9x11 inch baking sheet and spread evenly. Place in the freezer for 2 hours (overnight is even better).

Make your cookies: Cream butter and shortening with an electric mixer. Add sugar and mix until light and fluffy 3-5 minutes. Add eggs one at a time and vanilla extract. In a separate bowl, lightly whisk flour, salt, and baking powder to combine. With your mixer on low, add dry ingredients to the butter/egg mixer.

Drop rounded balls of dough onto a baking sheet lined with parchment paper or a silicone baking mat. I made mine about a tablespoon and a half large. Bake 8-10 minutes or until bottoms just begin to brown. Allow cookies to cool slightly on the baking sheet, about 5 minutes, and then transfer onto a cooling rack to cool completely.

Make your sandwiches: Once cookies are completely cool, match cookies of the same size. Spread your crushed freeze-dried strawberries onto a plate. Because I wanted to ice cream centers to be uniform, I used a circle cookie cutter to cut out pucks of ice cream all the same size. I placed each puck onto a cookie and topped with another cookie, pressing them together slightly. If you want to make your sandwiches the easy way, scoop a large ice cream scoopful of ice cream and place it on one cookie. Using the other cookie, press the sandwich together. Either way, they'll be beautiful and delicious.

Over the plate, spoon the crushed strawberries onto the sides of one half of the ice cream center, pressing lightly with the back of the spoon until they stick. Place back in the freeze to harder completely. Once completely frozen, store in an air tight container in the freezer. Enjoy!