It was sweltering in southern Minnesota, 98 degrees Fahrenheit with fifty percent humidity. I was put in charge of bringing dessert to a Fourth of July barbeque held by my best friend, his weirdo roommates and a handful of townies that I could never decide if I even liked, yet constantly yearned for their acceptance. Red white and blue cake seemed too obvious. Jell-O cake too lowbrow. I toyed with the idea of making lemonade cake, but quickly decided that would be a sticky mess in the July heat.
What could be more quintessentially American or summer than strawberry shortcake? I started pulling ingredients out of my cupboard and refrigerator. I sprayed a no-stick baking spray on some cupcake pans and quickly set to work mixing the ingredients for the shortcake biscuits. After baking, I removed the biscuits from the cupcake pans and let them cool on a rack. While the biscuits were cooling, I sliced some strawberries and set out to whip up some cream.
When I went to add powdered sugar to my chilled heavy whipping cream, I noticed that the container was crawling with ants—but not just any ants, SUPER ants. These were the ants that give you nightmares. The ones you envision carrying off an entire human body to their underground home. Then I realized they weren’t exactly moving. Did they suffocate in powdered sugar? If there was such a lack of oxygen, how did they even get inside the container? Were they smaller before gorging themselves to death on powdery confection? Did they OD on this fine, white, powdery substance?
I pulled myself together, calmed by the fact that they didn’t seem to be moving, and considered my next move.
There weren’t that many ants in the container. I could probably spoon them out. Could I feed these people Super Ant Strawberry Shortcupcakes? I didn’t even actually like most of them. I must admit, the thought did cross my mind. Luckily, for everyone who attended this Fourth of July barbeque, I decided to make one last trip to the grocery store for more powdered sugar.
2 cups all-purpose flower
2 ½ teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoons vanilla
1 ½ cups granulated sugar
½ cup butter (1 stick), softened
1-cup heavy whipping cream
1-teaspoon vanilla extract
1 tablespoon powdered sugar
2 quarts fresh strawberries, sliced
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Spray muffin tins with nonstick cooking spray.
Combine flour, baking powder and salt in medium bowl. Combine milk and vanilla in measuring cup. Beat 1 ½ cups sugar and butter in a large bowl with an electric mixer until creamy. One at a time add the eggs, beating well each time. Add flower mixture a little at a time with the milk mixture, beating until blended. Spoon batter into prepared tin, filling about ¾ full.
Bake 15-20 min or until toothpick inserted comes out clean. Cool cupcakes in pans on wire racks and remove from pans when completely cool.
Beat cream in large bowl with an electric mixer at a high speed until soft peaks form. Gradually add powdered sugar, beat until stiff peaks form.
I cut each biscuit in half and placed them with the top side down on a flattened cupcake liner. I then layered on whipped cream, strawberries, biscuit bottom, whipped cream and more strawberries. They turned out really well, and while I didn’t win any awards at the county fair this year, I think the townies liked me just a little bit more than they did before. Maybe.
Brittney Hansen is a cupcake enthusiast and a writer for HalloweenCostumes.com. When bringing baked goods to work, she likes to dress the part in this particular Strawberry Shortcake outfit. Maybe that’s why the locals aren’t quite sure what to make of her.