My inbox is typically overcrowded with food newsletters and recipes which cry out for me to make them. In this competition for attention, some scream louder than others. For me, Hershey’s Newsletters usually whisper. As a result, I typically skim through their email, assuming nothing in particular will catch my eye… but one day, I saw something- – an atypical looking Chocolate Chip Shortcake recipe. Unlike traditional shortcakes which are garnished with whipped cream and strawberries, this recipe merged the cake with the filling. With my interest piqued, I glanced at the ingredients list. Rather than use whipping cream or even cream cheese, it called for sour cream and eggs. I was surprised to find no thickening agent in the ingredients list (i.e. flour or cornstarch), which is sometimes used to set cheesecakes. So I figured the binding agent must be the eggs (protein strands and fat) to the fat of the sour cream (thanks Alton Brown for the primer!). The resulting texture is akin to a creme brulee custard or panna cotta, but with a tad more structure to it.
The recipe is a snap to put together; the base is similar to making a batch of cookies and the filling like making cheesecake. The original recipe calls for store bought non-dairy whipped topping but I think fresh whipping cream is best. Besides, I’m not interested in ingesting a food product whose ingredient list can only be deciphered by a scientist. The recipe also calls for strawberries to garnish the top of the pie, but since it’s November in lovely Canada, no dice.
I will admit that the recipe tastes quite simple as well. Not that this is necessarily a bad thing, it would be perfect for a weeknight dessert after dinner. However, there’s definitely room to play with here. Perhaps browning the butter for the base would give it more flavour chutzpah, changing the sugars, using brown for molasses depth or honey for floral notes. Spices and herbs would be great for this as well. For the filling, a lemon or orange zest could really help brighten this dessert… the sky is the limit! If you do modify, don’t be shy to let me know how it goes!
I have adapted the recipe below with my additions/suggestions in italics.
Chocolate Chip Shortcake
1 cup granulated sugar, divided
1/2 cup (1 stick) butter or margarine, softened (butter = flavour!)
1 large egg
2 teaspoons vanilla extract, divided
1-1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 tsp table salt or Kosher salt
1 cup HERSHEY’S Mini Chips Semi-Sweet Chocolate, HERSHEY’S SPECIAL DARK Chocolate Chips or HERSHEY’S Semi-Sweet Chocolate Chips, divided (I used a dark chocolate Lindt bar and cut it into chunks)
1 container (16 oz.) dairy sour cream (full-fat, I’m not sure you can get away with using the low fat stuff simply because the filling may not set)
2 large eggs
2 cups frozen non-dairy whipped topping, thawed (I omitted this. I would recommend using heavy whipping cream instead. Whip it to firm, but soft peaks with 2-4 tbsp of granulated sugar and dollop it onto the cake)
Fresh strawberries, rinsed and halved
1. Heat oven to 350°F. Grease 9-inch springform pan.
2. Beat 1/2 cup sugar and butter in large bowl. Add 1 egg and 1 teaspoon vanilla; beat until creamy. Gradually add flour and baking powder, beating until smooth; stir in 1/2 cup small chocolate chips. Press mixture onto bottom of prepared pan.
3. Stir together sour cream, remaining 1/2 cup sugar, remaining 2 eggs and remaining 1 teaspoon vanilla in medium bowl; stir in remaining 1/2 cup small chocolate chips. Pour over mixture in pan.
4. Bake 50 to 55 minutes until almost set and edges are lightly browned. Cool completely on wire rack; remove side of pan. Spread whipped topping over top. Cover; refrigerate. Just before serving, arrange strawberry halves on top of cake; garnish as desired. (If you’re using real whipping cream, do not spread it onto the cake. It will weep on you and you’ll be left with a pool of whipping cream all over your cake. Instead, when you are just about to serve, spread the cream on then).
Cover; refrigerate leftover dessert (wrap it well in plastic wrap and store it away from foods with strong odours. Apply this rule to all desserts you make!).
Yield: 12 servings