I remember eating strawberry shortcake as a kid. It was a lot different from what I imagine most people’s experience is. We went to Kroger or Marsh, picked up angel food cake, and topped it with strawberries, sugar, and whipped cream out of the can. It wasn’t my favorite dessert (brownies were), but I swear my dad would ask my mom to buy ‘shortcake’ at the store every week.

Sometimes, when we couldn’t find the bundt angel food cake, we’d buy those weird looking little sponge cakes that came in a package of 4 or something. Those were truly gross. Neither cake had much flavor to speak of, but the sponge cakes were soggy, sticky, and chewy. My favorite part was the scooping the very bottom, the part against the lining, off the sponge cake and eating it off the knife. Look, I’m from a family of 8 kids. I was a heathen. I also dumped enough sugar in my rice crispies that I could scoop a spoonful from the bottom with each bite. Looking back, HOW in the HELL was I not obese?!

Fast forward to the first time I made shortcakes from scratch. I can’t tell you exactly when it was; it wasn’t such a pivotal moment that I recall my exact movement through space at the time. But I had gained a limited amount of comfort cooking desserts by myself. I probably pulled the recipe out of one of my mom’s cookbooks, and I’m guessing I had an accomplice, either my older sister or my youngest brother. Although my mom assumed our ultimate goal was to destroy the kitchen beyond repair, we shockingly managed to make something edible, and my dad approved just so that I’d continue trying in order to one day become his resident dessert chef. I think that was always his goal for me.

Those shortcakes though. Those were NOT the shortcakes I was familiar with. I suddenly realized that I had been lied to my entire life and angel food cake wasn’t even a distant cousin of shortcake. Shortcakes were buttery and flaky, not sweet and spongey. I liked them. I don’t make them on a weekly basis because I have now seen how much lard that goes into them, but boy they’re good when you ignore the ingredient list.

I haven’t made a shortcake from scratch in a long time. In fact, my cooking itch is usually appeased enough following dinner that I don’t engage in dessert baking much at all any more. I go for some granola, a sliver of dark chocolate, a couple of bites of ice cream on occasion. My sweet tooth was largely killed off after a month on a ketogenic (or nearly) diet. That’s a story I should tell. Not now though. Let’s get back to these shortcakes.

Okay, so as I’ve explained before, I’m not content making any ‘ol shortcake I pull down off of AllRecipes. No, no, you’re better than that, I tell myself. (By the way, I am SO not. I’m sure the AllRecipes recipes are far superior to my own. I live in a delusional world and I’m generally fine with it, k?) I’ve gotta spice these babies up, make them worth posting on the tiniest corner of the internet where NO ONE will find them. Worth the effort, no?

So I got to cooking, and one thing led to another as they do with me and before I knew it I had a balsamic reduction going, I had discovered a way around sweetening my strawberries, and my shortcakes were grain free. Truthfully, I’d far prefer the taste and texture of a traditional shortcake, but my skin and joints would curse me for days after. We compromised and came up with the following recipe. Best part? I didn’t even plan for this to come out on July 4th. Well done, self.

Strawberry Lavender Shortcake with Balsamic Reduction

Ingredients – makes 6-8 biscuits

Biscuits

  • 1 cup packed almond meal
  • 1/4 tsp baking soda
  • 1/4 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla
  • 1 tsp lavender
  • 1 tsp lemon zest
  • 1/4 cup coconut oil, room temp
  • 3 eggs

Balsamic Reduction

  • 1/2 cup balsamic vinegar
  • 1/4 cup macerated strawberries, mashed

Macerated Strawberries

  • 1 lb strawberries, stems removed and quartered
  • 1 T balsamic vinegar

Directions

  1. For the biscuits
    1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees F.
    2. Combine all ingredients in a food processor and blend until crumbly.
    3. Shape into 2″ balls, and gently press onto a greased cookie sheet.
    4. Bake until golden brown, approximately 12-15 minutes.
  2.  For the strawberries
    1. Place chopped strawberries and balsamic vinegar in a small sauce pan.
    2. Bring the heat up to low, and stir the strawberries just until warm, 2-3 minutes. Set aside.
  3. For balsamic reduction
    1. Place vinegar and mashed strawberries into a small sauce pan.
    2. Bring the heat to medium-low, and gently reduce the balsamic until reduced by half in volume, stirring constantly, 10-12 minutes.
  4. Serve biscuit along with strawberries and balsamic reduction. Feel free to add whipped cream if you’d like!

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