Strawberry Summer: Chocolate Strawberry Shortcake

 This time last year: Steamed Lobster: A How-To Guide

My nephew Kieran and I have just returned from picking strawberries.  In fact, this year, I have picked strawberries three times, a chore I would not usually look forward to!  That’s because I’ve finally discovered a lovely U-Pick just down the road.  I might have gone there sooner, but it’s not set up like your typical berry farm.  First, you can’t see the strawberry plants from the road.  Second, there’s a sign outside the farmhouse, but until you work up the nerve to knock on the door, there’s no one in sight.

Gatehill Farm is on a quiet dirt road on the North Mountain.  It’s an old shingled farmhouse with a collection of outbuildings and it truly feels like you’ve stepped back in time when you pull into the driveway. Smoke curls out of the chimney, even in July.

 Gatehill Farm doesn’t use chemical sprays, yet their berries are magnificent.  Some of the strawberries were the size of apples, and still they were amazingly sweet and delicious!  Another bonus of this U-Pick is that it’s always cooler on the Mountain, so picking is a lot more pleasant than in the Valley.

Some of my haul this week went to the Cafe, where we decided that since everyone is just about sick of Strawberry Shortcake, we would do something a little different.  And so we made:

Chocolate Strawberry Shortcake serves 12

These scones are adapted from EveryDay with Rachael Ray (hey, a good recipe is a good recipe).

2 C. Flour
1/2 C. Cocoa Powder (we use Just Us!)
1/3 C. Sugar
2 t. Baking Powder
3/4 t. Baking Soda
1/8 t. Salt
1 C. Butter, cut into pieces
1 C. Chocolate Chips
3/4 C. Milk
1 T. Vinegar
1 Egg
6T. Sugar, divided
2 Quarts Local Strawberries, hulled and sliced
2 C. Whipping Cream
1/2 t. Vanilla

Preheat oven to 400° and butter a baking sheet.  In a food processor, combine flour, cocoa, 1/3 C. sugar, baking powder, baking soda and salt.  Add the butter pieces and pulse until coarse crumbs form.  Place mixture in a large bowl and add the chocolate chips.  Mix the egg, milk and vinegar in a small bowl, then add to the flour mix and stir just until the dough comes together.  Divide the dough in half, shape each half into a 6 inch round, and place on the baking sheet.  Using a sharp knife dipped in water, cut each into 6 equal wedges, leaving them in place.  Sprinkle with two tablespoons sugar, then bake for 20-25 minutes, until firm in the centre.  Let cool, then break apart into wedges.
Combine the strawberries with two tablespoons sugar.  Whip the cream until soft peaks form, then add the remaining two tablespoons sugar and vanilla.  Split the scones in half and layer with the strawberries and cream.  The proper order is scone-berries-cream-scone-cream-berries in case you’re unsure!