Last month, my sweet blog friend Jane invited me to join her for a Draegers cooking school session to celebrate our birthdays. To promote her new dessert cookbook, Jeni of Jeni’s Splendid Ice Creams led the class and shared a few of her recipes and treats with us.
When we first entered the room, we selected chairs in the middle. A little tray table was attached to the arm of each seat, and a place setting, plus a thick handout, already rested on top.
I flipped through the papers, which included all 9 recipes Jeni planned to cover. The second and third desserts—cream puffs and juniper parfaits—sounded the most intriguing, while the shortcakes, first on the list, seemed rather typical, so I patiently waited for the second half of the presentation.
Jeni spent the first 30-45 minutes demonstrating how to make her highly adaptable sweet cream ice cream base, from the whisking to the boiling to the chilling, and she explained the science behind her secret ingredient: cream cheese! After answering multiple questions from the small crowd, she turned her attention to the shortcakes.
With just three ingredients, her recipe sounded basic and, well, rather boring. Pulse the flour with the butter, add the cream, press into a pan and bake. I figured I’d skip the shortcake and spoon up all of the ice cream and strawberries instead to save room for the next two desserts, but when the class aids plated the shortcakes and passed them out to use, I still took a little nibble.
Oh. My. Goodness. Those shortcakes… Heaven on a plate! So light and tender, with the perfect amount of buttery background flavor. I immediately drew a huge smiley face on my handout next to the recipe title, accompanied by one word: “AWESOME!” I secretly thanked the dessert gods that Jane was gluten-intolerant because she handed me her shortcake too!
The next two desserts, although what I initially really looked forward to, weren’t nearly as memorable as those shortcakes. Don’t get me wrong—they were both fabulous! The salty vanilla frozen custard on the cream puffs… The perfectly balanced symphony of flavors in the parfaits… Jeni truly is a talented dessert chef, but those simple shortcakes completely consumed my thoughts as I drove home.
I knew I needed to create my own version!
Of course, being Amy’s Healthy Baking, I wanted to make a lighter shortcake with a little less butter and cream. And instead of ice cream, I decided to stick a different sweet treat between the halves: a toasted marshmallow! After adding in the same fruit as Jeni, I created these…
Strawberry Shortcake S’mores! They’re a fun combination of two classic summer treats sandwiched into one irresistible dessert. Gooey marshmallow goodness and fresh juicy strawberries drizzled with dark chocolate and layered between halves of buttery shortcake… That’s pure bliss in my book!
I may have eaten three in one day… ♥
Let’s start with the shortcake. My ingredient list is slightly longer than Jeni’s, but it still yields the same tender result. I opted to skip any sort of sugar in my shortcakes, unlike many traditional recipes, because I knew the toasted marshmallows would add more than enough sweetness to the final dessert.
I only used 3 tablespoons of butter in my shortcakes. The rest of the tender texture comes from Greek yogurt—my favorite ingredient in healthier baking! It adds all of the moisture of butter while keeping the fat and calories low.
To compensate for some of that missing butter flavor, I added in extra vanilla extract. Extra vanilla can imitate the taste of butter, which is the same trick I used to create my popular healthy chocolate chip cookie recipe. So even with only those 3 tablespoons, these shortcakes taste just as rich and buttery as Jeni’s originals!
The chocolate drizzle is very similar to the one I created for my Boston cream pie oatmeal last week. You just need cocoa powder, milk, and sweetener. Because the marshmallows are so sweet, I only added a tiny bit of sugar, so the drizzle tastes extremely dark. Unless you enjoy 75%+ dark chocolate, I don’t recommend eating a lot of this on its own! Pair it with something sweet, like fresh berries or ice cream, to balance out the dark richness.
To assemble, slice each shortcake square in half horizontally. Lay strawberry slices across the bottom half, and drizzle with the dark chocolate. Next you’ll add the toasted marshmallows. Because we weren’t exactly camping and don’t own a fire pit in our backyard, I toasted mine with a culinary torch, but a long-nosed lighter or gas stove flame could work too. Use whatever method you’re most comfortable with!
But as soon as each marshmallow is toasted, place it on top of the strawberries, and press down the other half of the shortcake. The marshmallows squish better when they’re still warm, so that way you get the maximum ooey gooey goodness of s’mores!
As soon as I finished photographing these s’mores, I savored my first one, carefully biting into the dessert and slowly pulling it away to see those long gooey strings of marshmallow. And of course, it’s practically a crime to waste perfectly toasted marshmallows, so I had to eat a second… And maybe even a third that evening after dinner.
Although they sound involved, these Strawberry Shortcake S’mores are so simple to make! You can even prepare everything but the marshmallows ahead of time, so all that’s left to do is have each person toast their own and squash it between the layers. It’s the perfect treat to end a backyard barbeque or pool party!
No summer is complete without strawberry shortcakes and s’mores!
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