Five years ago we celebrated our first Fourth of July in L.A. at the Hollywood Bowl and it quickly became our patriotic tradition. Every year we go to the iconic amphitheater, nestled in the beautiful Hollywood Hills, for the concert and fireworks. That fateful first year, as the crowd sang along to I Love L.A. with Randy Newman, we realized Los Angeles was going to be our home for years to come.
One of the fun things about The Bowl is you sit in boxes with tables and chairs, and are free to bring in picnic food, wine and any myriad of treats you can manage. This year, in the spirit of Yankee Doodle, the boys made Snickerdoodle Shortcake…fresh summer strawberries piled on Snickerdoodle cookies and topped with sweet whipped cream.
The Fourth has come and gone now, but there are lots of picnicking opportunities left this summer and plenty of time for summer strawberries. We think the cinnamon shortcake cookies complement the berries and cream perfectly. Bake the cookies a day or two in advance so they’re a little stale, this will help them stay crisp when piled with berries and cream.
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Snickerdoodle Shortcake Cookies
Assemble a tray of snickerdoodles or lay out the components on a platter so everyone can create their own.
3 tablespoons cinnamon
1-3/4 cups plus 2 tablespoons sugar and additional sugar for berries, divided
1 cup butter, room temperature
1/4 cup milk
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract, divided
3 cups sifted flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
3/4 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon cream of tartar
1 cup heavy cream
3 pints strawberries
Preheat the oven to 375°F. Combine the cinnamon and ¼ cup of the sugar in a small bowl, mix well, and set aside.
Make the snickerdoodles: Place 1 ½ cups of the sugar and butter in a large bowl and beat with a wooden spoon until well combined and creamy. Beat in the eggs, milk, and 1 teaspoon of the vanilla. Add the sifted flour, salt, baking soda and cream of tartar. Mix gently until the dough begins to hold together (it should still be very crumbly). The mixing can also be done with the paddle attachment on an electric mixer.
Lay the dough on a floured counter and gently knead until it forms a cohesive ball. Flatten the ball into a 1/2-inch-thick circle. Place a bowl or round stencil measuring 3 inches in diameter on the dough and cut around the circle with a knife. Make eight circles and dip each in the cinnamon-sugar mixture. Reserve the leftover dough.* Place the circles on an ungreased cookie sheet and bake for 15 minutes. Remove from the oven when the snickerdoodles are still slightly soft in the middle. Allow to cool, then store in an airtight container until ready to use.
Make the Chantilly cream: Pour the cream into a bowl and whip for 60 seconds with an electric mixer or hand-held beater. When the cream begins to thicken, add the remaining 2 tablespoons sugar and the remaining 1 teaspoon vanilla. Continue whipping until the cream holds soft peaks. Set aside in the refrigerator.
Prepare the fruit: Trim off the strawberry hulls, then cut the berries into halves or quarters, depending on their size. Mix the cut strawberries, sweeten with sugar to taste, and set aside.
Assemble each dish: Place a snickerdoodle on a plate and top with a dollop of Chantilly cream and a generous amount of fruit.
*Make extra cookies: Form the leftover dough into a roll; slice it crosswise into coins 1/2 inch thick. Flatten the coins slightly, dip in the remaining cinnamon sugar, and bake for 10 minutes. Serve the cookies as a garnish to dessert or reserve them for a late-night treat with a glass of cold milk.
Makes 8 servings
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