Strawberry shortcake is one of those desserts that is the epitome of a Southern summer dessert. To top that, chocolate and strawberries are meant to be served together, especially on Valentines Day! Combining those two things, I created a rich, intensely chocolate biscuit made specifically for these Chocolate Biscuit Strawberry Shortcakes.
The key to tall, flaky biscuits is cutting the fat (butter and/or shortening in large enough pieces so they create air pockets when they melt in the oven. Another key is to fold the dough, not knead it, which creates the flaky layers.
Not all cocoa powders are the same. The two main varieties are natural cocoa powder and Dutch process cocoa powder. Serious Eats breaks down the difference in detail here. In a nutshell, natural cocoa is the most common and works well with baking soda because baking soda is neutral and needs added acidity. Dutch process cocoa has the acidity removed with an alkali (giving it that deep, rich, dark color) so, it works well with baking powder because baking powder is basically baking soda with cream of tartar added for acidity.
I experimented with several types and brands of cocoas, flour, and leavening. I was amazed at the differences in color. I took a quick picture with my cell phone to share with you here. (Note: The one on the left was cut with a slightly smaller cookie cutter.) If you don’t have self-rising flour, you can use all-purpose flour and 1 teaspoon baking soda.
The chocolate biscuits in the photo of the shortcakes are made with Hershey’s Special Dark cocoa, a blend of natural and Dutch processed cocoas. After reading Stella Parks’ cookbook Bravetart, I ordered Cacao Barry Extra Brute (A higher fat Dutch processed cocoa) from Amazon because she used it in her Homemade Oreo Cookies. The color difference in it and a regular unsweetened cocoa is like night and day (dark and light) although it did not produce the darkest biscuit. I still preferred the results of the Hershey’s Special Dark cocoa for these chocolate biscuits. It is a mixture of regular cocoa which gives them the most chocolate flavor and Dutch process cocoa that gives them the intense dark color, so it’s the best of both worlds!
1) Since most of my recipes have shortcuts in them, I used self-rising flour (to save two ingredients) which has baking powder and a little salt added, so I used Dutch processed cocoa. I also love the intense color it gives the biscuits. Oreo cookies are made with a Dutch process cocoa to give you an idea of how dark some Dutch processed cocoas can be.
2) I also use the food processor instead of using a pastry blender to cut in the butter and shortening. I love this method because it cuts the fat into just the right size with just a few pulses and many people don’t own a pastry blender or even know what it looks like.
If it’s Winter where you are and strawberries are not at their peak, no worries! Slather Strawberry Freezer Jam between the biscuit halves or use frozen strawberries.
Gild the Lily: Drizzle chocolate syrup or chocolate ganache over the shortcakes.
No waste Cooking: Don’t throw out those left over components of the shortcakes if you don’t use all the biscuits for shortcake. Crumble the day old chocolate biscuits and layer them in a glass bowl with strawberries or Strawberry Freezer Jam, chocolate pudding, whipped cream, and chocolate sauce for a Chocolate Strawberry Trifle.
Click below to print the recipe.