Fresh fruits are the gems of summer. Lush and sweet, juicy and packed with flavor, there is nothing better. Today’s Fresh Cherry Shortcake is a heavenly concoction of lightly sweetened biscuits with ripe cherries and ethereal white chocolate whipped cream. One bite and you’ll never go back to ordinary shortcakes again.
While strawberries are the typical choice for shortcake, nearly any fruit can be used. Today I used these beautiful cherries, showing you aren’t limited by tradition. For another take on one of America’s favorite desserts, pop over to my Pretty as a Peach shortcake.
Sugaring chopped fruit is an old-fashioned method of extracting the juices and it couldn’t be simpler. Just pit the fruit and cut them into halves or quarters. Place them in a bowl, sprinkle the top with granulated sugar and place in the refrigerator. Within about an hour you will have plenty of fruit and juice to use over ice cream or just to eat. For today’s use, you want to thicken the juices and soften the cherries, so we cook them for half an hour to get to a lovely, thick and luscious sauce.
Probably the biggest issue when dealing with fresh cherries is pitting them. While you can use a paring knife or individual pitter, I have a tool that pits six cherries at one time! And if you’ve ever worked with cherries you know that the juices can get everywhere and stain everything. This little beauty captures not only the pits but also corrals the splatters. Fast, easy, and clean, who could ask for more!
Instead of the sponge cakes they sell as shortcakes in the grocery stores, I like these lightly sweetened shortcakes. Tender, with crispy edges and a hint of lemon, they are the perfect accompaniment for the cherries and the whipped cream. Even if you are leery of baking, if you follow the directions, they are really easy to make. Even novice bakers will have success!
I know that buying pre-made whipped cream is what most people do these days, but I have to tell you that once you have whipped your own from scratch, you will never be satisfied with the off-the-shelf varieties again. All you need is cold heavy whipping cream, a little powdered sugar, and a splash of vanilla if you like. You can whip it by hand with a whisk if you want the exercise, or use a mixer. A simple hand mixer or immersion blender work fine, but if you have a powerful stand mixer, it will whip up that much faster and you can walk away to work on something else while it whips the cream.
I usually have the little kids in the house help me make the whipped cream. They are always fascinated to watch a liquid become thickly whipped and creamy. And, of course I have them taste it with me to see if we have enough sugar in it. They love that part!
No matter how you choose to serve this Fresh Cherry Shortcake, your guests will appreciate the love and care you put into making it for them. I guarantee that there won’t be any leftovers to worry about packing up!
Key Ingredients for Fresh Cherry Shortcake:
- Unsalted butter
- Brown, granulated, and powdered sugars
- All-purpose flour or a gluten-free flour blend
- Baking powder and baking soda
- Heavy cream
- Grated lemon zest
- White chocolate
Can I use different fruit in this recipe?
Yes, you can. Strawberries are classic, but I’ve used peaches and other stone fruits when they are ripe and sweet. You will need to adjust the cook time or thicken the juices after removing the fruit if they are very delicate like berries.
The white chocolate whipped cream is also great served with slices of chocolate cake, brownies, dolloped on pancakes, or just eaten with a spoon. Beware, it is addicting!
If you pat the dough too thin and wind up with very thin shortcakes, don’t try to split them, just leave them whole and serve with the cherries and whipped cream as is.
How to make Fresh Cherry Shortcake:
- Prepare the Cherries: Cook together the butter, cherries, brown sugar, cornstarch and water until sugar is dissolved, then simmer 30 minutes until the fruit is tender; cool
- Make the Shortcake: Pulse the dry ingredients in a food processor, then pulse in the butter; add the egg, lightly whipped cream, and lemon zest, pulsing until the dough starts to form a ball
- Transfer to a parchment-lined baking sheet and press together (use flour or gluten-free flour to keep your hands from sticking to the dough); form into a rectangle and cut into six squares slightly separated
- Brush with melted butter and sprinkle with Turbinado sugar; bake about 20 minutes or until golden brown then cool on a wire rack
- Make the White Chocolate Whipped Cream: Melt the chocolate with some of the cream and cool to room temperature
- Whip the remaining cream to soft peaks with the sugar, then fold in the melted white chocolate carefully
- Serve the biscuits topped with some of the cherry mixture and top with the whipped cream
White chocolate scorches easily. Make sure you stir the cream and white chocolate regularly while it is melting and remove from the heat when you still have a few solid pieces left and whisk until they are completely melted. Don’t walk away or take a phone call when you are working with white chocolate!
Kitchen Tools I Use to Make This Recipe (affiliate links):
I use my favorite gluten-free flour blend to make these and to dust the work surface when I am pressing out and cutting the dough. No need for a rolling pin, just use your palms. I like the rustic look of these homemade shortcakes.
- 1 tbsp butter
- 4 cups fresh cherries, pitted and halved
- 1/2 cup brown sugar
- 1 tbsp cornstarch
- 1 cup water
- 1-1/2 cups (180g) all-purpose flour or GF flour blend
- 1/2 tsp xanthan gum (only if using gluten-free flour)
- 3 tbsp granulated sugar
- 1/4 tsp salt
- 1 tbsp baking powder
- 1/2 tsp baking soda
- 1-1/2 sticks (12 tbsp) cold unsalted butter, cubed
- 1 egg, lightly beaten
- 3/4 cup heavy cream, whipped to soft peaks
- 2 tsp freshly grated lemon zest
- 2 tbsp melted butter
- Turbinado sugar, for sprinkling on top of the biscuits
- 4 oz white chocolate, chopped
- 1 cup heavy whipping cream, divided
- 1 tsp pure vanilla or vanilla paste
- 1 tbsp sugar (powdered or granulated), or to taste
- Make the Cherry Filling: In a nonstick saucepan, melt the butter over medium heat. Add the pitted cherries, brown sugar, cornstarch and water, stirring until the sugar is dissolved and the cherries are evenly coated.
- Bring to a boil and then turn the heat down to a simmer. Cook for about 30 minutes until the cherries have released their juices and are tender, stirring occasionally.
- Remove pan from the heat, pour filling into a clean bowl, and let cool completely.
- Prepare the Biscuits: Preheat the oven to 425°F. Line a small baking tray with parchment paper
- Place the dry ingredients in the bowl of a food
processor. Pulse a few times to blend. Add half the butter and pulse to cut it into the dry ingredients. It will look crumbly. Add remaining butter and pulse three times. The butter will still be in fairly big pieces.
- Combine the egg with lightly whipped cream and lemon zest. Add to food processor and process just until the dough comes together and starts to form a ball or clings to the sides of the bowl. Transfer to the baking sheet, lightly sprinkle with flour (gluten-free if needed) and gently press together.
- Pat with your wet or floured hands into a rectangle about 1-inch thick. Cut into 6 squares. Use a knife or bench scraper to slightly separate the pieces.
- Brush the tops with melted butter and sprinkle with Turbinado sugar. Place them in the oven and immediately reduce temperature to 375°F and bake for about 20 minutes or until golden brown. Cool on a wire rack.
- Make the White Chocolate Whipped Cream: Set a bowl over a medium saucepan with about an inch of water in the bottom. Bring to a simmer. Melt the white chocolate with 1/4 cup of the cream in the bowl over simmering water. When the chocolate is nearly all melted, remove from the heat and whisk until smooth. Move the bowl off the pan using a hot pad to protect your hand. Let the mixture cool to room temperature.
- In a separate bowl, beat the remaining 3/4 cup
cream with the sugar to firm peaks. When you lift the beater blade, the cream will hold a peak but the tip will fall over. You can also leave out the sugar if you like. The white chocolate is quite sweet and may be enough for your taste.
- Fold the whipped cream into the white chocolate mixture until no streaks remain. Be sure not to over mix or you will deflate the cream. Refrigerate until ready to assemble the shortcakes.
- To Serve: Slice the biscuits in half horizontally or leave whole and spoon some of the cherry mixture on the bottom part. Top with a generous dollop of whipped cream and add the top of the biscuit. Serve immediately.
Filling adapted from Gerry Spiers of Foodness Gracious
Biscuits © Jane Bonacci, The Heritage Cook
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 1295Total Fat: 66gSaturated Fat: 40gTrans Fat: 2gUnsaturated Fat: 21gCholesterol: 209mgSodium: 907mgCarbohydrates: 161gFiber: 6gSugar: 75gProtein: 19g
If you love this recipe, be sure to follow me on social media so you never miss a post:
Create a New Tradition Today!
This post was first shared in July 2017. The article was updated in 2020.