I was happy to wake up to a gray day this weekend, as we were looking to spend some relaxing time in the kitchen. That afternoon also happened to be a friend’s birthday party, so we set to making her a special treat. We had fresh berries that were begging to be used, and we knew that she was gluten free. After poking around to survey our cupboards, we decided on mini gf shortcakes, topped with a whipped schmear and a drizzle of homemade jam.
We’ve used the shortcake recipe in many variations depending on our needs. If you stick with the tapioca flour, you’ll get a light poof of dough that is nearly hollow inside. These things go down lightning fast because they are essentially little bites of cheesy air. We needed something a little more substantial to be a vehicle for our toppings, so we opted to sub the tapioca flour for Bob’s Red Mill Gluten Free All Purpose Flour. The shortcakes themselves were a hint savory due to the queso fresco and olive oil, but we knew the jam would be sweet enough to carry it as a dessert.
Jam is fun to make because you can take a handful of your favorites, add in a fruit or two, and simmer to sweet perfection. For this jam we had strawberries and blueberries to use, and to those we added fresh lemon juice, golden syrup, honey (from my Dad’s KY bees!), a cup of water, and one vanilla bean. After coming to a rolling boil, we turned it to a simmer and let it do it’s magic for a half hour, stirring here and there to scrape the sides down. After the berries were at our desired consistency, we turned the burner off to let it cool, and tossed fresh mint sprigs on top. I didn’t want the mint flavor to overpower the jam, so after five minutes of cooling, it was removed and discarded. To ensure our jam drizzle was seed free, we ran it through a sieve, and saved the solids for a future pancake batter stir-in.
For the schmear we combined room temperature European butter, cream cheese, cinnamon, nutmeg and honey. With a handheld mixer, we whipped on high for five minutes until the ingredients were combined, and the mixture was light and fluffy.
We could hardly wait for the shortcakes to hit the cooling rack before we were assembling our sample bite. Our winning equation: one warm cake + a spoonful of schmear + a drizzle of warm jam = a very berry birthday bite.