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Rhubarb and Strawberry Shortcakes with Gingered Crème Fraîche recipe

The arrival of spring's first crops, rhubarb and strawberries, are a welcome reminder that the warmer months of summer are not far away. When you put the two together—juicy sweet strawberries and tart rhubarb—over freshly-baked shortcakes and top them with a silky, gingered cream topping, it's easy to create a simple and delicious dessert that everyone will love.

"Many people are intimidated by using fresh rhubarb in recipes, because they are just unfamiliar with how to prepare it. Yes, rhubarb is known to have a tart taste, but when paired with sweet spring strawberries, the best of both ingredients shine through," explains CIA Chef Stephen Durfee from The Culinary Institute of America at Greystone in California's Napa Valley. "The only caution for those making this dish at home is to be careful not to overcook the rhubarb, as it can get soft very quickly."

This new twist on how to make classic strawberry shortcake, was created to take advantage of both crops that are currently in season at supermarkets and farm stands everywhere. For those of you interested in pairing this treat with wine, Chef Durfee recommends serving it with a late-harvest Muscat, which provides another layer of fruity aroma.

If you are looking to take advantage of fresh strawberries and rhubarb, but don't feel like baking, you can always prepare the topping and serve it over your favorite store-bought biscuits as well.

These and more recipes are explained and illustrated in The Culinary Institute of America's Season's in the Wine Country (2010, Chronicle Books) cookbook available at bookstores nationwide or at www.ciaprochef.com/fbi/books/SeasonsWineCountry.html.

To watch CIA's Chef-Instructor Stephen Durfee demonstrate how to prepare Rhubarb and Strawberry Shortcakes with Gingered Crème Fraîche click here: www.ciachef.edu/Shortcakes.

Rhubarb and Strawberry Shortcakes with Gingered Crème Fraîche

Makes 9 small square shortcakes or 8 small round shortcakes

click image for Hi-Res copyVanilla Shortcakes

  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 tablespoon baking powder
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 2-inch section of a vanilla bean
  • 1 to 1 1/2 cups heavy cream
  • 3 tablespoons melted butter


  • 1 pound rhubarb, cut into 1/2-inch cubes (about 1 quart)
  • 3/4 to 1 cup sugar, depending upon desired sweetness
  • One 2-inch piece fresh ginger, peeled and halved (about 1 1/2 ounces)
  • 2 cardamom pods
  • 2 cups fresh strawberries, cut into 1/2-inch thick slices

Whipped Cream and Crème Fraîche with Ginger Chips

  • 1/2 cup crème fraîche
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • 2 teaspoons sugar
  • 1/2 cup ginger chips or candied ginger, finely minced

For the shortcakes:

  1. Pre-heat the oven to 425°F.
  2. Sift the dry ingredients into a large mixing bowl. Slit the vanilla bean and, using a sharp paring knife, scrape the seeds into flour mixture. Stir the flour mixture to distribute the vanilla seeds.
  3. Starting with 1 cup of the cream, mix the cream into flour with a large wooden spoon or silicone spatula. Add additional cream as necessary to take up all of the dry ingredients into a firm ball of dough with no dry spots; it should not be sticky.
  4. Turn the dough onto a lightly floured surface and knead about 20 times, until the dough becomes smooth, but not shiny, and firm but pliable. Pat the dough into a square approximately 9 x 9 inches. Cut the dough into nine 3-inch squares. Alternatively, use a 3-inch round cookie cutter, cutting circles as close as possible to one another and folding the scrap dough under the main dough.
  5. Brush each shortcake on both sides with a light coating of melted butter and place on an un-greased baking sheet. Place in the oven and bake until puffed and light golden, about 15 minutes.
  6. Place the shortcakes on a cooling rack and allow to cool completely.

For the rhubarb:

  1. Toss the rhubarb, sugar, ginger, and cardamom pods in a glass container. Cover and refrigerate overnight. Turn the mixture once or twice to evenly distribute the sugar.
  2. Place a fine-mesh sieve over a medium saucepan. Gently pour the rhubarb mixture through the sieve into the saucepan. Remove sieve with the rhubarb and place over a bowl. Remove and discard the ginger and cardamom.
  3. Bring the liquid and sugar in the saucepan to a boil over medium-high heat and cook, stirring gently, until all of the sugar is dissolved, about 3 minutes. Add the rhubarb to the saucepan and cook, stirring occasionally, until the rhubarb just begins to soften, about 3 to 4 minutes. Remove the rhubarb mixture from the heat and reserve at room temperature while preparing the whipped cream. Rhubarb will continue to soften as it sits.

For the whipped cream:

  1. Place the stainless steel bowl and whip attachment for an electric mixer in the freezer 10 minutes before whipping the cream. Place the crème fraîche, cream and sugar into the chilled bowl and whip on medium-high speed until soft peaks form, about 2 to 3 minutes. Gently stir in the ginger chips. Reserve until needed.
  2. Place the saucepan with rhubarb mixture back on the stove over medium-high heat. Add the strawberries and cook until the strawberries are just heated through but still firm, about 2 minutes. Tease shortcakes apart with a fork. Divide rhubarb and strawberry mixture between the shortcakes (about 1/2 cup per serving) and finish each shortcake with a small dollop of whipped cream.

Nutrition analysis for Rhubarb and Strawberry mixture per 1-ounce serving: 25 calories, 0g protein, 6g carbohydrate, 0g fat, 0mg sodium, 0mg cholesterol, 0g fiber.

Nutrition analysis for Shortcake serving: 260 calories, 4g protein, 27g carbohydrate, 16g fat, 210mg sodium, 50mg cholesterol, less than 1g fiber.

Nutrition analysis for Crème Fraîche per 1-ounce serving: 120 calories, 1g protein, 12g carbohydrate, 8g fat, 15mg sodium, 30mg cholesterol, 0g fiber.


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