Thursday it was my turn to host book club. My book for “The Classic Challenge” was Thomas Hardy’s “Tess of the D’Urbervilles.” Like Emily Brontë’s “Wuthering Heights,” “Tess” is a romantic tragedy. But “Tess” actually has characters who are likable and have souls.
Moving on, the real reason behind this “Challenge” book club – other than reading great literature – is food. Let’s face it, more people are bound to show up if treats are present. My book club ladies are total winners when it comes to setting up a spread. And they try to make it themed to boot.
When we read “Great Expectations” by Charles Dickens, the centerpiece of the goodies was a cake draped in gauzy material and decorated with plastic spider rings. It was eerily reminiscent of Miss Havisham’s petrified wedding table.
So what to do for “Tess”? As it happens to be one of my favorite books, failure was not an option. Enter a sure-fire hit, strawberry shortcake with homemade whipped cream.
SHUT. THE. FRONT. DOOR.
Say goodbye to the Reddi Whip, I’m never* buying canned whipped cream again. (*This is probably a lie. I should not use absolute statements.)
Whipped cream is so easy to make I don’t know why I haven’t made it before now. Seriously, what rock have I been living under?
Anyway, to make a quick dessert even quicker I bought these sponge cake dessert shells from my grocery store. I didn’t have high hopes for them, but they turned out to be pretty good. Even if they had been bricks of sugar bread I doubt it would have mattered. Put enough fresh strawberries and whipped cream on something it’ll be fine.
Fresh strawberry shortcake with homemade whipped cream, serves 6 to 8
pre-made pastry shells, one or two per person
1 pint fresh strawberries, washed, hulled and sliced
1 pint heavy whipping cream
6 Tbs. white sugar
1 tps. vanilla extract
1. Place large bowl and beater to electric hand mixer in freezer for about 10 minutes (this helps the cream set up). Put cream, sugar and vanilla into chilled bowl. Beat until hard but pliant peaks form. You don’t want to over whip cream because then it has more of the consistency of butter.
2. Cover dessert shells with strawberries and cream. Enjoy.