Strawberry shortcake has always symbolized summer for me. As a kid, strawberry shortcake was an exciting departure from the more common cookie or ice cream treat. At the thought of it, I am instantly transported to our family dinner table on a hot summer night. My little sister, sitting across from me chattering away, curls balking against her ponytail, shooting off in directions one didn’t think hair could go naturally. Me, quietly trying to hide (unsuccessfully) the day’s sunburn from my mom on my fair, not-made-for-summer skin. The ice cream truck and its jingle approaches, taunting the neighborhood outside. Normally, upon hearing this I would have shot outside with as many quarters as I could scrounge up, but who cares when there’s strawberry shortcake for dessert!
These hazelnut shortcakes with caramel strawberries are certainly a departure from the common cookie or ice cream. Hazelnuts and caramel are such a great duo, but the addition of strawberries compliments both in the most delightful way. Using hazelnut meal or grinding your own imparts an almost buttery flavor to the shortcakes. Bonus? There’s no butter at all.
I’ve made several versions of these of late to get just the right balance of flavors, and have even changed it up since serving it to friends at a recent cookout (sorry, friends). While the strawberries are tossed in the caramel sauce, I whole-heartedly encourage you to also drizzle more of the caramel on top when serving. It soaks into the shortcake in a wonderful glaze-y way.
The recipe for the caramel sauce will be more than you need for the shortcakes, but stored in a sealed glass jar in the fridge, you can continue to use it for ice cream, cakes, or fruit. I found it tastes even better the second day, so feel free to make the caramel sauce the night before to save time.
- For the hazelnut shortcakes:
- 1 cup brown rice flour (see note for where to purchase flours)
- ¾ cup arrowroot flour
- ½ cup hazelnut meal/flour, packed
- ½ cup organic coconut palm sugar
- 1 tablespoon baking powder
- ½ teaspoon salt
- 1¼ cup organic coconut milk, full fat
- ½ teaspoon pure vanilla extract
- 3 cups organic strawberries, hulled and quartered
- For the caramel sauce:
- 1 cup organic coconut milk, full fat
- ½ cup organic coconut palm sugar
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
- 2 tablespoons water
- Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Grease a 9x2 round cake pan with coconut oil (or butter).
- If making your own hazelnut meal, toast hazelnuts in oven for 5-6 minutes on a cookie sheet, careful not to burn. Allow to cool and then rub off skins. Place toasted hazelnuts in a food processor and process until you have a fine consistency. Don't over-process or you'll soon have hazelnut butter!
- Whisk brown rice flour, arrowroot flour, hazelnut meal, coconut palm sugar, baking powder, and salt in a medium bowl. Add coconut milk and vanilla extract, stirring with a fork until dough is combined.
- Once combined, transfer dough to prepared cake pan, gently smoothing surface so that dough is evenly distributed. Bake for about 25 minutes until top starts to become golden brown and a toothpick comes out clean. Cool on a wire rack.
- While the shortcake is baking, you can start on the caramel sauce by adding the coconut palm sugar and water to a small saucepan over medium heat. Bring to a boil.
- When mixture reaches a boil, slowly add coconut milk, pure vanilla extract, and salt. Simmer for about 15 minutes until mixture becomes dark and starts to thicken. Be sure to stir occasionally and scrape down sides of pan to avoid burning.
- Remove from heat and allow to cool to room temperature. Store in a glass jar in the refrigerator.
- When the shortcake has cooled, use a small glass or biscuit cutter to cut out shortcakes.
- Toss strawberries with 2 to 3 tablespoons of caramel sauce (more depending on sweetness preference). Spoon caramel strawberries onto shortcakes, drizzle extra sauce over strawberries as desired, and top with coconut whipped cream or regular whipped cream.
- Shortcakes are best served fresh.