It’s finally beginning to feel like spring! Flowers are blooming, birds are chirping, and the sun is (occasionally) shining and beginning to drive off everyone’s cases of Seasonal Affective Disorder. That means that the oppressive 8-month Chicago winter is finally over, and it’s time to celebrate! Whether you celebrate easter or not, the allure of abundant post-easter discount candy is strong this time of year. But why not whip up a completely bespoke spring treat instead of chomping down on yet another stale Peep? We’ve amassed a list of easy and dorm-friendly recipes that are sure to raise your mood to springtime levels.
Simple Fruit Tart
1 cup all-purpose flour
1/3 cup powdered sugar
1/8 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup unsalted cold butter, cut into pieces
1/2 cup mascarpone or cream cheese
1/2 cup cold heavy whipping cream
2 tablespoons sugar
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
3 cups fruit of choice (raspberries, blackberries, blueberries, strawberries, pineapple, kiwi, plums, pears, etc.)
- To make the crust: Lightly grease an 8 or 9 inch tart pan. Combine the dry crust ingredients with the butter in a large bowl, using a fork to “cut” the cold butter into the flour mixture. Continue until the pastry starts to come together and form clumps.
- Place the pastry in the prepared tart pan and, using your fingertips, evenly press the pastry onto the bottom and up the sides of the pan (you can use the back of a spoon to smooth the surface of the pastry). Pierce the bottom of the crust with the tines of a fork (this will prevent the pastry crust from puffing up while it bakes). Cover and place the pastry crust in the freezer for 15 minutes to chill.
- Preheat oven to 425 degrees, then bake the chilled crust on a baking sheet on the oven’s middle rack for 13-15 minutes, or until evenly golden brown. Remove from the oven and place on a wire rack to cool.
- To make the filling: In a large bowl, beat the mascarpone cheese, heavy whipping cream, sugar and vanilla extract with a hand mixer or wire whisk until soft peaks form. If the filling is too thick to spread, beat in a little more heavy cream.
- Assemble: Evenly spread the cream onto the cooled tart shell. Arrange the berries on top of the cream. If not serving immediately, refrigerate. Remove from fridge about 30 minutes before serving to give the fruit and cream a chance to warm to room temperature.
3 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup unsalted butter, softened to room temperature
1 cup + 2 tablespoons white sugar
2 tablespoons brown sugar
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1/4 cup colorful decorating sugar (or white sugar) for rolling
- Preheat oven to 350° and line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Combine the flour, baking soda, baking powder and salt in a medium sized bowl and set aside.
- Cream the butter and sugars together in a large bowl with a hand mixer on medium speed until the mixture lightens in color and is fluffy. Add the egg and the vanilla, and mix until well combined.
- Add the dry ingredients and mix on low speed just until the dough comes together. Do not over mix, or your cookies with be tough.
- Create 1 1/2 tablespoon sized balls of cookie dough. Gently roll into a ball, then roll each ball in the additional sugar to coat. Set the balls on the baking sheet.
- Bake cookies for 7-8 minutes. The cookies will spread and the centers will look soft, but should look done. Remove just before the edges begin to turn golden. Don’t over bake.
- Remove from the oven and allow to cool on baking sheets for 4-5 minutes before transferring to a wire rack to cool completely.
Easy Strawberry Shortcake
3 cups quartered strawberries
3 tablespoons white sugar
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 cup heavy cream
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
2 tablespoons white sugar
1 tablespoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/3 cups cold unsalted butter, cubed
1/2 cup buttermilk
1 tablespoon heavy cream or buttermilk
Coarse sugar, for sprinkling
- For the strawberries: Stir the strawberries and 2 tablespoons white sugar together in a large bowl. Cover and set in the refrigerator until ready to use. This time allows the strawberries to release their juices into the sugar to create a syrup.
- For the biscuits: Preheat oven to 425°F. Mix the flour, white sugar, baking powder, and salt together in a large bowl or in a large food processor. Whisk or pulse until combined. Add the cubed butter and cut the butter into the dry ingredients with a pastry cutter, a fork, or by pulsing several times in the processor. Pulse until coarse crumbs form. If you used a food processor, pour the mixture into a large bowl.
- Pour buttermilk on top. Stir everything together until just about combined– do not overwork the dough. The dough will look like shreds and be very crumbly. Turn the dough out onto a work surface and gently mold it together in a ball using your hands. Gently flatten until it is evenly 1/2 inch thick. Cut into 3-inch circles. Re-roll any scraps until you have around 6 biscuits.
- Arrange in a 10-inch cast iron skillet or close together on a lined baking sheet. Make sure they’re touching!
- Brush the tops with 2 Tablespoons heavy cream (or buttermilk) and sprinkle with coarse sugar. Bake for 15 minutes or until biscuits are golden brown on top. Remove from the oven and allow to cool for 10 minutes before assembling.
- For the whipped cream: Using a hand mixer, beat the heavy cream, 1 tablespoon granulated sugar, and the vanilla on medium-high speed until soft-medium peaks form, about 3 minutes.
- Slice the biscuits in half and layer with strawberries and whipped cream. Serve immediately.