Italian-Style Strawberry Shortcake

Add peppery basil to this simple strawberry dessert for Debi Mazar's twist.
  • Butter, for greasing pan
  • Flour, for dusting
  • 500g frozen puff pastry sheets, thawed
  • 800g strawberries, stems removed and sliced
  • 50g sugar
  • Juice of 1/2 a lemon
  • 500ml whipping cream
  • 1 vanilla pod, seeded
  • 1 tablespoon icing sugar, plus more for garnish
  • Block of dark chocolate, for shaving
  • 10 leaves basil, chopped

Preheat the oven to 200°C. Butter 2 sheet trays.

Flour your work surface. Roll out each puff pastry sheet to a 14-inch square. Use a biscuit cutter to cut into 4-inch rounds. Place on the prepared sheet tray and prick with a fork. Bake the pastry until golden brown and puffy, about 15 minutes, rotating the pans halfway through cooking. Remove and let cool. Once cool, slice each puffed round into 3 horizontal pieces.

Meanwhile, add the strawberries, sugar and lemon juice to a medium bowl and toss. Let sit at room temperature for 30 minutes so the juices develop.

When ready to serve, add the double cream to a large bowl and add the seeds of the vanilla bean. Beat, using a hand mixer, until it thickens. Add the icing sugar and basil and beat until soft peaks appear.

To assemble, add a nice dollop of whipped cream to a dessert plate. Top with strawberries and a round of pastry. Repeat the layers, ending with the pastry. Sprinkle with powdered sugar, top with chocolate shavings and serve immediately.

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