It’s a known fact in my family that strawberries are, and have always been, my favorite fruit. When I was little, I would dip them in powdered sugar, savoring every extra sweet bite. And my adventures in strawberry picking were always painted with sticky juice — all over me. Some things never change.
My kids and Shawn love them too. It’s seldom that a berry goes to waste in our house — we eat them too fast and eagerly. I can’t tell you the number of times that we’ve brought a quart or two of strawberries home and had none left by the end of the day.
That said, having strawberries in January isn’t something we typically do. We have frozen berries that occasionally become strawberry syrup for pancakes or find their way into a smoothie, but we don’t usually just buy strawberries in the middle of winter. They aren’t really that fresh or sweet at this time of year. Strawberries are something we feast on in June and July, when they are bright red and begging to be picked from local fields. The kids and I look forward to our days crouching between plants to find the best, most brilliant berries.
Still, the older I get, the more I realize that the rules I eat by are more guidelines … and it’s okay to break them from time to time. Like today, when I wandered into the grocery store and spied strawberries on sale. Yes, I bought them. And I found some delicate angel food cake cupcakes and a can of whipped cream (yes, a can … making fresh whipped cream wasn’t on the agenda today).
To bring out the best in the strawberries, I mixed them with a little sugar and let them macerate in the refrigerator for an hour. If I had more time, I would have let them sit for three or four hours. But even with just an hour, they were sweeter and saucier than they would have been otherwise.
After dinner, I tossed together four plates of strawberry shortcake for us to enjoy. Now, before anyone mentions my break from tradition here, I know that strawberry shortcake is typically made with biscuits. However, this is the version that I grew up on: sweet strawberries served on light, airy, fluffy angel food cake with a good helping of whipped cream.
And you know what? Even though it’s January, the dessert was divine. The kids were thrilled. Shawn was thrilled. And I loved it too. We needed this little taste of summer … especially with another winter storm heading out way tonight (our fifth in four weeks!).
Who says you can’t enjoy a few strawberries in January?
Easy Peasy Strawberry Shortcake
- 1 quart strawberries , rinsed
- 1 tbsp sugar
- 4 angel food cupcakes (or pieces of angel food cake)
- whipped cream
- Quarter the strawberries and place into a resealable container. Sprinkle with sugar and stir well. Cover the container and refrigerate for at least one hour.
- Arrange the angel food cake on four plates. Spoon 1/4 of the strawberries onto each of the cakes. Top with whipped cream.
- Serve immediately.
Sarah Walker Caron is a cookbook author, freelance writer and founder of Sarah’s Cucina Bella. She is the author of several cookbooks including The Super Easy 5-Ingredient Cookbook and One-Pot Pasta, both from Rockridge Press. A single mother to two kids in middle school, Sarah loves nightly family dinners, juicy tomatoes plucked fresh from the vine and lazy days on the beach. She also adores reading and traveling.