I could eat plain strawberries all day long—so could my kids. But sometimes, I like to dress them up.

Shortcakes are the obvious choice to serve alongside fresh strawberries, but I get a bit bored with the tasteless variety you can pick up in the produce section of the grocery store. Those spongy cups not only feel greasy, but they tend to leave a sort of film in your mouth that takes away from the bright flavors of the strawberries.

Inside of using store-bought shortcakes, or even making ones at home that involve making the dough, rolling it out, cutting it and then baking, I tweaked one of my favorite muffin recipes and created a ‘muffin shortcake.’ These muffins—complete with a whole tablespoon of baking powder, puff up beautifully. Add some lemon zest and a kick of almond extract and they practically beg to be finished off with a helping of strawberries after they’re out of the oven.

Fashion these muffins into a delectable dessert by cutting them horizontally and placing fresh cut strawberries on the bottom half, add a dollop of whipped cream and then the muffin’s top. You can even dust the plate with a little powdered sugar and mint for a more dramatic presentation. Whether you eat these muffins with—or without strawberries.

Recipe
This is a variation of a recipe from one of my favorite cookbooks, The America’s Test Kitchen Family Cookbook.
Prep time: 10 minutes, cook time 20 minutes

Ingredients
3 cups all-purpose flour
1 cup sugar
1 Tablespoon baking powder
½ teaspoon baking soda
½ teaspoon salt
¾ cup plain or vanilla yogurt
¾ cup sour cream
2 eggs
8 Tablespoons butter, softened
1 Tablespoon lemon zest
1 teaspoon almond extract (optional)

Lemon glaze ingredients:
1/3 cup fresh squeezed lemon juice
2 Tablespoons milk
3-4 cups powdered sugar
dash of salt

Fresh strawberries

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit. In a small bowl blend together all of the dry ingredients, including the lemon zest. In a large bowl, beat together the butter and sugar. Blend in the eggs and then the yogurt, sour cream and almond extract.

Stir the dry ingredients into the wet mixture using a spatula or wooden spoon. Line two muffin cup pans with muffin papers or grease well. Fill each muffin cup to 2/3 of the way full. You will probably have enough batter for 15 muffins.

Bake the muffins for about 20 minutes or until just golden brown. Allow to cool. Mix the glaze ingredients—the consistency should be thick enough so that when it is spooned onto the muffins it doesn’t run too far down the sides. Add more powdered sugar to adjust the thickness. Gently spoon the glaze onto each muffin. Let the glaze set for at least an hour before serving.

Cut the fresh strawberries into bite-sized pieces. Cut the muffins in half horizontally. To serve, place two generous tablespoons of strawberries onto the bottom half of the muffin. Top with whipped cream, if you want, and then add the top half of the muffin. Dust with powdered sugar to add some flair.

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