I’m currently in a phase of life that could only be described as endless wedding season.
Between the two of us, Charlie and I have been invited to over 15 nuptials this year alone. As I posted yet another photo of us looking devastatingly svelte in our formal wear, one food friend commented: “I feel like all you do is go to weddings.” To which I replied, “You are correct.”
The silver lining, of course, is that the love of my friends has allowed us to indulge in our love of travel, and both forces have brought us to some pretty amazing places. Places that might have felt frivolous to cross off our bucket list so early in life, but somehow with the justification of a wedding were only slightly less so. There was Kenya and Ireland. Jackson Hole and Maine. And for whatever reason (probably being that I have a lot of besties in San Francisco), at least once a year endless wedding season brings us to Napa.
We’ve developed a little travel tradition when in this part of the world. And that’s to follow up the tiered fondant and Shout floor slaps with a few days of rest, relaxation and oysters by the bay in Inverness.
California has some pretty impressive scenery, but we’ve fallen particularly hard for the wild elk covered hills of Point Reyes, the glassy mollusk-filled bay, and the duned shoreline that seems to stretch as endlessly as wedding season.
Back in June, during our last stay in the area, we were greeted every morning with a breakfast crate on our doorstep. The box contained a covetable hipster metal thermos of coffee, mason jars of sugar and cream, and two bowls laden with fresh strawberries that were drizzled in Marin wildflower honey and topped with homemade yogurt so smooth and fluffy, it might as well have been whipped cream.
Not only did I lick the heath ceramic bowl to make sure every last drop of honey had been extricated, but it immediately set into motion a craving for strawberry shortcakes that could only be satiated in the comfort of my gluten-free kitchen.
One of my favorite aspects of tasting our way around the world together is what inevitably makes its way back into my oven at home. And this time it was a tray of warm hazelnut biscuits waiting to be doused in fresh Farmer’s Market berries, macerated in a mix of honey, basil and tequila.
I’ve had a bag of this hazelnut flour sitting at the back of my cabinet for an embarrassingly long time. It was a prime candidate for recipe testing during #SpringPantryPurge month, but ended up taking the backseat to other edible wedding travel souvenirs.
Luckily, as I was researching gluten-free shortcake recipes, I came across this one that had an almond flour base. I decided to modify it slightly to make hazelnut biscuits, using a bit of white rice flour to balance out the coarser nut meal. You can definitely make it completely paleo, like the original version in Everyday Grain-Free Baking. And of course substitute almond flour if you don’t have a menacing bag of hazelnut flour lurking in your pantry (I like this brand). I will say though, the flavor of the hazelnuts was so buttery and perfect as a biscuit base. Charlie and I ended up inhaling the remaining shortcakes for breakfast, even though no one served them to us in a bespoke hipster crate.
For the full recipe, hop on over to Altos Tequila Field Notes blog. I have them to thank for inspiring the secret ingredient in the strawberries. In case you were unsure, tequila and basil is a match made in heaven. And there’s a modest enough amount of both booze and sugar that I think these gluten-free strawberry shortcakes could also be a completely acceptable, healthy hedonist approved breakfast.
Gluten-Free Strawberry Shortcakes with Basil, Tequila and Hazelnuts
For the hazelnut shortcakes:
For the berries:
- 1/2 pound strawberries hulled and thinly sliced
- 1 tablespoon Olmeca Altos Plata Tequila
- 2 teaspoons honey
- 2 tablespoons finely chopped basil leaves
- 1 cup whipped cream or coconut cream, for serving
- Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and set aside. In a large mixing bowl, stir together the coconut oil, honey, eggs and vanilla until smooth. Fold in the hazelnut flour, baking soda and sea salt until thoroughly incorporated. Transfer the bowl to the fridge for 10 minutes to cool while you make the berries.
In a medium mixing bowl, toss the strawberries together with the tequila, honey and basil until combined. Set aside in the fridge to macerate until ready to serve.
Using an ice cream scoop, portion the batter into 8 balls (see note). Roll them with your hands until smooth, then transfer to the baking sheet and arrange 1 inch apart. Gently press down to flatten the biscuits slightly. Bake for about 15 minutes, until the tops are crusted and a toothpick inserted into center comes out clean.
Split the biscuits width-wise and top with the strawberries mixture and a dollop of whipped cream. Enjoy immediately while still warm.
• To make it paleo, sub coconut flour for the white rice flour. You can also sub 2 1/2 cups blanched almond flour for the hazelnut and white rice flour.
• To make it dairy-free, use coconut whipped cream.
• I made these cakes on the smaller side for both portion control and cuteness purposes. To make slightly larger, portion the batter into 6 balls. Or just serve 2 per person.