13 Ingredients That Will Jazz Up Your Strawberry Shortcake

If you want your strawberry shortcake to be one for the books, read on. Because although it is a relatively simple dessert in nature, that doesn't mean you have to play by the rules and only include three elements. The sweet treat commonly has sweet biscuits or sponge cake as the base, although there are plenty of variations. Slap on some strawberry pieces and whipped cream, and you've got yourself a strawberry shortcake. Yet, why stop there?

Strawberries are one of the most adaptable fruits since they taste heavenly with sweet, tart, and warm flavors. Use well-known pairings — like strawberry and lemon or chocolate — to your advantage. Furthermore, add mix-ins to the whipped cream or replace it with a different creamy ingredient. As another option, use unique decorations to make the presentation as glorious looking as the dessert tastes. The ideas listed here are reliable ways to instantly set your confection up for success so you never make a bland strawberry shortcake again.

1. Flavored whipped cream

An incredible way to alter your traditional strawberry shortcake is to flavor the whipped cream instead of using the plain. This idea is fantastic for folks who want an easy way to give pizzazz to their sweet treat. For example, make an orange-scented strawberry shortcake and include fresh orange zest in the whipped cream. You can also add orange extract to make the citrus flavor more prominent. Alternatively, create a spiced whipped cream. Use cinnamon, allspice, or nutmeg, and use a whisk to blend it into the sugar before you add it to the cream. This is an effortless option, and the number of spices used isn't enough to change the consistency of the whipped cream.

Another direction, which makes the whipped cream thicker, is to add cocoa powder. Chocolate whipped cream tastes phenomenal with fresh strawberries; sift cocoa powder and add it in batches until the whipped cream reaches the consistency and taste you are looking for. Another classic option to use is caramel; top the dessert with caramel whipped cream and finish it with a sprinkle of sea salt to balance its saccharine essence. No matter how you modify the whipped cream, the cake or biscuit component relies on its creaminess and richness to complete the dessert.

2. Fresh herbs

Impressively, several herbs are a suitable match for strawberries. Herbs add a sense of lightness to the shortcake, and many also provide a nice burst of color, which enhances the dessert's appearance. Unfortunately, some folks only use herbs in a savory sense and aren't familiar with the use of herbs in pastry dishes. If you don't know where to begin, some exceptional options include mint, cilantro, rosemary, and basil. Cut the mint and basil into thin ribbons and mix them with macerated strawberries before you serve it. Although each is distinct, these herbs have sweet and refreshing effects, which makes them a fantastic pair. If you add the herbs too far in advance, they wilt, and their attractiveness dwindles. You can also place a sprig of whichever herb on top of the shortcake as a simple garnish.

In addition, cilantro carries hints of citrus that pair well with the fruity taste of the strawberries; you don't need much of it to upgrade your confections. Place a leaf or two on the strawberries as you dish it up. Lastly, for a unique addition, use lavender. Sprinkle culinary lavender buds atop the fruity delight as a final touch. Its floral taste and scent put a twist on the classic dish. Fresh is undoubtedly the best route when you use herbs, but the dried version is suitable for lavender.

3. Balsamic vinegar

There is more than one way in which balsamic vinegar upgrades strawberry shortcake. The first and most effortless method is to take the bottle of balsamic and give the strawberries a spritz. The sweet and sour taste of the balsamic harmonizes with the sugars in the cake and the fruit. Moreover, the dark pigment of the vinegar stands out against the light-colored ingredients. If you don't wish to use the vinegar as a decoration, create a mixture to disperse it evenly throughout the dessert.

For example, make balsamic and black pepper strawberries. Believe it or not, black pepper brings out the sweetness of the fruit, but you can omit it if you wish. At the very least, macerate chopped strawberries with sugar and balsamic vinegar. Mix the elements and allow them to sit for a few hours, so the fruit has time to soak. Finally, use the macerated fruit as a filling. If you plan to use biscuits, sandwich the filling in between with airy whipped cream. If you use angel food cake or another pastry, spoon the sugared strawberries over the surface to complete the final course.

4. Ice cream

Whether placed on a warm brownie or served with cream puffs, ice cream always transforms good food into great food. So, naturally, you enrich the strawberry shortcake with the inclusion of ice cream. Since the dish contains minimal components, you can use virtually any ice cream flavor. The best options are chocolate, vanilla, or strawberry because they don't have mix-ins that distract from the simplicity of the dessert. Depending on your ice cream choice, it might overpower the shortcake, so that is something to consider.

Another option is to take advantage of strawberry shortcake-flavored ice cream bars. The bars typically have strawberry and vanilla ice cream layers coated with a strawberry cake crumble. To use these frozen treats in your dish, first, use a knife to remove the popsicle stick. Hold pressure against the popsicle with the blade as you pull the stick in the opposite direction. From here, place the whole ice cream bar on the plate with the cake, strawberries, and whipped cream. Or, cut it into bite-sized pieces to use it deconstructed. When you utilize ice cream, its silky texture ensures the dessert isn't dry. It also makes the dish heartier.

5. Roasted strawberries

You've likely made strawberry shortcakes with different forms of strawberries, like macerated strawberries or strawberry preserves. While those options (and fresh fruit) are delicious ways to go about it, roasted strawberries come out on top regarding flavor. When you cook the strawberries, it allows their natural sweetness to jump out at you. Bake the strawberries in the oven for as little as 30 minutes or just over two hours before you use them. For instance, a TikTok user named @thatdudecancook posted a video on how to slow-roast strawberries.

In the video, he explains to wash and remove the core of the fruit before you work with it. Cover the strawberries with ½ cup of sugar (and one tablespoon of white vinegar, if you wish). Bake the strawberries in an oven preheated to 300 Fahrenheit until they break down and become soft and syrupy. Use the warm strawberries in the shortcake or wait until they become room temperature to use them. The intense strawberry flavor is worth the wait, and the fruit juice soaks into angel food cake flawlessly.

6. Dessert sauce

Whether your strawberry shortcake has unconventional ingredients or only the classic few, it certainly needs a drizzle of sauce to finish. Although it takes only a moment to pour sauce over the shortcake or onto the plate, this ingredient gives the dish a more sophisticated feel and provides additional flavor. You can buy many dessert sauces pre-made, such as chocolate, caramel, raspberry, and mango sauce. The confection takes on a warmer essence when you use chocolate or caramel sauce.

On the other hand, if you want an ultra-fruity dessert, mango or raspberry sauce is the way to go. Lastly, for a velvety add-on, make a homemade custard sauce to accompany the cake and fruit; this sauce is decadent due to the egg yolks and cream. The neat thing about custard sauce is that you can serve it cold or warm and it tastes scrumptious either way. Draw lines of the sauce over the plated sweet treat, or simply serve it on the side in a ramekin.

7. Caramelized bananas

Strawberries and bananas are a captivating duo in any setting, so the dessert is unparalleled when it consists of the two. But, instead of plain ol' banana slices, make caramelized bananas instead. Once you indulge in the crunchy sugar coating on the bananas with the fluffy whipped cream and the plump fruit, you'll never go back. The most significant part is that it's easier to caramelize the bananas than you think; all you need is a bit of raw sugar. Slice the bananas and sprinkle the sugar over the cut edges so it adheres. Then, use a kitchen torch to lightly flame the sugar, which deepens its color and gives it a crispy finish.

If you don't own a kitchen torch, just place the sugared bananas under the broiler for a minute. Another technique that creates a similar outcome is to pan-fry the bananas in brown sugar. Cook the sliced bananas on the stovetop until the sugar hardens, which forms a crystal-like crust on the fruit. When you plate the strawberry shortcake, use the bananas as a filling with the other fruit. If you want your confection to have a charming appeal, use it as a topping and ensure not to cover the bananas with other ingredients. The caramelized finish is undoubtedly something to admire.

8. Lemon curd

Smother lemon curd on your strawberry shortcake to create a flavor profile reminiscent of strawberry lemonade. Lemon curd is flawlessly tangy, making it the ultimate accompaniment for the other components in the dish. The zesty lemon taste bounces off the sweetness of the strawberries and the milky whipped cream. If you only want one soft ingredient in the dessert, replace it with whipped cream. Serve the lemon curd cold or at room temperature; although it is tasty when you take it off the stove, it is better once it cools because it thickens.

Smear it on the plate before you assemble the shortcake dessert, and the bread component doesn't slide around. Another option is to transfer the lemon curd to a piping bag and create a zigzag of lines across the ingredients as an embellishment. You can also decorate the plate with lemon curd dots as an abstract decoration; it is pretty versatile. The vibrant yellow hue of the curd is unnoticeable, so this is the superior choice for folks who want an eye-catching confection.

9. Meringue

Have you ever thought about boosting your strawberry shortcake with meringue rosettes? They have much to offer with their glossy white appearance and crunchy outer coating. First, make the meringue with egg whites and sugar, then place small portions of the mixture onto a lined baking sheet. If you don't have a fancy piping bag, fear not; simply use a spoon to place dollops that create round meringue bulbs. Once you appropriately bake the meringue, use a few pieces in the confection.

If you put them directly on the plate, they slide around when you move it; an effective way to combat this is to place a dot of whipped cream on the plate before you set the meringue down. The whipped cream acts as glue. Indeed, you can also make larger meringue pieces and sandwich them between sweet biscuits with whipped cream and fruit. The meringue doesn't disappoint whether you use it sparingly or as a larger component.

10. Chocolate

There are many ways to make your shortcake a strawberry chocolate dream. First, use chocolate shavings as an elegant topping for the sweet treat. All chocolate works, whether it be milk, white, or dark shavings. You can find chocolate shavings in specialty baking stores online or make the shavings yourself with good-quality chocolate. Use a knife or vegetable peeler to create flakes from a chocolate bar. Store the pieces in a cool place, then sprinkle them onto the dessert before you enjoy it. Another unique way to incorporate chocolate into the dish is to use chocolate-covered strawberries.

Don't entirely replace the fresh plain strawberries or strawberry jam in the dessert with the chocolate strawberries. Instead, use them as an embellishment. Make them ahead of time so that they have time to set before you assemble the rest of the dessert efficiently. Lastly, although we mentioned earlier to use chocolate sauce, another optimal choice is ganache. And yes, there are differences between the two, as ganache is typically made with cream and chocolate exclusively, and it sets into a fudge-like consistency as it cools. Meanwhile, chocolate sauce remains runny. To use ganache, simply pour it over the shortcake while it is still warm. You can also wait until it's thicker and then spread it over the cake like frosting.

11. Cheese

It might seem out of the left field to some, but cheese is not solely for savory meals; you can also use it in certain desserts. Undoubtedly, some types of cheese are not ideal, but brie, ricotta, and mascarpone are all remarkable selections to pair with strawberries. If you choose to use brie, stuff it with brown sugar and bake it until it is beautifully soft. Place some pieces of the warm cheese onto the strawberry shortcake; the buttery cheese harmonizes with the firmness of the strawberries.

For ricotta or mascarpone, add them directly to the whipped cream with sugar to give the topping deeper layers of flavor. You can also make a different filling with cheese reminiscent of cannoli filling and add mini chocolate chips or pistachios for a pleasant crunch factor. Pipe the cannoli mixture or apply it to the bread component with a spoon. Finally, another kind of cheese you should give a shot is goat cheese. With hints of tartness, the goat cheese crumble balances the dish and gives it elegance. You don't need much at all; sprinkle a few bits. As an alternative, add a spoonful of whipped goat cheese to the plate so you can dip into it as you devour the cake.

12. Figs

Use fresh or dried figs to add flavor and texture to the dessert. Figs are a stand-out addition because of their chewy consistency and honeyed taste. That's not to mention, the tiny, crunchy seeds add a bit of flair. Furthermore, figs have impressive amounts of nutrients, according to Healthline. Specifically, vitamin B6 and copper present themselves in large quantities. The fruit improves digestive and heart health, which is another reason to add it to your final course.

To take advantage of all that they have to offer, cut the figs into halves or quarters and scatter them throughout the dessert. If you prefer, use fig jam instead, which is equally delicious. It only takes a half-hour to make and requires just a few ingredients. Spread the jam onto the biscuit portion of the dessert and pile strawberries and whipped topping onto it. The dark color of the jam sets a perfect backdrop for the bright strawberries to sit center stage.

13. Cookie crumbs

Crumble up chocolate chip cookies, graham crackers, Oreos, or other cookies to top the dessert with. Since many different types of cookies complement strawberries, there is no stopping you from using creativity here. Use a food processor to chop the cookies into a crumbly consistency, or simply break the cookies into smaller pieces with your hands. With graham crackers, craft a s'mores-themed shortcake to wow your guests. Graham cracker pieces, chopped strawberries, marshmallow fluff, and chocolate syrup make the ultimate fusion of two classic desserts.

If you don't want to break the cookies down, you can leave them whole too. When you use full cookies, make them a substitute for the traditional base. Make use of warm cookies to supply chewy and gooey textures. In contrast, if you use types of cookies that are crunchy, the snap-like consistency is wonderful too. Top the bottom cookie with the filling components, then add another cookie to round it off.