6tablespoonschilled unsalted butter, cut into pieces
1cupchilled heavy cream
1/4teaspoonalmond extractoptional, but highly recommended
2tablespoonsheavy creamfor brushing on top
1-2tablespoonscoarse or sparkling sugarfor sprinkling on top
1 1/4cupschilled heavy cream
3tablespoonspowdered sugaror more, if desired
1/2teaspoonpure vanilla extract
1/8teaspoonalmond extractoptional, but highly recommended
Strawberries (prepare at least 1 hour in advance)
Heat the jam briefly in the microwave (just a few seconds) until it thins out. Combine jam, strawberries and sugar. Cover and allow to sit for 1 hour until the strawberries are sweet and juicy. Adjust the amount of sugar to suit your taste.
Preheat oven to 400°F with a rack in the the middle portion of the oven. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and set aside.
In a large bowl, combine flour, baking powder, salt, and sugar. Sprinkle the cubed butter over the top. Using your fingertips (or a pastry cutter), work the butter into the flour by rubbing it quickly into small pieces. Proceed until the mixture resembles a sandy texture with pebble-sized pieces of butter (the pieces of butter will be irregularly shaped; that's fine).
In a liquid measuring cup, combine 1 cup heavy cream, milk and almond extract. Pour the liquid over the flour mixture and stir gently with a rubber spatula. Before the flour is completely mixed in, switch to mixing by hand, kneading as you go, the dough will be sticky. Be careful not to over-mix; stop as soon as no streaks of flour remain.
Use an ice cream scoop or measuring cup to scoop 1/4 cup portions* of dough onto the prepared baking sheet, keeping the dough mounds fairly high. Leave a couple inches of space between each portion of dough. Brush each mound of dough with cream and sprinkle generously with coarse sugar.
Bake for 14-17 minutes, until golden brown around the edges and light golden brown on top. If you squeeze them the center should feel soft, but not doughy. Place the pan on a wire rack to cool.
Using a hand mixer or stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, beat all ingredients until soft peaks form. I begin the mixer on low, then slowly increase it to high, stopping to scrape the bowl as needed. This will work best if your cream is very cold. Tip: Chill your bowl and beaters in the freezer before whipping the cream.
Using a small sharp knife, gently cut the top of each shortcake. These are delicate, so work carefully. I do not cut them directly in half, I cut off the upper third of the shortcake. Layer the strawberries (with some of their juices) and the whipped cream into the shortcake bottom. Place the top on and serve immediately.
* Using generous 1/4 cup scoops of dough will produce about 8 shortcakes. Scant 1/4 cup scoops will produce closer to 9-10 shortcakes.