My husband’s favorite dessert is strawberry shortcake, so I make it often – especially when strawberries are in season. Surprised to find beautiful, red strawberries in Publix last week, I couldn’t resist buying them for a yummy shortcake.
I ran to The Fresh Market to buy an angel food cake or pound cake for the dessert, and I saw some lovely madeleines. They were not pre-packaged but were the bakery made and labeled brand. I asked my sweet friend who works in the bakery if they were good, and she opened a package for me to try. I was amazed; they were really, really delicious.
After tasting the buttery, light, hint-of-vanilla cookie with a good crumb, I decided madeleines would make a fabulous foundation for strawberry shortcake. These (The Fresh Market version) were far better than the packaged lady fingers that they are “kin to.” While lady fingers are a bit bland, these madeleines were rich and flavorful, almost like a soft, fluffy, homemade vanilla wafer. They were a bit pricey ($4 or so for 8 cookies), but they were worth it. I bought two packages for the recipe.
I tried layering the madeleines in the pie plate, but it didn’t look right. I crumbled them together for an even layer.
I made the shortcake the way I always do, which is embarrassingly easy but surprisingly delicious. This recipe is best made several hours (up to 24) ahead so that the flavors will meld.
Strawberry Madeleine Dessert
2 packages madeleines (preferably bakery quality)
2 pints strawberries
1 package (small box) instant cheesecake flavored Jell-O pudding
1 small carton heavy whipping cream (or a can of real whipping cream)
1 cup powdered sugar ( half to sweeten berries, half to sweeten whipping cream)
Wash strawberries. Chop into small, uniform pieces. Mix with 1/2 cup sugar (add more if you like sweeter). Set aside. This is best done several hours before making the dessert so that the berries will release juice.
Crumble madeleines in bottom of pie plate or shallow dish.
Make pudding according to package directions (mix for 2 minutes with cold milk). Refrigerate for two minutes. Pour over madeleines.
Sprinkle berries on top of pudding layer.
At this point, you can leave berries as the top layer and squirt with whipping cream just before serving (which I do when pressed for time). The berry topping really is pretty.
The best tasting version is making real whipping cream and spreading on top.
The madeleines maintain a perfect crumb even after adding the pudding. They become moist but not soggy.
I made this dessert late in the day, so my berries weren’t as juicy as I’d have liked and didn’t really soak the madeleines. The dessert was still delicious, and only a tiny bit was left over.
If you can’t imagine cheesecake instant pudding, you’ll be surprised. No one will guess what it is, but it makes the dessert. Try it; you’ll be amazed!