Strawberry-Mango Shortcakes with Basil Syrup

This image courtesy of Joseph DeLeo

This not-too-sweet yet rich shortcake gets a pleasant boost of flavor from a drizzle of basil syrup, which complements the fruits perfectly. I look for strawberries that have an exceptionally sweet flavor and deep red color throughout. Often the berries are organic, but don’t overlook local grown varieties. The taste test just can’t be beat when it comes to selecting the best. Plan in advance when you need mangoes, as it is rare to find ripe ones in the supermarket (they can take up to a week to ripen). Years ago, I was privileged to be in the same place at the same time as noted actress and cookbook author Madhur Jaffrey, and heard her say, “Put the mangoes under your bed. When you can smell their fragrance, they’re ripe.” A deluxe filling of crème fraîche and heavy cream lets you know you are indeed eating a shortcake, but this version elevates the traditional concept from ordinary to extraordinary. The shortcake recipe doubles easily. If you increase the recipe, divide the dough in half, wrap one piece loosely in plastic wrap, and refrigerate while you are forming shortcakes from the other half. Place all of the shortcakes on a large baking sheet, if possible, and bake them at the same time.

Cooking Methodbaking


Total Timeunder 4 hours

Kid FriendlyYes

OccasionCasual Dinner Party

Recipe Coursedessert

Dietary Considerationpeanut free, soy free, tree nut free, vegetarian

Equipmentblender, electric mixer

Mealdinner, tea


Taste and Texturecreamy, fruity, rich, sweet

Type of Dishcake


  • 2 pints (8 to 10 ounces/225 to 280 grams) strawberries, hulled and sliced horizontally to yield about 4 cups
  • ¼ to ½ cup (1 1/3 to 3½ ounces/50 to 100 grams) granulated sugar, depending on sweetness of fruit
  • ¼ cup fresh basil leaves, cut into chiffonade (fine strips)
  • 3 medium (about 7 ounces/200 grams each) or 2 large (about 1 pound/455 grams each) ripe mangoes
  • 1 cup (4½ ounces/130 grams) all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup (4 ounces/115 grams) cake flour
  • 2 tablespoons granulated sugar
  • 1 tablespoon baking powder
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 4 ounces (1 stick/115 grams) cold unsalted butter, cut into 10 slices
  • 2/3 to ¾ cup (5½ to 6 fl ounces/165 to 180 ml) cold whole milk
  • 2 tablespoons sanding or granulated sugar
  • 2 cups (16 fl ounces/480 ml) heavy cream
  • 1 cup (8 ounces/225 grams) creme fraiche
  • 1 tablespoon granulated sugar
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • Powdered sugar For decoration


  1. To prepare the fruit:

  2. Put the strawberries in a large bowl, pour the sugar over the berries, sprinkle with the basil, and toss gently. Cover and set aside at room temperature for at least 2 hours.

  3. Using a fork, mash one-third of the berries in the bowl, toss the mixture again, and let stand for another hour. (You can make this 1 day ahead. Refrigerate the mixture after mashing some of the berries, and bring the berries to room temperature before serving.)

  4. Peel the mangoes and cut lengthwise into ½-inch-thick slices, cutting from one side and then the other side of the large central pit. Cut the slices lengthwise into ¾-inch-wide sticks. Cut the sticks crosswise into ¾-inch cubes, place in a medium bowl, cover, and set aside at room temperature.

  5. Before baking:

  6. Center a rack in the oven and preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Have ready a sturdy 2½-inch round metal cutter.

  7. To make the Shortcake Biscuits:

  8. In a large bowl, whisk together the flours, sugar, baking powder, and salt. Scatter the butter pieces over the flour mixture.

  9. With a pastry blender, cut in the butter just until the mixture resembles a very coarse meal. Add the milk, about one third at a time, and toss gently with a fork (preferably a blending fork) after each addition until the mixture develops moist clumps and leaves the sides of the bowl to form a dough.

  10. Turn the dough out onto a floured work surface and knead gently only 2 or 3 times to bring it together into a cohesive ball. Pat or roll out the dough about ½ inch thick.

  11. Using the cutter, cut out 6 circles. Be sure to press the cutter straight down to cut each circle. Twisting the cutter seals the edges of the biscuits and limits their rise. (Using a glass as a cutter does not cut as cleanly as a metal cutter. As you press the glass into the dough, it tends to seal the edges, which affects how high the biscuits will rise as they bake. When you cut with a metal cutter, both the top and bottom of the biscuit remain open, so that air can escape as you press down.)

  12. Set the dough circles about 2 inches apart on the prepared baking sheet. Sprinkle the tops evenly with the sanding sugar. If desired, gather the scraps, gently pat the dough ½ inch thick, and cut out another circle or two (the biscuits made from scraps won’t be as tender as the first ones, but they will be tender).

  13. Bake for 10 minutes, then reduce the heat to 375 degrees F and bake until the shortcakes are golden, about 10 minutes longer. Transfer the biscuits to a wire rack and let cool completely. For the best texture and flavor, serve them at room temperature as soon as possible after they have cooled and no more than a few hours.

  14. To make the Cream Filling:

  15. In a large bowl, combine the cream, crème fraîche, sugar, and vanilla and whip with a handheld electric mixer on medium-low speed or by hand with a whisk just until soft peaks form.

  16. To assemble the shortcakes:

  17. Split the biscuits in half horizontally either by gently pulling them apart with your fingertips or cutting them with a serrated knife.

  18. Place a biscuit bottom, cut side up, on each plate. Spoon 1/3 to ½ cup of the strawberries on the biscuit bottom, top with about ¼ cup of the mango pieces, and then ¼ to 1/3 cup of the whipped cream.

  19. Cover with the top half of the biscuit, cut side down.

  20. Lightly dust each shortcake and its plate with powdered sugar.


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