Italian Strawberry “Millefoglie” Shortcake

This cake is a hybrid between my kids favorite cake and my favorite dessert as a child. For kids growing up here in the states, Strawberry Shortcake is a cultural classic. Mounds of whipped cream and fresh strawberries served between layers of angel food cake. Sound familiar? It’s delicious, but heavy. For me, my all time go to cake is something called “mille foglie” which means “a thousand leaves.” It is a crepe like pastry filled with delicate layers of Chantilly cream, chocolate chunks and lightly dusted with powdered sugar. While not a huge fan of cakes loaded down with frosting, butter creams or anything unnecessarily laden with sugar or butter like most American desserts, that doesn’t mean I don’t enjoy a nice sweet treat. One of the biggest things I try to accomplish when preparing any dish is quality not quantity and this cake perfectly embraces that concept. This Italian Strawberry and Basil Shortcake is a marriage between the two classic cakes and will satisfy everyone. The first time we made it was for Evelina’s birthday. Evelina not only helped make it, but helped design it as well and the experience not only taught her how to bake healthy desserts, but empowered her to continuing exploring cooking in the future.


Prep Time: 20 mins/ Cook Time: 15 mins/ Serves: 8

1 (17 1/4-oz) package frozen puff pastry sheets, thawed
1 ½ pounds strawberries, stems removed and sliced
¼ cup sugar
Juice of half a lemon
2 cups heavy whipping cream
1 vanilla, split open with seeds removed
1 tablespoon powdered sugar, plus more for garnish
Block of bittersweet chocolate, for shaving

Heat oven to 400 degrees. Butter 2 sheet trays.


Flour your work surface. Roll out each puff pastry to a 14 inch square. Use a biscuit cutter to cut into 4 inch rounds. Place on prepared sheet tray and prick with fork. Bake the pastry for 15 minutes, rotating the pans halfway through cooking, until golden brown and puffy. Remove and let cool. Once cool, slice each puffed round into 3 horizontal pieces.


Meanwhile, add strawberries, sugar, lemon juice to a medium bowl and toss. Let sit at room temperature for 30 minutes so the juices develop.


When ready to serve, add heavy cream to a large bowl, add the seeds of the vanilla bean. Beat using a hand mixer until it thickens, add the powdered sugar and beat until soft peaks appear.


To assemble, add a nice dollop of whipped cream to a dessert plate. Top with strawberries and a round of pastry. Repeat layers ending with pastry. Sprinkle with powdered sugar and serve immediately.