Ultra-Decadent Strawberry ‘Shortcake’

Growing up in Central California, I ate a lot of strawberries.  There were strawberry festivals and pick-your-own stands galore.  Here in NC, it’s near impossible to find good strawberries.  But, if you can find just one carton of really good strawberries (or high-quality frozen ones), you should give this a try.  It’s my version of a gourmet strawberry ‘shortcake.’

What you need:

4 1″ thick slices of brioche

2tbsp. Turbinado sugar

1lb. strawberries, sliced (not too thin)

1/2 cup Port wine

1tbsp. granulated sugar

1tbsp. balsamic vinegar

1tsp. pure vanilla extract

In a saucepan, add the Port, strawberries, granulated sugar, balsamic vinegar, and vanilla.  Simmer on low until it reduces to a syrup-y consistency.  Sauce should coat the back of a spoon.  Lay out your slices of brioche on a broiler pan or other fire resistant surface.  Sprinkle the tops with the Turbinado sugar and then run over the sugar with a kitchen torch (or place under the broiler, but be careful!) in order to “brûlée” the sugar.  Don’t burn it!  (Burnt sugar= yuck!)  Serve strawberries over the crunchy side of the brioche in a bowl (the syrup will spill over the bread, soaking into the bottom as it sits, but the top will still stay slightly crunchy).  Top with vanilla ice cream, whipped cream, or Marscapone cheese.

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