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Move over, strawberries and cream. Grant Melton, Rachael's go-to dessert guy and former culinary producer, created these decadent shortcakes layered with caramel apple slices, vanilla ice cream and pecans.
For the shortcakes, preheat the oven to 400°F.
Using the large holes on a cheese grater, grate the butter onto a parchment paper-lined plate. Place the butter into the freezer to keep cold.
Make a well in the center of the dry ingredients, add the buttermilk mixture and slowly combine the mixture with one hand. Right when the mixture comes together, gather the dough into a ball and dump it out onto a floured surface. Press the dough into a disc.
Using a 2-inch biscuit cutter, cut into four shortcakes. Mound the dough back up, press gently and then cut two more shortcakes. Place them onto a parchment paper-lined sheet tray. Using a pastry brush, brush the tops with a little buttermilk and sprinkle each with a pinch of sugar.
Bake for 15 to 20 minutes or until golden brown and risen. Remove and let cool slightly.
For the caramel apples, melt the butter in a large sauté pan over medium heat. Add the apples and sauté for 3 minutes, tossing occasionally. Sprinkle the brown sugar and granulated sugar over the apples. Toss to coat. Let cook over medium heat, stirring occasionally, for 8 minutes or until the apples become tender and the sugar is melted and thickened. Add the heavy cream, vanilla bean paste and salt. Toss to coat, let cook for another 2 minutes until sauce is thick and remove from heat.
To serve, cut the shortcakes in half horizontally and place onto serving plates. Top the bottom half of the shortcake with caramel apples, a scoop of vanilla ice cream, a drizzle of caramel sauce from the sauté pan, some pecans and a pinch of flaky salt (if using). Place the top half of the shortcake on top and serve immediately.