Caramel Apple Shortcakes

Perhaps the best known with a filling of summer strawberries, shortcakes are good to make year-round with in-season fruits. In this fall rendition, apples are caramelized to an almost candied sweetness and paired with flaky biscuit-like shortbread and refreshing sour cream whipped cream.


For the Shortcakes:

  • 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour, plus extra for forming the biscuits
  • 1/4 cup plus 3 tablespoons sugar, divided
  • 1 tablespoon plus 1/4 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 6 tablespoons cold unsalted butter, cut into small cubes
  • About 1 cup buttermilk, divided
  • 2 tablespoons whole milk or heavy cream
  • Apple Cider Reduction (see recipe)

For the Apples and Cream:

  • 3 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1/2 vanilla bean, split lengthwise and seeds scraped
  • 5 Granny Smith apples, peeled, cored, and cut into eighths
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1/4 cup apple brandy such as applejack
  • 3/4 cup very cold heavy cream
  • 3/4 cup very cold sour cream
  • For the Apple Cider Reduction: (makes about 1 cup)
  • 1 quart apple cider
  • 2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons apple brandy, such as applejack
  • 1/2 vanilla bean, split lengthwise and seeds scraped
  • 1 cinnamon stick



Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.

Whisk together the flour, 3 tablespoons sugar, the baking powder, the baking soda and salt in a large bowl.

Cut the butter into the mixture with a pastry cutter or your fingertips until the mixture turns a light yellow and the butter is still visible but in much smaller pieces. Gently stir in 1/2 cup of the buttermilk. Keep stirring in more buttermilk until a soft dough is formed; you may not need all of the buttermilk.

Pat the dough on a floured surface to a 1 1/2-inch thickness. Cut out six 2-inch rounds with a metal cutter or the top of a glass; dip the cutter into flour before cutting each time to prevent sticking. Place the biscuits on the prepared baking sheets and brush the tops with the milk and sprinkle with the 1/4 cup sugar.

Bake the biscuits until golden brown, 12-15 minutes. Remove to a baking rack and let cool.


Melt the butter over medium-high heat in a large sauté pan. Add the vanilla beans and seeds and apple slices and cook until the apples begin to brown, 5-7 minutes. Stir in the sugar and continue to cook, stirring occasionally, until the apples are soft and caramelized.

Remove the pan from the heat and stir in the apple brandy. Carefully return to the heat and cook, stirring occasionally, for 5 minutes. Remove from the heat and let cool slightly. Remove the vanilla bean.

Whip the heavy cream in a medium bowl with an electric mixture on medium speed until slightly thickened. Add the sour cream and continue to whip until soft peaks form.


Combine the apple cider, apple cider vinegar, apple brandy, vanilla beans and seeds and cinnamon stick in the large saucepan and bring to a boil over high heat. Cook, stirring occasionally until reduced to a thick syrup, 25-30 minutes. Remove from the heat and let cool to room temperature. Remove the vanilla bean and cinnamon stick before serving. This can be made up to 1 day in advance and refrigerated. Bring the room temperature before serving.


Drizzle a few tablespoons of the apple cider reduction onto each of 6 plates. Split the shortcakes in half and place the bottoms on the plate. Spoon several heaping tablespoons of the caramelized apples over each shortcake bottom and top with a few dollops of the whipped cream and another drizzle of apple cider reduction. Replace the tops.

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