This  savory-sweet version of strawberry shortcake makes excellent use of convenient boxed pound cake mix, but offers an unexpected twist in the form of savory basil, balsamic and orange.  

Savory-Sweet Strawberry Shortcake (8 servings)

For the Orange-Basil Pound Cake:

  • 1 boxed pound cake mix prepared according to package directions
  • 1 ½ teaspoon chopped orange zest
  • 2 Tablespoons chopped fresh basil

For the Balsamic Strawberries:

  • 1 pound strawberries, leaves removed and quartered
  • ¼ Cup white sugar
  • 3 Tablespoons balsamic vinegar

For the Black Pepper Cream Topping:

  • 1 Cup Sour Cream
  • 1 Tablespoon brown sugar
  • ½ teaspoon coarse black pepper

For the Basil Garnish:

  • 8 Fresh Basil leaves
  • 1 Cup Canola Oil for frying

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.  Fold the orange zest and chopped basil into the prepared cake batter. Transfer the batter to a greased loaf pan and bake for 1 hour or until a toothpick inserted into the center of the cake comes out clean.  Allow the cake to cool in the pan for 15 minutes before turning out onto a rack to cool completely.

Combine the quartered strawberries with the white sugar and balsamic vinegar.  Set the berries aside at room temperature while the cake bakes to allow the berries to release their juices.  Stir occasionally until ready to use.

Transfer the sour cream to a small mixing bowl. Stir in the brown sugar and black pepper and refrigerate the mixture until ready to serve.

Just before cutting the cake fry the basil leaves.  Heat the canola oil until a bread cube sizzles on contact.  Add the basil leaves on at time and fry until translucent and crisp.  Take care when adding the leaves to the hot oil as they will sputter and pop.  Drain on paper towels.  

To serve cut the cake into 1” slices. Top each piece of cake with a portion of the balsamic strawberries and their juices.  Place a dollop of black pepper sour cream on top of the berries and garnish with a fried basil leaf.  

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