(March 27, 2012)

After you've finished the Peeps and jelly beans and chocolate eggs the Bunny left, what are you going to do for sweets? You don't want to hark back to chocolate fudge cakes and bread puddings. Too heavy for the days ahead.

Our exercise du jour, then, is to consider fixing some lighter treats. And considering the spate of warm weather we've had, it's not a moment too soon. We present a small collection of easy-fixing post prandial dishes that will take you through spring and into the summer.

If you're a hold-out for only local fruits and berries, you'll have to wait a bit. But even the "imported" fruits at the market are looking awfully good this time of year.

We begin…


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Blueberry shortcakes

This is, arguably, the toughest of our challenges du jour. But making a one-piece shortcake biscuit that you cut into wedges later isn't all that difficult, and it's nice to have it in our repertoire to use with other fruit mélanges: strawberries, raspberries, etc.

P.S. We use a bit of cake flour along with all-purpose flour. The former is somewhat lighter and finer than the latter, adding a more pleasing texture. We use both vegetable shortening and butter for basically the same reason, and for a smoother flavor.

We serve this dessert warm, topped with chilled homemade whipped cream and/or ice cream. The contrast of warm and cold is yummy.

Shortcake:

1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour

1/4 cup cake flour

1 tablespoon baking powder (make sure it's fresh)

1/4 teaspoon salt

1/4 teaspoon each, ground cinnamon and nutmeg

5 tablespoons cold vegetable shortening (e.g., Crisco), in chunks

3 tablespoons cold, unsalted butter, cut into chunks

1 1/2 tablespoons superfine sugar

1 cup whole or 2 percent milk, at room temperature

1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

Blueberries