Make the biscuits:
Line a heavy baking sheet with parchment. Sift the flour, cocoa powder, sugar, baking powder, and salt into a large bowl. Toss with a fork to combine. Cut the butter into the dry ingredients with a pastry cutter or a fork until the largest pieces of butter are the size of peas. Add the grated chocolate and toss to combine. Combine the cream and vanilla in a liquid measure. Make a well in the center of the flour mixture and pour the cream into the well. Mix with a fork until the dough is evenly moistened and just combined; it should look shaggy and still feel a little dry. Gently knead by hand five or six times to pick up any dry ingredients remaining in the bottom of the bowl and to create a loose ball.
Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured work surface and pat it into an 8-inch square, 3/4 to 1 inch thick. Transfer the dough to the parchment-lined baking sheet, cover with plastic wrap, and chill for 20 minutes. Meanwhile, heat the oven to 425°F. Remove the dough from the refrigerator and trim about 1/4 inch from each side to create a neat, sharp edge (a bench knife or a pastry scraper works well, or use a large chef’s knife, being sure to cut straight down). Cut the dough into 9 even squares (about 2-1/2 inches square) and spread them about 2 inches apart on the baking sheet. With a pastry brush or the back of a spoon, brush each biscuit with a thin layer of cream and sprinkle generously with sugar. Bake until the biscuits look a little dry and are mostly firm to the touch (they should spring back slightly when gently pressed), 18 to 20 minutes.
Meanwhile, prepare the berries:
Toss the berries with 1 tablespoon sugar and taste. If they’re still tart, sprinkle with another 1 to 2 tablespoons sugar. Let sit at room temperature until the sugar dissolves and the berries begin to release their juices, at least 30 minutes but no more than 2 hours.
Whip the cream:
Pour the cream into a cold mixing bowl and beat with a hand mixer until it begins to thicken. Add the sugar and vanilla extract and, using a whisk, continue to beat by hand until the cream is softly whipped or until the whisk leaves distinct marks in the cream; it should be soft and billowy but still hold its shape.
Assemble the shortcakes:
While the biscuits are still warm, split them in half horizontally with a serrated knife. For each serving, set the bottom half of a biscuit on a plate. Scoop about 1/2 cup of the berries and their juices over the biscuit. Add a generous dollop of whipped cream and cover with the top half of the biscuit. Top with a small dollop of cream, a sprinkling of grated chocolate, and one or two whole, hulled strawberries
Make Ahead Tips
For the biscuits: I prefer to serve the biscuits warm—not hot—from the oven, but you can make them several hours in advance. (You can even bake the biscuits a day ahead, or freeze them for up to three months, although their texture will suffer slightly.) Just before serving, reheat the prepared biscuits in a 200°F oven until warmed through.
For the berries: You can slice the berries hours ahead of time and refrigerate them. Half an hour before assembling the shortcakes, toss the berries with the sugar and let them sit at room temperature.
For the whipped cream: Underwhip your cream and refrigerate it, covered, until ready to serve. Then use a whisk to finish whipping.
nutrition information (per serving):
Photo: Anna Williams