Strawberry-Lemon Shortcake Muffins

I could eat plain strawberries all day long – so could my kids. But sometimes, I like to dress them up.

Shortcakes are the obvious choice to serve alongside fresh strawberries, but I get a bit bored with the tasteless variety you can pick up in the produce section of the grocery store. Those spongy cups not only feel greasy, but they tend to leave a sort of film in your mouth that takes away from the bright flavors of the strawberries.

Inside of using store-bought shortcakes, or even making ones at home that involve making the dough, rolling it out, cutting it and then baking, I tweaked one of my favorite muffin recipes and created a “muffin shortcake.” These muffins – complete with a whole tablespoon of baking powder – puff up beautifully. Add some lemon zest and a kick of almond extract and they practically beg to be finished off with a helping of strawberries after they’re out of the oven.

Fashion these muffins into a delectable dessert by cutting them horizontally and placing fresh-cut strawberries on the bottom half, add a dollop of whipped cream and then the muffin’s top. You can even dust the plate with a little powdered sugar and mint for a more dramatic presentation. Whether you eat these muffins with or without strawberries, they’re good to the last crumb.

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