Summer's best shortcakes

One classic dessert shapes up four ways, to mix and match with chocolate, cream, and fresh berries

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A pastry on call in the summer, shortcake sets off the year's most abundant collection of fresh berries ― and is a master of metamorphosis. In the first place, shortcakes are really just light, flaky biscuits that have been turned into slightly sweeter and richer cakes with small but significant ingredient shifts.

Drawing on its capacity for personality change, we started with a classic formula, then kept adjusting, just for fun ― adding big chocolate chunks to the pastry, mixing the traditional strawberries with boysenberries, raspberries, and other seasonal stars. Then we played with its form: One tweak reshapes the shortcake into an easy cobbler, another produces sconelike wedges. One "berry" flexible concept, four beautiful desserts.

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