makes 8 servings

2 sticks (1/2 pounds) butter) softened
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
3/4 cup sugar
3 cups all-purpose flour
2 1/2 pints fresh strawberries, sliced
2 cups (1 pint) heavy cream, chilled
2 teaspoons orange liqueur, such as Grand Marnier, Cointreau or Triple Sec
Confectioners' sugar, for garnish

In a mixer bowl, beat the butter with the vanilla until creamy and light. Gradually add 1/2 cup plus 1 tablespoon of the sugar and beat until the sugar dissolves, about 4 minutes. Slowly add the flour 1/4 cup at a time, beating until smooth.

Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface and knead for 1 minute, until a smooth ball forms. Divide the dough in half. Shape the halves into 6 inch disks; wrap and refrigerate at least 30 minutes. (The dough can be made up to 2 days ahead.)

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Line two large cookie sheets with aluminum foil. To form each shortbread layer, place a disk of dough between 2 sheets of waxed paper. Roll into a circle about 12 inches in diameter and 1/8 inch thick. Remove the top sheet of paper and center an 11 inch pie pan on the dough. Run the tip of a paring knife around the pan's edge to cut the dough. Lift the pan off and discard the trimmings.

Invert one circle of dough onto one of the cookie sheets and peel off the waxed paper. Invert the second disk of dough onto the other cookie sheet. Prick both of the circles all over with a fork. Lightly score 1 of the circles into 8 equal wedges, cutting only about halfway through the dough.

Bake for 15 minutes, the circles are pale golden. Remove from the oven and let cool for 10 minutes, then transfer with two large spatulas to a wire rack.
Set aside 1 cup of the prettiest strawberry slices for garnish. Place the remaining berries in a medium bowl. Toss with 2 tablespoons of the remaining sugar.

Whip the cream until soft peaks form. Add the remaining 1 tablespoon sugar and the orange liqueur and beat until stiff peaks form.

To assemble the dessert, place the unmarked shortbread circle bottom-side up on a large platter. Using a slotted spoon, spread the sugared berries in an even layer over the shortbread. Reserve 1 1/2 cups of the whipped cream. Spread the rest of the whipped cream evenly over the berries. Carefully center the marked shortbread circle, bottom-side down, on top of the whipped. Arrange the remaining strawberries on top of the shortbread. Dust the top with confectioners' sugar.

With a pastry bag fitted with a star tip, use the remaining whipped cream to pipe stars around the edge of the shortbread between the top and bottom crusts, or place in a bowl and pass separately. Use a serrated cake knife to slice the shortbread wedges.