It's funny to think that today's the last day of summer because I'm not sure we really even had a summer here in the Pacific Northwest. It's like we went from spring straight into fall this year. We only broke out the sunscreen a small handful of times, the figs on our tree are still rock hard, and the leaves are already threatening to turn. This blink-and-you'll-miss-it summer has left many of us feeling shortchanged. Luckily for those of us in denial that the season for basking in the sun is over, the markets are still loaded with summer stone fruit like peaches and nectarines. So here are some sunny Nectarine Shortcakes to help us hang on to summertime for a few moments longer. Enjoy!
On another note, my book Seared to Perfection: The Simple Art of Sealing in Flavor officially comes out next month, and I just received my copy last Friday. It was an amazing feeling to hold the finished book in my hands for the very first time. I almost passed out from pride. With an irresistible-looking steak on the cover and fiery red and orange print within, the book looks fantastic, even if I do say so myself. I had quite a moment when I put my own book on my own bookshelf, with the rest of my cookbook collection. And I had another moment when I signed a copy (with I pen I bought especially for the purpose) for the first time. (In case you're wondering, it was for my husband, the Official Taster and Recipe Testing Timekeeper.) By the way, you can get your hands on a copy right away because Amazon is already shipping.
Seared to Perfection is mentioned in Publishers Weekly's Fall Cookbooks, By the Trends under More Meat, Please (love it!) and earned a notable mention in the single subject category in The Eater Fall 2010 Cookbook and Food Book Preview on Eater National.
For the shortcakes:
2 cups all-purpose flour
1/3 cup packed light brown sugar
1 tablespoon baking powder
½ teaspoon fine sea salt
3 ounces (¾ stick) cold unsalted butter, shredded
1 large egg
½ cup plus 1 tablespoon heavy cream
2 teaspoons Turbinado sugar
For the sugared nectarines:
8 nectarines, peeled, pitted, and cut into eighths
¼ cup sugar
For the whipped cream:
1 cup heavy cream
¼ cup powdered sugar
¼ teaspoon vanilla extract
Make the shortcakes:
Preheat the oven to 425˚F. Whisk together the flour, brown sugar, baking powder, and salt in a large bowl. Add the butter and, using a pastry cutter, cut the butter into the flour until the mixture resembles coarse crumbs. Blend together the egg and ½ cup of the cream in a small bowl, add to the flour mixture, and stir until just combined. Transfer to a work surface and knead a few times until the dough just holds together. Pat the dough into a 6-inch wide, 1 ½-inch thick circle and cut into 8 wedges. Arrange the shortcakes a couple of inches apart on a parchment-lined baking tray. Lightly brush the shortcakes with the remaining 1 tablespoon of cream and sprinkle with the Turbinado sugar. Bake for 13 to 15 minutes, or until golden brown. Let cool to room temperature.
Make the sugared nectarines:
Toss together the nectarines and sugar in a medium bowl and let macerate, stirring occasionally, for 15 to 20 minutes, or until soft and juicy.
Make the whipped cream:
Whip the cream to medium peaks. Add the powdered sugar and vanilla and continue to whip to stiff peaks.
Assemble the shortcakes:
Split the shortcakes in half horizontally and arrange the bottom of each one split side up on an individual plate. Divide the sugared nectarines and then the whipped cream among them. Replace the top half of each shortcake and serve immediately.
Serves 8. Here's my secret to the most irresistible shortcakes ever: I use my scone recipe instead of a bland biscuit, and I don't skimp on the fruit and whipped cream. Work quickly and with a light touch to prevent the butter in the pastry from melting. If you can get your hands on it, use Tahitian vanilla, which has a uniquely floral character, for the whipped cream. Peaches may be substituted for the nectarines. If you enjoy this recipe, try my Strawberry Shortcakes.