Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Nutty Nectarine Dessert



The sheer beauty of summer peaches and nectarines, carefully arranged in  vibrant pyramids of color, grabbed my attention as I ambled through Carr’s produce department. Temptation overcame caution and I bought a big bag of these nearly-ripe, seasonal beauties. Okay, so they weren’t local, after all I was in Ketchikan, but these were the closest I would come this year to fresh, in-season stone fruit. 

We ate a few nectarines at breakfast, layered with granola and Greek yogurt. We enjoyed a few more as snacks, just because they were there. Several more were chopped up in a fruit salad… and still more nectarines sat in the fruit basket, waiting to be eaten before they spoiled. Dessert would be the next course to tackle, even though I’m not a big sweets fan. Baked cobbler or pie didn’t sound appealing, so it seemed the glaze-and-broil approach might be a solution. I wondered if the leftover Sweet ‘n Tangy Chipotle Sauce would work as a fruit glaze? It sounded good.

Then I remembered a quick presentation from a little-used cookbook on board, Entertaining Vegetarians by Celia Brooks Brown. Just stuff fruit halves with a blend of chopped nuts, flavorings and softened butter; broil; serve. Could a dessert be any more simple?!  Better yet, I would try both presentations and see which dessert won the onboard taste test.





The results? Both were good, though the pucker factor of the chipotle glaze required a hefty addition of sugar on top before broiling. Our favorite? No question about it, we much preferred the pistachio-filled fruit halves with a dollop of creamy Greek yogurt. Any suggestions on how to enjoy the rest of the fruit supply?


Nutty Nectarines
Adapted from Entertaining Vegetarians by Celia Brooks Brown, Whitecap Books 2005
Serves 3 in my galley, but could provide 6 dainty servings

Ingredients:
·      3 ripe stone fruits, halved and pitted (nectarines, peaches, plums, mango, apricots, or perhaps even papaya are good choices)
·      1 tablespoon sugar
·      Honey-flavored Greek yogurt, vanilla ice cream or whipped cream to accompany (I s’pose KoolWhip would work, but I’m not going there)

Filling:
·      2 tablespoons butter, room temperature
·      1/4 cup nuts, slivered or chopped *
·      2 tablespoons sugar
·      3 tablespoons brandy**
·      a pinch of ground spice***

Directions:
Preheat the boiler, setting the rack so the top of the mounded filling is about 6 inches below the flame or element.
Mix together the filling ingredients until well blended. Divide evenly between the fruit halves, filling each cavity with a small, firmly-packed mound of the nutty mixture.
Sprinkle all with the remaining tablespoon of sugar.
Place under the broiler and heat for about 6 minutes, until the sugar is melted and the stuffing shows some color. Be careful not to scorch the nuts.
Serve with Honey Greek yogurt, crème fraiche, ice cream or whipped cream.

Notes:
*I use pistachios, but I’m sure almonds, hazelnuts or pine nuts would be equally delicious.
**Mix it up a bit and substitute a tablespoon or two of vanilla or almond extract, mint, or a citrus juice and zest for the brandy.
***Experiment with flavors; use cloves, nutmeg or cinnamon or some combination of flavors. Rosemary or lavender? maybe.

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