Friday, July 25, 2008

Nectarines with Gingersnaps and Mascarpone Cream


Nectarines are peaking right now. They are incredibly delicate and delicious. Their deep crimson complexion softened by a wonderful hint of peachiness is irresistible. They are just the right sweetness and must be eaten the moment they ripen for optimum pleasure. Walk by a fresh display and see if you can resist their gorgeousness.

I was thinking about a way to keep the fresh juicy quality of nectarines in tact while adding a spicy flavor profile. I decided to recline them on a bed of mascarpone cream slathered on a gingersnap. Once assembled, the nectarines are bathed in a wash of caramel to complement the fruit and the not very sweet but very spicy cookie. The mascarpone creates a soft pillow of lemony creaminess to bridge all the elements in a simple yet very satisfying way.

The gingersnap cookie comes from Chez Panisse, where they are sliced in very thin slivers, topped with coarse sugar and might accompany lime sherbet or passionfruit ice cream. In addition to the usual ground ginger, there is cinnamon and a good measure of black pepper to warm the palate. The mascarpone cream is blended with a bit of sugar, plain yogurt and lemon zest to brighten the entire assemblage. The small stream of bittersweet caramel adds only a hint of gooiness.

This is another one of those summer desserts that requires very little fuss. It’s light enough to indulge without care and yet interesting enough to satisfy the quest for an elegant fresh fruit treat.


Bench notes:
- The gingersnaps are not very sweet. When baking just as a cookie, coat the tops of them with coarse sugar before baking. Check them carefully to be sure the edges do not burn.
- The yogurt should be full fat. If it’s nonfat, I add 2 T of cream to smooth it out. You can substitute sour cream for the yogurt for more richness and body. Taste to see if you need to adjust the sugar.
- This would also be good with bananas.



Nectarines with Gingersnaps and Mascarpone Cream


8 Gingersnap Cookies, recipe below
Mascarpone Cream, recipe below
3 nectarines, sliced
Caramel, recipe below

Gingersnaps
adapted from The Art of Simple Food by Alice Waters
Makes about 40 2” cookies

2 C flour
1 1/2 t baking soda
1/2 t salt
2 t ground cinnamon
1 1/2 t ground ginger
1/2 t ground black pepper
5 1/2 oz (11 T) butter @ room temperature
2/3 C sugar
1/2 t vanilla extract
1/4 C mild molasses
1 egg @ room temperature

Sift the dry ingredients together.
Beat the butter until fluffy.
Add the sugar and beat until smooth. Scrape down the sides of the bowl.
Add the vanilla, molasses and combine. Add the egg.
Add the dry ingredients and mix just until blended.
Flour your hands and lightly dust a piece of parchment paper. Place dough on the parchment paper. Roll the dough until it’s about 2" in diameter. Remove excess flour and roll up the cookie log in the parchment paper. Wrap tightly in plastic and refrigerate until very firm or freeze.

When ready to bake, preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
Slice into a 1/4" cookies with a sharp knife. Press into a bowl of coarse sugar and place 12 on a baking sheet lined with a silpat or parchment.
Bake for 10 minutes, rotating the baking sheets at the 5 minute mark.
Cool and store in an air-tight container.

Mascarpone Cream

8 oz mascarpone @ room temperature
1/4 C + 2 T plain yogurt
3 - 4 T sugar, to taste
zest of 1 lemon

Combine all ingredients and chill.

Caramel

1/4 C water
1 C sugar
1/4 C hot water

Bring 1/4 C water and sugar to a boil. Cook for 3-4 minutes until the mixture begins to turn a medium amber color. You will be able to begin to smell the flavor. Pull off the heat and watch as it continues to darken. When it nears the right color, add the 1/4 hot water to stop the cooking, holding the pan away from you as it might sputter. Swirl the pan to combine and until it reaches the desired color. Pour into another heatproof bowl to cool to room temperature.

To assemble: Place a Gingersnap on a plate and dollop with Mascarpone Cream. Top with slices of fresh ripe nectarine. Drizzle with caramel.

12 comments:

Aran said...

lovely... i can taste the spiciness by looking at the photos. I am going to bookmark this recipe for gingersnaps... some of my favorite kinds of cookies!

Tartelette said...

I realise I did not reply to your mail..well, I did but parked in "drafts" because that's where my brain is these days. I apologize.
This is simple and absolutely gorgeous! I could really see myself eat it for breakfast too!

Heather said...

what beautiful pictures! i love the combo of nectarines and ginger snaps. looks delish.

Alexa said...

Lovely pictures, very artistic. This recipe sounds very unique and delicious.

Joy the Baker said...

What a gorgeous dessert! I love nectarines and I love what you've done with them here. Lots of unique flavors and textures together with unadulterated nectarine flavor. Beautiful!

Jeanine said...

These look delicious! What beautiful pictures. I love nectarines too, too bad they are really good for such a short time.

Y said...

I've tried that Alice Waters recipe before. Best gingersnaps ever! :)

Becky said...

wow, i love the simplicity of the presentation. plus the different flavor and textures sound like they'd be excellent together. nice job!

Alex Rushmer said...

This looks great. Your photography is really good too.

Beatrice said...

Lovely and interesting - I usually think of gingerbread as a winter treat...

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The colors look lovely. Judging by the pictures, you can already tell how delicious it tastes.

private tutor said...

The color yellow just looks inviting. You can taste the sweetness just by its color!