Friday, July 30, 2010

Cinnamon Pecan Biscuits with Peaches and Cream

Peaches are showing their sunny faces in the markets at the moment. They are very juicy and full of bright summer flavor. I think this dessert is a great way to salute them.

This is a sort of Southern take on shortcake. The biscuits are made with ground pecans and cinnamon. This produces a really delicious biscuit with a nice crunchy crust. The peaches are blanketed with brown sugar and a spritz of lemon and left to sit and develop some very delicious caramel-like juices. The cream is flavored with a little splash of brandy that provides the perfect warm note in combination with all the other ingredients. All we need is a cool breeze and a nice veranda to sit together and enjoy every bite.

Bench notes:
- I used a 2 3/4” cutter for the shortcakes and I got 6 biscuits. You could make smaller ones for tea service. Another way to serve is to make layers of crumbled biscuit, fruit, juices and whipped cream in parfait glasses.
- To toast pecans, place them on a baking sheet and toast in a 350 degree oven for about 10 minutes. Be careful not to overdo it or they will taste bitter. They should brown slightly and give off a lovely toasty fragrance.
- Once you add the buttermilk, do your best not to handle the dough too much. It will toughen the finished product. Gently press the dough into a mass, but do not knead it.
- The brandy in the whipped cream adds a great subtle note to the whole dessert, but if you don’t wish to use it, substitute 1/2 teaspoon of vanilla extract. You can also add a pinch of cinnamon.
- There’s a lot of sugar on the peaches because you will want lots of the juices to spoon over the fruit.
- These would be really, really good with fresh fig slices steeped in a mixture of honey and a bit of water and cinnamon or apples or pears sauteed with brown sugar and cinnamon.

Cinnamon Pecan Biscuits with Peaches and Cream
Serves 6

5 fresh ripe peaches
1/2 C dark brown sugar
1 t fresh lemon juice, to taste

2 C flour
1/2 t salt
1/3 C sugar
1 T + 1 t baking powder
1/2 t cinnamon
2/3 C toasted pecans (about 2 oz)
4 oz (1 stick) cold butter, cut into small pieces
3/4 C buttermilk

To coat the tops of the biscuits:
1/3 C toasted pecans (about 1 oz), chopped fine
2 T sugar
pinch cinnamon
1 T butter, melted

1 C heavy cream
1 T sugar
2 t brandy

Cut peaches in half and remove pits. Slice them thinly and toss with lemon juice and brown sugar. Set aside to macerate, stirring every now and then to distribute the juices.

Preheat the oven to 425°. Prepare a baking sheet with parchment.

Finely chop 1/3 cup of the toasted pecans and toss with 2 tablespoons of sugar and a good pinch of cinnamon. Set aside. Melt 1 tablespoon of butter and set aside.

Place the flour, salt, sugar, baking powder, cinnamon and 2/3 cup of the toasted pecans in the bowl of a food processor and process until the pecans are finely ground. Pour the dry mixture into a bowl. Add the butter pieces and toss to coat them. Using your fingers, pinch each piece of butter flat, then into pieces the size of a pea and keep tossing the mixture. You can also use a pastry blender if you prefer. Stop when the mixture looks like coarse meal. Work quickly so the butter stays cold and firm. Add the buttermilk all at once and fold everything together gently with a spatula just until it starts to come together, the mixture is moist and there are no patches of dry flour.

Gather the dough and place it on a clean work surface or a piece of parchment and gently pat it together with your hands. Do not knead. Shape it into a round about 3/4” thick. Use a round cutter dipped in flour to cut out the biscuits. Place them on the baking sheet. Brush the tops with melted butter and sprinkle with the pecan cinnamon sugar mixture, pressing down gently to secure the nuts. Bake about 13-15 minutes, until the biscuits are lightly golden.

Whip the cream, sugar and brandy to a very soft peak. It should be fairly loose and creamy.

Cut the biscuits in half horizontally. Dollop each half with some whipped cream and then layer on some peaches with plenty of juices.


gonzy said...

Very savory and such a great summer dish. And to think I was really digging my grilled nectarines the other night. Looks like I need to raise my game!

Kathleen said...

OK, biscuits made with ground pecans, this is what I'm going to dream about tonight!


Lucie said...

Your biscuits are out of this world! This is a great rich biscuit to pair with fruit--thank you for all your suggestions for other fruit toppings!

Antonietta said...

Oh wow- these look amazing! They have everything that I love-
Can't wait to try them!!

Kevin said...

That looks like a great way to enjoy some summery fresh peaches!

Marcellina said...

Oooh yum! I had never thought of teaming crunchy biscuits with fruit and cream. What a great dessert everyone would enjoy! Fantastic!

myrecessionkitchen said...

I just picked a dozen peaches from my tree, now I know what to make. These look wonderful!

Heather said...

I would love to try these but I cannot copy them. Why do you post things that look so good that we cannot copy and try? I am only asking and not mad or anything I was just having to wipe the drool off my mouth just looking at the photos.

jodye @ 'scend food said...

Wow,these look wonderful! I am especially enticed by that crunchy looking pecan topping!