Perhaps you’ve caught yourself doing this before: you’re lost in thought — truly daydreaming about nothing in particular. Then you wonder, “How in heck did I end up thinking about that?” and you proceed to trace back which thought led to what until you either figure it out (depending upon whether you have more patience than I do) or give up because in the long run, it truly doesn’t matter.
That’s the best way to describe how I ended up with these Nectarine Blondie Parfaits. I’d seen Sunset magazine’s photo of “Chocolate Liliko’i Parfaits” ingredients layered deliciously in glasses, and wondered about the combination of flavors I’d use for a treat like that. I just happened to have gelato, and had just finished making a batch of blondies. Of course there were beautiful nectarines on my counter destined for a salad that I might also use.
And then there was a jar of Arequipe de Antano in the fridge. Surely something good could come of a few of those ingredients if I stacked them nicely in a glass.
Years ago, one of my students gave me a gift certificate to a bookstore as a parting thank you for the school year. With it, I purchased a tiny book called Biscuits and Scones: 62 Recipes from Breakfast Biscuits to Homey Desserts by Elizabeth Alston. Until Sunday, I’d never made another biscuit or shortcake recipe because those recipes are the very best.
When it comes to the perfect shortcake recipe, I think it should be only slightly sweet since it’s going to have macerated fruit poured over each piece. It should have a sturdy exterior with a pleasant bite — almost a crunch. The center is more dense and very nearly like a sponge that will soak up the juice of the berries without getting mushy. A bit obsessive, yes?
But Sunday, after the BBQ Beef Sandwiches with that amazing crunchy Coleslaw with Bacon and Blue Cheese, we had Nectarine Shortcake make with a different recipe. The ginger called for in the original recipe from this August’s issue of Bon Appetit, which I cooked the hell out of, caught my eye. In my recent kitchen reorganization, I unearthed a bag of crystallized ginger that I swear I bought two years ago, so now seemed like it was free. Ridiculous reasoning, I know, but it’s kind of like finding money in the pocket of a coat you haven’t worn since last winter, right? The other thing that caught my eye about the recipe was the addition of ginger ale. No milk. Well, not as much as the recipe I’ve been using.
Of course I’d like to say that I made this recipe exactly the way it was written, but I somehow forgot to increase the amount of butter along with the other ingredients since I was making more than what the recipe called for.
I’m sure Alton Brown would have something to say about the chemistry of the missing butter, but they turned out famously. Crunchy tops, easy to split, and very nice with nectarines that have been macerated in quite a bit less sugar than what the recipe called for. Some lime juice splashed in for good measure was almost perfect. I’d have added some basil to it all if we’d not had some younger people at the table who wouldn’t try the dessert if there were green shreds in it — but next time.
And yes, there will be a next time.
These are outstanding!