I love nectarines and not only because of their superiority in taste, texture and tartness to their close cousin the peach, but because nectarines live where summer meets fall and signify the beginning of the best time of year.
It’s back to school, new unread textbooks, first day outfits, and my treasured purple bookbag forever tattooed with a melted pack of grape Bubblelicious gum. And while these are often dreaded facts for many kids, I’ll always be the little girl with big glasses and bright braces that felt more at home in the classroom than I ever did on the kickball field.
It’s the start of pots of chili simmering on the stove top all day and the return of the warmth and ritual of bread baking previously banished by the sweltering afternoons of July and August. It means apple picking, trick or treating, everything pumpkin and the smell of campfire imprinted on your clothes. It’s reds, yellows, oranges and browns, hayrides on the berry farm, holding hands with boys and my wedding day.
Nectarine Hazelnut Cobbler
Cobbler is a classic summer dessert and this version is perfect for that time of year when it still feels and looks like summer but we all crave fall. I love taking advantage of the final gasps of summer stone fruit and the addition of toasted hazelnuts lends an earthy, almost fall, feel to the dish.
Adapted loosely from Martha Stewart
4 to 5 nectarines, 1/4 inch slices
1/4 cup of chopped hazelnuts, lightly toasted
1/4 cup plus 1 Tb sugar
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
2 tsp cornstarch
1 large egg
3 Tbs unsalted butter, melted and cooled
1/4 cup heavy cream
1/2 cup plus 2 Tbs all-purpose flour
Pinch of salt
1 tsp baking powder
Vanilla ice cream (optional)
1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Whisk together 1/4 cup sugar, cinnamon, and cornstarch and toss with nectarines and toasted hazelnuts. Set aside. Combine egg, 2 tablespoons melted butter, and cream in a bowl; whisk with a fork. Set aside.
2. In a separate bowl, stir together flour, salt, baking powder, and remaining tablespoon of sugar. Make a well in center of dry ingredients, and pour egg mixture into well. Using your hands, slowly draw dry ingredients into wet ingredients, and work dough until just mixed together. Do not overmix.
3. Pour fruit and nut mixture into a 9×9 or similarly sized baking dish. Using your fingers, gently drop piece of dough on top of fruit, spreading to almost cover completely. After placing, brush the dough with remaining melted butter and sprinkle with additional sugar. Place dish on a baking sheet and bake until juices bubble up and crust is golden brown, 45 to 50 minutes. Serve hot, with ice cream if desired.