You know it’s late spring or early summer when you see rows and rows of strawberries in clear, plastic boxes in the grocery store, flanked on either end with packages of pre-baked shortcake. Having done a stint in retail, I can appreciate an effective display of seasonal merchandise!
Also conspicuous in the produce aisle are blushing, fuzzy peaches, arranged at a steep angle next to nectarines and plums.
Like a ski slope of stone fruits.
Was anyone else a kid with peach issues? My fussy eater habits as a kid meant that I could not stand the fuzzy feel of biting into a fresh peach.
I preferred the neon-hued slices of cling peaches that slid out from a can, suspended in a thick puddle of heavy syrup.
But even those slices often had weird, brown and jagged edges where they had once stuck to the pit, and I wouldn’t eat those either.
Same with cubes of peaches in fruit cocktail (the school lunch sort) but that was mostly to do with the proximity of the peach cubes to the scary, peeled grapes.
I still don’t like eating fresh peaches… that fuzzy surface, can’t get past it. But I certainly appreciate the beauty and perfume of a fresh, spring peach.
And that beautiful peach seared on a grill has a tantalizing sweet and smoky juiciness.
For this cake I spread the shortcake batter into a long, soft base that holds clouds of mascarpone whipped cream.
Drizzles of honey sweeten the deal even further. Then a pile of peaches with a sprinkle of red raspberries… and a little more honey.
This dessert has a lovely contrast of sweetness to smoky, and it’s bursting with summery flavor.
And happily for me, there’s enough going on in this shortcake to distract me from any remaining peach fuzziness!
A tender shortcake holds creamy mascarpone whipped cream and swirls of honey. Grilled peaches are piled on with a few red raspberries. It's a decadent and eye-catching dessert!
- 1 cup all-purpose flour, unbleached (plus extra for rolling out dough)
- 1/4 cup granulated sugar
- 1 tablespoon baking powder
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 3 tablespoons butter, cold
- 1/3 cup half-and-half
- 3 fresh ripe peaches, washed and pits removed
- 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
- 1 cup cold whipping cream
- 4 ounces mascarpone cheese, softened
- 1/4 cup confectioner's sugar
- 2-1/2 tablespoons honey
- 3 ounces red raspberries, washed gently and air-dried
- Preheat the oven to 425° F.
In a large mixing bowl whisk together the flour, the granulated sugar, baking powder and salt.
- Slice the cold butter into small pieces. Add the butter to the flour mixture and use a pastry blender to cut it into the dry ingredients. If any large pieces remain, use your fingers to squeeze and flatten them.
- Add in the half-and-half and use a spoon to toss and combine the mixture.
Lay a long piece of parchment paper over your work surface and dust with flour - or, lay out a large Silpat baking mat. Turn the contents of the bowl out onto the floured paper or Silpat. Sprinkle the top of the dough with a bit more flour and knead by hand for 2 or 3 minutes until it has just come together into a smooth dough (add a sprinkle more flour to the work surface or dough to keep it from getting too sticky.)
- With a floured rolling pin, roll the dough out into a rectangle roughly 10" by 15" and one-half inch thick. Transfer the paper or Silpat with the dough to a large baking sheet.
- Bake the shortcake in the preheated oven for 8-10 minutes, until the cake is puffed and just turning a light brown. Place the pan on a cooling rack and allow it to cool completely.
- Place the bowl and whisk attachment of your stand mixer into the freezer.
- Slice the pitted peaches into 1-inch thick slices. Heat a grill pan on your stovetop until it's very hot, or heat a gas grill. Brush the surfaces of the peaches with olive oil, and also use some of the oil on the grates of your grill pan or grates. Place the peach slices on the hot grill and grill them for about 3 minutes on each side: the slices should have grill marks and be softened. Remove the slices from the heat and allow them to cool until they can be handled. Cut the slices into large chunks and place them in a bowl. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and refrigerate them until they are cooled.
Remove the bowl and whisk from the freezer and attach them to your stand mixer. Beat the whipping cream on high, adding in the confectioner's sugar after about 4 minutes has passed. Beat the cream until it is thick and holds soft peaks - about 9 minutes total. Reduce the speed to low and add in the softened mascarpone cheese, mixing it just until the cheese is incorporated.
Carefully transfer the cooled shortcake to a flat serving dish or decorative wood cutting board. Drizzle half of the honey evenly over the surface of the shortcake. Spoon the mascarpone whipped cream over the shortcake, spreading it to an even layer and leaving about 1 inch of cake showing around the edges. Scatter the chilled grilled peaches over the top of the whipped cream.
- Place 6 of the raspberries in a small bowl and squish them with the back of a spoon. Place dollops of the smooshed berries over the top of the peaches, and then scatter the remaining whole raspberries over the peaches as well. Finally, drizzle the rest of the honey over the top of the fruit.
- Slice the shortcake into eight pieces and serve immediately. The shortcake can also be covered with plastic wrap and refrigerated for up to two days.
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