If you read yesterday's post you'd know that this is the WOJ (Week of James), the last few days before our middle guy heads off to college and a time in which I compulsively try to make all of his favorite foods, whether he wants them or not!! Anyway, he really loves fruit desserts and with the nectarines being particularly good this summer, I knew that this Nectarine-Vanilla Cobbler would be a hit! Plus, it's easy to put together and makes your entire house smell wonderful!!
For this dessert to shine, you've got to use the best nectarines (or peaches) you can find. It'll only be as good as the quality of the fruit is and mealy nectarines or frozen ones, just won't cut it here. For years, I've been making this with nectarines we pick ourselves, and the results are amazingly flavorful and juicy, but this summer we haven't managed to make it to the orchards and I thought I might have to wait till next year for this. Fortunately though, the supermarket offerings have been really good--sweet, juicy and even on sale, so cobbler-time it is!!
What makes this cobbler especially delicious is that it's enhanced with real vanilla bean flavor. You start by grinding up half a vanilla bean into sugar--
Then you toss the cut up nectarines with that vanilla sugar and a bit of flour and bake it for about 25 minutes, until the juices released by the nectarines are all gooey and bubbly. Not gorgeous looking but beautiful tasting!!
While the nectarines are cooking, you make a very simple batter which gets poured on top of the hot nectarines and bakes for another 45 minutes or so, until it emerges all crusty and golden brown, but with that wonderful melt-in-your-mouth layer of cooked nectarines beneath.
The combination of moist slightly sweet cake and vanilla-enhanced hot nectarines is out of this world good--amazing on its own or topped with a scoop of vanilla ice cream. Hmnnn...wonder how hard it would be to send my college boy a cobbler care package in the mail?!!
Fresh Nectarine-Vanilla Cobbler
Makes 10-12 servings
Prep Time: 20 minutes; Bake Time: 1 hour and ten minutes
For the nectarine layer
3/4 cups sugar, divided
1/2 vanilla bean, cut into 4 or 5 pieces
5 pounds nectarines (or peaches), peeled, pitted and cut into 1/2 thick slices
2 tablespoons unbleached, all-purpose flour
For the cobbler batter
1 1/2 cups flour
1 1/2 cups sugar
2 1/4 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
4 large eggs
1/4 cup milk
1 1/2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1 1/4 teaspoons vanilla extract
6 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
1. Preheat oven to 325ºF. In a food processor, blend 3/4 cup of the sugar with the vanilla bean, until the vanilla bean is finely ground. Sift the vanilla sugar into a large bowl to remove any unground pieces. Add the peeled and sliced nectarines to the bowl and the 2 tablespoons of flour and toss to coat well. Pour the entire mixture into a 9x13 inch glass baking pan and bake in the middle of oven for about 25 minutes, until juices are bubbling.
2. While nectarines are baking, whisk together the 1 1/2 cups flour, the 1 1/2 cups sugar, the baking powder, salt and baking soda in a large bowl. In a separate medium bowl, whisk together the eggs, milk, lemon juice and vanilla until well blended. Pour the wet into the dry and whisk together until smooth. Fold in the melted butter.
3. Remove the nectarines from the oven and pour the batter over them, smoothing the top. Bake for an additional 45 minutes until the top is golden brown and a tester inserted into the center of the topping, comes out clean. Let cool for 10-15 minutes and serve as is or with a scoop of vanilla ice cream.
4. Leftovers can be stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator for 3-4 days.
Note: Recipe adapted from a 2005 issue of Bon Appetit Magazine. I swapped the peaches for nectarines, cut the almond extract and used lemon juice instead of orange juice or triple sec.