I stopped in at Johnson Orchards last week to pick up a box of peaches and peek at what else was available. The white nectarines were calling my name and as I loaded up a bag to take home, my mind was racing as I thought of all the things I could make with them.
Of course, almost all of them were eaten over the kitchen sink, juice running down our hands, too lazy even to slice them up.
But the last couple nectarines were begging to be turned into something special. I needed a special dessert for a get together I was hosting and I had just the idea. I decided to make a batch of lemon scented shortbread cookie dough and shape it into a large rectangle. I baked it until it was lightly golden brown and the house smelled of sugar and lemon. I whipped up a frosting with unsalted butter, a little cream cheese, vanilla and more lemon zest. I slathered the giant cookie with the frosting and topped it all with those glorious nectarines, some raspberries, and a tiny bit of mint from my garden. And just to be a little fancy, I added a few nasturtium blossoms, also from my garden, which technically are edible.
The dessert was light but so wonderfully decadent at the same time. I cut the pieces into thin rectangles to serve and before I knew it the entire thing was gone. I was admittedly a little obsessed, so I made the recipe again a few days later. This time I just piled the top with fresh blueberries and a little more lemon zest. It was perfection.
Use this recipe as a guide but feel free to play around and make it to your preferences. Don’t like lemon? Skip it. Have blackberries growing in your yard? Use those. My only recommendation is to use fresh fruit so the cookie stays crisp and doesn’t get soggy.
Peaches, strawberries, blueberries, nectarines and raspberries are all readily available right now and any combination will make a delicious and special treat.
Raspberry Nectarine Tart
For the cookie:
• 1 cup unsalted butter, softened to room temperature (2 sticks)
• ½ cup sugar
• ½ teaspoon almond extract
• 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
• Zest of 1 lemon
• 1 ¾ cup plus 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
• Pinch of salt
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Cream the butter and sugar with an electric mixer until the butter mixture is light and fluffy. Add the vanilla, almond and lemon zest and mix to combine. Add the flour and pinch of salt all at once and mix on low until a crumbly dough comes together.
Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Working quickly, gather the dough and shape it into a rectangle about 14 inches long and ¼ inch thick. It helps to flour your hands when working with the dough. Bake for about 30 minutes or until the cookie is lightly golden brown and the center of the cookie is cooked through. Remove cookie from oven and set aside to cool.
For the frosting:
• ½ cup softened butter (1 stick)
• 4 ounces softened cream cheese
• 1 teaspoon vanilla
• Zest of 1 lemon
• 2 cups powdered sugar
Using an electric mixer, combine butter and cream cheese and beat until well-mixed. Add in vanilla and lemon zest and mix for another minute. On low speed, add in powdered sugar until frosting is smooth and creamy.
To assemble the dessert, generously frost the cookie making sure the entire cookie has a thick layer of frosting. Wash and slice two nectarines. Top the cookie with sliced nectarines and raspberries. Garnish the cookie with minced mint and nasturtium blossoms.
To serve, use a sharp knife to cut the cookie in half down the middle. Cut small rectangles from the two pieces.