Candied Ginger Peach Shortcakes with Caramel

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This recipe from Williams Sonoma is the ideal summer dessert. In fact, I’m not sure I’ve ever had a better summer dessert. This recipe dubbed me the “best cook” among my friends. Have I sold you on it yet?

The soft biscuit is moist with flavors of butter and spicy candied ginger. They aren’t overly sweet, which is ideal considering they are dressed with fresh peaches and homemade caramel sauce. There are a few steps involved in this recipe, but it’s entirely worth it.

Serves 6

For the biscuits

  • 3 1/2 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for dusting
  • 3/4 tsp. baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp. baking soda
  • 1/3 cup sugar, plus more for sprinkling (I sprinkled with turbinado sugar)
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 12 Tbs. (1 1/2 sticks) cold unsalted butter, cut into 1/2-inch pieces, plus melted butter for brushing
  • 1 tsp. finely grated lemon zest
  • 1/2 cup finely chopped candied ginger
  • 1 cup plus 2 Tbs. buttermilk

Preheat an oven to 400°F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.

In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the flat beater, sift together the 3 1/2 cups flour, baking powder, baking soda, 1/3 cup sugar and salt. Add 12 Tbs. butter and the lemon zest. Beat on low-speed until the butter forms pea-size pieces, 2 to 4 minutes. Add the candied ginger and beat until just incorporated, 30 seconds to 1 minute. Add the buttermilk and beat until the dough just comes together, 30 seconds to 1 minute. Turn off the mixer and scrape the bottom of the bowl and stir to blend in all the dry ingredients.

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Transfer the dough to a floured work surface. Lightly dust the top of the dough with flour and gently pat into a large round, 1 1/2 inches thick. Using a 3-inch biscuit cutter, cut out 6 rounds. Transfer to the prepared baking sheet, spacing the biscuits at least 1/2 inch apart. Brush the tops with melted butter and sprinkle with sugar (I used turbinado). Bake until the biscuits are lightly browned on top and a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean, 25 to 35 minutes. Transfer the baking sheet to a wire rack and let cool for 10 minutes, then transfer the biscuits to the rack and let cool completely, at least 15 minutes more.

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For the caramel sauce

  • 2/3 cup heavy cream
  • 1 vanilla bean
  • 1 1/4 cups sugar
  • 1/4 tsp. salt
  • 2 Tbs. light corn syrup
  • 3/4 tsp. fresh lemon juice
  • 4 Tbs. (1/2 stick) unsalted butter, cut into 1-inch pieces

Pour the cream into a small saucepan. Using a knife, cut the bean in half lengthwise. Using the knife tip, scrape the seeds into the cream. Set over medium heat and bring just to a simmer, then reduce the heat to low and keep the cream mixture warm.

In a large, heavy saucepan over medium heat, combine the sugar, salt, corn syrup and 1/4 cup water, stirring to dissolve the sugar. Bring to a boil and cook, without stirring, until the mixture turns a light amber color, 5 to 7 minutes. Remove from the heat.

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Carefully pour the warm cream into the caramel; the mixture will boil vigorously. When the boiling subsides, whisk until smooth. Stir in the lemon juice and let cool for 10 minutes.

Add the butter 1 piece at a time, whisking constantly after each addition. Continue to whisk the caramel as it cools.

To assemble

Pit and slice 3 ripe peaches. Cut a biscuit in half and top with peach slices. Drizzle with about 2 Tbs. of caramel. Finish it with a dollop of homemade whipped cream. Put the top of the biscuit on over, or leaning against, the bottom one.

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