We have a plethora of first-world problems to complain about at this time of the year: the sun has begun to set at 7 instead of 8, our inbox is overflowing with advertisements for fall boot collections and our morning drives are now elongated with the return of school commuters. Life is so damn hard. Weighing most heavily on my little urbanite heart: the last crop of summer fruit at the farmers market! As I desperately cling to the last sweet tastes of summer, the white nectarines and juicy red plums from my last csa box are losing natures battle- their sun-kissed skins wrinkling in the back of the fridge. But fear not dear bakers- sweet, sweet salvation is near. Enter the stone fruit brown butter shortbread cookie.
The original recipe called for peaches (adapted from Smitten Kitchen), but I found that the tartness of the plums really complement the sweetness of the shortbread. That being said, I have also made these bars with peaches and it was still quite delicious- absolutely no complaints there. The plums just really take these to another level. Overripe is definitely key – you want your fruit to be ridiculously sweet. Perfect for the last batch of summer’s best crop!
Also key is the almond extract. I’m a sucker for almond based anything, and replacing the vanilla with the almond really amps up the flavor from delightfully sweet to orgasmically light and nutty. The fruit is just an added bonus. And because these are cookies with fruit, you’re convinced that it’s ok to eat for breakfast. Which it totally is.
Careful, though! It’s easy to overdose on these little bites of joy. (Yes, ahem- I am a survivor.)
Plum and Nectarine Shortbread
(adapted from Smitten Kitchen)
1 cup white sugar
3 tbs brown sugar (for sprinkling on top)
1 tsp baking powder
3 cups minus 2 tbs flour
1 tsp cinnamon
1/8 tsp nutmeg
1/4 tsp salt
1 tsp almond extract
1 cup cold unsalted butter
1 large egg
about 4-6 small nectarines and plums, cut into 1/4 inch slices
First brown your butter. I followed Smitten Kitchen’s regimen:
Melt butter in a small/medium saucepan over medium-low heat. It will melt, then foam, then turn clear golden and finally start to turn brown and smell nutty. Stir frequently, scraping up any bits from the bottom as you do. Keep your eyes on it; it burns very quickly after it browns and the very second that you turn around to do something else. Set it in the freezer until solid (about 30 minutes).
While your butter is in the freezer, preheat the oven to 375°F and butter a 9×13 inch pan. (I like to wrap the pan in tin foil before buttering for easier cleanup). In a medium bowl, stir together white sugar, baking powder, flour, salt and spices with a whisk. Zest 1/2 of the lemon and add to the mixture. Add the solidified brown butter, egg and almond extract into the flour mixture using a blender or fork. It will be crumbly. Pat 3/4 of the crumbs into the bottom of the prepared pan, pressing firmly. Squeeze the lemon juice over the plum and nectarine slices then tile the fruit over the crumb base in a single layer. (It doesn’t have to be pretty). Add brown sugar to remaining crumb mixture and scatter evenly over fruit. Bake in preheated oven for 30 minutes, until top is slightly brown. Cool completely in pan before cutting.
I cut these more into logs than squares since it makes for easier eating and enjoying- they’re pretty crumbly. No one likes to look like a fool when they’re eating dessert.