One of the things I love most about late Summer is the oodles of fabulous ripe fruit. Specifically peaches, plums and, my personal favorite, nectarines! There’s just something about the smell of a perfectly ripe nectarine. If I hold it up to my nose, close my eyes and inhale, it’s intoxicating perfume just takes me back to childhood and happy Summer memories. One of my favorite ways to enjoy this fruity deliciousness is through recipes that really let the fresh ingredients shine. So, I’m super happy to share one of my favorite Summertime Sweets with you: Nectarine Thyme Crumble.
There’s just nothing like a crumble to showcase delicious Summer fruit! And thankfully, they couldn’t be easier to make. A crumble is simply a dessert consisting of cooked fruit topped with a crumbly mixture of butter, flour and sugar which is then baked in the oven until the topping is crisp and deliciously browned. The dish originated in Britain during World War II when the ingredients for pie pastry were scarce and it has remained popular to this day. A crumble is often served with ice cream, which begins to melt the minute it hits the warm dessert – sheer deliciousness! In addition to nectarines, a crumble can also be made with a variety of fruit such as apples, blackberries, peaches, rhubarb and plums. I especially like baking a crumble in a cast iron pan which gives it a deliciously rustic touch but you can always use a glass baking dish instead.
For maximum enjoyment, use the ripest nectarines you can get your hands on. Be sure to purchase an extra one to indulge in as you slice the fruit for the recipe – they are soooooo delicious! Whenever I make fruit desserts I really like to add a little liqueur to enhance the flavor and bump up the complexity. For this recipe, I add a little J Vineyards Pear Liqueur which beautifully enhances the flavor of the nectarines. If I’m using citrus, however, I’ll usually add some Grand Marnier, an orange-flavored liqueur made from a blend of Cognac brandy, distilled essence of bitter orange and sugar. Or, if I’m using raspberries and/or blackberries, I love to add some Chambord, a liqueur from the Loire Valley made from red and black raspberries, Madagascar vanilla, honey and cognac. By all means, feel free to experiment with different liqueurs you have on hand to discover combinations that makes your palate smile.
To pair with the Nectarine Thyme Crumble, I highly recommend a Moscato d’Asti from Italy’s Piedmont region. Since the dessert is not cloyingly sweet and allows the natural flavor of the fruit the shine through, this wine’s light sweetness and delicate flavors of peach, citrus and honey complement it nicely. These wines are also what the Italians call “frizzante,” or slightly sparkling. They are not quite as bubbly as Champagne, but have a subtle, frothy effervescence that adds a delightful texture to the wine as well as whatever it’s paired with. We especially like the Michele Chiarlo Nivole Moscato d’Asti and La Spinetta Moscato d’Asti “Biancospino” and “Bricco Quaglia“.
I hope you enjoy this Summertime Sweets recipe for Nectarine Thyme Crumble as much as we do! I’d also love to know, what are YOUR favorite Summer flavors and/or desserts that you enjoy this time of year? Please do tell in the Comments section below!