Nectarines are my favorite summer fruit and I've used them to create a new dessert for the Grange menu: an old-fashioned upside-down cake that I've updated a bit. I make a deep golden caramel with sugar and water and portion it into flexipan molds, then arrange fresh, thickly sliced nectarines on top. The fruit is covered with a lovely butter cake batter and baked until the caramel starts to bubble up around the edges. I take them out of the oven, let them sit for a few minutes then turn them upside down and unmold them. The hot caramel flows over the fruit and soaks into the cakes. We serve them warm with a scoop of French Vanilla ice cream draped with spiced nectarine butter, which is made by simmering nectarines in water until soft, then pureeing them. The puree is returned to the saucepan and sugar, lemon juice, cinnamon and a touch of ground cloves are added. The mixture slowly reduces over a low flame until it becomes thick enough to see the bottom of the pan when a spoon is drawn across it. This dessert is like a cross between cake and Tarte Tatin - all caramelly goodness!
When I found out Grange would be participating in the Grape & Gourmet event at the Convention Center this week I thought it would be a great opportunity to promote our new dessert by offering a mini version of it. Jackie and I (with a little help from a few friends) made batch after batch of mini upside-down cakes over a three day period, slicing what seemed like a tree's worth of nectarines. We served them with just a dot of the nectarine butter on top and a squiggle of lightly sweetened creme fraiche - two bites of heaven. We took 1,600 of the minis to the event and came back with zero. Everyone seemed to really enjoy them, Jackie and I had a great time and we look forward to doing it again next year.