Ginger Shortcakes with Caramelized Peaches

With peaches in season, I had a hankering for a dessert that I’ve often made — caramelized peaches or nectarines spooned over half a shortcake biscuit redolent of ginger, studded with sweet and spicy chunks of candied ginger, topped with a generous dollop of whipped cream and the top half of the biscuit perched at a jaunty angle. With a mint sprig adorning the top, this is an easy way to create a delicious dessert that looks, according to a guest at a long-ago gathering, like it was made in a restaurant.

The biscuits are great all on their own, with a tender crumb and the zing of the ginger pieces, and make an afternoon break all the more special. Served in this dessert, they are elevated from the rustic to the sublime. The sweet fruit and rich cream really make those shortcakes sing! You can make the biscuits a day or two ahead, or at least two hours before you’ll be serving them.

It only takes a few minutes to caramelize the fruit. This should be done at least 30 minutes before serving the dessert, but no more than a couple of hours ahead.

Whipped cream, of course, is a breeze to make at the last minute, although you could make it a couple of hours ahead as well, and store it tightly wrapped in the fridge.

Assembling the dessert takes only a few minutes. Simply slice the biscuits in half horizontally, top with fruit, spoon on some whipped cream and prop the other half of the biscuit at an angle. Add a mint sprig and drizzle some of the extra juice from the fruit mixture around the plate if you want to provide your guests a little extra razzle-dazzle.

The day I made this, it was extremely hot and humid. As I was taking my photos outside, both the whipped cream and the fruit sauce were melting. The perils of the outdoor photo shoot in high summer!

Ginger Shortcakes with Caramelized Peaches

Recipe adapted from Bon Appétit, June 2001. Yes, I still have the magazine!

Ginger Shortcake

Pre-heat oven to 400ºF and line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Serves 8.

  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1 tbsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp ground ginger
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 c cup unsalted butter, chilled and cut into 1/2 inch cubes
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 1 large egg
  • 1/4 cup chopped crystallized ginger

Combine the dry ingredients in a large bowl, then add the butter and cut with a pastry cutter until the mixture resembles coarse meal. Whisk together the milk and egg, then add to mixture until just combined. Add the crystallized ginger, and just stir in. Turn the dough onto a floured work surface, and knead gently for about five turns.

Shape dough into a log, then cut crosswise into eight rounds. Pat each round to 1 inch thickness and place on the prepared baking sheet.

Bake the shortcakes about 15 minutes, or until a tester comes out clean. Transfer to a rack, and cool at least 15 minutes or up to two hours. If making ahead, keep in a tightly sealed container.

Caramelized Peaches or Nectarines

For 8 biscuits, you’ll need about 8 medium peaches, pitted and sliced. You can remove the peel if you like, but I prefer to leave it on. For this quantity of peaches you’ll need 2/3 cup of packed golden brown sugar and a tablespoon of lemon juice. Working in two batches, combine half the fruit with half the sugar and a half tablespoon of lemon juice in a large skillet. Cook over medium-high heat until the fruit is just tender and the juices are bubbling, stirring often. This takes about five minutes. Repeat with the second half. Let cool 30 minutes or up to two hours before assembling the dessert.

A quick note about the whipped cream … I don’t see the need for any extra sweetness in this dessert, so I don’t put any in the whipping cream. All I flavour it with is a teaspoon or two of vanilla.

It’s easy to adjust quantities if you’re making a smaller number of shortcakes. We had two of these for dessert one evening, and then we took the rest of the biscuits to work as snacks.

18 comments

    • I hear ya! I’m becoming very good at giving food away. I think that’s the only way my waistline will survive all the extra baking that blogging inspires!

    • Thanks, Karen! These do get quite the reaction when I bring out the plates. What a difference a bit of attention to presentation makes. That said, next time I’ll try to drizzle the sauce on in elegant swirls… 😉

  1. You know, I have yet to eat a peach this summer! You have now inspired me. I wonder how well it would go with mascarpone… Thanks for sharing this lovely recipe.

    • I’m glad I inspired you and thank you for the compliment! Coming soon … Cornmeal peach pancakes, in case you need anything else to inspire you to get out there and get some peaches!

  2. Those caramelized peaches look terrific, Mar. Thank goodness they cannot be made too far in advance because mine would never last until the other components were readied. I’d be more than happy with them by themselves in a bowl. OK … maybe a scoop of ice cream. I’m pinning this for later use.

    • I think you’ll enjoy the peaches this way, John! Usually I like my fruit plain, and the shortcakes would be good with plain sliced peaches or nectarines, but cooking them in the brown sugar does take the dish to the next level. “Pinning” for later use … I assume you mean on Pinterest … that’s a first for me!

      • I just checked your Pinterest board and saw my recipe posted under “Recipes to Try Later.” Wow, thank you! I haven’t explored Pinterest yet, but it does look enticing.

      • Well, Mar, I’ve such a poor memory that unless I immediately copy a recipe into my recipe program, I’ll lose it. “Pinning” it is immediate and saves it for me with no more effort than a mouse click. I don’t know if that’s how one is “supposed” to use Pinterest but it sure does work for me. It’s the next best thing to having a memory. 🙂

      • Pinterest looks like fun, but I need to watch how much time I spend on the keyboard due to my wrists. But, it’s tempting! For now I’ve been using the WordPress ‘like’ for recipes I’d like to try. I notice that someone had repinned your pin about my recipe. So thank you for spreading the word!

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