Sunday, July 1, 2012


Tree-ripened nectarines.
“I’m a slave to this apricot tree,” said my friend Charlotte, stirring her umpteenth batch of apricot jam. She has a huge, spreading apricot tree that, in a good year, produces bushels of the sweet-tangy fruit. Most of it drops in heavy winds, sending her into the yard with a basket to gather the windfall. That’s when she calls her friends in desperation to come pick some. I’m happy to relieve her from servitude.

Meanwhile, my infant nectarine tree has a bumper crop this year. Enough of the lovely fruit to eat my fill, but no thought of making jam or desserts. For that I have to visit the local market, where all the luscious summer fruits are at their peak. Nectarines (nectarinas); apricots (albaricoques), peaches (melocotones) and plums (ciruelas)—all an inspiration for dessert.

Luscious summer stone fruits, clockwise from the top, apricots, peach, nectarine and paraguayo, a variety of peach with a flattened shape.

Nectarine Mousse

This luscious mousse is an easy, make-ahead dessert for dinner parties. For big buffet parties, where many different dishes are offered, I serve it in small, half-cup portions. As the principal dessert, I offer larger servings. Serve the mousses in the cups in which they are made. You can use small juice glasses or, in a pinch, even plastic cups. The mixture can also be spooned into a baked crumb pie crust or still-frozen as a parfait.

Easy dessert for a dinner party, nectarine mousse.

I love my immersion blender. I first puree the fruit in a deep bowl, then blend in the yogurt. Peel the nectarines unless you want flecks of the skin in the mousse.

You can prepare the mousse with other fruit in season—apricots, peaches, berries, or mangoes. You can vary the flavoring—I like vanilla with nectarines and peaches, almond extract with apricots and grated ginger with mango. Full-fat Greek yogurt makes a rich, smooth mousse, but low-fat yogurt can be substituted, if desired.

The quantity of sugar will vary with the sweetness of the fruit, so taste the mixture after blending. You can use an artificial sweetener if you’re avoiding sugar.

You will need to allow space in the refrigerator for the mousses in their individual cups.

Garnish the mousse with sliced fruit, a few raspberries for color or a dollop of whipped cream.

Serves 6 to 10

 1 tablespoon (1 envelope) unflavored gelatin
1/3 cup water
1 ½ pounds nectarines (about 5)
2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice
½ cup sugar or to taste
½ teaspoon vanilla extract
3 cups Greek yogurt

Stir the gelatin into the water in a small bowl and allow to soften for 5 minutes. Microwave on high for 15 seconds and stir. Microwave 15 seconds more. Stir to dissolve the gelatin.

Peel and slice the nectarines. Puree the fruit in a blender (makes about 2 cups puree). Blend in the lemon juice, sugar, vanilla, and yogurt. Blend in the dissolved gelatin.

Set 10 small glasses or 6 dessert coupes on a shallow tray. Divide the mousse mixture between them. Refrigerate (or freeze) at least 4 hours and up to 2 days.

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