If you come to my house for dinner over the summer the chances are you’ll get this roast nectarine, thyme and honey cream tart for dessert. It is so easy to make and a joy to eat. I also make it with plums, apricots, rhubarb or peaches depending on what I can buy at the time.
Living in California meant we were spoiled with fruit. The area we lived in was once the biggest fruit growing part of America. So old fruit trees were dotted around the streets. They didn’t belong to anyone and no one else seemed to get excited by them. So we went out every morning and collected the juiciest apricots and peaches in our jim jams – one of the benefits of being awake early on with small children.
Now I’m back in England I’m working with different ingredients. We are growing figs, blueberries, strawberries, raspberries, red, white and black currents and gooseberries in our garden. There will be pears and apples in the Autumn but no nectarines, apricots or peaches. So this recipe gives you a dessert that will work even when the only fruit on hand is rock hard supermarket bargain stuff. The roasting intensifies the flavours and makes everything feel more grown up and darkly sweet. If you have perfect, ripe, juicy fruit, you can make this recipe with the raw fruit but the roasting really does take things up a notch.
Make roasted fruit one of your fridge standbyes
Plan to cook more fruit than you need for this pud. Leftover roasted fruit is delicious stirred through plain yoghurt or as a base for crumble. Make my granola and use that to top plain yoghurt with the roasted fruit. I roast some fruit up every weekend so that we can have quick desserts and breakfasts all week.
I’ve mentioned before how I only buy plain natural full fat yoghurt instead of the fruit kind. Fruit yoghurts are packed with sugar and you’ll save money by buying it plain and adding your own fruit – grated apple, chopped banana, berries or cooked fruit all work. If children are going to flip at the transition, add some honey and just add a little less honey each week until they get used to it. They will I promise.
A note on pastry
Most chefs use ready made puff pastry so don’t feel like you’re cheating by buying it. If you are so inclined, feel free to make your own but it is one read-made food I’m more than happy to use. I always have a roll in the freezer, that way I can always rustle up a quick dessert or a sausage roll. I also use it to pop on top of a meat stew in the winter to make a comforting pie.
In the UK it is easy to find ready-rolled all-butter puff pastry, buy Jus Roll or all the supermarkets do their own version. Find it near the butter at the supermarket or in the freezer near the frozen desserts. The frozen pastry is usually half the price. Be sure to buy the one labeled ‘all butter’ as many are made with margarine and taste grim.
In the US I haven’t seen all-butter ready rolled puff pastry apart from at Trader Joe’s. US readers, please tell me if you know of it so I can update this. The blocks of Dufour pastry from Whole Foods are delicious, you’ll just need to roll it yourself.
Prep your roast nectarine, thyme and honey cream tart ahead
The pastry can be cooked at the same time as the fruit. Or you can cook the fruit in advance. If you have friends coming over, the fruit can be roasted the day before and the pastry can be cooked just before they arrive. The créme fraîche and honey can be mixed the day ahead too. Then you can assemble the dessert just before serving. The pastry will go a bit soggy if it stands around for too long.
Roast nectarine, thyme and honey cream tart ingredients (Serves 6-8)
1 roll of 320g (11 ounces) or near abouts, of all-butter ready rolled puff pastry (see note above)
2 tablespoons icing sugar (powdered sugar in the US)
16-20 nectarines – rock hard inexpensive supermarket ones work just fine
5-6 stems of thyme, plus 2 stems to serve. If you have flowers on the thyme they are perfect to sprinkle when you serve.
400ml (1 and a half cups) full fat créme fraîche or mix half quantity of créme fraîche and half quantity of full fat cream cheese
4-6 teaspoons runny honey
Optional – fresh raspberries
- Preheat the oven to 200°C (180°C fan) or 400°F (350°F convection).
Prep and cook the nectarines
- Wash the nectarines and cut them in quarters. Cut them first in half around the stone then twist. If they split easy, take the stone out and cut each half in half again. If the stone is stuck, just use a knife to cut around it. Don’t worry if you get mushy pieces.
- Place the quarters of nectarine in a large ceramic or glass baking dish. I use the one I cook lasagna in. Scatter the whole stems of thyme over the nectarines then put the pan in the oven. There is no need to cover it. Leave to cook for 40-50 minutes until you start to see juice bubbling and the edges of the fruit looking dark golden and verging on burnt. When the fruit first comes out it will look a bit dry, but as it cools it will collapse and become juicy. Set aside and serve at just warmer than room temperature. If need be you can pop the fruit in the oven for 5 minutes before serving.
Prep and cook the pastry
- Line a large baking sheet with a silicone liner or baking parchment. Lie the pastry on top and sprinkle all over with icing sugar. I usually shake the icing sugar through a small sieve to spread it thinly. Use a sharp knife, scissors or a pizza cutter to cut the pastry into 6-8 squares/rectangles. There is no need to separate them but cutting first means they will break easily when they’re cooked.
- Bake the pastry for 15-20 minutes until it puffs up and turns golden. Then carefully lift it onto a cooling rack until you’re ready to use it.
Mix the creamy topping
- Whisk the honey and créme fraîche and/or cream cheese in a bowl. Taste and add more honey as needed. As the fruit can vary in sweetness I taste a bit of the cream with a piece of the cooked fruit to test. This can be done 2 days ahead and kept in the fridge.
Put a square of the pastry on a plate, or put all the squares on a platter. Blob a couple of heaped dessert spoons of the honey cream on top of each square, then spoon 4-6 quarters of nectarine on top along with some of the juices. Scatter a few thyme leaves and flowers over the top and drizzle a little honey over. You can scatter some fresh raspberries over if you’d like a little extra colour and brightness.