fruit

the jam-hattan

A few weeks ago I mentioned that my dearest husband Russell had conned me into doing the Whole30 diet with him.

the "jam-hattan" | Brooklyn Homemaker

Thank god that’s over!

the "jam-hattan" | Brooklyn Homemaker

If you’re not familiar with it, the Whole30 is sort of like a cross between the Paleo diet and Atkins. It’s super protein heavy, focusing on calories from fat rather than grains or sugar. Alcohol is also strictly forbidden.

While we did feel a bit “better” after it was all over, we didn’t really have that OHMYGODI’VENEVERFELTSOAMAZINGINMYWHOLELIFE feeling that the internets promised us. It didn’t really seem all that bad at first, but a week in it felt like cruel and unusual punishment, and by the end it just felt like too much of a sacrifice and waaaaay too much work for the payoff. I also didn’t feel like it really was all that “healthy”, because while it does encourage you to eat a lot of fresh produce, it also encourages overconsumption of fat and protein and salt at the expense of the grains and carbs and sugar.

The biggest takeaway that I really hope to stick with is to read ingredient lists for everything I buy, and to avoid sugar in savory foods where it doesn’t seem to belong. Once you start paying attention, you’ll realize there is added sugar in basically every packaged food on the market, and a lot of it really is easy to avoid if you know what to look for.

When it comes to avoiding grains and sugar all the time though…
Nah…
You and I both know that shit just ain’t gonna happen.

the "jam-hattan" | Brooklyn Homemaker

Same goes for booze.

I wouldn’t really consider myself a heavy drinker, in fact I usually go weeks without drinking and don’t even think about it. I do enjoy a good stiff cocktail or tasty glass (or bottle) of wine from time to time though, and to be honest, it’s when I try to deny myself alcohol that I tend to crave it most.

Believe you me, after this crazy diet I fully needed and deserved a good strong drink.

the "jam-hattan" | Brooklyn Homemaker

Lucky for me, Drizly just invited me to join their Top Shelf Blogger Program.

I mentioned back in November that Drizly is basically just like seamless.com or delivery.com, but instead of burgers or sushi, Drizly delivers booze! I mean, how freakin’ amazing is that? We’re officially living in the future y’all!

Once I’d hatched a little plan for my first cocktail as a top shelf blogger, I had to get started with recipe testing. I was out of rye though, and nearly out of vermouth, so I went online, searched Drizly for what I needed, and had the bottles delivered to my front door in under an hour!

Magic!

the "jam-hattan" | Brooklyn Homemaker

The classic Manhattan has always been one my favorite cocktails, and I especially love when I reach the bottom of the glass and get to eat those dark jammy little Luxardo maraschino cherries. It dawned on me one day that if one of my favorite things about a Manhattan is the jammy cherries, what was to stop me from just making a cocktail with cherry jam?

When making a drink with jam, it’s important to shake it rather than stirring like you would a classic Manhattan. The jam needs to be shaken in to fully dissolve into the alcohol, and once shaken it needs to be strained into the glass to hold back any chunks of fruit that didn’t incorporate.

The jam does make the cocktail a bit sweeter than it would traditionally be, almost more like an Old Fashioned, so I think it’s important to use rye whiskey rather than bourbon. Bourbon is sweet and mild on it’s own, while rye has a bold, dry, almost spicy quality that holds it’s own against the sugary jam.

the "jam-hattan" | Brooklyn Homemaker

To add just a little something extra, I thought that a touch of rose water could compliment the sweet fruitiness of the cherry. Rose water is seriously strong stuff though, and a little goes a looooong way. It took me quite a while to work out exactly the right amount that would come through without overpowering the whole drink. We had to do a whole lot of recipe testing to get the ratios just right, but luckily this drink is seriously tasty and Russell was a willing guinea pig.

In the end I realized that it’s almost best if you can only smell the rose when you put the glass up to your lips, but don’t really taste it much in the drink. The difference between a 1/4 teaspoon and a 1/2 teaspoon can mean the difference between a interesting cocktail with an elegant floral undertone, and taking a swig from an old perfume bottle you found in your grandma’s bathroom.

With the jam to whiskey to rose water ratio just right, this drink is a freakin’ masterpiece. I’ve gone ahead and gilded the lily y’all, and I think we’re all going to be better for it. I mean, maybe it’s the hooch talking, but this is seriously one of the best cocktails I’ve ever made for you guys. Strong and serious like a good Manhattan should be, but with a hint of sweet delicate elegance from the floral fruitiness of cherry and rose. Masculine and feminine. Yin and Yang. Tracy and Hepburn.

Now that I’m a Drizly top shelf blogger, you can expect at least a handful of equally “intoxicating” (har har) recipes from me every year. To help you take full advantage of everything Drizly has to offer, I even have a nifty promo code that you can use on your first visit to their site! If you follow this link to refer a friend, you’ll both receive $5 off your first orders with the promo code: bkhoochmaker

Bottoms up y’all!

the "jam-hattan" | Brooklyn Homemaker

The Jam-hattan

  • Servings: makes 1 cocktail
  • Print
2 oz good rye whiskey (I used Bulleit)
1 oz sweet vermouth (I used Carpano Antica)
1 tablespoon cherry jam *see note
1/4 teaspoon rose water **see note
2 to 3 dashes aromatic bitters
garnish with 1 or 2 Luxardo maraschino cherries, if desired

Combine the whiskey, vermouth, jam, rose water, and bitters in a cocktail shaker with plenty of ice.
Shake shake shake until the shaker is ice cold and frosty on the outside, a good minute or so. Strain over ice into a rocks glass, and garnish with a skewer of Luxardo maraschino cherries.

Bottoms up!

Notes:
*Different jams have different sugar to fruit ratios, so your drink may come out sweeter than mine if you use a jam with more sugar than the “Bonne Maman” Cherry Preserves that I used. If your jam is very sweet, you may want to use a little less.
**Some rose waters are more powerfully flavored than others, so if yours doesn’t come through enough you can add a drop more, one drop at a time, until you’re happy with it. Just be careful! Rose water is STRONG stuff and can easily overpower your drink.

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roasted pear and walnut spice cake bundt #bundtbakers

Whoa. I just realized that I haven’t baked a bundt cake since April.

roasted pear and walnut spice cake bundt | Brooklyn Homemaker

This has been one hell of a year, both personally with the Maxwell’s build out and opening, and for the country as a whole. This election cycle really has consumed me, chewed me up and spit me out, and just when I thought it would all finally be over, it seems like we’re in for even more struggle and strife.

While things may feel a little disheartening right now, life must go on, and getting back into the kitchen and revving up the ol’ stand mixer certainly helps me feel centered and whole again.

roasted pear and walnut spice cake bundt | Brooklyn Homemaker

I’m so so thrilled that Lauren from Sew You Think You Can Cook chose pears as our inspiration for the #bundtbakers this month. Thank you so much Lauren! Not only do I absolutely love pears on their own, there’s also something especially cozy and satisfying about baking with fall fruit pear-ed (har har) with warm homey spices.

With Thanksgiving only a week away, a pear bundt cake is just what the doctor ordered.

roasted pear and walnut spice cake bundt | Brooklyn Homemaker

I have a confession to make though.
I haven’t always liked pears.

My grandfather has always had several fruit and nut trees on his property, and when I was little I thought pears were absolutely disgusting. I don’t know if it was the grainy texture, or the thick sandy skin, or what, but to be perfectly honest I didn’t care for a lot of the bounty of grandpa’s garden.

I was truly a child of the 80’s, and a lot of my culinary influence during my formative years came from spending time in my grandmother’s kitchen. She is a product of her generation, and Grandma’s food philosophy came from the atomic-age desire for shiny, new, packaged convenience foods rather than the back-to-earth approach many of us prefer today. As a kid in Grandma’s kitchen, packaged food was celophane-wrapped, sterilized heaven to me, and I couldn’t get enough of it. Give me a box of doughnuts, a bag of chips, a can of soup, a bottle of soda, and a grilled cheese sandwich made with plastic-wrapped processed “cheese food”, bagged sliced white bread, and margarine from a tub.
Who wants to have to pick and wash fresh fruits and vegetables from outside with all the dirt and bees and bugs, when the fridge is stocked with Cool Whip and Velveeta that’s clean and delicious and ready to eat?

roasted pear and walnut spice cake bundt | Brooklyn Homemaker

Not me.
That’s who.

I did like Grandpa’s strawberries and plums, but even the strawberries had to be scrubbed and sliced and covered in sugar before I deemed them edible.

roasted pear and walnut spice cake bundt | Brooklyn Homemaker

Obviously my tastes have changed over the years, and as an adult I’ll take a ripe juicy pear, still warm from the sun, over a tub of chemically Cool Whip any day of the week.

As a kid, trips to my grandparents house filled me with excitement because I knew the cupboards were bursting with store-bought chips and cookies and doughnuts. These days I still get excited when I get to visit my grandparents, but now it’s because I know grandpa will load me up with sagging grocery bags filled with dirty bell peppers, lopsided butternut squash, fuzzy warm peaches, or sun-ripened tomatoes when I get ready to leave.

roasted pear and walnut spice cake bundt | Brooklyn Homemaker

When I was planning my bundt for this month, I knew that I really wanted the pears to be the stars of the show. My first instinct was to chop or cube or grate them just like apples into a traditional spice cake for flavor and added moisture, but somehow that didn’t seem like it was “enough”. My pears deserved better than playing second fiddle to cinnamon.

Determined to leave the pears whole (or at least halved) inside the cake, I decided to poach them in a bourbon ginger syrup. They smelled like heaven in the poaching liquid and I couldn’t help myself from sneaking spoonfuls of batter from the pan before it went into the oven. I was congratulating myself on a job well done before the cake even started to rise, and I couldn’t wait to get it out of the oven and see the autumnal perfection I’d come up with.

Aaaaaaand…

It was an absolute disaster.

The pears soaked up too much moisture in the poaching liquid, releasing it back into the cake to create a jiggly bundt with the weirdest almost blubbery texture I’ve ever had the misfortune to put in my mouth. As the cake cooled it sagged and the cake separated from the pears and slumped into a wobbly mess on the plate.

So, back to the drawing board. I knew I’d need a thicker, denser batter, and I obviously needed to find a way to pull moisture out of the pears before baking them into the cake. With poaching out of the question, I decided to try dry roasting the pears so they’d be tender but slightly dried out before going into the batter. Thankfully, it worked out beautifully and I think the pears are almost as happy about it as I am.

roasted pear and walnut spice cake bundt | Brooklyn Homemaker

You’ll want to use the smallest pears you can find for this recipe, because if they’re too big or tall they’ll take up too much room in the pan. They might cause the batter to run over in the oven, or could stick out the top of the cake and cause it to sit unevenly when plated. I also think that Bosc pears are the only variety firm and sturdy enough to stand up to being roasted, handled, and baked in this way without turning to mush or falling apart.

The bit of extra effort in roasting the pears and toasting the walnuts really pays off when you slice down into the cake to reveal a perfect cross-section of a whole pear (depending on where you slice).
And the flavor? Fuggitaboudit. Warm spices, tender roasted pears, crunchy toasted walnuts, buttery tender brown sugar spice cake, and a thick and tangy cream cheese glaze.
I mean. Come on.

This is basically THE perfect fall cake, and it would make an excellent addition to your Thanksgiving spread to boot. If you’re looking for even more fall inspiration and pear-y wonderfulness, make sure you scroll down past the recipe to see what the other #bundtbakers came up with this month!

roasted pear and walnut spice cake bundt | Brooklyn Homemaker

Roasted Pear and Walnut Spice Cake

  • Servings: 8 to 12-ish
  • Print
4 to 5 small firm Bosc pears, depending on the size of your pan
1 1/4 cups chopped walnuts
2 1/4 cups all-purpose Flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon cinnamon
2 teaspoons ginger
1 teaspoons cardamom (optional)
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon cloves
1 cup buttermilk
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 cup (16 tablespoons) unsalted butter, softened
1 1/2 cups dark brown sugar, packed
3 large eggs

Cream Cheese Glaze:
4 ounces (1/2 package) cream cheese, softened
1 cup powdered sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 to 4 tablespoons milk

Preheat the oven to 350°F. Lightly butter and flour a 10 to 12 cup bundt pan, refrigerate.

Peel pears, slice in half, and scoop out seeds with a melon baller or spoon. Place cut side up on a parchment lined baking sheet and bake for 20 minutes. Flip and bake 15 minutes more. Remove from oven and set aside to cool.

Spread walnuts in an even layer on a small baking sheet and toast for 5 to 8 minutes, or until they smell toasty. Do not let them burn. Set aside to cool. Reserve 1/4 cup for topping the cake.

Whisk flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, & spices together in a bowl. Set aside. Mix vanilla into buttermilk and set aside.
In a the bowl of and electric mixer, beat together the butter and brown sugar until light and fluffy, about 3 to 5 minutes. Add the eggs one at a time, beating for a minute or two and scraping the sides and bottom of the bowl between additions.
Alternate additions of flour and buttermilk, mixing on low just until combined, and scraping the bowl between each addition. Start and end with flour so there are 3 additions of flour and 2 of buttermilk. Stir in 1 cup walnuts until evenly distributed.

Pour about 3/4 of the batter into the prepared pan, and tap the pan on the counter to remove air bubbles. Push pear halves into the batter, top side facing down into the bottom of the pan, arranging them so the cut halves face each other as a whole pear. Arrange pears so they’re evenly spaced around the pan. Spread remaining batter over the top, leaving at least half an inch of room for the cake to rise so it doesn’t overflow in the oven. It’s okay if the pears stick out of the batter a bit, as the cake should rise around them. Bake for 50 to 55 minutes, until a cake tester or toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.
Remove the cake from the oven, and cool in the pan for 30 minutes before turning it out onto a rack to cool completely.

While the cake cools, make the glaze.
In the bowl of a stand mixer, beat the cream cheese until it’s fluffy and smooth. Add the powdered sugar, vanilla, and 4 tablespoons of milk and blend until there are no lumps. If necessary, add more milk, a tablespoon at a time, beating after each addition until the glaze reaches the desired drizzle-able consistency. It should be about the consistency of thick melted ice cream to drizzle correctly.

Place a tray under cake and cooling rack to catch any drips. Pour glaze over cake and let the glaze work its way down the side, tapping the tray on the counter if necessary. Top with toasted walnuts.

Well covered in an airtight container, this cake should keep at room temperature about 2 days, or longer in the fridge. Just make sure to serve it at room temperature if you refrigerate it.

roasted pear and walnut spice cake bundt | Brooklyn Homemaker

The bundt bakers really outdid themselves this month, and all these perfect pear cakes have my mouth watering like crazy!

BundtBakers
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You can see all our of lovely Bundts by following our Pinterest board. Updated links for all of our past events and more information about #BundtBakers, can be found on our home page.

apple cider boulevardier

Do you guys need a drink?

Cuz I need a drink.

apple cider boulevardier | Brooklyn Homemaker

This week, and really this entire election cycle, has been a complete emotional whirlwind and I think we’re probably all ready for a nice stiff cocktail right about now.

And boy oh boy have I got a cocktail for you today.

apple cider boulevardier | Brooklyn Homemaker

A few months ago I discovered the “Boulevardier”, and I fell head over heels in love. (Don’t tell Russell).
If you’ve not heard of a Boulevardier, it’s basically just like a Negroni, but with whiskey instead of gin.

If it sounds like I’m speaking a foreign tongue and you have no idea what I’m saying, a Negroni is a classic cocktail, which first appeared in print in 1919, consisting of gin, campari, and sweet vermouth. They’re strong, herbaceous, floral, and rather bitter in a really refreshing way. The bitterness of Campari can be a bit of an acquired taste, but if you are a fan of apéritifs or digestifs you’d probably really enjoy it. Orson Welles said of the Negroni, “The bitters are excellent for your liver, the gin is bad for you. They balance each other.”
Smart man. It’s all about balance.

The thing is, I personally find the combination of gin and Campari a bit overpowering, so when I first tasted a Boulevardier, which substitutes bourbon for the gin, I was ecstatic and have been a huge fan ever since. It’s a strong cocktail, but the bitterness encourages sipping rather than chugging, which is never a bad thing!

apple cider boulevardier | Brooklyn Homemaker

We recently hosted the official opening part for Maxwell’s, and when I was planning the cocktail menu I decided to share my new love for the Boulevardier with all of our friends and neighbors. Like I said though, this is a pretty strong cocktail, and while we wanted everyone to have a nice time, we weren’t really trying to get all our friends wasted in the shop! Also, knowing that Campari can sometimes be an acquired taste, I was looking for a way to sweeten it up a little and mellow out the bitterness to make the cocktail appeal to a larger audience.

Since I was also making one of my favorite cakes for the party, and I was already buying fresh apple cider anyway, I thought I’d see if a splash of cider would help cut the bitterness, sweeten things up, and water things down.
Worked like a charm!
The cider mellows out the intensity of the Campari and makes this a delicious, autumnal, beautiful cocktail that everyone absolutely loved! I also decided to garnish the drink with some very thinly sliced apple rather than the traditional orange peel. So good!

apple cider boulevardier | Brooklyn Homemaker

I know that many people outside of the US are not very familiar with apple cider as we know it here in the northeast, so to explain, it’s basically nothing more than freshly pressed, unfiltered apple juice. If you can’t find fresh apple cider where you live, you could definitely substitute apple juice in a pinch. If you can get fresh cider though, I really think it has a superior flavor that’s a bit less cloying with a more intense apple-y richness.

apple cider boulevardier | Brooklyn Homemaker

Now, if this cocktail sounds good to you, but the idea of peeling yourself off the couch and putting pants on doesn’t, I’d like to offer you another way to put the ingredients for this drink into your hands.
Enter Drizly.com.
Drizly is similar to the food delivery websites that are so popular in larger cities right now, (Russell and I would probably starve to death without Seamless) but instead of food, Drizly delivers alcohol!

You have to be 21 (obvi), and you have to live within one of their delivery windows, but if both those things are true for you, the sky’s the limit! You can have any and all of your favorite hooch delivered right to your front door with the click of a button!
I mean, talk about a dream come true!

You can get the bourbon, Campari, and sweet vermouth you’ll need to make your very own boulevardier, and in some areas, you can even have the cider delivered! (I had to go to the store for that though, what a buzz kill!)

apple cider boulevardier | Brooklyn Homemaker

So, what are you waiting for?
You really have no excuse not to make yourself a fancy ass apple cider Boulevardier. It’s the perfect grown up cocktail for fall, and did I mention that Thanksgiving is only a few weeks away?

This drink is strong but not too strong, sweet but not too sweet, bitter but not too bitter, with a wonderfully warm, herbaceous, bright, and fruity flavor.

It doesn’t get much better than that, unless of course you have all the booze delivered to your front door without changing out of your PJs. Which you can.

apple cider boulevardier | Brooklyn Homemaker

Apple Cider Boulevardier

  • Servings: 1 cocktail
  • Print
1 1/2 oz. bourbon
3/4 oz. Campari
3/4 oz. Sweet Vermouth
1 1/2 oz. fresh apple cider
Ice
Thin apple slices for garnish

Place bourbon, campari, sweet vermouth, and apple cider into a cocktail shaker with plenty of ice. Shake just until well mixed and cold. Strain into a rocks glass, and serve with more ice.

Garnish with a slice or two of fresh, thinly sliced apple.

 

nectarines and cream icebox cake

Why hello there friends! Remember me???

nectarines and cream icebox cake | Brooklyn Homemaker

Yes it’s me! Tux!

I’m back! (well, sort of.)

nectarines and cream icebox cake | Brooklyn Homemaker

Russell and I are still plugging away at the project I mentioned in my last post, and while we’re (hopefully) nearing the finish line, we’ve still got plenty of work to do so I’m not exactly back for good. I just happened to get a little down time recently and I couldn’t bare to stay away from you for one more second!

I’ve missed you guys SO MUCH that I jumped at the opportunity to get back in the kitchen when I finally had a moment to myself. We’ve been so completely consumed with our project in the past few months that my poor kitchen has felt almost as neglected as all of you probably have.

nectarines and cream icebox cake | Brooklyn Homemaker

As it turns out though, my little bit of down time just happened to fall smack dab in the middle of our SECOND heat wave in the past couple months. For almost two weeks the daily weather forecast included “Excessive Heat Warnings”, and the city even set up “cooling stations” for the sick and elderly without air conditioning to be able to escape (and survive) the oppressive daytime temperatures.

To make matters even worse, unlike my brown-lawned family upstate, we’ve also had plenty of rain (and thunder and lightning) here in Brooklyn so along with the heat we’ve also had plenty of soupy, steamy, thick, and swampy humidity. In other words, we’ve just been sweating our butts off here in Brooklyn!

nectarines and cream icebox cake | Brooklyn Homemaker

As you can imagine, that meant that turning the oven on to bake a cake has been sort of out of the question.

nectarines and cream icebox cake | Brooklyn Homemaker

With actual baking off the table, my first thought was to make some kind of ice cream or frozen something-or-other to help cool us off and keep me as far as possible from the oven. It didn’t take me long to realize though, that I hadn’t thought far enough ahead and my ice cream maker bowl requires overnight freezing before I could even get started.
I briefly considered popsicles but I couldn’t seem to get inspired. What I really wanted to do was bakeor at least make something that felt as homey and satisfying as something fresh from the oven. I’d been out of the kitchen and away from my oven for so long that my head kept going back to the idea of a fruity crisp or crumble or skillet cake.

Then it suddenly hit me!

Icebox cake!

nectarines and cream icebox cake | Brooklyn Homemaker

If you’re not familiar with an icebox cake, the concept is fairly simple. You layer thin crisp cookies with whipped cream and let the whole thing set up in the refrigerator (or icebox as it were). While the cake sets up, moisture is pulled from the whipped cream, softening the cookies and firming the cream until the whole thing is transformed into a dreamy, wonderful, lick-the-plate-clean dessert with a perfectly cake-like sliceable texture.

The original recipe has been around since the first world war and was most likely inspired by similar desserts like the Charlotte or the Trifle. The first icebox cakes were made with thin chocolate wafer cookies that are increasingly difficult to find (Smitten Kitchen has a recipe if you want to make your own), but these days you can basically make them with any thin, crisp cookies you like.
The filling options these days are just as limitless as the cookies, so I knew I’d find a way to make something bright and summery and satisfying.

nectarines and cream icebox cake | Brooklyn Homemaker

I wish I had some sepia-colored story about the nostalgic icebox cakes my grandmother used to make me as a boy growing up in the countryside in 1764, but the truth is that I’d never even tasted icebox cake until I made one with gingersnaps and maple cream this past December.

Even though I didn’t grow up with them, they feel every bit as homey and comforting as the bundt cakes that I actually did grow up eating in grandma’s kitchen in the country. While they’re relatively new to me, I would bet that a few more icebox cakes will turn up on the pages of Brooklyn Homemaker in the years to come. They just have that folksy days-of-yore feeling that lets me wistfully imagine joyful, touching family moments that never actually happened.

Not to mention they’re also freakin’ delicious, and crazy simple to put together.
If you can whip cream and open a box of cookies, you can make an icebox cake. They’re actually much simpler than I myself would normally go for, and the last time I made one I went the extra mile and made my own gingersnaps as the base of the cake. (You know I’m a glutton for punishment.)

This time around though, I wanted to take it easy, keep it simple, and highlight the other ingredients I wanted to feature in this simple summery creation.

nectarines and cream icebox cake | Brooklyn Homemaker

Russell and I signed up for a CSA from Local Roots earlier this summer, but of course that was before we knew how busy we were about to get. We’ve been loving every ounce of fresh, local, seasonal produce, but it can sometimes be a challenge to find uses for everything without letting anything go to waste.

We’ve been getting pounds and pounds of white nectarines in the past few weeks, so I really wanted to do something special with them. What could be better than giving them the peaches and cream treatment with vanilla wafer cookies and mascarpone thickened whipped cream?

Nectarines and peaches are so similar in flavor and texture that you could substitute peaches without affecting the flavor of the recipe much at all. The white nectarines we had from our CSA though had a crisper, slightly more acidic zing to them than a standard peach, which I thought was a nice compliment to the richness of the cream. Honestly though, you could swap them out for strawberries or cherries and this cake would still be a little summery slice of heaven.

nectarines and cream icebox cake | Brooklyn Homemaker

Nectarines and Cream Icebox Cake

2 lbs nectarines (or peaches), peeled, pitted, and roughly chopped
3/4 cup sugar
pinch of salt
2 tablespoons orange liqueur, such as Cointreau (optional) *see note
2 1/2 cups cold heavy cream
8 oz mascarpone at room temperature
Two 11 oz packages of vanilla wafer cookies, such as Nilla Wafers

Combine roughly chopped nectarines with sugar, salt, and orange liqueur in a medium bowl. Stir to combine and macerate for at least 15 to 20 minutes.

Meanwhile, in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, whip the heavy cream on high just until it begins to thicken and form soft peaks. Add the mascarpone and beat on low speed until almost smooth, about 30 seconds. Scrape down the sides and fold to incorporate. Add the macerated chopped nectarines and beat on low for 30 to 60 seconds and scrape down the sides and fold again. Increase the speed to medium high and beat until the mixture is thick and holds firm peaks, another 30 to 60 seconds. Do NOT over-beat or the cream can become waxy and the mascarpone can become grainy.

On an 8″ cake board, or a cake stand or serving plate, arrange a layer of vanilla wafer cookies into three tight circles. I used 19 cookies per layer, with 1 cookie in the center, then one circle of 6 cookies and another circle of 12, but that’ll depend on the size of the cookie you use. Once you’ve arranged your first layer of cookies, place about a cup of cream over them and smooth it out with an offset icing spatula. Spread the cream almost to the outer edge, leaving just a small edge of cookies showing. Arrange another layer of cookies, trying to alternate the layers so they appear staggered above one another. Repeat another layer of cream and then another layer of cookies, again and again until you have as many layers as you desire or until you run out of cookies or cream. Finish the top of the cake with a final layer of cream. My cake was 8 layers tall, but again, this may depend on the size of the cookies you use.

If you have a cookie or two left over, garnish the cake by crumbling them in the center of the top if desired.

Try to delicately tent the cake with plastic wrap or cover with a large inverted bowl or cake dome before transferring to the refrigerator to set up.
Place cake to refrigerator for an absolute minimum of 6 hours (but ideally 12 to 24 hours) before serving. This cake will continue to improve the longer you can wait. As it sets, the cream will get firmer as the cookies get softer, and the flavors will distribute more evenly. Patience is a virtue!

Once set, the cake can be sliced and served much like a regular cake. If possible, it’s best to use a sharp serrated knife with a gentle sawing motion to avoid smooshing the cake and to get the best looking slices possible. Really though, you could dish it into bowls with a spoon if you wanted, and everyone would love it just as much.
Cake can be stored in the fridge in an airtight container for 3 or 4 days.

*Note:
Peach schnapps would be great too if you have it, or you could also substitute rum or bourbon for a bit of extra warmth.
If you’d prefer to keep it completely non-alcoholic, a teaspoon or two of orange blossom water or rose water would be a lovely substitution. That stuff is potent though so start with just a little and taste to see if you’d like to add more.