Caramelized Pound Cake Napoleon with White “Mango” Nectarines and Strawberry Ice Cream

I have always loved strawberry shortcakes, especially when the shortcakes are hot and buttered and are served with lots of whipped cream and raspberry, blackberry, or blueberry sauces. But I find the cakes themselves, even at their best, a bit much to eat.

So I came up with the idea of using toasted and caramelized thin slices of cake, thereby cutting way down on the starch in the dish while emphasizing the fruit.

In my first book, I used plums (ripe Simka, Santa Rosa, and Queen Anne), but now I would use the superb new nectarines that have recently come on the market, like “mango” and “honeydew.”

The napoleon must be assembled at the very last moment so that the cake does not become soggy. Taking only a few minutes to assemble once you have done the set up, this dish is an ideal and very easy showstopper.

Ingredients

  • 12 slices polenta pound cake, by 2 inches, cut ⅛-inch thick
  • ½ cup caramel
  • 12 ripe “mango” or “honey dew” nectarines, pitted
  • ¼ cup granulated sugar
  • pinch salt
  • ¼ cup water
  • 2 cups creamed sabayon sauce
  • 2 tablespoons sifted or sieved confectioners’ sugar
  • 1 pint best-quality fresh strawberry ice cream

Method

Preheat the oven to 425 degrees.

Put the cake slices on a wire baking rack on a baking tray. Heat the caramel and brush lightly onto each side of each slice. Put the tray in the oven and bake for 10 minutes. Take the tray out and let the cake slices cool thoroughly.

Prepare an ice bath.

Slice the nectarines ¼-inch thick and put them in a sauté pan. Add the sugar, salt, and water and cook over medium heat until the fruit is tender and beginning to fall apart. Transfer the hot nectarines to a metal bowl and put the bowl in the ice bath to cool the fruit, stirring occasionally.

When you are ready to serve the napoleon, put a cooled cake slice on each plate, spoon some of the nectarines onto it, and then spoon some of the sabayon on the fruit. Then place another slice of cake on the sabayon and repeat the process of alternating fruit and sabayon, ending with the last piece of cake as a top.

Sprinkle the top piece with the confectioner’s sugar and serve with a couple of scoops of strawberry ice cream alongside.

Variations

Try with gingerbread instead of the pound cake, and try using hazelnut or chestnut ice cream (stir ½ cup nut puree into a pint of vanilla), or rose petal ice cream (chop up ½ cup pink petals and mix into a pint of vanilla ice cream) instead of the strawberry.

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