Shortcake is too good to be monopolized by strawberries. Here’s a fall version that combines fresh pears, hazelnut-flavored shortcakes, and coffee whipped cream—a harmony of flavors.
Find this recipe and many more delicious treats in The Old Farmer’s Almanac Everyday Baking cookbook.
For biscuits: Preheat the oven to 350°F. Arrange the hazelnuts on a baking sheet and toast them on the center oven rack for 8 to 10 minutes, until they’re fragrant and the skins have blistered. Immediately transfer the nuts to a tea towel. Cover them with half of the towel, then rub briskly to remove the skins. (Don’t worry if a bit of skin remains.) Discard the skins and set the nuts aside to cool. Set the oven to 400°F. Lightly butter a large baking sheet or line it with parchment paper. Set aside. Put the nuts into a food processor with the ¼ cup of sugar. Pulse the nuts until they are finely ground. In a large bowl, combine the ground nut mixture, flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Whisk well. Add the butter and cut it into the dry ingredients with a pastry blender until the mixture resembles coarse, uniform crumbs. Set aside.
In a separate bowl, whisk the egg until frothy. Whisk in the milk and yogurt. Reserve 2 tablespoons of this liquid for glaze. Make a well in the dry ingredients and add the larger portion of liquid. Stir with a wooden spoon until evenly mixed. Flour your hands and, using a large spoon, scoop a scant ½ cup of dough for each biscuit and gently shape it into a ball. Make seven or eight balls, placing them on the sheet, evenly spaced. Brush each with the reserved egg liquid and sprinkle each with sugar. Bake on the center oven rack for 20 to 22 minutes, until the biscuits are a rich golden color, turning the sheet about halfway through the baking. Transfer the biscuits to a rack to cool.
When you’re ready to serve, cut the biscuits in half. Cover each bottom half with some of the pears, add a big dollop of the coffee whipped cream, then crown with the top half.
For filling: Combine the sliced pears, honey, orange juice, and orange zest in a medium mixing bowl. Stir gently, then refrigerate.
For whipped cream: Rub the sugar and instant coffee powder together in a small bowl, to combine. Set aside. Using an electric mixer, beat the cream in a chilled, medium mixing bowl until it starts to thicken. Add the coffee-sugar and vanilla and continue to beat until the cream holds soft peaks. Refrigerate, if not using right away.