Well, there’s a monster of a title for this dessert… but each component is so important that I just couldn’t leave any of them out!
Now that summer is drawing to a close I’ve been trying to take advantage of summer fruits as much as possible, so when I had occasion to make dessert for a crowd I decided to center it on fresh peaches, which looked great at the market and were just squeezably ripe (but sadly did not live up to their promise flavor-wise). Since one of my favorite uses of fresh fruit is to spoon it over an otherwise basic cake, I found a recipe that was only slightly fancied-up with brown butter, and pulled out my Gothic bundt pan to make it look extra pretty. For once, the cake unmolded perfectly (see tips below) and the brown butter added some nice depth of flavor. I could have stopped there, of course, but once I tasted the peaches I knew I’d need something more.
It’s peach season, and as much as I enjoy eating them straight out of hand, I do on occasion like to use them in desserts. Tarts are a particularly good way to show off gorgeous produce, so it only makes sense that I would end up making a peach tart someday.
I was initially inspired by this recipe from Food52, which was intriguing in that the crust used oil (vegetable and olive oil) rather than butter, and that the fruit itself was topped with a sugar/flour mixture rather than being mixed in with it before baking. The finished tart wasn’t bad, but the crust had a sandy, crumbly texture that didn’t hold together all that well. I thought I could do better.
I made it again, substituting in a crust that uses melted butter but keeping the remaining parts of the recipe, which were pretty darned good. The crust recipe is similar to one I’ve used before, but it includes extra water and oil along with the butter, which seems to work pretty well! Best of all, I made it in one bowl and pressed it directly into the tart pan– no rolling or chilling!
The finished tart is beautiful (but rustic– this is not a pristinely perfect French-style tart), with the crumbly topping melting into a gorgeous bubbly glaze. I like it best served warm with vanilla ice cream, but I’ve been known to eat it with vanilla yogurt so I can call it breakfast.
These pastries* were really a spur-of-the-moment creation, based on the availability of fresh peaches and a last-minute dinner invitation. You know me, I can never arrive at a gathering without some kind of baked good, so I skimmed my recipe box for inspiration and came up with these incredibly simple, yet incredibly tasty desserts. Squares of buttery puff pastry are topped with a pillow of marzipan and a handful of peach slices, then baked to crispy, flaky perfection. The tanginess of the peaches is set off nicely by the floral sweetness of the marzipan, and the crunch of puff pastry wraps it all together in a convenient bundle, ready for dessert or an indulgent breakfast treat.
*Okay, so these aren’t really danishes– a danish is a very specific type of pastry with a very specific type of laminated, yeasted dough. Puff pastry was a shortcut.
Honestly, I couldn’t think of a good name for this cake– but it’s basically everything one could want in a summer dessert. Moist vanilla cake base, peaches sauteéd in brown sugar and butter, fluffy whipped cream, and crumbled brown sugar meringue for a little crunch. It’s light and refreshing, but rich and creamy, with tangy peaches and sweet meringue all in one.
Summer and ice cream go together like… well, summer and ice cream*. So every summer I throw an Ice Cream Social, where we break out a giant under-the-bed storage container, fill it with ice, and create an ice cream buffet. Every guest is encouraged to bring a pint of their favorite ice cream to contribute, and we indulge in an afternoon of sugary, creamy goodness.
Traditionally I make two homemade ice creams to contribute, so this year I made Butterbeer ice cream and (because my ice cream maker is being temperamental) a no-churn Peach Cobbler ice cream. The components may take a little while to make, but there’s nothing difficult about any of them– and when you’re done you’ve got delicious vanilla ice cream flecked with cinnamon, studded with streusel, and swirled with cinnamon-sauteed peaches. What could be better?
*Ooh, ooh! I just thought of a better comparison! Summer and ice cream go together like peaches and cream!
Since I haven’t had time to don the entire Ursula/Vanessa costume for pictures yet, let’s talk about other stuff…
This was just a fun little thing to do for breakfast one weekend, though I admit the bacon cookies were a bit time-intensive.
It all started with this recipe for shortbread cookies that looked like strips of bacon, seasoned with applewood-smoked salt. And since my husband is a big fan of all things bacon, I knew I had to try making them. I even had a little baggie of the salt left over from a long-ago gift. So I whipped up the dough (easiest dough ever), and set to work coloring it.