These desserts are just peachy

Photo by Keri White

I adore peaches. When they come into season, I buy baskets of them at the farmers market, then end up with a glut because I am the only one who eats them at home.

Never one to waste, I am forever on the hunt for peach recipes. I toss them in salads, slice them and top ricotta or yogurt-schmeared toast with them, serve them with cheese, atop ice cream, over pound cake, in muffins — you get the idea.

Recently, I had a few peaches and plums (another weakness of mine) that were slightly past optimal ripeness, and was inspired to make a peach and plum dessert. I am reluctant to call it a cobbler, because the topping I assembled was more cake-y than biscuit-y, which suits me fine. I often find that the biscuit-style topping, while tasty, doesn’t rise to the sweetness of a dessert; it feels more like a breakfast pastry to me.

That said, there are countless numbers who love that crust and, if that is your preference, simply cut the amount of sugar called for here in half, and you will have your traditional cobbler. The fruit base can be anything — a combo of stone fruits, berries, apples, pears, figs etc. Use what is in season and/or just past ripe.

The second recipe was a revelation. I saw a version of it online that used a pretzel crust. While I found that intriguing, I had graham crackers on hand, so I made a graham cracker crust. It is a summer dessert because it does not involve much time in the oven — just a few minutes to bake the crust, then it’s all about the chill.

You can use any sweet and juicy fruit you have around. Nectarines, berries and kiwis would all be lovely atop this creamy confection.

Peach and Plum Neither Cake nor Cobbler

Serves 4-6

For the fruit filling
6 cups peeled, sliced fresh peaches and plums (I used 3 peaches and 4 plums)
½ cup sugar
Juice of ½ lemon

For the topping
1 stick butter, softened
1 cup flour
¾ cup sugar
2 teaspoons baking powder
¾ cup buttermilk (or regular milk or nondairy milk)
1 egg
¼ teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon vanilla

Heat your oven to 350 degrees. Place the prepared fruit in a 2-quart baking dish (I use a glass Pyrex). Mix the topping ingredients in a medium bowl until well blended. Pour it over the fruit and bake for about 40 minutes until the topping is golden-brown and slightly crisp on top.

Serve with whipped cream or vanilla ice cream, if desired.

Peach Cream Pie

Serves 6-8

This pie is the creamiest, dreamiest summer dessert. I have always been a fan of mascarpone whipped cream — mascarpone gives whipped cream a bit more heft and complexity and, for a pie like this, holds it together more solidly.

This preparation would be divine with most anything, including drizzled chocolate, toasted coconut or chopped nuts or, as described below, with fresh fruit.

Graham cracker crust
1½ cups graham cracker crumbs
2 tablespoons sugar
5 tablespoons butter

Heat your oven to 350 degrees. Place the butter in a 9-inch pie pan, and melt it in the microwave for about 30 seconds.

Place the remaining ingredients in the pan, then mix them with a fork or your fingers until the texture is uniform.

Press the mixture into the pan and up the sides to form a crust.

Bake it for about 10 minutes until the crust is just starting to brown. Remove it from the oven, and set it aside to cool before filling.

1½ cups heavy whipping cream
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
½ pound mascarpone cheese
¼ cup powdered sugar
2 tablespoons peach jam

4 ripe peaches, peeled and sliced
¼ cup sugar
¼ cup water
Juice of ½ lemon

While the crust cools, whip the cream, mascarpone and sugar in a medium bowl, and place it in the fridge to chill. Place all the topping ingredients in a medium saucepan, and bring them to a boil. Set it aside to cool.

To assemble the pie, spread the preserves on the bottom and up the sides of the cooled crust. Pour the cream filling into the pie shell, and top it with about a third of the cooled peach mixture. Do not pour the peaches on the cream if they are at all warm; they will “melt” the cream. Save the remaining peaches for serving.

Chill the pie for at least six hours or overnight.

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