Recipe: Almond-crisped peaches

Ignore the chicken in the background; we were making dinner at the same time.
Ignore the chicken in the background; we were making dinner at the same time.

Here’s yet another recipe that comes mostly courtesy of Smitten Kitchen (it’s one of my favorite food blogs, in case that wasn’t obvious). I enjoyed making these last summer as a healthy-ish treat; I’m convinced that you end up with a higher fruit-to-topping ratio when you do peach crisp this way instead of using sliced peaches, plus there’s kind of automatic portion control if you only make one or two halves per person as opposed to scooping out a big spoonful of peach crisp or cobbler. Of course, you can go nuts with the ice cream/creme fraiche if you want to…

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Making this dessert took on a quasi-urgent quality after my mom and I bought half a bushel of peaches (that’s 25 lbs!) at the farmer’s market last Saturday. We cut all of the ripest ones into wedges and froze them in quart bags for later use in more traditional cobblers and crisps. That left about 10 ripening peaches for the two of us to eat by ourselves, not to mention blueberries, raspberries, four bananas, some apples that I bought in anticipation of making scones later this week, a sizable wedge of crenshaw, and half a watermelon left over from last week. My dad and I eat a lot of fruits and vegetables, but he’s out of town this week, so apart from our yummy risotto (eaten fresh on Sunday, leftover yesterday, and almost certainly leftover tomorrow), it feels like I’ve eaten nothing but fruit, yogurt, and tomato salads for the last four days. I decided that the leftover crisp topping from Labor Day wasn’t going to keep in the fridge forever, so this was a good opportunity to enlist my mom’s and grandmother’s help in the War on Fruit. I hate to see things go to waste.

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Anyway, another great thing about this recipe is that it’s really easy, especially if you already have the crisp topping prepared. Just spread the topping over each peach, filling the convenient holes left by the pits, and bake while you make and eat dinner. Take them out of the oven 5-10 minutes before you want to eat them and you’ll have a perfectly warm dessert.

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Note: I just used 2 peaches and guessed on the scaling up. Fortunately, this is a forgiving recipe in that respect. Too many peaches? Just eat peaches! Too much topping? Save it for later crisps (up to 2 weeks in the fridge) or sprinkle it over fruit and yogurt at breakfast.

Almond-Crisped Peaches

Adapted from Smitten Kitchen.

Yield: 16 peach halves (serving 16 moderately and 8 generously)

8 ripe peaches

1 recipe brown sugar topping from cherry-almond crisp:
1/2 c whole almonds, chopped
1/4 tsp almond extract
1/2 c whole spelt or almond flour
1 c rolled oats
Dash of salt (optional)
1/4 tsp cinnamon
3 Tbsp brown sugar
1.5 Tbsp milk
2 Tbsp butter, plus more if desired

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Wash and halve peaches, removing pits. Place fruit cut side up in baking dish. (I grease the dish a little, just for peace of mind.)

Make topping: Place chopped almonds in medium bowl. Sprinkle with almond extract and toss to coat. Mix in flour, oats, salt, cinnamon, and brown sugar. Melt butter and stir into topping with milk until mixture is damp and crumbly.

Assembly:  Spoon the topping into the hollow at the center of each peach, then spread out so that the top of the peach is covered. Bake for 45 minutes to 1 hour (baking time varies with peach size), until the top is brown and crisp and you can easily slice through the fruit with a fork or spoon.

Serving suggestion: warm, with vanilla ice cream, whipped cream, creme fraiche, or plain yogurt.

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