Peaches & Cream (aka Peach Crisp with Maple Cream Sauce)

In an ideal world, my style of cooking would rather simple: go to the market/butcher/fish monger daily, find what looks fresh, and build around it.  Naturally, I would have strong relationships with all vendors so they would save the pick of the day for me.  I think know I’m meant to be European.  Is it too late to be adopted?

Despite my dreams and best intentions, the reality is that I end up at the market about 3-4 times a week, the fish monger thinks my name is Caroline, and I have the duke it out with the best of them to get the last of the local produce. Sometimes I go with a list in hand, other times I go to wander and be creative, but I always walk out with more inspiration than I had when I got there.  I suppose it all does even out in the end.

During a quick jaunt to the market yesterday, I spotted some lovely looking peaches.  They were perfectly ripe, which meant they had to come home with me.  I picked the best 6 in the bin, gingerly placing them one by one into my basket.  The only question that remained was how to eat them?

Now, truth be told, I love me some peaches so its no hardship to have them in my fridge – especially when they’re local and in season.  I eat them plain most of the time, but I have been known carmelize them, grill them, bake with them…you name it, and I’ll probably find it delicious.   As I picked up a peach and twirled it around, I pondered all that is right in the world the final destiny of these beauties.  A while ago I had stumbled upon an idea for a peach crisp with a maple sauce, and so that became my starting point.

Won’t you join me on this delicious journey?

That would be…peaches, whipping cream, half & half, maple syrup, flour, brown sugar, white sugar, butter, cinnamon, nutmeg, oatmeal, pecans, flax seeds, corn or pancake syrup, maple extract, and salt.

I wanted the maple cream sauce to be served cold, so I made it first.  I’m glad I did.

Can you say “appetizer”? Good.

Pour 1 c of whipping cream and 1/2 c of half & half into a large saucepan (more on this in a bit).  You could use all whipping cream, but I wasn’t about to make another trip to the grocery store so I used what was in the fridge.

I don’t suggest you see how sharp your knives are when cutting butter and slice the tip of your thumb. Ouch.

Add 1/4 c of pure maple syrup and 3T of either corn or pancake syrup to the creams. Why both, I hear you ask? The pure maple syrup will give us the flavour we want, and the corn or pancake syrup will help thicken things up.  At least, that’s my theory and I’m sticking to it.

Give it all a stir and gently warm over medium heat.

The idea is that we want the sauce to thicken up a bit, so stir frequently until it reduces by about 1/3.

And when it boils over in your (too small) saucepan, you know you should have listened to me about making this in a large one.

Let’s just say it wasn’t only my hips that took one for the team this time.

After about 15 minutes, I got impatient the sauce was sufficiently reduced (and not only due to that lost in splatter), so I took it off the heat and added about 1t of maple extract to bump up the maple flavour even more.

Get yourself a straw and drink up! I mean…transfer the sauce to a bowl and let it chill in the fridge while the crisp bakes.

Normally when I make crisps, I just mix a few spoonfuls of sugar, flour, and oats together, and then add enough butter to make it crumbly.  I thought I’d measure though, so here goes nothing:

You’re looking at 1/2 c AP flour, 1/2 c whole-wheat flour, 1/2 c brown sugar, 1/2 c white sugar, 1/2 c of pecans (chopped), 1 c of oatmeal, and 1/4 c of flax seed.  Oh, and a dash of salt I think.

Give it a stir, and add 1 stick (or 1/2 c) of cold butter.  Sometimes I grate my butter in, but this time I mixed it in by hand until it was crumbly.

Truthfully, this could have probably used a tad more butter but I was too lazy to add more.

No, I’m not sure what’s gotten into me either.

Turns out that by measuring I made way too much topping.  It wasn’t in vain though, because now I have a full sandwich-size Ziploc bag of topping in the fridge waiting for me next time I need a dessert in a hurry.  What a problem to have!

Next, the peaches  – they are somewhat important in a peach crisp after all.

Peel 6 peaches (or not…just remove the stickers first) and remove the pits.  Some people suggest dropping the peaches in boiling water and then plunging them in ice cold water to remove the peel, but I’ve always found that to be substantially more work than just using my regular vegetable peeler.  I think my next blog should be called the lazy gourmet.  Except I’m not really all that gourmet.

There goes that idea.

Cut the peaches into chunks, and toss them with 2T of pure maple syrup, 1/2 t cinnamon, 1/2 t nutmeg, and a dash of salt.  If you’re feeling particularly rebellious, go ahead and add the zest and juice of 1/2 lemon to brighten things up.  However, if you forget like me, it will still be good.

Give the peaches a stir, and dump them into a greased 8 x 8″ pan.

Cover with about 1/2 of the topping.

Cover the pan with foil and bake at 350 degrees for 25 minutes.  Uncover the pan (and rotate if you’re not using a convection oven) and bake for another 25 minutes until the top is lightly browned and the juices are bubbly.

Let the crisp cool for a few minutes while you do a little bit of quality control with the maple cream sauce.

I had to taste it twice to be sure I wouldn’t poison anyone who consumed the crisp.

It passed. Barely.

With that out-of-the-way, it was time to eat.  FINALLY!!!

Pour some of the sauce into your dish so that the peaches feel loved, dish up the crisp, and then top with a drizzle more of sauce.  And some mint, if you’re feeling fancy.

I won’t judge you if you’re not though.

I will judge you if you don’t make this peach crisp – its delicious and decadent and fabulous on a rainy (dare I say it?) late summer evening.  The sauce really is what makes it, so please don’t skip this step…it’s worth every last calorie.

Peaches & Cream has never been better, my friends!  Now, if you’ll excuse me, I need to go find myself a straw…

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