It is still the season for peaches, nectarines, and plums … and it can be difficult to decide which one of these fruits to choose to make a simple and delicious dessert.
But who can argue with a fresh peach?
There is something about this fragrant and refreshing fruit that begs to be served simply… most often as simple as peaches and cream. Fresh peaches that have spent a little time basking in a some rum and brown sugar, and then topped with a dollop of honey-sweetened whipped cream sounds very good to me. But, if you want to do something a little more than this, and you want to maintain the ‘simple’ aspect, a Fresh Peach Crisp is the next step.
This is a basic fruit crisp recipe that can be used with a variety of fresh or frozen fruits …and it is so easy to remember (thus feeding into the ‘simple’ aspect) because the topping is guided by the ‘½-cup rule’ ..… Half a cup of the basic crisp ingredients (graham crumbs, brown sugar, oatmeal, butter and nuts), and then a little salt, flavouring, and spice .. and then it bakes for 1/2 an hour…. Easy … you don’t even need to refer to the recipe after awhile.
Tips for making a great Fresh Peach Crisp:
- Start with fresh ripe peaches. Freshness and ripeness can be tested by smell – if they smell good, they will taste good. They should be unblemished and not too soft.
- Fresh peaches can easily be peeled by simply using a sharp vegetable peeler. My preference, however, is to use a hot water bath. Fill a large cooking pot ¾ full with water. Bring water to a boil. Cut a shallow X on the bottom of each peach and immerse in boiling water. Boil for 1 minute. Lift out with a slotted spoon and rinse with cold water, or let it sit on the work surface for a few minutes to cool off. The skins should easily slip off (use your fingers or a knife). You can either slice the peach off the pit, or you can cut the peach in half, twist it apart, remove the pit, and then slice each half into individual slices.
- Because peaches have a high water content, cooked peaches can become quite juicy, requiring a thickening agent to be used. Trying to thicken an excessive amount of juice often results in a final product that can be ‘gummy’ or ‘goopy’. In order to control the amount of juice, a good idea is to marinate or macerate the peaches in a little sugar prior to baking so that the extra juice is extracted. In this way, you can control the amount of sugar and the amount of thickener that you need to use.
- Many crisp recipes call for flour as part of the topping. I prefer the texture and the taste of graham cracker crumbs instead ..…more taste, more crunch. If you can keep a box of crumbs in the pantry, this is an easy substitution.
- Nuts in the topping contribute to flavour and texture. Peaches and pecans just seem to be meant to be together; however, peaches and almonds are a beautiful combination as well (peaches are actually related to the almond, so this pairing makes sense). If you are choosing almonds in your topping, use ½ teaspoon of almond extract in the filling and in the topping instead of the vanilla.
- For convenience, the topping ingredients can easily be doubled and then frozen so that making another crisp on another day is even simpler!
- Obviously, canned peaches can be used with this recipe …but then you just cannot call it Fresh Peach Crisp.
- Typically, fruit crisp is served with a topping of ice cream. What about serving the ice cream topped with the fruit crisp?
Fresh Peach Crisp
Prep Time: 20 minutes (not including macerating time)
Baking Time: 30 minutes Number of Servings: 6
6 large, fresh, ripe (but firm) peaches (about 3 pounds), peeled, pitted and sliced into slim (1/2 inch) wedges – about 5-6 cups of prepared fruit
85 mL (1/3 cup) granulated sugar
2 teaspoons (10 mL) cornstarch
2 tablespoons (30 mL) sugar
1 tablespoon (15 mL) fresh lemon juice
Pinch of salt
1 teaspoon (5 mL) pure vanilla extract
¼ teaspoon (1.5 mL) ground nutmeg
¼ teaspoon (1.5 mL) ground cardamom or cloves
½ cup (125 mL) graham cracker crumbs
½ cup (125 mL) large flake oatmeal
½ cup (125 mL) hard-packed dark brown sugar
½ cup (125 mL) chopped pecans, toasted and cooled
½ cup (115 g / 1 stick) unsalted butter, cold, cut into small chunks
½ teaspoon (2.5 mL) salt
2 teaspoons (10 mL) pure vanilla extract
1 teaspoon (5 mL) cinnamon
- Prepare the filling: Prepare fresh peaches as indicated above. In a large bowl, combine sliced peaches with the 1/3 cup sugar. Let macerate for ½ hour.
- Drain peaches in a colander over a large bowl. Measure 85 mL (1/3 cup) of the peach juice. Discard the remaining juice, or save for other uses.
- Prepare a 9 x 9 baking dish with a light coating of butter, or by spraying with a cooking spray. Preheat oven to 3500F (1800C).
- Whisk together the reserved 1/3 cup of peach juice with the cornstarch, sugar, lemon juice, salt, and choice of spices.
- Combine the peach slices with the juice mixture and transfer to the prepared baking dish.
- Prepare Topping: Place graham cracker crumbs, oatmeal, brown sugar, pecans, salt, and cinnamon in a food processor bowl. Pulse to combine.
- Gradually add butter chunks and vanilla, pulsing only to thoroughly combine.
- Sprinkle topping over peaches in the baking dish.
- Bake for 25-35 minutes, or until topping is golden and some of the peach juice is peaking through.