This might sound blasphemous (particularly coming from a resident of Georgia) but up until recently I wasn't a huge fan of peaches. Nectarines were more my speed - similar taste, without all the weird fuzz. But lately the farmer's market has been overflowing with them, so I figured why the hell not? Thankfully, I was not disappointed - I'm not sure why this is, but it seems like Georgia peaches have all of the flavor with none of the fuzz. But when it comes to this recipe, it actually doesn't matter - you'll have to take the peach skin off anyway.
I love pie (who doesn't?) but as far as desserts go, it's a commitment; making the dough, resting it, preparing filling, assembly, baking - it's not exactly a speedy process. Which is why I shamelessly favor crumbles and crisps - all the delicious fruity goodness, with about a quarter of the effort.
Want to know the secret to a good fruit dessert? Macerating. It's a key step in preventing a watery crumble or pie. You toss your fruit with a bit of sugar - just enough to coat it - and let it sit for somewhere between 30 minutes and an hour. While it rests, the sugar draws out the water in your fruit, leaving you with flavorful filling that won't ooze once it's baked. Of course, not all fruits are created equal - berries in particular will take longer to macerate, and will ultimately release less liquid during the process; because berries typically aren't cut or peeled (like a peach would be), their skin creates a barrier that's tougher for sugar to penetrate. Thankfully, this isn't a difficult problem to counteract - a little extra cornstarch will take care of it.
Peach and Blackberry Crisp with Mint
- 6 Tbsp. unsalted butter, softened (90 g)
- 1/3 c flour, heaping (45 g)
- 1/4 c brown sugar, packed (60 g)
- 1/4 tsp. cinnamon, heaping
- 1/4 tsp. vanilla (bean preferred, but extract works too)
- 3/4 c rolled oats* (85 g)
- 1/4 tsp. salt
- 12 oz. blackberries
- 7-8 medium peaches
- sugar, for coating
- 1 Tbsp. macerated peach juice
- 1 Tbsp. lemon juice
- 1 Tbsp. bourbon
- zest of half a lemon
- 1 pinch of nutmeg
- 1/4 tsp. vanilla
- 1/2 tsp. cinnamon
- 1/2 c brown sugar, packed (120 g)
- 1/2 tsp. salt
- 2 Tbsp. cornstarch
- Fresh mint
* Make sure you're using rolled or regular oats, not quick-cooking oats.
1. COMBINE all the streusel ingredients except the butter in a medium sized bowl, stirring to combine.
2. ADD the butter to the dry ingredients and massage it into the mixture with your hands until the mixture is homogenous - it should all clump together. If the mixture feels sticky, sprinkle a little more flour and squeeze it into the streusel mixture.
3. CRUMBLE the mixture up so it forms small balls and flakes, the largest pieces should be slightly bigger than a pea. Cover the streusel with plastic wrap and refrigerate.
4. WASH and dry the fruit, keeping them separate.
5. PLACE the blackberries in a medium bowl and sprinkle with sugar - you don't need a lot, just enough to coat them. I typically start with about 1/8 cup sugar and add more if necessary.
6. TOSS to coat the berries in sugar, set aside. Let sit for about an hour, stirring the mixture occasionally.
7. BOIL a large pot of water on the stove.
8. SLASH your peaches with a knife, so that there's a small X in the bottom of each one. The cut doesn't have to be deep, just enough to get through the skin.
9. PREPARE an ice bath in a large bowl once the water has boiled.
10. ADD the peaches to the boiling water one by one. Lower them gently into the pot with a spoon to prevent splashing yourself.
11. BOIL the peaches for 30 seconds to 1 minute. The peaches are ready to be removed once the skin on the bottoms has started to peel away from the flesh.
12. REMOVE the peaches with a slotted spoon, transferring them immediately to the ice bath. (This process is known as blanching.)
13. WAIT 10-15 seconds for the peaches to cool. Remove them one by one and peel the skin off. Set each peach aside after peeling, do not return to the ice bath.
14. CUT the peeled peached into slices about 1/4 inch thick. Transfer the peach slices to a medium bowl.
15. SPRINKLE the peaches with sugar, tossing to coat. Let the peaches sit for about a half hour, stirring occasionally.
16. STRAIN the peaches, reserving one tablespoon of the juice. Strain the blackberries (no need to reserve any juice).
17. COMBINE the peach juice, lemon juice, lemon zest, bourbon and vanilla. Sprinkle the cornstarch over this mixture, stirring to incorporate completely (no lumps!)
18. ADD the brown sugar, salt, cinnamon, and nutmeg, stirring to combine.
19. STIR in the peaches and blackberries, using gentle folding motions so the fruit doesn't break apart. The fruit should be completely coated in the sugar mixture.
20. PREHEAT your oven to 375 degrees (f). If using a convection oven, preheat to 350 degrees (f).
21. COAT a pie dish or 8x8 baking dish with nonstick spray or oil.
22. POUR the fruit and sugar mixture into the baking dish, patting it down into a relatively flat mound.
23. SPRINKLE the struesel mixture over the fruit so that it's coated completely. You may have streusel left over - if so, you can stick it in the freezer, sealed in a plastic bag. It will keep for a few months, and you can use it directly from the freezer.
24. REFRIDGERATE the crisp until your oven has finished preheating. I have a crappy, old oven, so I usually take a solid 30 minutes to preheat my oven. But your milage may vary depending on how powerful of an oven you have.
25. BAKE the crisp for 40 minutes, turning halfway through your baking time. The crumble should be bubbly, and the streusel on top should be a rich golden brown. If the crisp looks pale, bake for another 10 minutes, then check, repeating if necessary until golden brown.
26. REMOVE from the oven and cool on a wire rack. The crisp can be enjoyed warm or completely cooled.
27. SPOON the crisp into bowls and garnish with a generous amount of fresh mint before eating. The mint makes a big difference, so don't skip this part!
28. COVER the crisp with plastic wrap once completely cooled. I store mine at room temperature for up to five days (though it usually doesn't last longer than 3). You can also store it in the fridge for up to a week. The crust will soften after the first day or so - reheating in the toaster oven or conventional oven will restore the crispiness of the crumble.