The farmer’s markets are overrun with stone fruits now, baskets tumbling-full of gold and rose hued peaches, nectarines, apricots and plums. There was a particularly gorgeous display at the Crocker Galleria market yesterday that made me wish I hadn’t left my camera at home, a vibrant stripe of summer sunshine piled across the table.
Biting into a ripe peach, juice trickling down your chin, must be one of summer’s quintessential pleasures. I always cup one in my hands before I eat it, savoring the honey-rich fragrance, marveling at the perfect layer of fuzz. When I hold a sun-warm peach to my cheek, it’s like holding the beating heart of summer.
If you do manage to set any aside (perhaps cleverly buying some not-quite-ripe ones so they can survive the first few days), stone fruits can of course be made into any number of pies, tarts, cobblers, cakes, and other luscious desserts. Generally, the earlier peaches of the season have a lighter, sweeter flavor that are best showcased in a simple dessert, while later ones have a richer, deeper flavor that would go well in baked items like pies. To celebrate the warm weather and keep things light, I decided to make individual peach tarte tatins, an airy combination of just-caramelized peaches and flaky puff pastry. I took the recipe from Claudia Fleming’s The Last Course, where she describes how she adapted the recipe for home cooks by baking the peaches and pastry in a muffin tin. I found it worked fairly well, although I had to watch the oven carefully to make sure the peaches didn’t burn. Also, the caramel came out a little dark for my taste – I think next time I would make the caramel lighter so it doesn’t overpower the flavor of the peaches as much.
To go with the tarte tatins, I also made a pair of ice creams. The first, a white peach sorbet, captures their delicate flavor in a pure and simple form – just peaches with some sugar added. It came out the most gorgeous pastel hue as well.
For contrast, a roasted cinnamon ice cream from Regan Daley’s In the Sweet Kitchen. Her recipe uses both ground cinnamon toasted on the stove and a cinnamon stick infused in the cream, insuring a hefty dose of the spice.
White Peach Sorbet
adapted from epicurious.com
2 lbs white peaches (about 6), pitted and cut into pieces
3/4 cup sugar
1/4 cup light corn syrup
1 teaspoon powdered ascorbic acid (helps prevent discoloration)
Combine all the ingredients in a bowl. Cover and refrigerate overnight.
Puree the mixture in a blender until smooth. Pour through a strainer into ice cream bowl, discarding solids. Freeze according to ice cream maker’s instructions. You will probably have to freeze it further in the freezer for it to really firm up.
Makes about 1 quart
Roasted Cinnamon Ice Cream
from In the Sweet Kitchen
2 teaspoons ground cassia or cinnamon
2 cups half and half
1 large cinnamon or cassia stick
6 large egg yolks
3/4 cur granulated sugar
1 cup cream
In a nonstick skillet, toast the ground cinnamon over low heat. Keep stirring it around to prevent it from burning. When it is warm and fragrant remove from the heat and set aside.
Combine the half-and-half with the cinnamon stick in a medium saucepan and bring to a boil. Remove the saucepan from heat and let it sit for about 5 minutes to let the cinnamon stick infuse the cream.
Meanwhile, whisk the egg yolks and sugar together in a bowl. Pour a little of the hot cinnamon cream into the bowl and whisk to temper the eggs, then pour the rest in and whisk until combined.
Return the mixture to the saucepan and put back on medium heat, stirring with a wooden spoon to prevent eggs from scrambling. Cook about 7 to 10 minutes until the mixture thickens and coats the back of the spoon. Remove from heat and strain into a bowl.
Add about 2 tablespoons of the 1 cup cream to the toasted cinnamon and combine to make a paste. Add 2 more tablespoons and work it in until it is combined. Whisk this cinnamon paste into the hot mixture until combined. Put a piece of plastic wrap over the mixture, pressing the wrap to the surface, and place in the refrigerator until very cold, at least 4 hours but preferably overnight.
Freeze in an ice cream maker according to manufacturer’s instructions.
Makes about 1 quart.