warm & sunny w a chance of peaches – almond peach bars
Last week, I tweeted “What a beautiful day in the neighbor,” and it truly was. Upper 60s to low 70s, not a cloud in the sky and the sun showered everyone with warm golden rays. Then a day later, though the sun was still bright, Mr. Rogers left and Mr. Freeze blew in.
With all of this flip flopping of seasonality, summer could be here by Tuesday. So why not prepare something to welcome it in?
Peaches are usually a few months away from appearing at the Farmer’s Market stands, but I felt the urge for a bite of this fragrant summer fruit. I turned to the trusty freezer section for more immediate satisfaction. There, they sat in flash frozen readiness from last summer, packaged for consuming in the off-season.
To get the maximum flavor of peaches, sauté them in their own juices until slightly caramelized, and then enhance them by adding rum and butter. Spread the mixture on a golden almond shortbread crust, then sprinkle with sliced almonds and bake to further intensified the sweet nectar of peaches.
The only down side with this recipe is you have to wait for these beauties to cool off and set—or else the flakey crust will crumble. Mr. Freeze, it’s time to leave.
Almond Peach Bars
- 1-1/2 cups (7-1/2 ounces) unbleached all-purpise flour
- 1-3/4 cups sliced almonds
- 1/3 cup (2-1/4 ounces) granulated sugar
- 1/3 cup (2-1/2 ounces) packed light brown sugar, plus 1 tablespoon
- 1/2 teaspoon fine sea salt
- 12 tablespoons (6 ounces/1-1/2 sticks) cold unsalted butter , cut into 1/2-inch pieces
- 1-1/2 pounds frozen peaches , partially thawed (approx. 1 hour)
- 1/2 cup peach preserves
- 2 tablespoons dark rum
- 1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
- 1 teaspoon lemon zest. freshly grated
- 2 teaspoon lemon juice, freshly squeezed
1. Adjust oven rack to middle position and heat oven to 375℉. Line 13 by 9-inch baking pan with aluminum foil then parchment, allowing excess to overhang pan edges. Spray parchment with cooking spray. Process flour, 1-1/4 cups almonds, granulated sugar, sugar, and teaspoon salt in food processor until combined, about 5 seconds. Sprinkle butter over flour mixture and pulse mixture until it resembles coarse meal (some pea-sized pieces of butter will remain), about fifteen1-second pulses.
2. Transfer 1/2 cup flour mixture and 1 tablespoon of light brown sugar to small bowl and set aside. Press remaining flour mixture firmly and evenly into bottom of prepared baking pan. Bake until golden brown, about 15-20 minutes.
3. While crust is baking, clean blade and work bowl of processor. Pulse peaches and preserves in food processor until mixture has 1/4-inch chunks. Cook peach mixture in large nonstick skillet over high heat for 5 minutes. Add rum and continue to cook until thickened and jam-like, about 5 more minutes. Off heat, add extract, pinch of sea salt salt, lemon zest, and lemon juice. Pour mixture over hot crust.
4. Using fingers, pinch reserved flour mixture to create small clumps and sprinkle over peaches. Sprinkle remaining 1/2 cup almonds over top and bake until almonds are golden brown, about 20 minutes. Cool to room temperature, at least 2 hours. Using foil overhang, lift from pan and cut into 12 squares and serve or refrigerate in air tight container for up to 5 days.
1. The aluminum foil lining serves as a sturdy sling. I’m not a fan of food in direct contact with aluminum foil, thus the 2nd lining of parchment. You can omit parchment lining if you OK with it.
2. If the crust becomes soggy with time, you can reheat the bars. Placed them side-by-side, for 15 minutes in 350℉ oven to crisp up the crust.
recipe adapted from Cook’s Country