bourbon peach crostata

I’m really sorry for disappearing for the past few weeks.  School started the Tuesday after Labor Day, and since then things have gotten truly insane.

There is so much hype about junior year.  It seems like when my classmates used to talk about The Bachelor and the scary new P.E. teacher, they now talk about AP classes and college apps.
 
All of this hype freaked me out a little bit.  My label-maker went into overdrive, I felt as though my life was scheduled down to the minute, I was constantly writing myself illegible notes on my phone,  I had calenders solely dedicated to keeping track of my other calenders. 

Then I took a step back.  I realized that while jamming my label-maker and staring down at my bi-weekly calender, I was missing a heck of a lot.   Things were just passing right by me.   The air started smelling like fall, Carly got a haircut, and I desperately needed a manicure… and I didn’t even notice.  Missing out is a scary thing.  I realized that sometimes, I need to get my face out of my agendas.  Sometimes, it’s absolutely necessary to do something “pointless.”

I did a dryer load of fuzzy socks, so I could put them on when they’re still warm.

I painted my nails this electric peachy pink color.

I went on a long walk blasting “Don’t Drop That Thun Thun” and looking at the trees. Then I started noticing things again and how beautiful everything was.  I noticed how the light reflects of the wavy windows in my neighborhood, how birds manage to nestle into precarious little crevices of brick walls without falling down, and how simply tilting my chin can give me a whole new perspective on my neighborhood. I wondered what the world would look like if I were 6 feet tall, or what it looks like to Carly.  Before I knew it, I was eighteen blocks away from home.

Most of the time, I bake for a purpose (bake sales, birthdays, sports games), and I absolutely love my classic cookie/blondie/brownie repertoire (i.e. things that can be eaten with one hand on the way to English class or on the sidelines).  But I think that sometimes, it’s important to make something impractical and crumbly.

Like this crostata.  It’s not particularly ridiculous like some of the other things I make.  It doesn’t have the “wow” factor of a triple-decker Nutella cake or oreo-stuffed chocolate chip cookies.

It’s a little crumbly, a little rustic, and the dough looks a little like a six-year-old’s play-dough creation.

But it’s really delicious.  It’s one of my favorite things to make.  It’s pretty simple and great for sharing.  Perhaps some would say that it’s a little “pointless.”  But maybe “pointless” isn’t such a bad thing after all.

With love,
Erica

Ingredients
2 1/4 cups all purpose flour
1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons sugar
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
11 tablespoons cold butter, cut into small pieces
2 eggs
zest of one lemon
pinch of salt
1 small jar of peach jam (mine had a hint of smoky bourbon in it)
1 peach
raw cane sugar for sprinkling


Preheat oven to 400 F and grease a 9″ tart pan.
Place flour in a large mixing bowl, make a well in the center and add
the eggs. Using either your hands or a fork, incorporate the eggs
into the flour. Work the butter into the dough until it forms clumps.

Add the sugar, lemon
zest, baking powder and a pinch of salt. Keep working the dough until is it very crumbly and slightly sticky.


On a lightly floured surface, knead the dough a
couple of times, then take off about 1/3 of the dough (for the lattice pattern on top). 

With a rolling pin, roll out the bigger piece of dough
into about a nine inch circle and press into the tart pan. Prick a few times with a fork, then spread the jam evenly on top.
Break off little pieces of the small piece of dough and roll them between your hands into long strips. Place the strips
over the jam, pressing lightly at the edges so they stick to the crust.

Bake for 25-30 minutes or until the top is lightly golden.


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peach ginger muffins

If you look carefully, you can see peaches rolling around in the back of most of my recent photos. These peaches led to this, this, this, and two peachy banana breads. These peaches also led to these cute little peach ginger muffins… and we still have a bunch rolling around on the counter.

These soft, fragrant muffins have the most amazing ginger streusel that packs a delicious crunch into every bite. The sharp, spicy ginger contrasts so nicely against the sweet, plump peach chunks. What makes these muffins even more delectable is the addition of brown butter. Just like in my peach shortbread bars, I browned the butter before adding it to the batter — giving the muffins a rich, dark, nutty flavor.

These are perfect for breakfasts, snacks, and (my favorite) eating standing up over the oven. These peaches are ripening by the second — if any of you have any other peachy recipe ideas, shoot them my way!

With love,
Erica

Ingredients

  • 6T unsalted butter
  • 1/3c milk
  • 1 large egg
  • 1t vanilla extract
  • 1 1/2c  all-purpose flour
  • 1/2c sugar
  • 1 1/2t baking powder
  • 3/4t salt
  • 2 cups diced peaches (about 2 peaches)
  • 1/4 cup crystallized ginger, diced
  • 1t ground ginger
  • dash of cinnamon

Crumb topping:

  • 3T cold unsalted butter cut into 1/2 inch pieces
  • 1/2c all purpose flour
  • 3 1/2 Tbs sugar
  • 1t ground ginger
Instructions
  1. Preheat the oven to 375F. Line or butter 12 muffin tins.
  2. Melt the butter in a small saucepan over medium
    heat. Once the butter melts, let it continue to cook, watching carefully
    all the while. It will start to slowly (then very quickly!) brown. When
    you see dark solids starting to fall to the bottom of the pan and
    notice a rich, almost caramel-like aroma rising from the butter, remove
    it from the heat. (You may need to transfer it to a new container to
    cool so that it does not continue to cook in the residual heat of the
    pan. Be careful as once it’s properly browned it can burn very quickly).
    Don’t worry about the darker brown grains at the bottom; they are part
    of what gives the butter the distinctive flavor. Allow the browned
    butter to cool somewhat. (It does not need to completely cool, but
    should be cool enough that it does not cook the eggs when you mix the
    wet ingredients together).
  3. Stir the dry ingredients together (except for
    the peaches and ground ginger). Stir the wet ingredients together, and
    add to the dry. When mixed, gently fold in the peaches and chopped
    candied ginger. Fill 12 muffin tins.
  4. Make the crumb topping: Mix the flour, sugar,
    and ginger together and then rub the butter pieces into this mixture
    with your fingers. Sprinkle evenly on top of the filled muffin tins.
  5. Bake 25 minutes if using fresh peaches. Remove from oven, and cool slightly
    before removing from muffin tin. Enjoy!

From Honest Cooking

low fat cinnamon peach banana bread

Another peach recipe! Woohoo! After reading about this, this, this, and my peachy ginger muffins — you are probably getting pretty tired of all of this peachy goodness. But a girl’s gotta do what a girl’s gotta do. And when she has a bounty of peaches on the counter, making this banana bread is what she’s gotta do. 
I was itching to make my favorite banana bread for the second time this week. Then I saw these sad little peaches rolling around on the counter — about to go bad. 
Thought process: I must save those peaches! … but I want banana bread. I could make a pound cake… Eh. No. I want banana bread {reaches for bananas}… aw but those peaches looks so sad. Heck, I’ll bake them into a banana bread. 
Now that is called innovation. 
What I love about this banana bread is it’s not overly sweet or cake-like — so it is perfect for breakfast.  The peaches add a nice, subtle, fruity flavor to this moist bread, and they look oh-so pretty on the top. They get all nice, brown and caramel-y after being sprinkled with cinnamon and brown sugar. 

The inside is super moist and flavorful with the addition of nonfat Greek yogurt and mashed bananas. Plus, this is a bread you can feel good about eating for breakfast. I had three slices this morning, drizzled with a little honey. You could even add some whole wheat flour to make it even more wholesome.

I cured my banana bread craving, and used up those sad little peaches. Talk about killing two birds with one stone!

With love, 
Erica
Ingredients
  • 1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon, plus extra for dusting
  • 3 bananas mashed
  • 1 cup finely diced peaches (about 2 peaches), plus about 8-10 thin peach slices
  • 1/2 cup packed dark brown sugar, plus 2 tablespoons for topping
  • 2 tablespoons butter, browned or melted (I love browned)
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1/2 cup nonfat plain or vanilla greek yogurt
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Grease a 9-inch loaf pan.
  2. In a medium mixing bowl, combine flour, baking soda, cinnamon and salt together and set aside.
  3. In a large mixing bowl, whisk together mashed
    bananas, butter, 1/2 cup brown sugar until well combined. Add vanilla
    and egg whites and whisk again until well combined. Whisk in diced
    peaches. Add in dry ingredients and yogurt alternatively, folding
    together well combined.
  4. Pour batter into loaf pan. Top with thinly
    sliced peaches and sprinkle 2 tablespoons of brown sugar over the top.
    Dust lightly with cinnamon. Bake for 60-70 minutes, or toothpick comes
    out almost clean in center.
  5. Cool for 10 minutes in pan, then remove from pan
    gently and transfer to wire rack. Cool completely. Cut into thick
    slices and enjoy!

From Ambitious Kitchen

brown butter peach shortbread bars

This morning at the farmer’s market, my dad bought $50 dollars worth of peaches.
$50 dollars worth of peaches. 
These were not “designer” or expensive peaches — about $3 a pound… you can do the math.
I was going to make another crunchy and custardy tart, because the last one was so good. But I decided to be adventurous and make these peach shortbread bars instead.

These bars are elevated to the next level with the addition of brown butter. I am obsessed with the stuff.  With that deep, nutty, salty aroma calling my name; I may or may not have eaten some with a spoon…


(Erica, did you really just admit to eating butter with a spoon? Yes.)

I got the ingenious idea of freezing the brown butter from Deb of Smitten Kitchen. It may seem like extra work (butter is butter right? WRONG), but you can really taste the sweet, nutty flavor in the crust and crumb topping.

Simple, buttery bars with the flavors of perfect summer peaches and nutty brown butter — what more could you ask for? If you can’t get your hands on fresh peaches, they would be just fine with any other type of fruit or even some jam. These are the perfect thing to munch on alongside a big glass of iced tea.

With love,
Erica

Ingredients
1/2 cup white sugar
1/2 teaspoon (5 grams) baking powder
1 1/2 cups
all-purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
1/8 teaspoon allspice
pinch of salt
1/2 cup cold unsalted butter
1 large egg
1 peach, sliced thin (about 1/8-1/4 inch thick)

Brown your butter: Melt butter in a small/medium saucepan over
medium-low heat. It will melt, then foam, then turn clear golden and
finally start to turn brown and smell nutty. Stir frequently, scraping
up any bits from the bottom as you do. Don’t take your eyes off of the pot! It burns almost immediatly after it foams. Set it in the freezer until solid (about 30
minutes).

Preheat the oven to 375°F. Spray a 8×8 inch pan with nonstick spray. In a medium bowl, stir together sugar, baking
powder, flour, salt and spices with a whisk. Using your fingertips, blend the solidified brown butter and egg into the
flour mixture. It will be crumbly. Pat 3/4 of the crumbs into the bottom
of the prepared pan, pressing firmly. Tile peach slices over crumb base
in a single layer. Scatter remaining crumbs evenly over peaches and
bake in preheated oven for 25-30 minutes, until top is slightly brown and
you can see a little color around the edges. Cool completely in pan
before cutting into squares.

Adapted from Smitten Kitchen

dorie’s crunchy and custardy peach tart

Lately, the farmer’s market has been overflowing with ripe peaches. My mom and I picked up around a dozen on Sunday. My dad was returning from Newport, and picked up another full bag on his way home. Since we had so many peaches rolling around the kitchen counter, I decided to make one of the many peachy recipes that I had saved. I cannot tell you how glad I am that I did.

All of the elements and textures of this tart come together so harmoniously.
Fruity sweetness from fresh peaches.
Satiny richness from the custard
Crunchy flavor from the streusel. 


The streusel topping really gives this tart an extra layer of nutty, buttery, crunchy goodness. The custard filling bathes the peaches in a voluptous, sweet, creamy mixture. And what really makes this tart so stellar are the fresh, aromatic summer peaches.

My mom especially loved this tart, proclaiming that it was the best dessert I have baked yet (even better than my morning buns!). Please, do yourself a favor and whip this up while we still have such a plethora of perfect, summer peaches.

What is your favorite peachy dessert?
With love,

Erica

Ingredients
*note I baked mine in an 8″ tart pan

1 pie crust of your choice (if you are making your own, sweet tart dough with nuts is perfect!), partially baked and cooled

For the streusel
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
2 tablespoons (packed) light brown sugar
2 tablespoons chopped almonds
2 tablespoons cold unsalted butter, cut into pieces

For the filling
1 or 2 very large peaches, sliced thin
1/2 cup heavy cream
1 large egg
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/4 cup sugar 
  
To make the streusel:
Working with your fingertips, blend all the ingredients together in a
small bowl until evenly combined. Cover the streusel tightly with
plastic wrap and refrigerate it until needed. (Wrapped well, the
streusel can be refrigerated for up to 2 days)
Center a rack in the oven and
preheat the oven to 425 degrees F. Place the tart pan on a baking sheet
lined with parchment or a silicone mat. 

To make the tart: Slice the peaches thinly and arrange them in a spiral pattern in your prepared pie crust. Set
aside while you make the creamy filling.

Whisk the cream, egg, sugar and
almond extract together in a small bowl. When blended, rap the bowl on
the counter to knock out the air bubbles, and pour the filling over and
around the peaches.

Bake the tart for 10 minutes.
Lower the oven temperature to 375 degrees F, and bake the tart tor
another 20 minutes, at which point you should add the streusel.

Remove the streusel from the
refrigerator and, using your fingers, break it up into small bits.
Carefully pull the baking sheet to the front of the oven and sprinkle the streusel evenly over
the creamy parts of the tart.

Bake for another 20 to 25 minutes
(total baking time is 50 to 55 minutes), or until the filling is set and
the streusel is golden. Remove the tart from the oven and transfer t he
pan to a rack to cool until barely warm or at room temperature.

Adapted from Dorie Greenspan’s Baking: From My Home to Yours

peach cobbler ice cream

I don’t have an ice cream machine, and have always shyed away from any ice cream related recipe. However, when I saw this easy method to make ice cream without a machine on Kevin and Amanda, I decided to give it a go… and it has changed my life forever. This method is so easy (just pop it in the freezer and forget about it) and so rewarding (we’re making our own ice cream people!). My family couldn’t get enough of this stuff, its so smooth and creamy that no one would ever guess that it’s not churned. There’s no doubt that homemade ice cream is the supreme summertime treat, and there’s also no doubt there will be many more ice cream recipes to come now that I have this awesome method up my sleeve!

The peaches at the Farmer’s market are perfect this time of year — sweet, juicy, and not at all mealy. I think we bought around 20 of them! I was planning on making a peach cobbler, but then decided that ice cream would be a happy substitute since these days its (almost) too hot to bake. Instead of plain peach ice cream, I jazzed it up a bit with graham cracker crumbs and a healthy dash of cinnamon to simulate the warm flavors of peach cobbler. It’s basically summer in a cone.

Needless to say, this peach ice cream is a new favorite recipe of mine, and will always be special to me as it is the first ice cream I have ever made. This is the perfect way to celebrate the rich, festive flavors of summer. I encourage all of you who, like myself, stay away from the homemade ice cream scene to hop on over and give this recipe a go 🙂
What’s your favorite ice cream flavor?
With love,
Erica

Ingredients
2 cups heavy cream
1 (14 oz.) Sweetened Condensed Milk
3 tablespoons butter, melted
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
1 teaspoon cinnamon
3 peaches, diced
1 cup graham crackers, crushed (I used cinnamon grahams, of course)

Whip heavy cream to stiff peaks in large bowl. Whisk sweetened
condensed milk, butter, vanilla and cinnamon in large bowl. Stir in peaches and graham cracker crumbs. Fold in whipped cream.
Pour into a 2-quart container and cover. Freeze 6 hours or until firm. Store in freezer.