Suddenly we are full into summer here, and with that comes one of my most favorite fruits…the mighty delicious peach. Now supposedly I live in what is known as the “Peach State” in the United States…that would be Georgia. But having lived here for three decades now, I have to say I didn’t understand until just recently why anyone would say this was the peach state. All of the peaches I’d ever tasted here were quite inferior to those from my native state of Alabama. In fact, I’ll be harsh enough to say that the ones I’d tried from Georgia were always picked too early, were mealy and tasteless.
That is until three years ago when I discovered Pearson’s Peaches at the local Farmer’s Market.
It was a banner peach year, with perfect growing conditions and a very, very long peach season. The first peach I tasted was all that a peach should be: Juicy, fruity, naturally sweet deliciousness dripping down your chin when you bite into it. Never had I tasted a peach this good. We gorged on peaches for 4 months! Here are some of those recipes that I posted during that time: Just Peachy Ice Cream, Peach or Nectarine Lemon Buttermilk Sorbet with Bourbon, A Very Short Little Peach Cake, A Star Spangled Cherry Berry Peach Crumble, Peachy Pops, Mom’s Easy Peach and Blueberry Crisp, Damon Fowlers Peach Orange Marmalade…just to name a few.
Now it is peach season again in Georgia. It’s a little late this year because the first crop was destroyed by the cold, and the next round was delayed by all of the rain. But they are here and they are grand. It’ll be a short season this year, but I plan to make the most of it. We’ve been through two bags of peaches already and here is my first peach recipe of the season…a really superb way to enjoy these beautiful and tasty fruits.
Peach Shortcake. No, not strawberry shortcake…not that I don’t love that, too. But if you’ve never tried a peach shortcake, you’re really missing something special. You can make it exactly the way you would a strawberry shortcake. Or, you can try this recipe of mine instead.
Peaches love bourbon, and I put just enough in with the peaches to scent them, but not overwhelm them. Peaches love cinnamon and ginger, too, as does shortcake. So I made my shortcake with candied ginger and a touch of cinnamon…resulting in a very scone-like shortcake that is as wonderful enjoyed as a scone with your tea as it is used in combination with your fine peaches. Lavish your split shortcakes with peaches, and then top this with a combo of heavy cream and a bit of yogurt, whipped together with madagascar bourbon vanilla and just a pinch of sugar. The yogurt adds a very slight underlying tang to the cream (kind of like a touch of sour cream) that balances well with the natural sweetness of the peaches and the bourbon. Wow. This makes for a not too sweet, but just right dessert that we could eat every day!
Bourbon Scented Peaches with Ginger Cinnamon Shortcake and Vanilla Cream
Makes 8 Shortcakes (Shortcakes adapted from Bon Appétit)
For the Ginger Cinnamon Shortcakes:
1/4 cup sugar
2 Tablespoons finely chopped candied (crystallized) ginger
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 Tablespoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
2 cups all purpose flour, plus 1 tablespoon for work surface
6 Tablespoons (3/4 stick) chilled unsalted butter cut into pieces
1 cup heavy cream
1 large egg plus 1 Tablespoon water beaten to blend
For the Bourbon Peaches:
12 fresh peaches, peeled, pitted and sliced
2 Tablespoons sugar, or to taste
2 Tablespoons good quality bourbon, or to taste
For the Vanilla Cream:
2 cups heavy whipping cream
1/2 cup plain Greek yogurt, I use 2% fat
2 Tablespoons sugar, or to taste
1/2 teaspoon madagascar bourbon vanilla extract, or good quality vanilla extract
Optional sprigs of mint or tiny strips of candied ginger to garnish
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Whisk the sugar, ginger, cinnamon, baking powder, salt and 2 cups flour together in a large bowl. Add the pieces of cold butter and work in the butter with your fingers until the texture is like a coarse meal with a few pea-sized pieces of butter remaining. Add the cream and mix until the dough just comes together, it will be sticky. Turn the dough onto a flat surface lightly floured with the 1 Tablespoon of flour. Pat the dough out into a 12 x 4 inch rectangle about 3/4″ thick. Cut rounds out with a round 2 1/2″ biscuit cutter, re-rolling scraps as needed to make 8 rounds. Whisk the egg and water together in a small bowl. Transfer the rounds to a baking sheet lined with parchment or a silpat. Brush the top of each round with some egg wash. Bake until the tops are golden brown and the shortcakes are cooked through, about 15-20 minutes. (Shortcakes can be made 2 days ahead and stored tightly wrapped at room temperature.)
In a medium bowl, combine the peaches, sugar and bourbon and allow them to macerate for about 10 minutes at room temperature.
In a medium bowl that has been chilled in the freezer with the beaters for 5-10 minutes, whip the cream, yogurt, sugar and vanilla on medium high speed until the mixture forms soft peaks.
Split each shortcake in half and divide amongst 8 dessert plates. Spoon 1/8 of the peach mixture with its juices over each split shortcake. Divide any remaining juice from the peaches between the 8 shortcakes. Top each dessert with 1/8 of the cream mixture. Garnish with mint if desired, or a thin strip of candied ginger, and serve.
***Note: As you can see from my above photos, I made smaller shortcakes and cooked them for approximately 12-13 minutes. We made our desserts two at a time over the course of two days, and had the remaining shortcakes, sans peaches and cream, for breakfast with tea. These make amazing scones.
***Tip: Always chill your bowl and beaters before whipping cream, or in this case cream and yogurt. The chilled bowl and beaters will help the cream to whip faster and fluffier.