I blame it all on my Mother. She was the queen of the perfect pie crust, hands down. People would rave when they tasted it, they’d marvel at the flaky texture and the perfect golden color. They’d inevitably ask for the recipe. She’d share it with them gladly. There wasn’t much to it, after all, just flour, salt, fat and ice water. “The same things I use!” they’d say. Ah yes, but the “secret,” she’d tell them with a Bree Van de Kamp-esque smile, lies in the technique. Ice-cold ingredients and never, ever roll out the crust more than once or it will be tough. Couple that with the fact that I never did get the Easy Bake Oven I so desperately wanted as a kid and you can see how my Mother single-handedly scared me off of making pie pastry for life! Or at least until my twenties, when after years of therapy for my culinary self-esteem I gathered the courage to attempt it again without fear of failure or judgment.
I'm kidding. Kinda.
While I’m happy to report that I’m no longer intimidated by pie pastry, I’m also not afraid to admit that I tend to favor quick and easy in the kitchen (something pie pastry doesn’t have going for it). I suppose this is my not-so-subtle way of admitting that I’m sorely lacking in the pastry-patience department, especially on hot summer days when I’d rather be anywhere but kitchen-bound, saddled with a rolling pin. That’s doesn’t mean however, that I’m not always up for a good homemade dessert, especially one that takes advantage of the beautiful stone fruits of the season. Enter: Peach Crisp!
Crisps, crumbles and cobblers, in the summer in particular, are wonderful things and require no further embellishment other than perhaps, a scoop of good vanilla ice cream. They are the essence of all that is desirable of the season and they satisfy my constant, if nagging need - yes need - for something homey and sweet. To further bolster my case, crisps are a mere fraction the effort of pie and you get all of the pay off without all the work of pie pastry - or the therapy bill it can bring.
Whew! Dessert handled. Culinary self-esteem intact.
Summer Peach Crisp
with Pecans & Toffee Bits
This recipe is from my good friend Susan Cox of Dana Point, California. Or as she’s affectionately known, my Real OC Housewife! Thanks, Susan!
FOR THE FILLING
6 cups peaches, peeled and sliced (about 2.5 lbs)
¼ cup granulated sugar
¼ cup light brown sugar, lightly packed
3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lime juice
FOR THE TOPPING
¾ cup all-purpose flour
1/3 cup light brown sugar, lightly packed
¼ teaspoon kosher salt
6 tablespoons cold unsalted butter, cut into pieces
¾ cup English toffee bits (like Skor or Heath)
½ cup pecans, toasted and coarsely chopped
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
Place six 1¼ cup ramekins on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper; set aside.
Meanwhile, immerse the peaches in boiling water for 30 seconds, then place them in a bowl of ice water. Peel the peaches and slice them into thick wedges and place them into a large bowl. Add the sugar, brown sugar, flour and lime juice and blend well. Divide filling evenly among ramekins.
To make the topping, whisk flour, brown sugar and salt in bowl to blend. Using fingertips rub in butter until mixture hold together in clumps. Stir in toffee and pecans; sprinkle over filling.
Bake Crisps until filling bubbles and topping is golden brown, about 40 minutes. Cool 10 minutes. Serve warm with ice cream if desired.