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Peaches & Cream

Ripe, juicy peaches and honey-sweetened whipped cream are all you need to create three quick summer desserts.

Fine Cooking Issue 87
Photos: Scott Phillips
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When peaches are at their peak, it’s hard to argue with fresh peach desserts. Oh, I love pies, cobblers, and crisps, but there’s something about ripe, juicy peaches that calls for a simple preparation—and it doesn’t get much simpler than peaches and cream. With a couple of twists, you can transform these two components into three delightful desserts.

First, focus on flavor. Instead of serving the peaches plain, I like to marinate them briefly in a flavorful syrup made of brown sugar and amaretto. The syrup boosts the peaches’ flavor and juiciness without masking their inherent charms. And instead of sweetening the whipped cream with plain old sugar, try honey; it’s a minor substitution that always makes a big impact, not only because it’s surprising but also because the floral notes of honey harmonize wonderfully with the flavor of the peaches.

Then think about presentation. Once you’ve got marinated peaches and honey whipped cream on hand, there are several ways to serve them. The most straight-forward option is to spoon peach slices into a dish and top them with a dollop of fluffy whipped cream—always delicious, and there’s nothing to it. But when the occasion calls for something a little more elaborate, you can sandwich the peaches and cream between tender shortcake biscuits or layer them with cookie crumbs in a pretty glass to make a parfait. Neither option is difficult, and the results are that much more impressive.

Choose fragrant peaches and use them fast

My motto when choosing peaches is simple: If they smell good, they’ll taste good. I like to buy peaches at my local farmers’ market, but you can find good ones in many grocery stores as well. Look for unblemished peaches that aren’t too soft. When you have perfectly ripe peaches, enjoy them within a couple of days. Don’t wash them until you’re ready to use them or they’re likely to develop mold.

Occasionally, imperfect peaches may be all that’s available. If they’re underripe, you can ripen them by simply leaving them out on the counter and turning them daily so they’re evenly exposed to light and air. And if they’re not quite as fragrant and juicy as you’d like, they’ll still be fine to use for these desserts because the marinade will enhance their flavor


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