September 9, 2011
The Taste of a Fresh Summer Peach
I am enamored with fruits and vegetables. Hanging heavy from tree branches or bushes, ripening from green to red in the warm sun, piled in a bowl, chopped on a cutting board, or tucked away in a jar. This is before they even get to my plate.
Peaches, though -- peaches! Piled into a wooden bowl, ripening in the morning sunlight. Golden flesh covered in a softly blushing fuzzy skin. They are sweet and juicy and decadent like the long lasting, utilitarian apple could never be. I am happy to eat these peaches, even though they are a gorgeous still life which I don't want to disturb.
Luckily I have more. I received a box of 25 organic Colorado peaches last week. The farm where I work offers shares of other delicacies besides the vegetables we grow, so every other week I take home my fruit share in a box. The fruit is collected from organic farms all over the country. Often it is a selection of mixed fruit, but sometimes we get just one thing: blueberries, cherries, or, last week, peaches.
When you have fruit that is nearly perfect, it is a luxury to enjoy it in abundance. The peaches need no adornment, and I've eaten many just as they are. It is almost silly to tamper with them, but I couldn't resist adding a little cream and crust to these lovely fruits.
I baked these rustic, individual tarts with my favorite gallette dough and a hint of mascarpone.The crust is buttery, tender and flaky. I was inspired by this recipe to make mascarpone cheese and pair it with the peaches. The cheese is an easy way to transform cream into something even better. I was glad to learn another easy fresh cheese, which will come in handy this winter. While these tartlets are not an option year round, I will certainly be making mascarpone again, even when I can only remember the taste of a fresh summer peach.
Rustic Peach Tartlets
The crust is a gallete dough adapted from Deborah Madison.
For the crust:
2 cups (8 ounces) whole wheat pastry flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon sugar
10 tablespoons (5 ounces) cold, unsalted butter
1/3 to 1/2 cup ice water
Mix the flour, salt and sugar in a bowl. Cut the butter into small pieces and drop them into the flour. Using your hands, a fork, or a pastry blender cut the butter into smaller pieces and mix it with the flour until the whole thing resembles a coarse meal, with some pieces of butter pea-size or occasionally larger. Sprinkle the ice water on top, a tablespoon at a time, and toss the mixture to combine. When you can bring the dough together without loose flour, press it into a ball. Cover and refrigerate for 15 minutes.
For the filling:
1 cup mascarpone cheese (follow Ashley's recipe to make your own, it's fun and easy!)
2 eggs, separated
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 tablespoons sugar, plus more for sprinkling
3-4 ripe peaches
Preheat the oven to 350'
Mix the mascarpone, egg yolks (save the whites for brushing on the crust), vanilla and 2 tablespoons of sugar together until smooth.
Divide the dough into 6 equal pieces. Put 5 of the pieces back in the fridge. Take one piece, flatten it into a round disk and on a lightly floured non-stick surface (I use a silpat, but parchment works well, too) roll the dough until it is about 6-inches in diameter and roughly round. Slice one peach in half, and slice each half into thin wedges, about 8 per half. Spoon two tablespoons of the mascarpone filling onto the center of the rolled out dough. Arrange the peach slices so they overlap with each other and form a circle in the center of the dough (depending on the size of the peach, you'll use about half a peach per tart-let). There should be 1/2 inch to an inch of dough beyond the edge of the fruit.
Fold the edges of the dough over the peaches to create the edge of the tart. The folded sides will overlap. Gently press the dough together where it overlaps to contain the peaches and filling. Dip a pastry brush in the egg whites and coat the top of the crust. Sprinkle about a teaspoon of sugar over the dough and peaches. Repeat this process for the rest of the dough. Bake for 30-35 minutes or until the crust is golden brown.
Makes six individual sized rustic tarts.