I can now call myself a triathlete. Yippee!!
Ok, maybe it was a sprint and not an Ironman. Maybe it was in a pool instead of the shark-infested waters of Kona. But there was running, biking, and swimming and I’m going to carpe diem with my tri glory!
Of course, now I am totally addicted to the sport of triathlon, just like you will be totally addicted to this Peach-Pecan Crisp. More on that later.
I decided that after my two-week hiatus of adult beverages and dessert (yes, you read that correctly… two-week hiatus. Gotta be all business for tri glory.) that I needed to go all out. I needed something fantastically decadent to reward those weeks of two-a-days and those two weeks sans dessert or drink. My original plan was for a bacon, caramelized onion, and gruyere pizza… YOWZAH, I know! But I have to figure out a way to have all those luscious things on a pizza without seeing said pizza floating in a puddle of its own grease when it comes out of the oven. Stay tuned for that one- you know it’ll be special.
Peach-Pecan Crisp might not sound like it’s on the same level as that pizza, but trust me. It is. It’s the best crisp to ever cross my lips, and many, many crisps have crossed my lips over the years (though none after the last two weeks– did I mention that?). I’m a sucker for a good crisp. When you talk about sweet, juicy fruit coated with a thick blanket of topping, I lose my ability to think clearly. I lose my usual ability to eat an appropriate portion, and I stand over the dish ‘evening out the edges,’ aka making them crooked so I can even them out some more. I’m a bastion of self-control; I never do things like that. But I did. It felt so good to be bad.
There are many, many reasons why this is the most heavenly of crisps. First, the filling is perfectly sweet- the natural sweetness + tartness of the fruit, made ever-so-dessert-like by some added sugar. Not too much, but enough to make it taste like dessert. It can’t be too dominated by cinnamon or nutmeg, but it has just enough. The juices from the fruit are thickened by just enough cornstarch to make a light syrup that is nothing like pie filling. Then, of course, there is the topping. There must be lots and lots and lots. For me? There must be nuts. This one has a double-punch with both ground and chopped pecans that are deeply toasted to be the most pecan-y they can be. I’m partial to an oatmeal-free topping, and this one delivers. I’m also partial to eating my fruit crisp straight up, sans ice cream. Heresy? Maybe. But I think a fruit crisp should stand on its own two feet and not rely on ice cream to make it a complete dessert.
Usually I’m one to sit on recipes forever and ever, but I recommend making this STAT because (a) your life will be so much more complete when you do, and (b) the window is closing rapidly on peach season, so you gotta make it happen! I’m totally trying this with apples, though, and I expect the results to be equally sweet and glorious. Just like crossing the finish line of a tri. And that first bite of dessert after a two-week hiatus. Two weeks!!
- Pecan topping
- 1 cup raw pecans
- 1¾ cups all-purpose flour, divided
- ½ cup powdered sugar
- 2 T granulated sugar
- ¾ tsp table salt
- ½ tsp baking powder
- ¾ cup (12 T) unsalted butter, melted
- 1½ teaspoons vanilla extract
- 3½ to 4 pounds peaches
- 2 T lemon juice
- ¾ cup granulated sugar
- 3 T cornstarch
- ¼ tsp ground cinnamon
- Pinch of freshly grated nutmeg
- Pinch of salt
- Make topping: Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Spread the nuts out in one layer on a baking sheet and bake them, stirring occasionally, until they are well browned, 10 to 13 minutes (they will smell toasted and nutty but keep an eye on them towards the end so yours do not burn). Transfer the pan to a wire rack to cool.
- In a food processor, coarsely chop ¼ cup of cooled pecans, then set them aside in a small dish. Put remaining pecans (3/4 cup) in food processor along with ½ c flour and grind the nuts until they’re as powdery as possible. Add the remaining flour, powdered sugar, granulated sugar, salt, baking powder and pulse the machine two or three times, just to combine. Transfer dry mixture a bowl and add melted butter and vanilla. Stir this together until small and large clumps form, then stir in coarsely chopped pecans. Refrigerate until needed.
- Make filling: Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Halve and pit your peaches, then cut them into chunks, smaller if they’re firm, large ones if the peaches are already soft. In the bottom of a 9×13 baking dish, toss the peach chunks with sugar, cornstarch, lemon juice, cinnamon, nutmeg and salt.
- Remove topping from refrigerator and cover fruit thickly and evenly with topping. Bake until crumble topping is golden brown in places and fruit is bubbling and begins to creep up over the topping a little, about 40 to 50 minutes. If your topping browns too much before this happens you can cover the top with foil until it is done baking. Serve with vanilla ice cream, if desired, but it's perfect on its own, too!