Monday, August 20, 2012

Summer's Bounty: Palisade Peach Fool



I am more than happy to announce that Palisade peaches have arrived at my local supermarket.  Next to cherries peaches are my favorite summer fruit.  Well, that is if you don't count strawberries, blueberries or those magical, plump and wild Texas dewberries.  As you can see I have many favorites, but for this post it is peaches that are in the spotlight.

Growers in and around the town of Palisade, which is located on the Colorado River at the base of the Grand Mesa in far western Colorado,  produce some of the best peaches I've ever eaten.  And it is no wonder they are so good considering where they come from.  This super fertile area not only produces world class peaches, but it is also home to no less than 75% of the premium wine grape vineyards in the state.

I bought a couple of pounds of these big juicy peaches the other day with a recipe in mind that I have been planning on making since just before the London Olympics began.  I wanted to post it to coincide with the games, but you know how it goes, so many recipes, so little time.

Since my peaches weren't quite ripe when I bought them, I have patiently been watching them for a couple of days now, giving them an affectionate little squeeze every now and then as they lounged around on my countertop, generously perfuming my kitchen.  Well, I am finally happy to say that they are now beautifully ripe and ready for their close up.

The recipe I have had in mind for all these weeks now is for a peach fool.  A fool is more than some idiot that pulls out in front of you in traffic.  A fool is also a combination of whipped cream, yogurt or sour cream, fruit and crushed cookies.   I first fell in love with fools in England where they are most often made with strawberries which can easily be substituted for the peaches in this recipe.

Even if you aren't lucky enough to get your hands on some juicy Palisade peaches, every area that is enjoying hot weather has some sort of delicious late summer fruit right now.  So feel free to mash it up and make a fool out of it.  I promise it won't mind.    



Palisade Peach Fool


4 large ripe peaches

1/2 teaspoon orange zest

2 tablespoons freshly squeezed orange juice

8 tablespoons granulated sugar, divided

Pinch of salt

2- 1/4 cups heavy whipping cream (since whipping cream is sold by the cup, if you don't want to buy that little bit of extra cream you can stretch 2 cups enough to make this recipe work)

6 ounces plain Greek yogurt (I used fat free to make my recipe healthy ;)

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

4 - 6 of your favorite crumbly cookies (I prefer Pecan Sandies), crushed or 1/2 cup granola

Peel and slice 2 of the peaches and place in a food processor or blender.  Add 4 tablespoons of the sugar, orange zest, orange juice and salt.  Puree; set aside.

These peaches are "freestone" meaning the flesh easily pulls away from the pit as you cut them.   This is the opposite of "cling" peaches which means that the flesh sticks to the pit.  Both are very tasty but for obvious reasons the freestones are much easier to cook with.


Place whipping cream in a large bowl.  Whip the cream with an electric mixer set on high until soft peaks form.  Add the remaining sugar a little at a time and continue to beat until peaks become stiff.  Remove about 6 big heaping tablespoons of the whipped cream and set aside covered and refrigerated. 

Add the yogurt and vanilla to the remaining whipped cream in the large bowl and beat just until combined.  Cover and refrigerate until ready to use.

Peel and dice one of the remaining peaches.  Place in a medium size bowl.  Add 1/3 of the peach puree and mix well; set aside.

Gently fold the remaining peach puree into the whipped cream mixture.  Don't worry about combining it completely as leaving "veins" of puree in it will enhance the flavor and appearance.

Divide 1/2 of the whipped cream mixture equally among 4 - 6 glasses (depending how big you want your servings to be).  Top with equal amounts of the chopped peaches in puree, then the remaining 1/2 of the whipped cream mixture. 

Cover and refrigerate for at least 1 hour or up to several hours before serving.  If you are using strawberries or darker fruits, you can make this up to a day ahead but no more as it sometimes becomes watery on the bottom.  Peaches also have a tendency to darken with time which my affect the appearance of the fool if left to sit too long. 

Just before serving, spoon equal amounts of the crushed cookie over the tops and finally dollops of the reserved whipped cream and yogurt mixture.

Slice the remaining peach into slices for garnish.

Garnish with peach slices and/or mint sprigs.

Makes 4 - 6 generous servings



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